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Testament (13 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Occurs twelve times in the New Testament (Hebrews
9:15, etc.) as the rendering of the Gr. diatheke, which ...
/t/testament.htm - 101k

... proves that this Sahidic version was made about 200 AD It in general supports the
"Western" text of codex Bezae (D). Much of the New Testament especially still ...
/c/coptic.htm - 11k

... earliest copy of the Gospels is perhaps a century later; in all, Gregory (Textkritik,
573-75) enumerates 17 Georgian manuscripts of the New Testament, but his ...
/s/slavonic.htm - 13k

... of Work 2. Classes of Concordances 3. Their Indispensableness 4. Concordances to
Latin Vulgate 5. Concordances to the Hebrew Old Testament 6. Concordances to ...
/c/concordance.htm - 16k

... In the Old Testament he teaches them the rudiments of Old Testament truth; in the
New Testament he teaches the principles of the Christian faith. ...
/c/catechist.htm - 12k

... In the Old Testament he teaches them the rudiments of Old Testament truth; in the
New Testament he teaches the principles of the Christian faith. ...
/c/catechumen.htm - 12k

Hell (53 Occurrences)
... invisible place. In Scripture there are three words so rendered: (1.) Sheol,
occurring in the Old Testament sixty-five times. This word ...
/h/hell.htm - 29k

... 1. Words Used in the New Testament: This latter word occurs in the New Testament
once (1 Timothy 4:14), so rendered in both the King James Version and the ...
/p/presbyter.htm - 14k

Poverty (25 Occurrences)
... pov'-er-ti: 1. Old Testament References: This word, found but once in the Old Testament
(Genesis 45:11) outside of the Book of Proverbs in which it occurs 11 ...
/p/poverty.htm - 21k

... Under the general presidency of Dr. Philip Schaff, an Old Testament Company of fifteen
scholars was formed, with Dr. WH Green as chairman, and a New Testament...
/a/american.htm - 13k

Bible Concordance
Testament (13 Occurrences)

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mark 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

1 Corinthians 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:16 For where a last will and testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him who made it.

Hebrews 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

Hebrews 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

Hebrews 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

Revelation 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
Occurs twelve times in the New Testament (Hebrews 9:15, etc.) as the rendering of the Gr. diatheke, which is twenty times rendered "covenant" in the Authorized Version, and always so in the Revised Version. The Vulgate translates incorrectly by testamentum, whence the names "Old" and "New Testament," by which we now designate the two sections into which the Bible is divided. (see BIBLE.)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) A will or covenant; a solemn, authentic instrument in writing, by which a person declares his will as to disposal of his estate and effects after his death.

2. (n.) One of the two distinct revelations of God's purposes toward man; a covenant; also, one of the two general divisions of the canonical books of the sacred Scriptures, in which the covenants are respectively revealed; as, the Old Testament; the New Testament; -- often limited, in colloquial language, to the latter.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

(Adam): The name of Adam occurs nine times (in five different passages) in the New Testament, though several of these are purely incidental.

I. Gospels.

In Luke 3:38 the ancestry of Jesus Christ is traced up to Adam, "Adam, the son of God," thereby testifying to the acceptance of the Old Testament genealogies of Gen. This is the only place in the Gospels in which Adam is actually named, though there is an allusion to him in Matthew 19:4-6 (= Mark 10:6-8), referring to Genesis 1:27, 2:24.

II. Epistles.

Adam is used by Paul as the founder of the race and the cause of the introduction of sin in order to point the comparison and contrast with Christ as the Head of the new race and the cause of righteousness.

1. Romans 5:12-21:

The passage is the logical center of the epistle, the central point to which everything that precedes has converged, and out of which everything which follows will flow. The great ideas of Sin, Death, and Judgment are here shown to be involved in the connection of the human race with Adam. But over against this there is the blessed fact of union with Christ, and in this union righteousness and life. The double headship of mankind in Adam and Christ shows the significance of the work of redemption for the entire race. Mankind is ranged under two heads, Adam and Christ. There are two men, two acts and two results. In this teaching we have the spiritual and theological illustration of the great modern principle of solidarity. There is a solidarity of evil and a solidarity of good, but the latter far surpasses the former in the quality of the obedience of Christ as compared with Adam, and the facts of the work of Christ for justification and life. The section is thus no mere episode, or illustration, but that which gives organic life to the entire epistle. Although sin and death are ours in Adam righteousness and life are ours in Christ, and these latter two are infinitely the greater (Romans 5:11); whatever we have lost in Adam we have more than gained in Christ. As all the evils of the race sprang from one man, so all the blessings of redemption come from One Person, and there is such a connection between the Person and the race that all men can possess what the One has done.

In Romans 5:12-19 Paul institutes a series of comparisons and contrasts between Adam and Christ; the two persons, the two works and the two consequences. The fullness of the apostle's meaning must be carefully observed. Not only does he teach that what we have derived from the first Adam is met by what is derived from Christ, but the transcendence of the work of the latter is regarded as almost infinite in extent. "The full meaning of Paul, however, is not grasped until we perceive that the benefits received from Christ, the Second Adam, are in inverse ratio to the disaster entailed by the first Adam. It is the surplus of this grace that in Paul's presentation is commonly overlooked" (Mabie, The Divine Reason of the Cross 116).

2. 1 Corinthians 15:22:

The contrast instituted here between Adam and Christ refers to death and life, but great difficulty turns on the interpretation of the two "alls." "As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." Dods (Expositor's Bible, 366) interprets it of Adam as the source of physical life that ends in death, and of Christ as the source of spiritual life that never dies. "All who are by physical derivation truly united to Adam incur the death, which by sinning he introduced into human experience; and similarly, all who by spiritual affinity are in Christ enjoy the new life which triumphs over death, and which he won."

So also Edwards, who does not consider that there is any real unfairness in interpreting the former "all" as more extensive than the latter, "if we bear in mind that the conditions of entrance into the one class and the other are totally different. They are not stated here. But we have them in Romans 5:5-11, where the apostle seems as if he anticipated this objection to the analogy which he instituted between Adam and Christ. Both alike are heads of humanity, but they are unlike in this (as also in other things, Romans 5:15), that men are in Adam by nature, in Christ by faith" (Corinthians, 412). Godet considers that "perhaps this Interpretation is really that which corresponds best to the apostle's view," and he shows that zoopoieisthai, "to be made alive," is a more limited idea than egeiresthai, "to be raised," the limitation of the subject thus naturally proceeding from the special meaning of the verb itself. "The two pantes (all) embrace those only to whom each of the two powers extends." But Godet favors the view of Meyer and Ellicott that "all" is to be given the same interpretation in each clause, and that the reference is to all who are to rise, whether for life or condemnation, and that this is to be "in Christ": "Christ will quicken all; all will hear His voice and will come forth from the grave, but not all to the true `resurrection of life': see John 5:29 " (Ellicott, Corinthians, 301) Godet argues that "there is nothing to prevent the word `quicken,' taken alone, from being used to denote restoration to the fullness of spiritual and bodily existence, with a view either to perdition or salvation" (Corinthians, 355). There are two serious difficulties to the latter interpretation:

(1) The invariable meaning of "in Christ" is that of spiritual union;

(2) the question whether the resurrection of the wicked really finds any place in the apostle's argument in the entire chapter.

3. 1 Corinthians 15:45:

"The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." The reference to Adam is from Genesis 2:7; the reference to Christ is due to the fact of what He had done and was doing in His manifestation as Divine Redeemer. Behind results the apostle proceeds to nature. Adam was simply a living being, Christ a life-giving Being. Thus Christ is called Adam as expressive of His Headship of a race. In this verse He is called the "last" Adam, while in 1 Corinthians 15:47 the "second." In the former verse the apostle deals not so much with Christ's relation to the first Adam as to the part He takes in relation to humanity, and His work on its behalf. When precisely Christ became life-giving is a matter of difference of opinion. Romans 1:4 associates power with the resurrection as the time when Christ was constituted Son of God for the purpose of bestowing the force of Divine grace. This gift of power was only made available for His church through the Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is possible that the word "life-giving" may also include a reference to the resurrection of the body hereafter.

4. 1 Timothy 2:13, 14:

Paul uses the creation of man and woman in his argument for the subordination of woman (Genesis 2:7-25). This is no mere Jewish reasoning, but an inspired statement of the typical meaning of the passage in Genesis. The argument is a very similar one to that in 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9. When the apostle states that "Adam was not beguiled," we must apparently understand it as simply based on the text in Genesis to which he refers (Genesis 3:13), in which Eve, not Adam, says, "The serpent beguiled me." In Galatians 3:16 he reasons similarly from "seed" in the singular number, just as Hebrews 7 reasons from the silence of Genesis 14 in regard to the parentage of Melchizedek. Paul does not deny that Adam was deceived, but only that he was not directly deceived. His point is that Eve's facility in yielding warrants the rule as to women keeping silence.

5. Jude 1:14:

"And Enoch, the seventh from Adam" (Genesis 5). Bigg says that the quotation which follows is a combination of passages from Enoch, though the allusion to Enoch himself is evidently based on the story in Gen.

III. Conclusions.

As we review the use of "Adam" in the New Testament, we cannot fail to observe that Paul assumes that Adam was a historical personality, and that the record in Genesis was a record of facts, that sin and death were introduced into the world and affected the entire race as the penalty of the disobedience of one ancestor. Paul evidently takes it for granted that Adam knew and was responsible for what he was doing. Again, sin and death are regarded as connected, that death obtains its moral quality from sin. Paul clearly believed that physical dissolution was due to sin, and that there is some causal connection between Adam and the human race in regard to physical death. While the reference to death in Romans 5 as coming through sin, is primarily to physical death, yet physical death is the expression and sign of the deeper idea of spiritual death; and even though physical death was in the world before Adam it was only in connection with sin that its moral meaning and estimate became clear. Whether we are to interpret, "for that all sinned," as sinning when Adam sinned, or sinning as the result of an inherited tendency from Adam, the entire passage implies some causal connection between him and them. The need of redemption is thus made by the apostle to rest on facts. We are bound to Adam by birth, and it is open to us to become bound to Christ by faith. If we refuse to exchange our position in Adam for that which is offered to us in Christ we become answerable to God; this is the ground of moral freedom. The New Testament assumption of our common ancestry in Adam is true to the facts of evolutionary science, and the universality of sin predicated is equally true to the facts of human experience. Thus, redemption is grounded on the teaching of Scripture, and confirmed by the uncontradicted facts of history and experience. Whether, therefore, the references to Adam in the New Testament are purely incidental, or elaborated in theological discussion, everything is evidently based on the record in Gen.

W. H. Griffith Thomas


(Evolutionary Interpretation): NOTE: It ought to be superfluous to say that the unfolding or development of the human personality here identified with evolution is something far higher, deeper, and other than anything that can be fathered upon Darwin or Herbert Spencer. Evolution (unfolding) is the great process or movement; natural selection and survival of the fittest name only guesses at some of its methods. 'adham, "man," Genesis 1:26, or "a man," Genesis 2:5; ha-'adham, "the man"; mostly with the article as a generic term, and not used as the proper name of a patriarch until 5:3, after which the name first given to both man and woman (5:2) is used of the man alone: The being in whom is embodied the Scripture idea of the first created man and ancestor of mankind. The account, which belongs mostly to the oldest stratum of the Genesis story (Jahwist) merits careful attention, because evolutionary science, history, and new theology have all quarreled with or rejected it on various grounds, without providing the smallest approach to a satisfactory substitute.

I. What the Writer Meant to Describe.

It is important first of all, if we can, to get at what the author meant to describe, and how it is related, if at all, to literal and factual statement.

1. Derivation and Use of the Name:

Scholars have exercised themselves much, but with little arrival at certainty, over the derivation of the name; a matter which, as it is concerned with one of the commonest words of the language, is of no great moment as compared with the writer's own understanding of it. The most plausible conjecture, perhaps, is that which connects it with the Assyrian adamu, "to make," or "produce," hence, "the produced one," "the creature." The author of Genesis 2:7 seems to associate it, rather by word-play than derivation, with ha-'adhamah, "the ground" or "soil," as the source from which man's body was taken (compare 3:19, 23) The name 'adhamah itself seems to be closely connected with the name Edom ('edhom, Genesis 25:30), meaning "red"; but whether from the redness of the soil, or the ruddiness of the man, or merely the incident recorded in Genesis 25:30, is uncertain. Without doubt the writer of Genesis 2; Genesis 3 had in mind man's earthly origin, and understood the name accordingly.

2. Outline of the Genesis Narrative:

The account of the creation is twice given, and from two very different points of view. In the first account, Genesis 1:26-31, man is represented as created on the sixth of the day along with the animals, a species Genesis in the animal world; but differing from them in bearing the image and likeness of God, in having dominion over all created things, and in having grains and fruits for food, while they have herbs. The writer's object in all this seems to be as much to identify man with the animal creation as to differentiate him from it. In the second account, 2:4-3:24, man's identity with the animals ignored or at least minimized (compare 2:20), while the object is to determine his status in a spiritual individualized realm wherein he has the companionship of God. Yahweh God "forms" or "shapes" him out of the dust of the ground, breathes into his nostrils the breath of life, and with such special distinction he becomes, like other created things, a "living soul" (nephesh chayyah; compare 2:7 with 1:30). He is placed in a garden situated somewhere among the rivers of Babylonia, his primitive occupation being to dress and keep it. In the midst of the garden are two mysterious trees, the tree of life, whose fruit seems to have the potency of conferring immortality (compare 3:22), and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, whose fruit is not to be eaten under penalty of death. Meanwhile, as in naming the animals the man finds no real companion, Yahweh God "builds" one of the man's ribs into a woman, and the man recognizes her spiritual unity with him, naming her accordingly.

The story goes on to relate, without note of time, how the serpent, the subtlest of beasts, urged on the woman the desirable qualities of the fruit of the forbidden tree, intimating that God had made the prohibition from envy, and roundly denying that death would be the consequence of eating. Accordingly the woman took and ate, and gave to her husband, who also ate; and the immediate consequence was a sense of shame, which caused them to cover their nakedness with girdles of fig leaves, and a sense of guilt (not differentiated by Adam from shame, 3:10), which made the pair reluctant to meet Yahweh God. He obtains the confession of their disobedience, however; and passes prophetic sentence: on the serpent, of perpetual antipathy between its species and the human; on the woman, of sorrows and pains and subservience to the man; and on the man, of hardship and severe labors, until he returns to the dust from which he was taken. As the pair have chosen to eat of the tree of knowledge, lest now they should eat of the tree of life they are expelled from the garden, and the gate is guarded by flaming sword and Cherubim.

3. History or Exposition?:

It is impossible to read this story with the entire detachment that we accord to an ancient myth, or even to a time- and space-conditioned historical tale. It continually suggests intimate relations with the permanent truths of human nature, as if there were a fiber in it truer than fact. And this provokes the inquiry whether the author himself intended the account of the Edenic state and the Fall to be taken as literal history or as exposition. He uniformly makes the name generic by the article (the adam or man), the only exceptions, which are not real exceptions in meaning, being Genesis 1:26, 2:5, already noted. It is not until 5:3, where the proper name Adam is as it were officially given, that such history as is conditioned by chronology and genealogy begins. What comes before this, except the somewhat vague location of the Eden region, 2:10-14, reads rather like a description of the primordial manhood nature not in philosophical but in narrative language. It is not fable, it is not a worked-over myth, it is not a didactic parable; it is (to speak technically) exposition by narration. By a descriptive story it traces the elemental movement of manhood in its first spiritual impact on this earthly life. In other words, instead of being concerned to relate a factual series of events from the remote past, the writer's penetrative intuition goes downward and inward to those spiritual movements of being which are germinal in all manhood. It is a spiritual analysis of man's intrinsic nature, and as such must be spiritually discerned. An analogous manner of exposition may be seen in the account of our Lord's temptation in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11, which account, if authentic, must have come ultimately from our Lord Himself.

II. How the Story Looks Today.

Scarcely any other Scripture story has so suffered from the changes wrought by modern thinking as has this story of Adam. On the one hand it is felt that to refer the fall and inherited guilt of mankind to this experience of Adam as a cause is to impose too great a burden, dogmatic and historic, on this primitive story. Yet on the other hand the story, including this implication of the primal fall, refuses to be dismissed as an outworn or fantastic myth. It lays hold so vitally on the roots of human nature that our only course is not to reject it but to re-read it with the best light our age affords. And whether best or not, the evolutionary light in which all modern thought is colored cannot be ignored.

1. In the Light of Evolution:

The divergent assumptions of the traditional and the evolutionary view may be roughly stated thus: of the traditional, that in consequence of this Eden lapse man is a ruined nature, needing redemption and reinstatement, and that therefore the subsequent spiritual dealing with him must be essentially pathological and remedial; of the evolutionary, that by the very terms of his creation, which the lapse from obedience did not annul, man is spiritually a child needing growth and education, and that therefore the subsequent dealing with him must foster the development within him of a nature essentially normal and true. It is evident that these two views, thus stated, merely regard two lines of potency in one nature. Without rejecting the traditional, or stopping to inquire how it and the evolutionary may coexist, we may here consider how the story before us responds to the evolutionary view. Only-it must be premised-the evolution whose beginning it describes is not the evolution of the human species; we can leave natural science and history to take care of that; but, beginning where this leaves off, the evolution of the individual, from the first forth-putting of individual initiative and choice toward the far-off adult and complete personality.

This, which in view of its culmination we may call the evolution of personality, is evolution distinctively spiritual, that stage and grade of upward moving being which succeeds to the material and psychical (compare 1 Corinthians 15:45, 46). On the material stage of evolution, which the human species shares with the beast and the plant, Scripture is silent. Nor is it greatly concerned with the psychical, or cultural development of the human species, except to reveal in a divinely ordered history and literature its essential inadequacy to the highest manhood potencies. Rather its field is the evolution of the spirit in which alone the highest personal values are realized. In the delimitation of this field it has a consistent origin, course and culmination of its own, as it traces the line of spiritual uprising and growth from the first Adam, who as a "living soul" was subject to the determinism of the species, to the last Adam, who as a "life-giving spirit" is identified with the supreme Personality in whom Divine and human met and blended. Of this tremendous evolution the story of Adam, with a clearness which the quaint narrative style of exposition does not impair, reveals the primal and directive factors.

2. The Garden Habitat:

Just as the habitat and the nature of created things answer to each other, so the environment in which man is placed when he comes from his Creator's hand connotes the kind of life he is fitted to live. He is placed not in wild and refractory Nature but in a garden watered and planted with a new to his receiving care and nurture from above. Nature is kindly and responsive, furnishing, fruits ready to his hand, and requiring only that he "dress and keep" the garden. Of all the trees he may freely eat, including the tree of life; save only the most centrally located of all, the tree of "knowledge of good and evil"

The being fitted to this habitat is a man adult in stature and intelligence, but still like a child; not yet individualized to determinate character, not yet exerting a will of his own apart from the will of his Creator; in other words, as spiritually considered, not yet detached from the spirit of his personal Source. All this reads like the description of a life essentially negative, or rather neutral, with free communication both downward and upward, but neither that of a domesticated animal nor of a captive god; a being balanced, as it were, between the earthly and the Divine, but not yet aware of the possession of that individual will and choice which alone can give spiritual significance to a committal to either.

3. The Organic Factor:

In the first story of man's creation, Genesis 1:26-31, describing his creation as a species, the distinction of male and female is explicitly included (Genesis 1:27). In the second story (Genesis 2-3), wherein man is contemplated rather as an individual, the description of his nature begins before any distinction of sex exists. If the writer meant this latter to portray a condition of man in time or in natural fact, there is thus a discrepancy in accounts. If we regard it, however, as giving a factor in spiritual evolution, it not only becomes full of meaning but lays hold profoundly on the ultimate teleology of creation. The naive story relates that the woman was "built" out of the already-shaped material of the man's body, in order to supply a fellowship which the animals could not; a help "answering to" into (keneghdo; compare Genesis 2:18 margin). Then it makes the man recognize this conjugal relation, not at all with reference to sexual passion or the propagation of species but as furnishing man occasion, so to say, for loving and being loved, and making this capacity essential to the integrity of his nature. The value of this for the ultimate creative purpose and revelation is as marvelous as it is profound, it is the organic factor in realizing the far-reaching design of Him who is evolving a being bearing His image and deriving from Him the breath of life.

That God is Spirit (John 4:24), that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and love creation's "final law," may as an idea be later revelation; but meanwhile from the beginning, in the commonest relation of life, a pulsation of mutual love is implanted, by making man a dual nature, wherein love, which is the antithesis of self-seeking, has the equal and companionable object necessary to its existence. Thus, in the conjugal relation the potency of the highest and broadest spiritual value is made intrinsic. In all the dubious course of his subsequent evolution, this capacity of love, though itself subject to the corruptio optimi pessima, is like a redeeming element at the heart alike of the individual and of society.

4. The Invasion of Subtlety:

Even in this neutral garden existence it is noteworthy that the man's nature evinces its superiority to the animal in the absence of determinism he is not enslaved to an instinct of blind conformity to an external will In other words, he can cooperate intelligently in his own spiritual evolution. He has the power of choice, ministered by the stimulus of an unmotivated prohibition. He can abstain and live, or eat and die (Genesis 2:16, 17). No reasons are given, no train of spiritual consequences, to one whose spirit is not yet awake; in this pre-spiritual stage rather the beginnings of law and prescription must be arbitrary. Yet even in so rudimentary a relation we are aware of the essential contrast between animal and spiritual evolution, in that the latter is not a blind and instinctive imposition from without, but a free course submitted to man's intelligence and cooperation. And it is a supremely significant feature of the narrative to make the first self-interested impulse come by the way of subtlety.

"The serpent," the writer premises, "was more subtle than any beast of the field which Yahweh God had made." It points to a trait which he puts on the border-line between the species and the individual, the disposition, not indeed to rebel against a law of being, but to submit it to refinement and accommodation or perhaps from sheer curiosity to try conclusions with it. The suggestion came first from the lower creation, but not from what is animal in it; and it was eagerly responded to by the woman, the finer and more spiritually awake of the pair. Not to press this too far, it is significant that the first impulse toward individual initiative rises through the free play of intellect and reason. It seems to promise a subtler way of being "like God." To differentiate more minutely the respective parts of man and wife in the affair, which are portrayed in the light of sex distinction, would be beyond our present scope. SeeEVE.

5. The Fateful Venture:

Two trees "in the midst of the garden" (Genesis 2:9) are mentioned at the outset; but the tree of life, the permitted one, seems no more to have been thought of until it was no longer accessible (Genesis 3:22); indeed, when the woman speaks to the serpent of "the tree which is in the midst of the garden" (Genesis 3:3) she has only one tree in mind, and that the prohibited one. The other, as it was counted in with their daily fare and opportunity, seems to have been put by them with those privileges of life which are ignored or postponed, besides, the life it symbolized was the perpetuation of the garden-life they were living, such life as man would live before his spirit was awake to the alternatives of living-a life innocent and blissful, but without the stimulus of spiritual reaction. And it was just this latter that the alternative of the two trees afforded; a reaction fateful for good or evil, needing only the impulse that should set the human spirit in motion. Consider the case. If manhood were ever to rise from a state of childhood, wherein everything was done and prescribed for him, into a life of free choice and self-moved wisdom, it is hard to see how this could have been brought about except by something involving inhibition and prohibition; something that he could not do without incurring a risk.

This is what the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17) means. The tree by its very name was alike a test and a lure. In a sense we may say the temptation began with God; but it was not a temptation to evil. Symbolized in the two trees, but actual in the opportunity of spiritual committal, two ways of life stood open before him. On the one hand, it was open to him to fortify his spent in obedience and against the lure of perilous knowledge, thus deepening and seasoning his negative innocence into positive holiness. That such a course was feasible was shown centuries later in the Divine Son of Man, who in perfect loyalty of the child yet in perfect wisdom of adultness fulfilled the primal sinless ideal of the first Adam. On the other hand there was the lure of the forbidden knowledge, to which the serpent gave the false glamor of godlikeness, and which could be had by detaching his individual will from that of God, and incurring the experience of self-seeking, and taking the risk. It was the latter that was chosen, this however not in the spirit of rebellion or temptation, but in the desire for a good beyond what the childlike limitations of Eden afforded (Genesis 3:6). This then was the first motivated uprising of the spirit of manhood, taking the initiative and acting for itself. So far forth, as the self-assertion of the individual, it was as truly a stage of spiritual evolution as if the man had maintained obedience; but there was in it the rupture of his spirit's union with its personal Source; and the hapless committal to self, which is rightly called a Fall. So strangely mingled were the spiritual elements in this primal manhood initiative. SeeFALL, THE.

6. The Fitted Sequel:

The Scripture does not say, or even imply, that by this forth-putting of initiative the man was committed to a life of sin and depravity. This was the idea of a later time. By the nature of the case, however, he was committed to the fallibility and lack of wisdom of his own untried nature; in other words, to the perils of self-reliance. Naturally, too, the gulf of detachment from his spiritual Support would tend to widen as he trusted himself more exclusively. It lay with him and his species to perfect the individual personality in the freedom which he had chosen. And in this the possibilities both upward toward godlikeness and downward toward the abysms of self were immensely enlarged. Life must henceforth be lived on a broader and profounder scale. But to this end Eden with its tender garden nurture can no longer be its habitat, nor can man's existence be fitly symbolized by a tree from which he has only to take and subsist indefinitely (Genesis 3:22). It must encounter hardship and sweat and toil; it must labor to subdue a reluctant soil to its service (Genesis 3:17-19); it must return at last to the dust from which man's body was formed (Genesis 3:19). Yet there is vouchsafed a dim and distant presage of ultimate victory over the serpent-power, which henceforth is to be man's deadly enemy (Genesis 3:15). At this point of the exposition it is that the inchoate manhood is transplanted from the garden to the unsubdued world, to work out its evolution under the conditions of the human species. The pair becomes the family, with its family interests and cares; the family becomes the unit of social and organized life; the members receive individual names (Genesis 3:20; Genesis 5:2); and chronologically measured history begins.

III. How Adam Is Recognized in the Old Testament.

After the story of Adam is given as far as the birth of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1, 2) and Seth (Genesis 4:25), the "book of the generations of Adam" begins at Genesis 5:1, and five verses are taken up with a statistical outline of his life, his offspring, and his 930 years of earthly existence.

1. In the Old Testament Canonical Books:

Here at Genesis 5:5, in the canonical books of the Old Testament almost all allusion to him ceases, and nothing whatever is made of his fateful relation to the sin and guilt of the race. (SeeADAM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.) This latter idea seems to have come to consciousness only when men's sense of sin and a broken law was more ingrained than it seems to have been in canonical times In the case of the few allusions that, occur, moreover, the fact that the name "Adam" is identical with the word for "man" makes the reference more or less uncertain; one does not know whether the patriarch or the race is meant. In the So of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), in the clause Deuteronomy 32:8, "when he separated the children of men" (or "Adam"), the reference, which is to the distribution of races as given in Genesis 10, may or may not have Adam in mind. In like manner Zophar's words (Job 20:4), "Knowest thou not this of old time, since man (or Adam) was placed upon earth?" may or may not be recognition by name of the first created man Job's words (Job 31:33), "if like Adam I have covered my transgressions," sound rather more definite as an allusion to Adam's hiding himself after having taken the fruit. When Isaiah says (Isaiah 43:27), "Thy first father sinned," It is uncertain whom he means; for in Isaiah 51:2 he says, "Look unto Abraham your father," and Ezekiel has told his people (Ezekiel 16:3), "The Amorite was thy father, and thy mother was a Hittite." The historical consciousness of the prophets seems to have been confined to the history of the Israelite race.

2. In the Apocrypha:

The references in the Apocryphal books (Sirach, Tobit, 2 Esdras) deal with Adam's origin, his lordship over creation, and in the latest written book with the legacy of sin and misery that the race inherits from him. The passages in Sirach (132 B.C.) where he is mentioned are 33:10; 40:1, and 49:16. Of these the most striking, 40:1, "Great travail is created for every man, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam," is hardly to be construed as a reference to our heritage of his sin. In Tobit (2nd century B.C.) he is mentioned once (8:6), "Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve." 2 Esdras, written supposedly some time after 70 A.D., is of a somber and desponding tone throughout; and its references to Adam (2 Esdras 3:5, 10, 21, 26, 4:30; 6:54; 7:11, 46, 48) are almost all in lament over the evil he has implanted in the race of men by his transgression. The first reference (3:5) is rather remarkable for its theory of Adam's nature: "And (thou) commandedst the dust, and it gave thee Adam, a body without a soul, yet it was the workmanship of thine hands," etc. His indictment of Adam culminates (7:48) in the apostrophe: "O thou Adam, what hast thou done? for though it was thou that sinned, the evil is not fallen on thee alone, but upon all of us that come of thee."

John Franklin Genung

(EDITORIAL NOTE.-The promoters of the Encyclopedia are not to be understood as endorsing all the views set forth in Dr. Genung's article. It was thought right, however, that a full and adequate presentation of so suggestive an interpretation should be given.)


ad'-am, ('adham; Septuagint Adam).

1. Usage and Etymology:

The Hebrew word occurs some 560 times in the Old Testament with the meaning "man," "mankind." Outside Genesis 1-5 the only case where it is unquestionably a proper name is 1 Chronicles 1:1. Ambiguous are Deuteronomy 32:8, the King James Version "sons of Adam," the Revised Version (British and American) "children of men"; Job 31:33 the King James Version "as" the Revised Version (British and American) "like Adam," but margin "after the manner of men"; Hosea 6:7 the King James Version "like men," the Revised Version (British and American) "like Adam," and vice versa in the margin. In Genesis 1 the word occurs only twice, 1:26, 27. In Genesis 2-4 it is found 26 times, and in 5:1, 3, 4, 5. In the last four cases and in 4:25 it is obviously intended as a proper name; but the versions show considerable uncertainty as to the rendering in the other cases. Most modern interpreters would restore a vowel point to the Hebrew text in 2:20; 3:17, 21, thus introducing the definite article, and read uniformly "the man" up to 4:25, where the absence of the article may be taken as an indication that "the man" of the previous narrative is to be identified with "Adam," the head of the genealogy found in 5:1. Several conjectures have been put forth as to the root-meaning of the Hebrew word:

(1) creature;

(2) ruddy one;

(3) earthborn. Less probable are

(4) pleasant-to sight-and

(5) social gregarious.

2. Adam in the Narrative of Genesis:

Many argue from the context that the language of Genesis 1:26, 27 is general, that it is the creation of the human species, not of any particular individual or individuals, that is in the described. But

(1) the context does not even descend to a species, but arranges created things according to the most general possible classification: light and darkness; firmament and waters; land and seas; plants; sun, moon, stars; swimming and flying creatures; land animals. No possible parallel to this classification remains in the case of mankind.

(2) In the narrative of Genesis 1 the recurrence of identical expressions is almost rigidly uniform, but in the case of man the unique statement occurs (verse 27), "Male and female created he them." Although Dillmann is here in the minority among interpreters, it would be difficult to show that he is wrong in interpreting this as referring to one male and one female, the first pair. In this case we have a point of contact and of agreement with the narrative of chapter 2.

Man, created in God's image, is given dominion over every animal, is allowed every herb and fruit tree for his sustenance, and is bidden multiply and fill the earth. In Genesis 2:4-5:5 the first man is made of the dust, becomes a living creature by the breath of God, is placed in the garden of Eden to till it, gives names to the animals, receives as his counterpart and helper a woman formed from part of his own body, and at the woman's behest eats of the forbidden fruit of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." With her he is then driven from the garden, under the curse of brief life and heavy labor, since should he eat-or continue to eat?-of the fruit of the "tree of life," not previously forbidden, he might go on living forever. He becomes the father of Cain and of Abel, and of Seth at a time after the murder of Abel. According to 5:3, 5 Adam is aged 130 years at the birth of Seth and lives to the age of 930 years.

3. Teachings of the Narrative:

That man was meant by the Creator to be in a peculiar sense His own "image"; that he is the divinely appointed ruler over all his fellow-creatures on earth; and that he enjoys, together with them, God's blessing upon a creature fit to serve the ends for which it was created-these things lie upon the surface of Genesis 1:26-31. In like manner 2-4 tell us that the gift of a blessed immortality was within man's reach; that his Creator ordained that his moral development should come through an inward trial, not as a mere gift; and that the presence of suffering in the world is due to sin, the presence of sin to the machinations of a subtle tempter. The development of the doctrine of the fall belongs to the New Testament. See ADAM IN THE NEW TESTAMENT; FALL, THE.

4. Adam in Apocrypha:

Allusions to the narrative of the creation and the fall of man, covering most points of the narrative of Genesis 1-4, are found in 2 Esdras 3:4-7, 10, 21, 26; 4:30; 6:54-56; 7:11, 46-48; Tobit 8:6, The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23; 9:2; 10:1, Ecclesiasticus 15:14; 17:1-4; 25:24:00; 40:01:00; 49:16:00. In both 2 Esdras and The Wisdom of Solomon we read that death came upon all men through Adam's sin, while 2 Esdras 4:30 declares that "a grain of evil seed was sown in the heart of Adam from the beginning." Aside from this doctrinal development the Apocrypha offers no additions to the Old Testament narrative.

F. K. Farr


Babylon Babulon, is used in New Testament in at least two different senses:

1. Mesopotamian Babylon:

In Matthew 1:11, 12, 17 Acts 7:43 the old Mesop city is plainly meant. These all refer to the captivity in Babylon and do not demand any further discussion.

2. Symbolic Sense:

All the references to Babylon in Re are evidently symbolic. Some of the most important passages are Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2, 10, 21. In Revelation 17:5 Babylon is designated as musterion. This undoubtedly in dicates that the name is to be under stood figuratively. A few interpreters have believed that Jerusalem was the city that was designated as Babylon, but most scholars hold that Rome was the city that was meant. That interpretation goes back at least to the time of Tertullian (Adv. Marc., iii. 13). This interpretation was adopted by Jerome and Augustine and has been commonly accepted by the church. There are some striking facts which point to Rome as the city that is designated as Babylon.

(1) The characteristics ascribed to this Babylon apply to Rome rather than to any other city of that age:

(a) as ruling over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18);

(b) as sitting on seven mountains (Revelation 17:9);

(c) as the center of the world's merchandise (Revelation 18:3, 11-13);

(d) as the corrupter of the nations (Revelation 17:2; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 19:2);

(e) as the persecutor of the saints (Revelation 17:6).

(2) Rome is designated as Babylon in the Sibylline Oracles (5 143), and this is perhaps an early Jewish portion of the book. The comparison of Rome to Babylon is common in Jewish apocalyptic literature (see 2 Esdras and the Apocrypha Baruch).

(3) Rome was regarded by both Jews and Christians as being antagonistic to the kingdom of God, and its downfall was confidently expected, This conception is in accord with the predicted downfall of Babylon (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 18:2, 10-21). As Babylon had been the oppressor of Israel, it was natural that this new power, which was oppressing the people of God, should be designated as Babylon.

3. In 1 Peter:

In 1 Peter 5:13 Babylon is designated as the place from which 1Pe was written. Down to the time of the Reformation this was generally under stood to mean Rome, and two cursives added "en Roma." Since the Reformation, many scholars have followed Erasmus and Calvin and have urged that the Mesopotamian Babylon is meant. Three theories should be noted:

(1) That the Egyptian Babylon, or Old Cairo; is meant. Strabo (XVII, 807) who wrote as late as 18 A.D., says the Egyptian Babylon was a strong fortress founded by certain refugees from the Mesop Babylon. But during the 1st century this was not much more than a military station, and it is quite improbable that Peter would have gone there. There is no tradition that connects Peter' in any way with Egypt.

(2) That the statement is to be taken literally and that the Mesop Babylon is meant. Many good scholars hold to this view, and among these are Weiss and Thayer, but there is no evidence that Peter was ever in Babylon, or that there was even a church there during the 1st century. Mark and Silvanus are associated with Peter in the letter and there is no tradition that connects either of them with Babylon. According to Josephus (Antiquities, XVIII, ix, 5-9), the Jews at this time had largely been driven out of Babylon and were confined to neighboring towns, and it seems improbable that Peter would have made that his missionary field.

(3) That Rome was the city that was designated as Babylon. The Apocalypse would indicate that the churches would understand the symbolic reference, and it seems to have been so understood until the time of the Reformation. The denial of this position was in line with the effort to refute Peter's supposed connection with the Roman church. Ancient tradition, however, makes it seem quite probable that Peter did make a visit to Rome (see Lightfoot, Clement, II, 493).

Internal evidence helps to substantiate theory that Rome was the place from which the letter was written. Mark sends greetings (1 Peter 5:13), and we know he had been summoned to Rome by the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:11). The whole passage, "She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you," seems to be figurative, and that being true, it is natural that Babylon should have been used instead of Rome. The character of the letter as a whole would point to Rome as the place of writing. Ramsay thinks this book is impregnated with Roman thought beyond any other book in the Bible (see The Church in the Roman Empire, 286).

A. W. Fortune




1. Early Christians Had the Old Testament

2. No Intention of Writing the New Testament


1. From the Apostles to 170 A.D.

(1) Clement of Rome; Ignatius; Polycarp

(2) Forces Increasing Value of Writings

(a) Apologists, Justin Martyr

(b) Gnostics, Marcion

2. From 170 A.D. to 220 A.D.

(1) Irenaeus

(2) Muratorian Fragment

3. 3rd and 4th Centuries

(1) Origen

(2) Dionysius

(3) Cyprian

(4) Eusebins

(5) Athanasius

(6) Council of Carthage; Jerome; Augustine


I. Two Preliminary Considerations.

The canon is the collection of 27 books which the church (generally) receives as its New Testament Scriptures. The history of the canon is the history of the process by which these books were brought together and their value as sacred Scriptures officially recognized. That process was gradual, furthered by definite needs, and, though unquestionably continuous, is in its earlier stages difficult to trace. It is always well in turning to the study of it to have in mind two considerations which bear upon the earliest phases of the whole movement. These are:

1. Early Christians Had the Old Testament:

The early Christians had in their hands what was a Bible to them, namely, the Old Testament Scriptures. These were used to a surprising extent in Christian instruction. For a whole century after the death of Jesus this was the case. These Scriptures were read in the churches, and there could be at first no idea of placing beside them new books which could for a moment rank with them in honor and authority. It has been once and again discussed whether Christianity from the first was a "book-religion." The decision of the matter depends upon what is referred to by the word "book." Christianity certainly did have from the very beginning a book which it reverenced-the Old Testament-but years passed before it had even the beginnings of a book of its own. What has been called "the wealth of living canonical material," namely, prophets and teachers, made written words of subordinate value. In this very teaching, however, with its oral traditions lay the beginnings of that movement which was ultimately to issue in a canon of writings.

2. No Intention of Writing the New Testament:

When the actual work of writing began no one who sent forth an epistle or framed a gospel had before him the definite purpose of contributing toward the formation of what we call "the Bible." All the New Testament writers looked for "the end" as near. Their words, therefore, were to meet definite needs in the lives of those with whom they were associated. They had no thought of creating a new sacred literature. And yet these incidental occasional writings have come to be our choicest Scripture. The circumstances and influences which brought about this result are here briefly set forth.

II. Three Stages of the Process.

For convenience of arrangement and definiteness of impression the whole process may be marked off in three stages:

(1) that from the time of the apostles until about 170 A.D.;

(2) that of the closing years of the 2nd century and the opening of the 3rd (170-220 A.D.);

(3) that of the 3rd and 4th centuries. In the first we seek for the evidences of the growth in appreciation of the peculiar value of the New Testament writings; in the second we discover the clear, full recognition of a large part of these writings as sacred and authoritative; in the third the acceptance of the complete canon in the East and in the West.

1. From the Apostles to 170 A.D.:

(1) Clement of Rome; Ignarius; Polycarp:

The first period extending to 170 A.D.-It does not lie within the scope of this article to recount the origin of the several books of the New Testament. This belongs properly to New Testament Introduction (which see). By the end of the 1st century all of the books of the New Testament were in existence. They were, as treasures of given churches, widely separated and honored as containing the word of Jesus or the teaching of the apostles. From the very first the authority of Jesus had full recognition in all the Christian world. The whole work of the apostles was in interpreting Him to the growing church. His sayings and His life were in part for the illumination of the Old Testament; wholly for the understanding of life and its issues. In every assembly of Christians from the earliest days He was taught as well as the Old Testament. In each church to which an epistle was written that epistle was likewise read. Paul asked that his letters be read in this way (1 Thessalonians 5:27 Colossians 4:16). In this attentive listening to the exposition of some event in the life of Jesus or to the reading of the epistle of an apostle began the "authorization" of the traditions concerning Jesus and the apostolic writings. The widening of the area of the church and the departure of the apostles from earth emphasized increasingly the value of that which the writers of the New Testament left behind them. Quite early the desire to have the benefit of all possible instruction led to the interchange of Christian writings. Polycarp (110 A.D. ?) writes to the Philippians, "I have received letters from you and from Ignatius. You recommend me to send on yours to Syria; I shall do so either personally or by some other means. In return I send you the letter of Ignatius as well as others which I have in my hands and for which you made request. I add them to the present one; they will serve to edify your faith and perseverance" (Epistle to Phil, XIII). This is an illustration of what must have happened toward furthering a knowledge of the writings of the apostles. Just when and to what extent "collections" of our New Testament books began to be made it is impossible to say, but it is fair to infer that a collection of the Pauline epistles existed at the time Polycarp wrote to the Philippians and when Ignatius wrote his seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor, i.e. about 115 A.D. There is good reason to think also that the four Gospels were brought together in some places as early as this. A clear distinction, however, is to be kept in mind between "collections" and such recognition as we imply in the word "canonical." The gathering of books was one of the steps preliminary to this. Examination of the testimony to the New Testament in this early time indicates also that it is given with no intention of framing the canonicity of New Testament books. In numerous instances only "echoes" of the thought of the epistles appear; again quotations are incomplete; both showing that Scripture words are used as the natural expression of Christian thought. In the same way the Apostolic Fathers refer to the teachings and deeds of Jesus. They witness "to the substance and not to the authenticity of the Gospels." That this all may be more evident let us note in more detail the witness of the subapostolic age.

Clement of Rome, in 95 A.D., wrote a letter in the name of the Christians of Rome to those in Corinth. In this letter he uses material found in Matthew, Luke, giving it a free rendering (see chapters 46 and 13); he has been much influenced by the Epistle to the Hebrews (see chapters 9, 10, 17, 19, 36). He knows Romans, Corinthians, and there are found echoes of 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter and Ephesians.

The Epistles of Ignatius (115 A.D.) have correspondences with our gospels in several places (Ephesians 5 Romans 6; Romans 7) and incorporate language from nearly all of the Pauline epistles. The Epistle to Polycarp makes large use of Phil, and besides this cites nine of the other Pauline epistles. Ignatius quotes from Matthew, apparently from memory; also from 1 Peter and 1 John. In regard to all these three writers-Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius-it is not enough to say that they bring us reminiscences or quotations from this or that book. Their thought is tinctured all through with New Testament truth. As we move a little farther down the years we come to "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" (circa 120 A.D. in its present form; see DIDACHE); the Epistle of Barnabas (circa 130 A.D.) and the Shepherd of Hermas (circa 130 A.D.). These exhibit the same phenomena as appear in the writings of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp as far as references to the New Testament are concerned. Some books are quoted, and the thought of the three writings echoes again and again the teachings of the New Testament. They bear distinct witness to the value of "the gospel" and the doctrine of the apostles, so much so as to place these clearly above their own words. It is in the Epistle of Barnabas that we first come upon the phrase "it is written," referring to a New Testament book (Matthew) (see Epis., iv.14). In this deepening sense of value was enfolded the feeling of authoritativeness, which slowly was to find expression. It is well to add that what we have so far discovered was true in widely separated parts of the Christian world as e.g. Rome and Asia Minor.

(2) Forces Increasing Value of Writings:

(a) Apologists, Justin Martyr:

The literature of the period we are examining was not, however, wholly of the kind of which we have been speaking. Two forces were calling out other expressions of the singular value of the writings of the apostles, whether gospels or epistles. These were

(a) the attention of the civil government in view of the rapid growth of the Christian church and

(b) heresy.

The first brought to the defense or commendation of Christianity the Apologists, among whom were Justin Martyr, Aristides, Melito of Sardis and Theophilus of Antioch. By far the most important of these was Justin Martyr, and his work may be taken as representative. He was born about 100 A.D. at Shechem, and died as a martyr at Rome in 165 A.D. His two Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho are the sources for the study of his testimony. He speaks of the "Memoirs of the Apostles called Gospels" (Ap., i.66) which were read on Sunday interchangeably with the prophets (i.67). Here emerges that equivalence in value of these "Gospels" with the Old Testament Scriptures which may really mark the beginning of canonization. That these Gospels were our four Gospels as we now have them is yet a disputed question; but the evidence is weighty that they were. (SeePurves, Testimony of Justin Martyr to Early Christianity, Lect V.) The fact that Tatian, his pupil, made a harmony of the Gospels, i.e. of our four Gospels, also bears upon our interpretation of Justin's "Memoirs." (SeeHemphill, The Diatessaron of Tatian.) The only other New Testament book which Justin mentions is the Apocalypse; but he appears to have known the Acts, six epistles of Paul, Hebrew and 1 John, and echoes of still other epistles are perceptible. When he speaks of the apostles it is after this fashion: "By the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the Word of God" (Ap., i.39). It is debatable, however, whether this refers to more than the actual preaching of the apostles. The beginning of the formation of the canon is in the position and authority given to the Gospels.

(b) Gnostics, Marcion:

While the Apologists were busy commending or defending Christianity, heresy in the form of Gnosticism was also compelling attention to the matter of the writings of the apostles. From the beginning Gnostic teachers claimed that Jesus had favored chosen ones of His apostles with a body of esoteric truth which had been handed down by secret tradition. This the church denied, and in the controversy that went on through years the question of what were authoritative writings became more and more pronounced. Basilides e.g., who taught in Alexandria during the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-38), had for his secret authority the secret tradition of the apostle Matthias and of Glaucias, an alleged interpreter of Peter, but he bears witness to Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians in the effort to recommend his doctrines, and, what is more, gives them the value of Scripture in order to support more securely his teachings. (SeePhilosophoumena of Hippolytus, VII, 17). Valentinus, tracing his authority through Theodas to Paul, makes the same general use of New Testament books, and Tertullian tells us that he appeared to use the whole New Testament as then known.

The most noted of the Gnostics was Marcion, a native of Pontus. He went to Rome (circa 140 A.D.), there broke with the church and became a dangerous heretic. In support of his peculiar views, he formed a canon of his own which consisted of Luke's Gospel and ten of the Pauline epistles. He rejected the Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, Matthew, Mark, John, the Acts, the Catholic epistles and the Apocalypse, and made a recension of both the gospel of Luke and the Pauline epistles which he accepted. His importance, for us, however, is in the fact that he gives us the first clear evidence of the canonization of the Pauline epistles. Such use of the Scriptures inevitably called forth both criticism and a clearer marking off of those books which were to be used in the churches opposed to heresy, and so "in the struggle with Gnosticism the canon was made." We are thus brought to the end of the first period in which we have marked the collection of New Testament books in greater or smaller compass, the increasing valuation of them as depositions of the truth of Jesus and His apostles, and finally the movement toward the claim of their authoritativeness as over against perverted teaching. No sharp line as to a given year can be drawn between the first stage of the process and the second. Forces working in the first go on into the second, but results are accomplished in the second which give it its right to separate consideration.

2. From 170 A.D. to 220 A.D.:

The period from 170 A.D. to 220 A.D.-This is the age of a voluminous theological literature busy with the great issues of church canon and creed. It is the period of the great names of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, representing respectively Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa. In passing into it we come into the clear light of Christian history. There is no longer any question as to a New Testament canon; the only difference of judgment is as to its extent. What has been slowly but surely shaping itself in the consciousness of the church now comes to clear expression.

(1) Irenaeus.

That expression we may study in Irenaeus as representative of the period. He was born in Asia Minor, lived and taught in Rome and became afterward bishop of Lyons. He had, therefore, a wide acquaintance with the churches, and was peculiarly competent to speak concerning the general judgment of the Christian world. As a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John, he is connected with the apostles themselves. An earnest defender of the truth, he makes the New Testament in great part his authority, and often appeals to it. The four Gospels, the Acts, the epistles of Paul, several of the Catholic epistles and the Apocalypse are to him Scripture in the fullest sense. They are genuine and authoritative, as much so as the Old Testament ever was. He dwells upon the fact that there are four gospels, the very number being prefigured in the four winds and the four quarters of the earth. Every attempt to increase or diminish the number is heresy. Tertullian takes virtually the same position (Adv. Marc., iv. 2), while Clement of Alexandria quotes all four gospels as "Scripture." By the end of the 2nd century the canon of the gospels was settled. The same is true also of the Pauline epistles. Irenaeus makes more than two hundred citations from Paul, and looks upon his epistles as Scripture (Adv. Haer., iii.12, 12). Indeed, at this time it may be said that the new canon was known under the designation "The Gospel and the Apostles" in contradistinction to the old as "the Law and the Prophets." The title "New Testament" appears to have been first used by an unknown writer against Montanism (circa 193 A.D.). It occurs frequently after this in Origen and later writers. In considering all this testimony two facts should have emphasis:

(1) its wide extent: Clement and Irenaeus represent parts of Christendom which are widely separated;

(2) the relation of these men to those who have gone before them. Their lives together with those before them spanned nearly the whole time from the apostles.

They but voiced the judgment which silently, gradually had been selecting the "Scripture" which they freely and fully acknowledged and to which they made appeal.

(2) The Muratorian Fragment.

Just here we come upon the Muratorian Fragment, so called because discovered in 1740 by the librarian of Milan, Muratori. It dates from some time near the end of the 2nd century, is of vital interest in the study of the history of the canon, since it gives us a list of New Testament books and is concerned with the question of the canon itself. The document comes from Rome, and Lightfoot assigns it to Hippolytus. Its list contains the Gospels (the first line of the fragment is incomplete, beginning with Mark, but Matthew is clearly implied), the Acts, the Pauline epistles, the Apocalypse, 1 and 2 John (perhaps by implication the third) and Jude. It does not mention Hebrew, 1 and 2 Peter, James. In this list we have virtually the real position of the canon at the close of the 2nd century. Complete unanimity had not been attained in reference to all the books which are now between the covers of our New Testament. Seven books had not yet found a secure place beside the gospel and Paul in all parts of the church. The Palestinian and Syrian churches for a long time rejected the Apocalypse, while some of the Catholic epistles were in Egypt considered doubtful. The history of the final acceptance of these belongs to the third period.

3. 3rd and 4th Centuries:

(1) Origen:

The period included by the 3rd and 4th centuries-It has been said that "the question of the canon did not make much progress in the course of the 3rd century" (Reuss, History of the Canon of Holy Scripture, 125). We have the testimony of a few notable teachers mostly from one center, Alexandria. Their consideration of the question of the disputed book serves just here one purpose. By far the most distinguished name of the 3rd century is Origen. He was born in Alexandria about 185 A.D., and before he was seventeen became an instructor in the school for catechumens. In 203 he was appointed bishop, experienced various fortunes, and died in 254. His fame rests upon his ability as an exegete, though he worked laboriously and successfully in other fields. His testimony is of high value, not simply because of his own studies, but also because of his wide knowledge of what was thought in other Christian centers in the world of his time. Space permits us only to give in summary form his conclusions, especially in regard to the books still in doubt. The Gospels, the Pauline epistles, the Acts, he accepts without question. He discusses at some length the authorship of He, believes that "God alone knows who wrote it," and accepts it as Scripture. His testimony to the Apocalypse is given in the sentence, "Therefore John the son of Zebedee says in the Revelation." He also gives sure witness to Jude, but wavers in regard to James, 2 Peter, 2 John, and 3 John.

(2) Dionysius:

Another noted name of this century is Dionysius of Alexandria, a pupil of Origen (died 265). His most interesting discussion is regarding the Apocalypse, which he attributes to an unknown John, but he does not dispute its inspiration. It is a singular fact that the western church accepted this book from the first, while its position in the East was variable. Conversely the Epistle to the He was more insecure in the West than in the East. In regard to the Catholic epistles Dionysius supports James, 2 John, and 3 John, but not 2 Peter or Jude.

(3) Cyprian:

In the West the name of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (248-58 A.D.), was most influential. He was much engaged in controversy, but a man of great personal force. The Apocalypse he highly honored, but he was silent about the Epistle to the Hebrews. He refers to only two of the Catholic epistles, 1 Peter and 1 John.

These testimonies confirm what was said above, namely, that the end of the 3rd century leaves the question of the full canon about where it was at the beginning. 1 Peter and 1 John seem to have been everywhere known and accepted. In the West the five Catholic epistles gained recognition more slowly than in the East.

(4) Eusebius:

In the early part of the 4th century Eusebius (270-340 A.D.), bishop of Caesarea before 315, sets before us in his Church History (III, chapters iii-xxv) his estimate of the canon in his time. He does not of course use the word canon, but he "conducts an historical inquiry into the belief and practice of earlier generations." He lived through the last great persecution in the early part of the 4th century, when not only places of worship were razed to the ground, but also the sacred Scriptures were in the public market-places consigned to the flames (Historia Ecclesiastica, VIII, 2). It was, therefore, no idle question what book a loyal Christian must stand for as his Scripture. The question of the canon had an earnest, practical significance. Despite some obscurity and apparent contradictions, his classification of the New Testament books was as follows:

(1) The acknowledged books. His criteria for each of these was authenticity and apostolicity and he placed in this list the Gospels, Acts, and Paul's epistles, including He.

(2) The disputed books, i.e. those which had obtained only partial recognition, to which he assigned Jas, Jude, 2Pe and 2 Jn. About the Apocalypse also he was not sure. In this testimony there is not much advance over that of the 3rd century. It is virtually the canon of Origen.

All this makes evident the fact that as yet no official decision nor uniformity of usage in the church gave a completed canon. The time, however, was drawing on when various forces at work were to bring much nearer this unanimity and enlarge the list of acknowledged books. In the second half of the 4th century repeated efforts were made to put an end to uncertainty.

(5) Athanasius:

Athanasius in one of his pastoral letters in connection with the publishing of the ecclesiastical calendar gives a list of the books comprising Scripture, and in the New Testament portion are included all the 27 books which we now recognize. "These are the wells of salvation," he writes, "so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the sayings in these. Let no one add to these. Let nothing be taken away." Gregory of Nazianzen (died 390 A.D.) also published a list omitting Revelation, as did Cyril of Jerusalem (died 386), and quite at the end of the century (4th) Isidore of Pelusium speaks of the "canon of truth, the Divine Scriptures." For a considerable time the Apocalypse was not accepted in the Palestinian or Syrian churches. Athanasius helped toward its acceptance in the church of Alexandria. Some differences of opinion, however, continued. The Syrian church did not accept all of the Catholic epistles until much later.

(6) Council of Carthage, Jerome; Augustine:

The Council of Carthage in 397, in connection with its decree "that aside from the canonical Scriptures nothing is to be read in church under the name of Divine Scriptures," gives a list of the books of the New Testament. After this fashion there was an endeavor to secure unanimity, while at the same time differences of judgment and practice continued. The books which had varied treatment through these early centuries were He, the Apocalypse and the five minor Catholic epistles. The advance of Christianity under Constantine had much to do with the reception of the whole group of books in the East. The task which the emperor gave to Eusebius to prepare "fifty copies of the Divine Scriptures" established a standard which in time gave recognition to all doubtful books. In the West, Jerome and Augustine were the controlling factors in its settlement of the canon. The publication of the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) virtually determined the matter.

In conclusion let it be noted how much the human element was involved in the whole process of forming our New Testament. No one would wish to dispute a providential overruling of it all. Also it is well to bear in mind that all the books have not the same clear title to their places in the canon as far as the history of their attestation is concerned. Clear and full and unanimous, however, has been the judgment from the beginning upon the Gospels, the Acts, the Pauline epistles, 1 Peter and 1 John.

LITERATURE. Reuss, History of the Canon of Holy Scriptures; E. C. Moore, The New Testament in the Christian Church; Gregory, Canon and Text of the New Testament; Introductions to New Testament of Julicher, Weiss, Reuss; Zahn, Geschichte des Neutest. Kanons; Harnack, Das New Testament um das Jahr 200; Chronologie der altchristlichen Literatur; Westcott, The Canon of the New Testament; Zahn, Forschungen zur Gesch. des neutest. Kanons.

J. S. Riggs




1. The Christian Term "Canon"

2. The Corresponding Hebrew Expression

3. The "Hidden Books" of the Jews

4. The Determining Principle in the Formation of the Canon

5. The Tripartite Division of the Old Testament

6. How Account for the Tripartite Division?


1. The Old Testament's Witness to Itself (circa 1450-444 B.C.)

2. The Samaritan Pentateuch (circa 432 B.C.)

3. The Septuagint Version (circa 250-150 B.C.)

4. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach (circa 170 B.C.)

5. The Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (circa 132 B.C.)

6. 1 and 2 Maccabees (between 125 and 70 B.C.)

7. Philo (circa 20 B.C.-50 A.D.)

8. The New Testament as a Witness (circa 50-100 A.D.)

9. 4 Esdras (circa 81-96 A.D.)

10. Josephus' "Contra Apionem" (circa 100 A.D.)

11. The Councils of Jamnia (90 and 118 A.D.)

12. The Talmud (200-500 A.D.)

13. Jewish Doubts in the 2nd Century A.D.

14. Summary and Conclusion


1. In the Eastern or Oriental Church

2. In the Western Church


I. Introductory.

The problem of how we came by 39 books known as Old Testament "Scripture" is a purely historical investigation. The question involved is, not who wrote the several books, but who made them into a collection, not their origin or contents, but their history; not God's part, but man's. Our present aim, accordingly, must be to trace the process by which the various writings became "Scripture."

1. The Christian Term "Canon":

The word "canon" is of Christian origin, from the Greek word kanon, which in turn is probably borrowed from the Hebrew word, qaneh, meaning a reed or measuring rod, hence, norm or rule. Later it came to mean a rule of faith, and eventually a catalogue or list. In present usage it signifies a collection of religious writings Divinely inspired and hence, authoritative, normative, sacred and binding. The term occurs in Galatians 6:16 2 Corinthians 10:13-16; but it is first employed of the books of Scripture in the technical sense of a standard collection or body of sacred writings, by the church Fathers of the 4th century; e.g. in the 59th canon of the Council of Laodicea (363 A.D.); in the Festal Epistle of Athanasius (365 A.D.); and by Amphilochius, archbishop of Iconium (395 A.D.).

2. The Corresponding Hebrew Expression:

How the ancient Hebrews expressed the conception of canonicity is not known; but it is safe to say that the idea, as an idea, existed long before there was any special phrase invented to express it. In the New Testament the word "Scriptures" conveys unquestionably the notion of sacredness (Matthew 21:42 John 5:39 Acts 18:24). From the 1st century A.D. and following, however, according to the Talmud, the Jews employed the phrase "defile the hands." Writings which were suitable to be read in the synagogue were designated as books which "defile the hands." What this very peculiar oriental expression may have originally signified no one definitely knows. Probably Leviticus 16:24 gives a hint of the true interpretation. According to this passage the high priest on the great Day of Atonement washed not only when he put on the holy garments of his office, but also when he put them off. Quite possibly, therefore, the expression "defile the hands" signified that the hands which had touched the sacred writings must first be washed before touching aught else. The idea expressed, accordingly, was one akin to that of taboo. That is to say, just as certain garments worn by worshippers in encircling the sacred Kaaba at Mecca are taboo to the Mohammedans of today, i.e. cannot be worn outside the mosque, but must be left at the door as the worshippers quit the sanctuary, so the Hebrew writings which were fit to be read in the synagogue rendered the hands of those who touched them taboo, defiling their hands, as they were wont to say, so that they must first be washed before engaging in any secular business. This seems to be the best explanation of this enigmatical phrase. Various other and somewhat fanciful explanations of it, however, have been given: for example, to prevent profane uses of worn-out synagogue rolls (Buhl); or to prevent placing consecrated grain alongside of the sacred rolls in the synagogues that it might become holy, as the grain would attract the mice and the mice would gnaw the rolls (Strack, Wildeboer and others); or to prevent the sacred, worn-out parchments from being used as coverings for animals (Graetz); or to "declare the hands to be unclean unless previously washed" (Furst, Green). But no one of these explanations satisfies. The idea of taboo is more likely imbedded in the phrase.

3. The "Hidden Books" of the Jews:

The rabbins invented a special phrase to designate rolls that were worn-out or disputed. These they called genuzim, meaning "hidden away." Cemeteries filled with Hebrew manuscripts which have long been buried are frequently found today in Egypt in connection with Jewish synagogues. Such rolls might first be placed in the genizah or rubbish chamber of the sanctuary. They were not, however, apocryphal or uncanonical in the sense of being extraneous or outside the regular collection. For such the Jews had a special term cepharim chitsonim, "books that are outside." These could not be read in the synagogues. "Hidden books" were rather worn-out parchments, or canonical rolls which might by some be temporarily disputed.


4. The Determining Principle in the Formation of the Canon:

Who had the right to declare a writing canonical? To this question widely divergent answers have been given. According to a certain class of theologians the several books of the Old Testament were composed by authors who were conscious not only of their inspiration but also that their writings were destined to be handed down to the church of future generations as sacred. In other words each writer canonized, as it were, his own writings. For example, Dr. W. H. Green (Canon, 35, 106, 110) says: "No formal declaration of their canonicity was needed to give them sanction. They were from the first not only eagerly read by the devout but believed to be Divinely obligatory. Each individual book of an acknowledged prophet of Yahweh, or of anyone accredited as inspired by Him to make known His will, was accepted as the word of God immediately upon its appearance.. Those books and those only were accepted as the Divine standards of their faith and regulative of their conduct which were written for this definite purpose by those whom they believed to be inspired of God. It was this which made them canonical. The spiritual profit found in them corresponded with and confirmed the belief in their heavenly origin. And the public official action which further attested, though it did not initiate, their canonicity, followed in the wake of the popular recognition of their Divine authority.. The writings of the prophets, delivered to the people as a declaration of the Divine will, possessed canonical authority from the moment of their appearance.. The canon does not derive its authority from the church, whether Jewish or Christian; the office of the church is merely that of a custodian and a witness." So likewise Dr. J. D. Davis (Pres. and Ref. Review, April, 1902, 182).

On the contrary, Dillmann (Jahrb. fur deutsche Theol., III, 420) more scientifically claims that "history knows nothing of the individual books having been designed to be sacred from their origin.. These books bore indeed in themselves from the first those characteristics on account of which they were subsequently admitted into the sacred collection, but yet always had first to pass through a shorter or longer period of verification, and make trial of the Divine power resident within them upon the hearts of the church before they were outwardly and formally acknowledged by it as Divine books." As a matter of fact, the books of the Old Testament are still on trial, and ever will be. So far as is known, the great majority of the writers of Holy Scripture did not arbitrarily hand over their productions to the church and expect them to be regarded as canon Scripture. Two parties are involved in the making of canonical Scripture-the original authors and the church-both of whom were inspired by the same Spirit. The authors wrote inspired by the Divine Spirit, and the church ever since-Jewish and Christian alike-has been inspired to recognize the authoritative character of their writings. And so it will be to the end of time. "We cannot be certain that anything comes from God unless it bring us personally something evidently Divine" (Briggs, The Study of Holy Scripture, 162).

5. The Tripartite Division of the Old Testament:

The Jews early divided the Old Testament writings into three classes:

(1) the Torah, or Law; (2) the Nebhi'im, or Prophets; and

(3) the Kethubhim, or Writings, called in Greek the Hagiographa.

The Torah included the 5 books of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), which were called "the Five-fifths of the Law." The Nebhi'im embraced

(a) the four so-called Former Prophets, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, counted as one book, 1 and 2 Kings, also counted as one book; and

(b) the four so-called Latter Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets, counted as one book; a total of 8 books.

The Kethubhim, or Writings, were 11 in all, including Psalms, Proverbs, and Job, the five Meghilloth or Rolls (Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther), Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, counted as one book, and 1 and 2 Chronicles, also counted as one book; in all 24 books, exactly the same as those of the Protestant canon. This was the original count of the Jews as far as we can trace it back. Later certain Jewish authorities appended Ruth to Judges, and Lamentations to Jeremiah, and thereby obtained the number 22, which corresponded to the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet; but this manner of counting was secondary and fanciful. Still later others divided Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah and Jeremiah-Lamentations into two books each respectively and thereby obtained 27, which they fancifully regarded as equivalent to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet plus 5, the number of letters having a peculiar final form when standing at the end of a word. Jerome states that 22 is the correct reckoning, but he adds, "Some count both Ruth and Lamentations among the Hagiographa, and so get 24." 4 Esdras, which is the oldest (85-96 A.D.) witness to the number of books in the Old Testament, gives 24.

6. How Account for the Tripartite Division?:

The answer to the question of how to account for the tripartite division involves the most careful investigation of the whole process by which the canon actually took shape. If the entire canon of the Old Testament were formed, as some allege, by one man, or by one set of men, in a single age, then it is obvious that the books must have been separated into three groups on the basis of some material differences in their contents. If, on the other hand; the process of canonization was gradual and extended over several generations, then the various books were separated from one another probably because one section of the canon was closed before certain other books of similar character were written. At any rate it is difficult to see why Kings and Chronicles are not included in the same division, and especially strange that Daniel does not stand among the prophets. To explain this mystery, medieval Jews were wont to say that "the Prophets were inspired by the spirit of prophecy, whereas the Writings by the Holy Spirit," implying different degrees of inspiration. But this is a distinction without a difference, the Holy Spirit and the spirit of prophecy are one and the same. Modern Protestants distinguish between the donum propheticum and the munus propheticum, i.e. between the gift and the office of prophecy. They allow that Daniel possessed the gift of prophecy, but they deny that he was Divinely appointed to the office of prophet. But compare Matthew 24:15, which speaks of "Daniel the prophet," and on the other hand, Amos 7:14, in which Amos resents being considered a prophet. Oehler modifies this explanation, claiming that the threefold division of the canon corresponds to the three stages of development in the religion of Israel, namely, Mosaism, Prophetism, and Hebraism. According to Oehler, the Law was the foundation of the entire canon. From it there were two lines of development, one objective, the Prophets, the other subjective, the Writings. But Oehler's theory does not satisfactorily account for Ezra and Nehemiah and Chronicles, being in the third division; for in what sense can they be said to be more subjective than Judges, Samuel, and Kings? The Septuagint version (250-150 B.C.) takes no notice of the tripartite division. The true solution probably is that the process was gradual. When all the witnesses have been examined, we shall probably discover that the Law was canonized first, the Prophets considerably later, and the Writings last of all. And it may further become evident that the two last divisions were collected synchronously, and hence, that the tripartite divisions of the canon are due to material differences in their contents as well as to chronology.

II. Examination of the Witnesses.

1. The Old Testament's Witness to Itself (circa 1450-444 B.C.):

Though the Old Testament does not tell us anything about the processes of its own canonization, it does furnish valuable hints as to how the ancient Hebrews preserved their writings. Thus in Exodus 40:20 it is stated that the "testimony," by which is meant the two tables of the Law containing the Ten Commandments, was put into the Ark of the Covenant for safe-keeping. In Deuteronomy 31:9, 24-26, the laws of Deuteronomy are said to have been delivered to the sons of Levi, and by them deposited "by the side of the ark. that it may be there for a witness against thee." Such language indicates that the new lawbook is regarded "as a standard of faith and action" (Driver, Deuteronomy, 343). According to 1 Kings 8:9, when Solomon brought the Ark up from the city of David to the Temple, the two tables were still its only contents, which continued to be carefully preserved. According to 2 Kings 11:12, when Joash was crowned king, Jehoiada the high priest is said to have given (literally "put upon") him "the testimony," which doubtless contained "the substance of the fundamental laws of the covenant," and was regarded as "the fundamental charter of the constitution" (compare H. E. Ryle, Canon of the Old Testament 45). Likewise in Proverbs 25:1, it is stated that a large number of proverbs were copied out by Hezekiah's men. Now all these, and still other passages which might be summoned, witness to the preservation of certain portions of the Old Testament. But preservation is not synonymous with canonization. A writing might easily be preserved without being made a standard of faith and conduct. Nevertheless the two ideas are closely related; for, when religious writings are sedulously preserved it is but natural to infer that their intrinsic value was regarded as correspondingly precious.

Two other passages of paramount importance remain to be considered. The first is 2 Kings 22:8, describing the finding of the "Book of the Law," and how Josiah the king on the basis of it instituted a religious reformation and bound the people to obey it precepts. Here is an instance in which the Law, or some portion of it (how much no one can say), is regarded as of normative and authoritative character. The king and his coadjutators recognize at once that it is ancient and that it contains the words of Yahweh (2 Kings 22:13, 18, 19). Its authority is undisputed. Yet nothing is said of its "canonicity," or that it would "defile the hands"; consequently there is no real ground for speaking of it as "the beginnings of the canon," for in the same historic sense the beginnings of the canon are to be found in Exodus 24:7. The other passage of paramount importance is Nehemiah 8:8, according to which Ezra is said to have "read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly." Not only did Ezra read the Law; he accompanied it with an interpretation. This seems to imply, almost beyond question, that in Ezra's time (444 B.C.) the Law, i.e. the Pentateuch, was regarded as canonical Scripture. This is practically all that the Old Testament says about itself, though other passages, such as Zechariah 7:12 and Daniel 9:2 might be brought forward to show the deep regard which the later prophets had for the writings of their predecessors. The former of these is the locus classicus in the Old Testament, teaching the inspiration of the Prophets; it is the Old Testament parallel to 2 Timothy 3:16.

2. The Samaritan Pentateuch (circa 432 B.C.):

Chronologically the Old Testament is of course our most ancient witness. It brings us down to 444 B.C. The next in order is the Samaritan Pentateuch, the history of which is as follows: About 432 B.C., as we know from Nehemiah 13:28 and Josephus (Ant., XI, vii, 2 through viii, 4), Nehemiah expelled from the Jewish colony in Jerusalem Manasseh, the polygamous grandson of Eliashib the high priest and son-in-law of Sanballat. Manasseh founded the schismatic community of the Samaritans, and instituted on Mt. Gerizim a rival temple worship to that at Jerusalem. Of the Samaritans there still survive today some 170 souls; they reside in Shechem and are known as "the smallest religious sect in the world." It is true that Josephus, speaking of this event, confuses chronology somewhat, making Nehemiah and Alexander the Great contemporaries, whereas a century separated them, but the time element is of little moment. The bearing of the whole matter upon the history of the formation of the canon is this: the Samaritans possess the Pentateuch only; hence, it is inferred that at the time of Manasseh's expulsion the Jewish canon included the Pentateuch and the Pentateuch only. Budde (Encyclopaedia Biblica col. 659) says: "If alongside of the Law there had been other sacred writings, it would be inexplicable why these last also did not pass into currency with the Samaritans." Such a conclusion, however, is not fully warranted. It is an argument from silence. There are patent reasons on the other hand why the Samaritans should have rejected the Prophets, even though the y were already canonized. For the Samaritans would hardly adopt into their canon books that glorified the temple at Jerusalem. It cannot, accordingly, be inferred with certainty from the fact that the Samaritans accept the Pentateuch only, that therefore the Pentateuch at the time of Manasseh's expulsion was alone canonical, though it may be considered a reasonable presumption.

3. The Septuagint Version (circa 250-150 B.C.):

The Septuagint version in Greek is the first translation of the Old Testament ever made; indeed the Old Testament is the first book of any note in all literature to receive the honor of being translated into another tongue. This fact in itself is indicative of the esteem in which it was held at the time. The work of translation was inaugurated by Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) and probably continued for well-nigh a century (circa 250-150 B.C.). Aristeas, a distinguished officer of Ptolemy, records how it came about. It appears that Ptolemy was exceedingly fond of books, and set his heart on adding to his famous collection in Alexandria a translation of the Hebrew Pentateuch In order to obtain it, so the story goes, the king set free 198,000 Jewish slaves, and sent them with presents to Jerusalem to ask Eleazar the high priest for their Law and Jewish scholars capable of translating it. Six learned rabbis from each tribe (6 X 12 = 72) were sent. They were royally feasted; 70 questions were asked them to test their wisdom, and after 72 days of cooperation and conference they gave the world the Old Testament in the Greek language, which is known as the Septuagint version. To this fabulous story, Christian tradition adds that the rabbis did the work of translating in 72 (some say 36) separate cells on the island of Pharos, all working independently of each other, and that it was found at the expiration of their seclusion that each had produced a translation exactly word for word alike, hence, supernaturally inspired. Justin Martyr of the 2nd century A.D. says that he was actually shown by his Alexandrian guide the ruins of these Septuagint cells. The story is obviously a fable. The kernel of real truth at the bottom of it is probably that Ptolemy Philadelphus about the middle of the 3rd century B.C. succeeded in obtaining a translation of the Law. The other books were translated subsequently, perhaps for private use. The lack of unity of plan in the books outside the Law indicates that probably many different hands at different times were engaged upon them. There is a subscription, moreover, at the close of the translation of Esther which states that Lysimachus, the son of Ptolemy in Jerusalem, translated it. But the whole was apparently completed before Jesus ben Sirach the younger wrote his Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (circa 132 B.C.).

Now the Septuagint version, which was the Bible of our Lord and His apostles, is supposed to have included originally many of the Apocryphal books. Furthermore, in our present Septuagint, the canonical and Apocryphal books stand intermingled and in an order which shows that the translators knew nothing of the tripartite division of later Judaism, or if they did they quite ignored it. The order of the books in our English Old Testament is of course derived from the Septuagint through the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) of Jerome. The books in the Septuagint are arranged as follows: Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, 1 and 2 Esdras, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Epistle of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, 1, 2 and 3 Maccabees. On the basis of the Septuagint, Catholics advocate what is known as the "larger" canon of the Jews in Alexandria; Protestants, on the other hand, deny the existence of an independent canon in Alexandria in view of the "smaller" canon of the Jews in Palestine The actual difference between the Catholic and Protestant Old Testaments is a matter of 7 complete books and portions of two others: namely, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, together with certain additions to Esther (Esther 10:4-16:24) and to Daniel (Da 3:24-90; The So of the Three Holy Children (Azariah); Susanna verse 13 and Bel and the Dragon verse 14). These Protestants reject as apocryphal because there is no sufficient evidence that they were ever reckoned as canonical by the Jews anywhere. The fact that the present Septuagint includes them is far from conclusive that the original Septuagint did, for the following reasons:

(1) The design of the Septuagint was purely literary; Ptolemy and the Alexandrians were interested in building up a library.

(2) All the extant manuscripts of the Septuagint are of Christian not Jewish origin. Between the actual translation of the Septuagint (circa 250-150 B.C.) and the oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint extant (circa 350 A.D.) there is a chasm of fully 500 years, during which it is highly possible that the so-called Apocryphal books crept in.

(3) In the various extant manuscripts of the Septuagint, the Apocryphal books vary in number and name. For example, the great Vatican MS, which is probably "the truest representative which remains of the Alexandrian Bible," and which comes down to us from the 4th century A.D., contains no Book of Maccabees whatever, but does include 1 Esdras, which Jerome and Catholics generally treat as apocryphal. On the other hand, the Alexandrian MS, another of the great manuscripts of the Septuagint, dating from the 5th century A.D., contains not only the extra-canonical book of 1 Esdras, but 3 and 4 Maccabees, and in the New Testament the 1st and 2nd Epistles of Clement, none of which, however, is considered canonical by Rome. Likewise the great Sinaiticus MS, hardly less important than the Vatican as a witness to the Septuagint and like it dating from the 4th century A.D., omits Baruch (which Catholics consider canonical), but includes 4 Maccabees, and in the New Testament the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas; all of which are excluded from the canon by Catholics. In other manuscripts, 3 Maccabees, 3 Esdras and The Prayer of Manasseh are occasionally included. The problem as to how many books the original Septuagint version actually included is a very complicated one. The probability is that it included no one of these variants.

(4) Still another reason for thinking that there never existed in Egypt a separate or "larger" canon is the fact that during the 2nd century A.D., the Alexandrian Jews adopted Aquila's Greek version of the Old Testament in lieu of their own, and it is known that Aquila's text excluded all Apocryphal books. Add to all this the fact that Philo, who lived in Alexandria from circa 20 B.C. till 50 A.D., never quotes from One of these Apocryphal books though he often does from the canonical, and that Origen, who also resided in Alexandria (circa 200 A.D.), never set his imprimatur upon them, and it becomes reasonably convincing that there was no "larger" canon in Alexandria. The value of the evidence derived from the Septuagint, accordingly, is largely negative. It only indicates that when the translation of the Old Testament into Greek was made in Alexandria, the process of canonization was still incomplete. For had it been actually complete, it is reasonable to suppose that the work of translation would have proceeded according to some well-defined plan, and would have been executed with greater accuracy. As it is, the translators seem to have taken all sorts of liberties with the text, adding to the books of Esther and Daniel and omitting fully one-eighth of the text of Jeremiah. Such work also indicates that they were not executing a public or ecclesiastical trust, but rather a private enterprise. Our necessary conclusion, therefore, is that the work of canonization was probably going on in Palestine while the work of translation was proceeding in Alexandria.

4. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach (circa 170 B.C.):

Our next witness is Jesus ben Sirach who (circa 170 B.C.) wrote a formidable work entitled Ecclesiasticus, otherwise known as Sir. The author lived in Jerusalem and wrote in Hebrew. His book is a book of Wisdom resembling Proverbs; some of his precepts approach the high level of the Gospel. In many respects Ecclesiasticus is the most important of all the Apocryphal books; theologically it is the chief monument of primitive Sadduceeism. In chapters 44-50, the author sings a "hymn to the Fathers," eulogizing the mighty heroes of Israel from Enoch to Nehemiah, in fact from Adam to Simon, including the most famous men described in the Old Testament, and making explicit mention of the Twelve Prophets. These facts would indicate that the whole or, at least, the most of the Old Testament was known to him, and that already in his day (180 B.C.) the so-called Minor Prophets were regarded as a special group of writings by themselves. What the value of Ecclesiasticus is as a witness, however, depends upon the interpretation one places on 24:33, which reads: "I will yet pour out doctrine as prophecy and leave it unto generations of ages." From this it is inferred by some that he feels himself inspired and capable of adding to the canon already in existence, and that, though he knew the full prophetic canon, he did not draw any very definite line of demarcation between his own work and the inspired writings of the prophets. For example, he passes over from the patriarchs and prophets of Israel to Simon the son of Onias, who was probably the high priest in his own time, making no distinction between them. But this may have been partly due to personal conceit; compare 39:12, "Yet more will I utter, which I have thought upon; and I am filled as the moon at the full." Yet, perhaps, in his day still only the Law and the Prophets were actually canonized, but alongside of these a body of literature was being gathered and gradually augmented of a nature not foreign to his own writings, and therefore not clearly marked off from literary compositions like his own. Yet to Sirach the Law is everything. He identifies it with the highest Wisdom; indeed, all wisdom in his judgment is derived from a study of the Law (compare Sirach 19:20-24; 15:1-18; 24:23:00; 2:16; 39:1).

5. The Prologue to Ecclesiasticus (circa 132 B.C.):

The Prologue or Preface to Ecclesiasticus is our next witness to the formation of the canon. It was written by the grandson of Jesus ben Sirach, who bore his grandfather's name (circa 132 B.C.). Jesus ben Sirach the younger translated in Egypt his grandfather's proverbs into Greek, and in doing so added a Preface or Prologue of his own. In this Prologue, he thrice refers to the tripartite division of the Old Testament. In fact the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus is the oldest witness we have to the threefold division of the Old Testament books. He says: "Whereas many and great things have been delivered unto us by the Law and the Prophets, and by others,. my grandfather, Jesus, when he had given himself to the reading of the Law, and the Prophets, and other books of our Fathers, and had gotten therein good judgment (the Revised Version (British and American) "having gained great familiarity therein"), was drawn on also himself to write something pertaining to learning and wisdom.. For the same things uttered in Hebrew and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them; and not only these things, but the Law itself, and the Prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language." These are explicit and definite allusions to the threefold division of the Old Testament writings, yet only the titles of the first and second divisions are the technical names usually employed; the third is especially vague because of his use of the terms, "the other books of the Fathers," and "the rest of the books." However, he evidently refers to writings with religious contents; and, by "the other books of the Fathers," he can hardly be supposed to have meant an indefinite number, though he has not told us which they were or what was their number.

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1. Birth of Jesus

(1) Death of Herod

(2) Census of Quirinius

(3) Star of the Magi

(4) Course of Abijah

(5) Day and Month

(6) Summary

2. Baptism of Jesus

3. First Passover

4. Death of John the Baptist

5. Length of Jesus' Ministry

6. Death of Jesus

7. Summary of Dates



1. Paul's Conversion

2. Death of Herod Agrippa I

3. Famine under Claudius

4. Sergius Paulus

5. Edict of Claudius

6. Gallio

7. Festus

8. Relative Chronology of Acts

9. Pauline Epistles

10. Release and Death of Paul

11. Death of Peter

12. Death of James the Just

13. The Synoptic Gospels, etc.

14. Death of John

15. Summary of Dates


The current Christian era is reckoned from the birth of Jesus and is based upon the calculations of Dionysius (6th century). Subsequent investigation has shown that the Dionysian date is at least four years too late. Several eras were in use in the time of Jesus; but of these only the Varronian will be used coordinately with the Dionysian in the discussion of the chronology of the life of Jesus, 753 A. U. C. being synchronous with 1 B.C. and 754 A. U. C. with 1 A.D.

I. Chronology of the Life of Jesus.

1. Birth of Jesus:

Jesus was born before the death of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1) at the time of a census or enrollment made in the territory of Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus when Quirinius (Revised Version; Cyrenius, the King James Version) was exercising authority in the Roman province of Syria (Luke 2:1 f). At the time of Jesus' birth a star led the Magi of the East to seek in Jerusalem the infant whom they subsequently found in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). John the Baptist was six months older than Jesus (Luke 1:36) and he was born in the days of Herod (Luke 1:5; compare Luke 2:1) after his father, Zacharias, of the priestly course of Abijah, had been performing the functions of his office in the temple.

(1) Death of Herod.

The death of Herod the Great occurred in the spring of 750/4. (NOTE: The alternative numbers are B.C. or A.D., i.e., 750 A. U. C. = 4 B.C., etc.) He ruled from his appointment in Rome 714/40 (Ant., XIV, xiv, 4-5, in the consulship of Caius Domitius Calvinus and Caius Asinius Pollio) 37 years, and from his accession in Jerusalem after the capture of the city 717/37 (Ant.,. XIV, xvi, 1-3; BJ, I, xvii, 9; I, xviii, 1-3; Dio Cassius xlix0.22; compare Schurer, GJV3, I, 358, note 11) 34 years (Ant, XVII, xviii, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7-8; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 415, note 167 where it is shown that Josephus reckons a year too much, probably counting from Nisan 1 and including partial years). Just before Herod's death there was an eclipse of the moon (Ant., XVII, vi, 4). According to astronomical calculations an eclipse was visible in Palestine on March 23 and September 15, 749/5, March 12, 750/4 and January 9, 753/1. Of these the most probable is that of March 12, 750/4. Soon after the eclipse Herod put to death his son Antipater and died five days later (Ant., XVII, vii; BJ, I, xxxiii, 7). Shortly after Herod's death the Passover was near at hand. (Ant., XVII, vi, 4 through ix, 3). In this year Passover (Nisan 15) fell on April 11; and as Archelaus had observed seven days of mourning for his father before this, Herod's death would fall between March 17 and April 4. But as the 37th (34th) year of his reign was probably reckoned from Nisan 1 or March 28, his death may be dated between March 28 and April 4, 750/4.

This date for Herod's death is confirmed by the evidence for the duration of the reigns of his three sons. Archelaus was deposed in 759/6 (Dio Cassius lv.27 in the consulship of Aemilius Lepidus and Lucius Arruntius) in the 10th year of his reign (Ant., XVII, xiii, 2; compare BJ, II, vii, 3 which gives the year as the 9th). Antipas was deposed most probably in the summer of 792/39 (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1-2; compare XVIII, vi, 11; XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, ix, 6; Schurer, op. cit., I, 448, note 46 and 416, note 167). There are coins of Antipas from his 43rd year (Madden, Coins of the Jews, 121). The genuineness of a coin from the 44th year is questioned by Schurer but accepted by Madden. The coin from the 45th year is most probably spurious (Schurer, op. cit., I, 417, note 167). Philip died after reigning 37 years, in the 20th year of Tiberius-August 19, 786/33-787/34 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 6). There is also a coin of Philip from his 37th year (Madden, op. cit., 126). Thus Archelaus, Antipas and Philip began to reign in 750/4.

(2) Census of Quirinius.

The census or enrollment, which, according to Luke 2:1, was the occasion of the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, is connected with a decree of Augustus embracing the Greek-Roman world. This decree must have been carried out in Palestine by Herod and probably in accordance with the Jewish method-each going to his own city-rather than the Roman (Dig. 15, 4, 2; Zumpt, Das Geburtsjahr Christi, 195; Kenyon, Greek Papyri in the British Museum, III, 124; Schurer, Theol. Ztg, 1907, 683; and on the other hand, Ramsay, Expositor, 1908, I, 19, note). Certainly there is no intimation of an insurrection such as characterized a later census (Acts 5:37; Ant, XVIII, i, 1; BJ, II, xvii, 7; compare Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Livy Epit. cxxxvi, cxxxvii; Dessau, Inscrip. lat. Sel. number 212, col. ii, 36) and this may have been due in no small measure to a difference in method. Both Josephus and Luke mention the later census which was made by Quirinius on the deposition of A rchelaus, together with the insurrection of Judas which accompanied it. But while Josephus does not mention the Herodian census-although there may be some intimation of it in Ant, XVI, ix, 3; XVII, ii, 4; compare Sanclemente, De vulg. aerae emend., 438; Ramsay, Was Christ Born at Beth.1, 178-Luke carefully distinguishes the two, characterizing the census at the time of Jesus' birth as "first," i.e. first in a series of enrollments connected either with Quirinius or with the imperial policy inaugurated by t he decree of Augustus. The Greek-Roman writers of the time do not mention this decree and later writers (Cassiodor, Isidor and Suidas) cannot be relied upon with certainty as independent witnesses (Zumpt, Geburtsjahr, 148). Yet the geographical work of Agrippa and the preparation of a breviarium totius imperil by Augustus (Tac. Ann. i0.11; Suet. Aug. 28 and 101; Dio Cassius liii0.3; lvi0.33; compare Mommsen, Staatsrecht, II, 1025, note 3), together with the interest of the emperor in the organization and finances of the empire and the attention which he gave to the provinces (Marquardt, Rom. Staatsverwaltung, II, 211; compare 217), are indirectly corroborative of Luke's statement. Augustus himself conducted a census in Italy in 726/28, 746/8, 767/14 (Mommsen, Res Ges., 34) and in Gaul in 727/27 (Dio Cassius liii.22, 5; Livy Epit. cxxxiv) and had a census taken in other provinces (Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyc., under the word "Census," 1918; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). For Egypt there is evidence of a regular p eriodic census every 14 years extending back to 773/20 (Ramsay, op. cit., 131 if; Grenfell and Hunt, Oxy. Papyri, II, 207; Wilcken, Griech. Ostraka, I, 444) and it is not improbable that this procedure was introduced by Augustus (Schurer, op. cit., I, 515). The inference from Egyptian to similar conditions in other provinces must indeed be made cautiously (Wilcken, op. cit., 449; Marquardt, op. cit., 441); yet in Syria the regular tributum capitis seems to imply some such preliminary work (Dig, 1. 15, 3; Appian, Syriac., 50; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 200, note 2; Pauly-Wissowa, op. cit., 1921; Ramsay, op. cit., 154). The time of the decree is stated only in general terms by Luke, and it may have been as early as 727/27 (Zumpt, op. cit., 159; Marquardt, op. cit., II, 212) or later in 746-8 (Huschke, Census, 34; Ramsay, op. cit., 158), its execution in different provinces and subject kingdoms being carried out at different times. Hence, Luke dates the census in the kingdom of Herod specifically by connecting it with the administrative functions of Quirinius in Syria. But as P. Quintilius Varus was the legate of Syria just before and after the death of Herod from 748/6-750/4 (Ant., XVII, v, 2; XVII, ix., 3; XVII, x, 1 and 9; XVII, xi, 1; Tac. Hist. v0.9; and coins in Eckhel, Doctr. num. vet., III, 275) and his predecessor Was C. Sentius Saturninus from 745/9-748/6 (Ant; XVI, ix, 1; x, 8; xi, 3; XVII, i, 1; ii, 1; iii, 2), there seems to be no place for Quirinius during the closing years of Herod's reign. Tertullian indeed speaks of Saturninus as legate at the time of Jesus' birth (Adv. Marc., iv.9). The interpretation of Luke's statement as indicating a date for the census before Quirinius was legate (Wieseler, Chron. Syn., 116; Lagrange, Revue Biblique, 1911, 80) is inadmissible. It is possible that the connection of the census with Quirinius may be due to his having brought to completion what was begun by one of his predecessors; or Quirinius may have been commissioned especially by the emperor as legatus ad census accipiendos to conduct a census in Syria and this commission may have been connected temporally with his campaign against the Homonadenses in Cilicia (Tac. Ann. iii0.48; compare Noris, Cenotaph. Pis., 320; Sanclemente, op. cit., 426 passim; Ramsay, op. cit., 238). It has also been suggested by Bour (L'Inscription de Quirinius, 48) that Quirinius may have been an imperial procurator specially charged with authority in the matter of the Herodian census. The titulus Tiburtinus (CIL, XIV, 3613; Dessau, Inscr. Latin Sel., 918)-if rightly assigned to him-and there seems to be no sufficient reason for questioning the conclusiveness of Mommsen's defense of this attribution (compare Liebenam, Verwaltungsgesch., 365)-proves that he was twice legate of Syria, and the titulus Venetus (CIL, III, 6687; Dessau, op. cit., 2683) gives evidence of a census conducted by him in Syria. His administration is dated by Ramsay (op. cit., 243) in 747/7; by Mommsen in the end of 750/4 or the beginning of 751/3 (op. cit., 172). Zahn (Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1893, IV, 633), followed by Spitta (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1906, VII, 293), rejects the historicity of the later census connected by Josephus with the deposition of Archelaus, basing his view on internal grounds, and assigns the Lucan census to a time shortly after the death of Herod. This view however is rendered improbable by the evidence upon which the birth of Jesus is assigned to a time before the death of Herod (Matthew 2:1 Luke 1:5; Luke 2:1 f); by the differentiation of the census in Luke 2:1 and Acts 5:37; by the definite connection of the census in Josephus with Syria and the territory of Archelaus (compare also the tit. Venet.); and by the general imperial policy in the formation of a new province (Marquardt, op. cit., II, 213). Moreover there seems to be no adequate ground for identifying the Sabinus of Josephus with Quirinius as urged by Weber, who regards the two accounts (Ant., XVII, viii, 1 and XVII, iv, 5; XVIII, i, 2; ii, 1) as due to the separation by Josephus of parallel accounts of the same events in his sources (Zeitschr.ff. d. neutest. Wiss., 1909, X, 307)-the census of Sabinus-Quirinius being assigned to 4 B.C., just after the death of Herod the Great. The synchronism of the second census of Quirinius with the periodic year of the Egyptian census is probably only a coincidence, for it was occasioned by the deposition of Archelaus; but its extension to Syria may be indicative of its connection with the imperial policy inaugurated by Augustus (Tac. Ann. vi0.41; Ramsay, op. cit., 161).

(3) Star of the Magi.

The identification of the star of the Magi (Matthew 2:2; compare Matthew 2:7, 9, 16; Macrobius, Sat., II, 4; Sanclemente, op. cit., 456; Ramsay, op. cit., 215) and the determination of the time of its appearance cannot be made with certainty, although it has been associated with a conjunction in 747/7 and 748/6 of Saturn and Jupiter in the sign of Pisces-a constellation which was thought to stand in close relation with the Jewish nation (Ideler, Handbuch d. math. u. tech. Chron., II, 400). When the Magi came to Jerusalem, however, Herod was present in the city; and this must have been at least several months before his death, for during that time he was sick and absent from Jerusalem (Ant., XVII, vi, 1; BJ, I, xxxiii, 1).

(4) Course of Abijah.

The chronological calculations of the time of the service of the priestly course of Abijah in the temple, which are made by reckoning back from the time of the course of Jehoiarib which, according to Jewish tradition, was serving at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, are uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., II, 337, note 3; compare Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 836).

(5) Day and month.

The day and month of Jesus' birth are also uncertain. December 25 was celebrated by the church in the West as early as the 2nd century-if the date in Hippolytus on Dan., IV, 23, be genuine (compare Ehrhardt, Altchr. Lit., 1880-1900, 383); but January 6 was celebrated in the East as the anniversary both of the birth and of the baptism. The fact that shepherds were feeding their flocks at night when Jesus was born (Luke 2:8) makes it improbable that the season of the year was winter.

(6) Summary.

The birth of Jesus may therefore be assigned to the period 747/7 to 751/5, before the death of Herod, at the time of a census made by Herod in accordance with a decree of Augustus and when Quirinius was exercising extraordinary authority in Syria-Varus being the regular legate of the province, i.e. probably in 748/6.


2. Baptism of Jesus:

The Synoptic Gospels begin their description of the public ministry of Jesus with an account of the ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:1; Luke 3:1; compare of in John 1:19; John 4:24; Josephus, Ant, XVIII, iii, 3) and Luke definitely dates the baptism of Jesus by John in the 15th year of Tiberius. Luke also designates this event as the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and by stating Jesus' age approximately brings it into connection with the date of His birth. If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberius fro m the death Augustus, August 19, 767/14, the 15th year would extend from August 19, 781/28 to August 18, 782/29; and if Jesus was about thirty years old at this time, His birth would fall 751/3 to 752/2-or sometime after the death of Herod, which is inconsistent with Luke's own and Matthew's representation. This indeed was one of the common modes of reckoning the imperial reigns. The mode of reckoning from the assumption of the tribunician power or from the designation as imperator is altogether unlikely in Luke's case and intrinsically improbable, since for Tiberius the one began in 748/6 and the other in 743/11 (Dio Cassius Iv0.9; liv0.33; Vell. ii0.99; Suet. Tib. ix.11). But if, as seems likely, the method of reckoning by imperial years rather than by the yearly consuls was not definitely fixed when Luke wrote, it is possible that he may have counted the years of Tiberius from his appointment in 764/11 or 765/12 to equal authority with Augustus in the provinces (Veil. ii 121; Suet. Tib. xx0.21; Tac. Ann. i.3). This method seems not to have been employed elsewhere (Lewin, op. cit., 1143; compare Ramsay, op. cit., 202). The coins of Antioch in which it is found are regarded as spurious (Eckhel, op. cit., III, 276), the genuine coins reckoning the reign of Tiberins from the death of Augustus (ibid., III, 278). If Luke reckoned the reign of Tiberins from 764/11 or 765/12, the 15th year would fall in 778/25 or 779/26, probably the latter, and Jesus' birth about thirty years earlier, i.e. about 748/6 or 749/5.

3. First Passover:

At the time of the first Passover in Jesus' ministry the Herodian temple had been building 46 years (John 2:20). Herod began the temple in the 18th year of his reign (Ant., XV, xi, 1, which probably corrects the statement in BJ, I, xxi, I that it was the 15th year; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 369, note 12). As Josephus reckons from the accession of Herod in 717/37, the 18th year would be 734/20 to 735/21 and 46 years later would be 780/27 to 781/28. The interval implied in John between this Passover and the beginning of Jesus' ministry agrees well with the Lucan dating of the baptism in 779/26.

4. Death of John the Baptist:

The imprisonment of John the Baptist, which preceded the beginning of Jesus' Galilean work, was continued for a time (Matthew 11:2-19 Luke 7:18-35) but was finally terminated by beheading at the order of Herod Antipas. Announcement of the death was made to Jesus while in the midst of His Galilean ministry (Matthew 14:3-12 Mark 6:14-29 Luke 9:7-9). Josephus reports that the defeat of Antipas by Aretas, in the summer of 789/36, was popularly regarded as a Divine punishment for the murder of John (Ant., XVIII, v, 2); But although Josephus mentions the divorce of Aretas daughter by Antipas as one of the causes of hostilities, no inference can be drawn from this or from the popular interpretation of Antipas' defeat, by which the int erval between John s death and this defeat can be fixed (Schurer, op. cit., I, 443).

5. Length of Jesus' Ministry:

The Synoptic Gospels mention the Passion Passover at which Jesus' ministry was terminated, but they contain no data by which the interval between the imprisonment of John the Baptist and this Passover can be fixed with certainty. Yet indications are not wanting that the interval consisted of at least two years. The Sabbath controversy broke out in Galilee when the grain was still standing in the fields (Matthew 12:1 Mark 2:23 Luke 6:1) and the condition of the grass when the Five Thousand were fed (Matthew 14:15 Mark 6:39 Luke 9:12) points to the springtime, the Passion Passover marking the return of still another springtime (compare also Luke 13:7 Matthew 23:37). But the Gospel of John mentions explicitly three Passovers (John 2:23; John 6:4; John 11:55) and probably implies a fourth (John 5:1), thus necessitating a ministry of at least two years and making probable a ministry of three years after the first Passover. The Passover of 6:4 cannot be eliminated on textual grounds, for the documentary evidence is conclusive in its favor and the argument against it based on the statements of certain patristic writers is unconvincing (compare Turner, HDB, I, 407; Zahn, Kom., IV, 708). The indications of time from John 6:4 John 11:55 -the Passion Passover-are definite and clear (John 7:2; John 10:22). But the interval between the first Passover (John 2:23) and the Galilean Passover (John 6:4) must have been one and may have been two years. The following considerations favor the latter view: Jesus was present in Jerusalem at a feast (John 5:1) which is not named but is called simply "a" or "the" feast of the Jews. The best authorities for the text are divided, some supporting the insertion, others the omission of the definite article before "feast." If the article formed part of the original text, the feast may have been either Tabernacles-from the Jewish point of view-or Passover-from the Christian point of view. If the article was wanting in the original text, the identification of the feast must be made on contextual and other grounds. But the note of time in John 4:35 indicates the lapse of about nine months since the Passover of John 2:23 and it is not likely that the Galilean ministry which preceded the feeding of the Five Thousand lasted only about three months. In fact this is rendered impossible by the condition of the grain in the fields at the time of the Sabbath controversy. The identification of the feast of John 5:1 with Purim, even if the article be not genuine, is extremely improbable; and if so, a Passover must have intervened between John 2:23 and John 6:4, making the ministry of Jesus extend over a period of three years and the months which preceded the Passover of John 2:23. While the identification cannot be made with certainty, if the feast was Passover the subject of the controversy with the Jews in Jerusalem as well as the season of the year would harmonize with the Synoptic account of the Sabbath controversy in Galilee which probably followed this Passover (compare the variant reading in Luke 6:1).

6. Death of Jesus:

Jesus was put to death in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1; Luke 23:1; John 18:29; John 19:1; Acts 3:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 13:28 1 Timothy 6:13; Tac. Ann. xv.44), Caiaphas being the high priest (Matthew 26:3, 17 John 11:49; John 18:13) and Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee and Perea (Luke 23:7). Pilate was procurator from 779/26 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, iv, 3; v, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., I, 487, note 141); Caiaphas was high priest from 771/18 to 789/36 (Ant., XVIII, ii, 2; iv, 3; compare Schurer, op. cit., II, 271) and Antipas was tetrarch from 750/4 to 792/39. If the first Passover of Jesus' ministry was in 780/27, the fourth would fall in 783/30. The gospels name Friday as the day of the crucifixion (Matthew 27:62 Mark 15:42 Luke 23:54 John 19:14, 31, 42) and the Synoptic Gospels represent this Friday as Nisan 15-the day following (or according to Jewish reckoning from sunset to sunset, the same day as) the day on which the paschal supper was eaten (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). But the Fourth Gospel is thought by many to represent the paschal meal as still uneaten when Jesus suffered (John 18:28; compare John 13:29); and it is held that the Synoptic Gospels also contain traces of this view (Matthew 26:5 Mark 14:2; Mark 15:21 Luke 23:26). Astronomical calculations show that Friday could have fallen on Nisan 14 or 15 in 783/30 according to different methods of reckoning (von Soden, EB, I, 806; compare Bacon, Journal of Biblical Literature, XXVIII, 2, 1910, 130; Fotheringham, Jour. of Theol. Studies, October, 1910, 120), but the empirical character of the Jewish calendar renders the result of such calculations uncertain (Schurer, op. cit., I, 749). In the year 783/30 Friday, Nican 15, would fall on April 7. There is an early patristic tradition which dates the death of Jesus in the year 782/29, in the consulship of the Gemini (Turner, HDB, I, 413), but its origin and trustworthy character are problematical.

7. Summary of Dates:

1. Birth of Jesus, 748/6.

2. Death of Herod the Great, 750/4.

3. Baptism of Jesus, 779/26.

4. First Passover of Jesus' ministry, 780/27.

5. Death of Jesus, 783/30.


Schurer, Geschichte des Judischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, 3. und 4. Aufl., 1901-9, 3 volumes, English translation of the 2nd edition, in 5 volumes, 1885-94; Ideler, Handbuch der mathematischen und technischen Chronologie, 1825-26, 2 volumes; Wieseler, Chronologische Synopse der Evangelien, 1843, English translation; Lewin, Fasti Sacri, 1865; Turner, article "Chronology of the NT" in HDB, 1900, I. 403-25; von Soden, article "Chronology" in Cheyne and Black, EB, 1899, I, 799-819; Ramsay, Wa s Christ Born at Bethlehem? 1898; F. R. Montgomery Hitchcock, article "Dates" in Hastings, Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels; Mommsen, Res Gestae Divi Augusti2.

II. Chronology of the Apostolic Age.

The chronology of the apostolic age must be based on the data in Acts and the epistolary literature of the New Testament which afford contacts with persons or events of the Greek-Roman world. From the fixed points thus secured a general outline of the relative chronology may be established with reasonable probability.

1. Paul's Conversion:

Paul was converted near Damascus (Acts 9:3; Acts 22:5; Acts 26:12; Galatians 1:17). After a brief stay in that city (Acts 9:19) he went to Arabia and then came again to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). When he left Damascus the second time, he returned to Jerusalem after an absence of three years (Galatians 1:18). The flight of Paul from Damascus (Acts 9:24) probably terminated his second visit to the city. At that time the ethnarch of Aretas, the king of the Nabateans, acting with the resident Jews (Acts 9:23), guarded t he city to seize him (2 Corinthians 11:32). Aretas IV succeeded Obodas about 9 B.C., and reigned until about 40 A.D. Damascus was taken by the Romans in 62 B.C. and probably continued under their control until the death of Tiberius (March 37 A.D.). Roman coins of Damascus exist from the time of Augustus, Tiberius and Nero, but there are no such coins from the time of Caligula and Claudius (Schurer, op. cit., I, 737; II, 153). Moreover the relations of Aretas to Augustus and Tiberius make it extremely improbable that he held Damascus during their reign as part of his kingdom or acquired it by conquest. The statement of Paul however seems to imply Nabatean control of the city, and this is best explained on the supposition that Damascus was given to Aretas by Caligula, the change in the imperial attitude being due perhaps to the influence primarily of Agrippa and possibly also of Vitellius (Steinmann, Aretas IV, 1909, 34). But if Paul's escape from Damascus was not earlier than 37 A.D., his conversion cannot be placed earlier than 34 or 35 A.D., and the journey to Jerusalem 14 years later (Galatians 2:1) not earlier than 50 or 51 A.D.

2. Death of Herod Agrippa I:

Herod Agrippa I died in Caesarea shortly after a Passover season (Acts 12:23; compare Acts 12:3, 19). Caligula had given him the tetrarchy of Philip and of Lysanias in 37 A.D.-the latter either at this time or later-with the title of king (Ant., XVIII, vi, 10; BJ, II, ix, 6) and this was increased in 40 A.D. by the tetrarchy of Antipas (Ant., XVIII, vii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 6). Claudius gave him also Judea and Samaria (Ant., XIX, v, 1; BJ, II, xi, 5) thus making his territory even more extensive than that of his grandfather, Herod the Great. Agrippa reigned over "all Judea" for three years under Claudius (Ant., XIX, viii, 2; BJ, II, xi, 6), his death falling in the spring of 44 A.D., in the 7th year of his reign. The games mentioned by Josephus in this connection are probably those that were celebrated in honor of the return of Claudius from Britain in 44 A.D. There are coins of Agrippa from his 6th year, but the attribution to him of coins from other years is questioned (Schurer, op. cit., 560, note 40; Madden, op. cit., 132).

3. Famine under Claudius:

The prophecy of a famine and its fulfillment under Claudius (Acts 11:28) are associated in Acts with the death of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 11:30; Acts 12:23). Famines in Rome during the reign of Claudius are mentioned by Suetonius (Claud. xviii), Dio Cassius (lx.11), Tacitus (Annals xii.43), and Orosius (vii.6). Josephus narrates in the time of Fadus the generosity of Helena during a famine in Palestine (Ant., XX, ii, 5), but subsequently dates the famine generally in the time of Fadus and Alexander. The famine in P alestine would fall therefore at some time between 44 and 48 (Schurer, op. cit., I, 567, note 8).

4. Sergius Paulus:

When Paul visited Cyprus with Barnabas the island was administered by Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:7), a proprietor with the title proconsul (Marquardt, op. cit., I, 391). There is an inscription from Cyprus (Cagnat, Inscr. graec. ad res rom. pertin., III; 930) dating from the 1st century, and probably from the year 53 (Zahn, Neue kirch. Zeitschr., 1904, XV, 194) in which an incident in the career of a certain Apollonius is dated in the proconsulship of Paulus (epi Palilou (anth)upatou).

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1. Difficulties of the Subject

2. Plan of Treatment

3. Bible to be Regarded as Highest Authority






1. Causes of Variation in Systems

2. Some Important and Pivotal Dates

3. Difficulties to Be Removed

4. Overlappings


Indications of Overlapping


Main Points at Issue


A Suggested Interpretation


I. Introductory.

1. Difficulties of the Subject:

For evident reasons the student of Biblical chronology must meet many difficulties, and must always be severely handicapped. First of all, the Old Testament is not purely nor intentionally a book of history. Nor does it present a formulated system of chronology, its many numbers and dates being used principally with a view to the spiritual facts and truths with which the authors were concerned. We are not, therefore, to expect to find a perfectly arranged order of periods and dates, though happily for us in our investigation we shall indeed find many accurately dated events, frequent consecutions of events, and orderly success ions of officials; as, for example, the numerous genealogical tables, the succession of judges and the lists of kings.

Furthermore, there is not to be found in the Old Testament one particular and definitely fixed era, from which all of its events are dated, as is the case in Christian history. The points of departure, or reckoning, are found to vary in different periods of the advancing history; being at one stage the Creation, at another the migration of Abraham, or the Exodus, or again the disruption of the kingdom. Ordinarily dates and all time-allusions are comparative, i.e. they are related to the reign of some contemporary monarch, as the vision of Isaiah "in the year that king Uzziah died" (Isaiah 6:1), or to some unusual occurrence, historical or natural, as the great earthquake (Amos 1:1 Zechariah 14:5). Only occasional reference is found to some event, which marks an era-beginning; such as the Exodus (Judges 11:16, 26 1 Kings 6:1).

The general lack of uniformity among writers on Biblical chronology contributes further toward increase of the already perplexing confusion. It is almost possible to say that no two writers agree; and proposed harmonies are with each other most inharmonious. The two articles on Old Testament chronology in a recent work (Murray, Illus. Bible Dictionary, 1908), for example, are several hundred years apart at certain points. Wide diversity of opinion exists about the most prominent events, such as the call of Abraham and the age of his famous contemporary Hammurabi, the year of the Exodus, and the beginning of Solomon's temple. Naturally there is less variance of opinion about later dates, some of which, e.g. the fall of Samaria and the destruction of Jerusalem, may be considered as fixed. A like wide range of opinion prevails among archaeologists with regard to events in contemporaneous history, the difference between Goodspeed and Hommel in the dates of early Babylonian history being five hundred years, and the beginning and extent of the Hyksos period in Egypt varying in different "authorities" by hundreds of years. Nor should the difference in the various and total numbers of the Hebrew, Samaritan and Septuagint texts of the pre-Abrahamic ages be left out of sight in any statement of the difficulties attending the discussion of this subject.

2. Plan of Treatment:

These difficulties, and others as serious, have determined the plan of this article. The usual method of development has been to begin with the sources of Old Testament history, and to follow its course downward. While such a system may have its advantages, there is, however, this serious disadvantage connected with it: that the least certain dates are confessedly those at the beginning of the records, and the use of them at the foundation renders the whole structure of the discussion more or less uncertain. Archaeology and comparative history have done much to fix dates from the Exodus downward, bringing these later centuries by discovery and translation almost into the position of attested history. But the ages before the Exodus, and particularly before Abraham, still lie from the very nature of the ease in great obscurity. And thus any system beginning with the indistinct early past, with its compacted numbers and their uncertain interpretation, is much like a chain hung on thin air. The writer purposes, therefore, beginning with certain familiar, important and pivotal dates, to gather around and relate to these the events and persons of the Old Testament. Such accepted dates are: the completion of the Second Temple in 516, the fall of Jerusalem in 586, the fall of Samaria in 721, tribute to Shalmaneser II from Jehu in 842, and from a member of Omri's dynasty in 854. Such Old Testament events as mark the beginning of eras are the Disruption, Solomon's temple, the Exodus and Abraham's Call. The material and the plan, then, almost necessarily require that we begin at the end of the history and work logically backward to the earlier stages, at which we may hope to arrive with firm ground under our feet for the disposition of the more uncertain problems. It is hoped that on this plan the system of chronology will not be mere speculation, nor a personal theory, but of some certainty and affording some assurance in days of wild assertion and free manipulation.

3. Bible to be Regarded as Highest Authority:

It should be remembered that this is a study of Bible chronology, and therefore full value will be given to the explicit and positive statements of the Bible. Surely the time has come, when all fair-minded men should recognize that a clear and straightforward declaration of the Sacred Scriptures is not to be summarily rejected because of its apparent contradiction by some unknown and irresponsible person, who could stamp clay or chisel stone. It has been all too common that archaeological and critical adventurers have doubted and required accurate proof of every Bible statement, but have been ready enough to give credence to any statement from ancient pagan sources. We assume, as we have every reason to do, the trustworthiness of the Bible records, which have been corroborated in countless instances; and we shall follow their guidance in preference to any other. The help of contemporaneous history and the witness of archaeology can be used to advantage, but should not be substituted for the plain facts of the Scriptures, which are full worthy of our trust and regard. The province of a chronology of the Bible is properly to present in system the dates therein given, with an honest effort to harmonize the difficulties, using the external helps, but ever regardful of Scripture authority and rights.

II. The Ages between the Testaments.

Between the coming of Christ and the end of Old Testament history there lie in round numbers four hundred years. But while these were extra-Biblical ages, they were neither barren nor uneventful years; for in them will be found much of the highest value in the development of Jewish life, and in the preparation for the Messiah. And thus they have their proper place in Bible chronology (see BETWEEN THE TESTAMENTS). The birth of Jesus could not have been later than 4 B.C., since Herod the Great died in April of that year. Herod became king of Judea in 37 B.C. Palestine had been conquered and Jerusalem entered by the Romans under Pompey in 56 B.C., the Jews coming in this way under the power of Rome. The Roman age was preceded by the government of priest-kings, with which the Idumean Antipater became identified by marriage, so that Herod, whom Rome made king, was both Jew and alien.

The period of the Maccabees, which ended in 39 B.C. with the removal of Antigonus by the Romans in favor of Herod, began 168 B.C. with Judas. Antipater, who had been appointed procurator of Judea in 47, was assassinated in 43 B.C. The period of the Seleucids stretches from its close with the regency of Antiochus VII in 128 back to its founder, Seleucus, 312 B.C. The most notable of these monarchs from the Jewish point of view was Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175 to 164, and in 168 gave occasion to the rise of the Maccabees by his many acts of impiety and oppression, particularly the desecration of the Jerusalem temple. In 203 B.C. Antiochus the Great, who had become king of Syria in 223, took Jerusalem, and later, in 198, annexed Judea to Syria. Previous to this Judea had been an Egyptian dependency, as after the death of Alexander the Great, 323 B.C., and the division of his empire, it had been annexed by Ptolemy Soter to Egypt. Ptolemy Philadelphus, becoming king 280 B.C., encouraged the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, the result being the Septuagint version, and all it meant by way of preparation for the spread of Christianity. Alexander's defeat of Darius III, or Codomannus, at Arbela in 331 brought the Persian empire to an end, fulfilling the long-cherished ambition of the Greeks for mastery of Asia. The long reign of the Biblical king of Persia, Artaxerxes Longimanus, extended from 465 to 424 B.C., and in reaching his reign we find ourselves in the region of the Old Testament history. Reversing the order of this brief review and setting out from Old Testament point of view, we have the following table for the centuries between the Testaments:

III. Persian Period.

Entering now the last period of Old Testament history, which may be called the Persian period, we find that the activities of Ezra, Nehemiah and other Jewish leaders are dated by the regnal years of the kings of Persia (e.g. Haggai 1:1 Zechariah 1:1 Ezra 1:1 Nehemiah 2:1); and consequently the difficulties in the chronology of this period are not great. Recently a fanciful effort has been made to place the events narrated in Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah in the time of the Babylonian Captivity, claiming Scripture warrant from the occurrence of these names, with Mordecai, in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7; but altogether without success (see Prince of Judah, or Days of Nehemiah Redated). These names were doubtless of common occurrence, and their appearance among those returning with Zerubbabel is not sufficient to affect the historical evidence for the accepted dates of Ezra and Nehemiah. The attempt to move back these dates into the 6th century, to associate Nehemiah with Daniel and Mordecai and to place his work before Zerubbabel may be dismissed as pure fancy and impossible of reconciliation with the Old Testament narrative.

Artaxerxes I began his reign, which gives date to Ezra and Nehemiah, in 465 B.C. In his 7th year, 458, Ezra went from Babylon to Jerusalem by the king's decree (Ezra 7:7), taking back with him the vessels of the Temple and much besides for the worship at Jerusalem, accompanied also by a great company of returning Jews. Nehemiah followed from Shushan in the 20th year of the king (Nehemiah 1:1), having heard of and being distressed by the partial failure of Ezra's efforts. Under his wise and courageous leadership, the city walls were speedily restored, and many reforms accomplished. He returned after twelve years (433) to the service of the king in Shushan (Nehemiah 13:6), but in a short time, hearing evil tidings from Jerusalem, went back to complete his reforms, and apparently spent the rest of his life in that work. Although the Bible is silent, such is the testimony of Josephus. The Book of Mal, reflecting the difficulties and evils of this time, is evidently to be placed here, but not with exactness, as it might have been written as early as 460 or as late as 420.

The period from the return under Ezra (458) back to the completion of the Temple in the reign of Darius I (516) is, with the exception of incidental references and the assignment of undated books and incidents, practically a blank. Here belong, we believe, the Book of Esther, possibly Mal, some of the Psalms, and those social and religious tendencies among the returned exiles, which made the vigorous reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah so necessary. But the Old Testament does not draw the curtain from the mystery of that half-century, that we may know the happenings and watch the development. Beyond this blank we come again to explicit dates. The second temple, begun with the Return under Zerubbabel, was completed in the 6th year of Darius, i.e. 516. The building of it, which had been early abandoned for selfish reasons, was resumed in the 2nd year of Darius under the exhortation of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1 Zechariah 1:1). Darius the Great began his reign in 521. Cambyses succeeded Cyrus in 527. Babyl on was taken by the Persians in 538, and shortly after the Jews, under the edict of Cyrus, began their return to Jerusalem, reaching their destination by 536 at the latest. Cyrus overthrew Lydia in 545, the Medes five years earlier, and must have come to the Persian throne not later than 555. His conquest of Asia Minor opened the contest between Persia and Greece for supremacy, to be continued by Darius and. Xerxes, resulting finally at Arbela (331) in Greek triumph under Alexander, and the inauguration of a new age.

The table for the Persian period of Old Testament history, following the stream upward, is therefore as follows:

IV. Babylonian Period.

Just preceding the Persian is the Babylonian period of Old Testament chronology, overlapping, of course, the former, and finally superseded by it in Cyrus' conquest of Babylonia. This period may properly be said to begin with the death in 626 B.C. of Ashurbanipal, the last great ruler of Assyria. At this time Nabopolassar had been made governor of Babylonia, subject to the supremacy of Assyria. With Ashurbanipal's death Nabopolassar became independent sovereign of Babylonia, and shortly entered into league with the Medes to overthrow the rule of Assyria, and then to divide its empire between them. This was accomplished in the fall of Nineveh (606) which brought the end of the mighty Assyrian empire, the last king being Sinsharishkun (the historic Saracus), a son of Ashurbanipal. Some years before his death in 604 Nabopolassar associated with him on the throne of Babylonia his son Nebuchadnezzar, most illustrious ruler of the new Babylonian empire, and intimately connected with the history of Judah in the last years of that kingdom. His long reign came to an end in 562.

While the conflict, which brought Assyria to its end, and the attendant confusion, were absorbing the attention of Mesopotamian countries, Egypt under a new and virile dynasty was reviving her ambitions and intrigues for dominion in Asia. Pharaoh-necoh II taking advantage of the confusion and helplessness of Assyria invaded Palestine in 609, intending to march on through Palestine to attack Mesopotamia. King Josiah in loyalty to his Assyrian overlord opposed him, but was defeated and slain at the battle of Megiddo, after a reign of 31 years; apparently an unnecessary and foolish opposition on Josiah's part, as the plan of Necoh's march shows that Judah was not directly affected. After the victory at Megiddo, Necoh continued his march north-eastward, subduing Syria and hoping to have a hand in Mesopotamian affairs. But in 606 or 607 B.C. he was defeated at Carchemish and driven back to Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, fresh from victory over Nineveh. In the same year Nebuchadnezzar marched against Egypt, receiving the submission of Jerusalem as he passed through Palestine, and sending noble hostages back to Babylon, among whom were Daniel and his three friends. The death of his father and his endangered succession recalled Nebuchadnezzar suddenly to Babylon, where he became sole ruler in 604. It appears that Necoh must have returned to Egypt after Megiddo and before the battle of Carchemish, as he made Jehoiakim, king in place of Jehoahaz, whom he carried captive to Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar's victory at Carchemish and his march southward brought Judah in close relations with Babylon, and opened up the dramatic chapter of Jerusalem's fall and exile. These historic events fix the dates of the last kings and the closing incidents of the kingdom of Judah, as shown in the following table:

V. Assyrian Period and Judah after Fall of Samaria.

This section, which may for convenience be treated as a division, is the chronology of Judah under Assyria after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 721. As the Scripture time-references are frequent and explicit, and the contemporaneous Assyrian records are full, and explicit also, the problems of this period are neither many nor insoluble. One difficulty is found in the fact that the aggregate years of the reigns of Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon and Josiah fall one or two years short of the period between Hezekiah's accession in 726 and Josiah's death in 609. But there is evidence of anarchical conditions at the close of Amon's reign (2 Kings 21:23, 14), and it is probable that at least a year should be counted for the interregnum. The chief difficulty is with the invasions of Sennacherib in Hezekiah's reign. The confusion is caused by the apparent dating of Sennacherib's famous and disastrous invasion of 701 in the 14th year of Hezekiah's reign (2 Kings 18:13). Various attempts reconciliation have been made; one attempt has been to place the beginning of Hezekiah's reign in 715, which is out of the question entirely, as it disregards the exact terms in which the beginning of his reign is placed before the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 18:10). Another suggestion has been that "24th" be read instead of "14th"; but this is pure conjecture. There is a simple and satisfactory solution: in the chapters which contain the record (2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36) it is evident that two invasions are described. Frequently in the Scriptures records are topical rather than chronological, and just so in this instance the topic is Sennacherib's menace of Judah, and the ultimate deliverance by Yahweh. The story includes two invasions: the first in the 14th year of Hezekiah (713) when Sennacherib led the armies of his father Sargon, the end of which, so far as Jerusalem was concerned, was the payment of tribute by Hezekiah, as is accurately stated in 2 Kings 18:16. The second invasion, the description of which begins with the following verse (2 Kings 18:17), was the more serious, and is probably identified as that of 701, when Sennacherib had become king. The necessary insertion of a paragraph indicator between 2 Kings 18:16 and 2 Kings 18:17 satisfies every demand for harmony.

From 609 B.C., the year of Josiah's death, we count back 31 years to the beginning Of his reign in 639; he attained his majority in the 8th year (632; 2 Chronicles 34:3); the reformation in his 12th year, at the time of the Scythian irruption, would fall in 628 (2 Chronicles 34:3); in the following year Jeremiah began to prophecy; and in Josiah's 18th year (621) the temple was cleansed and the Book of the Law found (2 Chronicles 34:8). Allowing a year of confusion, Amon began his short reign in 642, and Manasseh his long reign of 55 years in 697, Hezekiah's reign of 29 years dating back to 726. Some fixed important dates of contemporaneous history are: death of Ashurbanipal, Assyria's last great king, in 626, with the consequent independence of Babylon and beginning of the 2nd Babylonian empire. Ashurbanipal's long reign began in 668 on the death of his father Esarhaddon; who succeeded his father Sennacherib in 681. Sargon usurped the Assyrian throne in 722, and died in 705. Shalmaneser IV, successor of Tiglath-pileser III, r eigned for the brief space between 727 and 722. In Egypt the XXVth, or Ethiopian Dynasty, was in power from circa 720 to 667, two of its kings, So and Tirhakah, having mention in the Old Testament (2 Kings 17:4; 2 Kings 19:9 Isaiah 37:9), and after this the XXVIth (a native) Dynasty appeared, Pharaoh-necoh being one of its kings. The dates of this period we may summarize in the following table:

VI. Period of Divided Kingdom.

The most complex, but most interesting, problems of Old Testament chronology are found in the period of the Divided Kingdom. In the literature of this period are found larger number of dates and historical references than in that of any other. We have the assistance of several important sources and factors in arranging these dates:

(1) The parallel records of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah serve as checks to each other, since the accession and death of the kings in each nation are fixed by reference to reigns of those of the other. Many other events are similarly related.

(2) The history of the two kingdoms, or parts of it, at least, is given in three parallel authorities: the Books of Kings, of Chronicles, and of the Prophets.

(3) The Assyrian records are fullest and are practically continuous in this period, the limu lists extending unbroken from 893 to 650 B.C.

1. Causes of Variation in Systems:

But while this apparently should be the most satisfactory field for the chronologist, it has been found impossible to arrive at anything approaching certainty, and consequently there is considerable divergence among individuals and schools. One cause of variation is the difference between the Assyrian royal lists and the total of the Old Testament numbers for this period, the Old Testament aggregate being 51 years greater then the Assyrian lists. Two common methods of harmonizing this difference have bee n adopted:

(1) to accept the Old Testament aggregate as correct and to assume that the 51 years have been omitted from the Assyrian lists (see W. J. Beecher, Dated Events of Old Testament, 18, 19);

(2) to harmonize the Old Testament numbers with the Assyrian lists by taking into account the overlapping of reigns of kings who were, for brief periods, associated on the throne.

Instances of such overlapping are the co-regency of Uzziah and Jotham in Judah (2 Kings 15:5), and possibly the reign of Pekah contemporaneously with Menahem and Pekahiah in Israel (2 Kings 23-28). The latter method yields the most satisfactory results, and will be adopted in this article. The chief point of difference will be the age of Solomon and the foundation-laying of the Temple. This may be found according to the former method by adding 51 years to the dates as given below. That the method of following the aggregate of the Old Testament numbers must assume arbitrarily that there have been omissions from the Assyrian lists, and that it also must resort to some overlapping and justment of the numb ers as they are given in the text, are sufficient reasons against its adoption. And in meeting the difficulties of this period it should always be borne in mind that the Old Testament is not a book of annals merely, and that dates are given not for any special interest in them, but to correlate and emphasize events. Ordinarily dates are given with reference to local situations and contemporary persons, and not as fixed by some great epoch-marking event; e.g. Uzziah's reign is fixed not with reference to the Disrupti on nor the Temple building, but by relation to his Israelite contemporary, Jeroboam II.

2. Some Important and Pivotal Dates:

However, there are some fixed dates, which are so by reason of their international significance, and upon these we may rest with reasonable assurance. Such are the fall of Samaria (721 B.C.); the accession of Tiglath-pileser III (745); tribute paid to Shalmaneser II by Jehu in 842, and by Ahab, or one of his dynasty, in 854; and the invasion of Judah by Pharaoh-shishak in the fifth year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25). There are also certain coincident dates, fixed with fair accuracy, in the parallel history of the two kingdoms, which serve both as starting-points and as checks upon each other. The most prominent of these are: the beginning of Hezekiah's reign, 5 years before the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 18:10); the synchronism of the reigns of Jeroboam II and Jotham (1 Chronicles 5:17), Jotham's accession being used as a basis of calculation for the reigns of Israelite kings (2 Kings 15:30); the coincidence of the end of the Omri Dynasty and the death of Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 9), Jehu and Athaliah therefore beginning their reigns at the same time; and, primarily, the division of the kingdom and the synchronous beginning of the reigns of Jeroboam I and Rehoboam. Using these fixed dates and coincidences, we must find the summaries of the reigns of Israelite and Jewish kings between 721, the 9th year of Hoshea and the 6th of Hezekiah, and 843, the beginning of the reigns of Jehu add Athaliah, to be 122 years each; and likewise the summaries from 843 back to the Disruption to be the same.

3. Difficulties to Be Removed:

The most serious difficulties are found near the end of the period, when conditions in the Northern Kingdom were becoming anarchical, and, also evident co-regencies, the extent of which is not evident, occurred in the Southern Kingdom. Pekah is said to have reigned 20 years (2 Kings 15:27); and yet Menahem paid tribute to Assyria in 738, and he was succeeded for two years by his son Pekahiah, from whom Pekah seized the kingdom. This would allow Pekah only 6 years of sovereignty. The explanation lies in the context: in the confusion which followed the death of Jeroboam, Pekah established his authority over the section East of the Jordan, and to that year the numbers in 2 Kings 15:27, 32 2 Kings 16:1 refer. Uzziah was leprous the last 16 years of his life, and Jotham his son was over the kingdom (2 Kings 15:5). The length of Jotham's reign was just 16 years, not additional to the 16 of the co-regency, as this would result in the absurdity of making him co-regent at the age of 9 years (2 Kings 15:33). Therefore nearly his whole reign is included in the 52 years of his father. For some reason Ahaz was associated with his father Jotham before the death of the latter, since the 16 years of his reign plus the 5 of Hezekiah before the fall of Samaria bring his accession before the death of Uzziah and Jotham, i.e. in 741. So that for approximately 6 years the three reigns were contemporaneous. That these 6 years may not be accounted for by a co-regency with Hezekiah at the other end of Ahaz' reign is evident from the age of Hezekiah at his accession (2 Kings 18:2), and from the radical difference in the policy of the two kings. 2 Kings 7:1 may suggest that Uzziah and Jotham died about the same time, and that Ahaz was regarded as succeeding both directly.

Another difficulty is found at the beginning of Uzziah's reign, where he is said to have succeeded his father Amaziah at the age of 16, but is also said to have accomplished certain notable things after his father's death (2 Kings 14:21, 22). Evidently, then, he became king before the death of Amaziah. When did this co-regency begin? No better time is suggested than Amaziah's ignominious defeat by Jehoash of Israel in the 15th year of his reign, after which the people arose and put Uzziah in his place, Amaziah living on for 15 years (2 Kings 14:17), so that 15 of Amaziah's 29 years were contemporaneous with Uzziah. Further, in the last years of Joash of Judah there may have been a co-regency, since he was "very sick" in those years (2 Chronicles 24:25). Thus the totals of 146 years for the reigns of the kings of Israel and of 165 for the reigns of the kings of Judah between 721 and 842 are reduced to the actual 121 by the overlappings, which are suggested in the narrative itself.

4. Overlappings:

For the first division of this period, from the rise of Jehu, circa 843, to the division of the kingdom, the totals of the reigns of the kings of Israel is 98 years, and of the kings of Judah is 95. But there must be some overlappings. The interval between Ahab and Jehu, as shown by mention of them in the Assyrian records, is 12 years; but the two sons of Ahab reigned 14 years, Ahaziah 2 and Jehoram 12. Evidently the last year of Ahab, in which came the defeat at Karkar, was the 1st of Ahaziah, and the 2nd of Ahaziah, who suffered in that year serious accident (2 Kings 1:2), was the first of Jehoram. It is probable that the long reign of Asa closed with Jehoshaphat as co-regent (1 Kings 15:23), so the above totals of both kingdoms must be reduced to some extent, probably to 90 years, and the disruption of the kingdom placed about 933 B.C. Shishak, founder of the XXIId Dynasty, invaded Palestine in the 5th year of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:25), and in, or shortly before, the 21st year of his own reign, so that he must have bec ome sovereign of Egypt about 950 B.C. Jeroboam fled to Egypt after Solomon had reigned more than 20 years, as is shown by the connection of Jeroboam with the building of Millo; and so Jeroboam's flight must have been about the beginning of Shishak's reign. This is in accord with the Old Testament records, since the hostile Shishak Dynasty must have arisen in the reign of Solomon, the dynasty which was ruling at the beginning of his reign having been in alliance with him. So we place the accession of Shishak about 950, his invasion of Judah in 929, and the Disruption in 933 B.C.

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Diatheke, was the word chosen by the Septuagint translators to render the Hebrew berith, and it appears thus nearly 300 times in the Greek Old Testament in the sense of covenant, while suntheke and entolai are each used once only. The choice of this word seems to have been occasioned by a recognition that the covenant which God makes with men is not fully mutual as would be implied in suntheke, the Greek word commonly used for covenant (although not a New Testament word), while at the same time the rarity of wills among the Jews made the common sense of diatheke relatively unfamiliar. The Apocryphal writers also frequently use the same word in the same sense and no other.

In the New Testament diatheke is used some thirty times in a way which makes it plain that its translation must be "covenant." In Galatians 3:15 and Hebrews 9:15-17 it is held by many that the sense of covenant must be set aside in favor of will or testament. But in the former passage it can be taken in the sense of a disposition of affairs or arrangement made by God, a conception in substantial harmony with its regular New Testament use and with the sense of berith. In the passage in Hebrews the interpretation is more difficult, but as it is acknowledged on all hands that the passage loses all argumentative force if the meaning testament is accepted, it seems best to retain the meaning covenant if possible. To do this it is only necessary to hold that the death spoken of is the death of the animal sometimes, if not, indeed, commonly slain in connection with the making of a covenant, and that in the mind of the author this death symbolized the death of the contracting parties so far at least as to pledge them that thereafter in the matter involved they would no more change their minds than can the dead. If this view is taken, this passage falls in line with the otherwise invariable use of the word diatheke by Jewish Hellenists.



Lightfoot, Commentary on Gal; Ramsay, Commentary on Gal; Westcott, Commentary on Hebrews; article on Hebrews 9:15-17, Baptist Review and The Expositor., July, 1904.

David Foster Estes


kuv'-e-nant (berith):



1. Early Idea

2. Principal Elements

3. Different Varieties

4. Phraseology Used


1. Essential Idea

2. Covenants Recorded in the Old Testament

3. Phraseology Used

4. History of Covenant Idea


I. General Meaning.

The etymological force of the Hebrew berith is not entirely certain. It is probable that the word is the same as the Assyrian biritu, which has the common meaning "fetter," but also means "covenant." The significance of the root from which this Assyrian word is derived is uncertain. It is probable that it is "to bind," but that is not definitely established. The meaning of biritu as covenant seems to come directly from the root, rather than as a derived meaning from fetter. If this root idea is to bind, the covenant is that which binds together the parties. This, at any rate, is in harmony with the general meaning of the word.

In the Old Testament the word has an ordinary use, when both parties are men, and a distinctly religious use, between God and men. There can be no doubt that the religious use has come from the ordinary, in harmony with the general custom in such cases, and not the reverse. There are also two shades of meaning, somewhat distinct, of the Hebrew word: one in which it is properly a covenant, i.e. a solemn mutual agreement, the other in which it is more a command, i.e. instead of an obligation voluntarily assumed, it is an obligation imposed by a superior upon an inferior. This latter meaning, however, has clearly been derived from the other. It is easy to see that an agreement, including as the contracting parties those of unequal position, might readily include those agreements which tended to partake of the nature of a command; but the process could not readily be reversed.

II. Among Men.

1. Early Idea:

We consider first a covenant in which both contracting parties are men. In essence a covenant is an agreement, but an agreement of a solemn and binding force. The early Semitic idea of a covenant was doubtless that which prevailed among the Arabs (see especially W. Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, 2nd edition, passim). This was primarily blood-brotherhood, in which two men became brothers by drinking each other's blood. Ordinarily this meant that one was adopted into the clan of the other. Hence, this act involved the clan of one of the contracting parties, and also brought the other party into relation with the god of this clan, by bringing him into the community life of the clan, which included its god. In this early idea, then, "primarily the covenant is not a special engagement to this or that particular effect, but bond of troth and life-fellowship to all the effects for which kinsmen are permanently bound together" (W. Robertson Smith, op. cit., 315). In this early ceremonial the religious idea was necessarily present, because the god was kindred to the clan; and the god had a special interest in the covenant because he especially protects the kindred blood, of which the stranger thus becomes a part. This religious side always persisted, although the original idea was much modified. In later usage there were various substitutes for the drinking of each other's blood, namely, drinking together the sacrificial blood, sprinkling it upon the parties, eating together the sacrificial meal, etc.; but the same idea found expression in all, the community of life resulting from the covenant.

2. Principal Elements:

The covenant in the Old Testament shows considerable modification from the early idea. Yet it will doubtless help in understanding the Old Testament covenant to keep in mind the early idea and form. Combining statements made in different accounts, the following seem to be the principal elements in a covenant between men. Some of the details, it is to be noted, are not explicitly stated in reference to these covenants, but may be inferred from those between God and men.

(1) A statement of the terms agreed upon (Genesis 26:29; Genesis 31:50, 52). This was a modification of the earlier idea, which has been noted, in which a covenant was all-inclusive.

(2) An oath by each party to observe the terms, God being witness of the oath (Genesis 26:31; Genesis 31:48-53). The oath was such a characteristic feature that sometimes the term "oath" is used as the equivalent of covenant (see Ezekiel 17:13).

(3) A curse invoked by each one upon himself in case disregard of the agreement. In a sense this may be considered a part of the oath, adding emphasis to it. This curse is not explicitly stated in the case of human covenants, but may be inferred from the covenant with God (Deuteronomy 27:15-26).

(4) The formal ratification of the covenant by some solemn external act.

The different ceremonies for this purpose, such as have already been mentioned, are to be regarded as the later equivalents of the early act of drinking each other's blood. In the Old Testament accounts it is not certain that such formal act is expressly mentioned in relation to covenants between men. It seems probable, however, that the sacrificial meal of Genesis 31:54 included Laban, in which case it was a covenant sacrifice. In any case, both sacrificial meal and sprinkling of blood upon the two parties, the altar representing Yahweh, are mentioned in Exodus 24:4-8, with allusions elsewhere, in ratification of the covenant at Sinai between Yahweh and Israel. In the covenant of God with Abraham is another ceremony, quite certainly with the same purpose. This is a peculiar observance, namely, the cutting of animals into two parts and passing between the severed portions (Genesis 15:9-18), a custom also referred to in Jeremiah 34:18. Here it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it is doubtless to be explained by the fact that the covenant is principally a promise by Yahweh. He is the one who binds Himself. Concerning the significance of this act there is difference of opinion. A common view is that it is in effect a formal expression of the curse, imprecating upon oneself the same, i.e. cutting in pieces, if one breaks the terms of the covenant. But, as W. R. Smith has pointed out (op. cit., 481), this does not explain the passing between the pieces, which is the characteristic feature of the ceremony. It seems rather to be a symbol that the two parties "were taken within the mystical life of the victim." (Compare the interpretation of Hebrews 9:15-17 in COVENANT, IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.) It would then be an inheritance from the early times, in which the victim was regarded as kindred with the tribe, and hence, also an equivalent of the drinking of each other's blood.

The immutability of a covenant is everywhere assumed, at least theoretically.

Other features beyond those mentioned cannot be considered as fundamental. This is the case with the setting up of a stone, or raising a heap of stones (Genesis 31:45, 46). This is doubtless simply an ancient custom, which has no direct connection with the covenant, but comes from the ancient Semitic idea of the sacredness of single stones or heaps of stones. Striking hands is a general expression of an agreement made (Ezra 10:19 Ezekiel 17:18, etc.).

3. Different Varieties:

In observing different varieties of agreements among men, we note that they may be either between individuals or between larger units, such as tribes and nations. In a great majority of cases, however, they are between the larger units. In some cases, also, when an individual acts it is in a representative capacity, as the head of a clan, or as a king. When the covenant is between tribes it is thus a treaty or alliance. The following passages have this use of covenant: Genesis 14:13; Genesis 21:27, 32; 26:28:00; 31:44 Exodus 23:32; Exodus 34:12, 15 Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 9:6, 7, 11, 15, 16 Judges 2:2 1 Samuel 11:1; 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 15:19 parallel 2 Chronicles 16:3 1 Kings 20:34; Psalm 83:5 Isaiah 33:8 Ezekiel 16:61; Ezekiel 17:13-19; 30:5 Daniel 11:22 Amos 1:9. In other cases it is between a king and his subjects, when it is more a command or ordinance, as 2 Samuel 3:12, 13, 11; 2 Samuel 5:3 parallel 1 Chronicles 11:3 Jeremiah 34:8-18 Daniel 9:27. In other cases it is between individuals, or between small groups, where it is an agreement or pledge (2 Kings 11:4 parallel 2 Chronicles 23:1 Job 31:1; Job 41:4 Hosea 10:4). Between David and Jonathan it is more specifically an alliance of friendship (1 Samuel 18:3; 1 Samuel 20:8; 1 Samuel 23:18), as also apparently in Psalm 55:20. It means an alliance of marriage in Malachi 2:14, but probably not in Proverbs 2:17, where it is better to understand the meaning as being "her covenant with God."

4. Phraseology Used:

In all cases of covenants between men, except Jeremiah 34:10 and Daniel 9:27, the technical phrase for making a covenant is karath berith, in which karath meant originally "to cut." Everything indicates that this verb is used with reference to the formal ceremony of ratification above mentioned, of cutting animals in pieces.

III. Between God and Men.

1. Essential Idea: As already noted, the idea of covenants between God and men doubtless arose from the idea of covenants between men. Hence, the general thought is similar. It cannot in this case, however, be an agreement between contracting parties who stand on an equality, but God, the superior, always takes the initiative. To some extent, however, varying in different cases, is regarded as a mutual agreement; God with His commands makes certain promises, and men agree to keep the commands, or, at any rate, the promises are conditioned on human obedience. In general, the covenant of God with men is a Divine ordinance, with signs and pledges on God's part, and with promises for human obedience and penalties for disobedience, which ordinance is accepted by men. In one passage (Psalm 25:14), it is used in a more general way of an alliance of friendship between God and man.

2. Covenants Recorded in the Old Testament:

A covenant of this general kind is said in the Old Testament to have been made by God with Noah (Genesis 9:9-17 and elsewhere). In this the promise is that there shall be no more deluge. A covenant is made with Abraham, the thought of which includes his descendants. In this the promise of God is to multiply the descendants of Abraham, to give them the land of Canaan, and to make them a blessing to the nations. This is narrated in Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:2-21, etc. A covenant is made with the nation Israel at Sinai (Horeb) (Exodus 19:5; Exodus 24:7, 8; 34:10, 27, 28, etc.), ratified by a covenant sacrifice and sprinkling of blood (Exodus 24:4-8). This constituted the nation the peculiar people of God, and was accompanied by promises for obedience and penalties for disobedience. This covenant was renewed on the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 29:1). In these national covenants the individual had a place, but only as a member of the nation. The individual might forfeit his rights under the covenant, however, by deliberate rebellion against Yahweh, sinning "with a high hand" (Numbers 15:30 f), and then he was regarded as no longer a member of the nation, he was "cut off from among his people," i.e. put to death. This is the teaching of the Priestly Code (P), and is also implied elsewhere; in the mercy of God, however, the punishment was not always inflicted. A covenant with the tribe of Levi, by which that became the priestly tribe, is alluded to in Deuteronomy 33:9 Jeremiah 33:21 Malachi 2:4. The covenant with Phinehas (Numbers 25:12, 13) established an everlasting priesthood in his line. The covenant with Joshua and Israel (Joshua 24) was an agreement on their part to serve Yahweh only. The covenant with David (2 Samuel 7 parallel 1 Chronicles 17; see also Psalm 89:3, 18, 34, 39; Psalm 132:12 Jeremiah 33:21) contained a promise that his descendants should have an everlasting kingdom, and should stand to God in the relation of sonship. The covenant with Jehoiada and the people (2 Kings 11:17 parallel 2 Chronicles 23:3) was an agreement on their part to be the people of Yahweh. The covenant with Hezekiah and the people (2 Chronicles 29:10) consisted essentially of an agreement on their part to reform the worship; the covenant with Josiah and the people (2 Kings 23:3), of an agreement on their part to obey the Book of the Law. The covenant with Ezra and the people (Ezra 10:3) was an agreement on their part to put away foreign wives and obey the law. The prophets also speak of a new covenant, most explicitly in Jeremiah, but with references elsewhere, which is connected with the Messianic time (see Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 55:3; 59:21:00; 61:8 Jeremiah 31:31, 33; Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 50:5; Ezekiel 16:60, 62; Ezekiel 20:37; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 37:26 Hosea 2:18).

3. Phraseology Used:

Various phrases are used of the making of a covenant between God and men. The verb ordinarily used of making covenants between men, karath, is often used here as well. The following verbs are also used: heqim, "to establish" or "confirm"; nathan, "to give"; sim, "to place"; tsiwwah, "to command"; `abhar, "to pass over," followed by be, "into"; bo, "to enter," followed by be; and the phrase nasa' berith `al pi, "to take up a covenant upon the mouth of someone."

4. History of Covenant Idea:

The history of the covenant idea in Israel, as between God and man, is not altogether easy to trace. This applies especially to the great covenants between God and Israel, namely, the one with Abraham, and the one made at Sinai. The earliest references to this relation of Israel to Yahweh under the term "covenant" are in Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1. The interpretation of the former passage is doubtful in details, but the reference to such a covenant seems clear. The latter is considered by many a later addition, but largely because of this mention of the covenant. No other references to such a covenant are made in the prophets before Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak of it, and it is implied in Second-Isaiah. It is a curious fact, however, that most of the later prophets do not use the term, which suggests that the omission in the earlier prophets is not very significant concerning a knowledge of the idea in early times.

In this connection it should be noted that there is some variation among the Hexateuchal codes in their treatment of the covenants. Only one point, however, needs special mention. The Priestly Code (P) gives no explicit account of the covenant at Sinai, and puts large emphasis upon the covenant with Abraham. There are, however, apparent allusions to the Sinaitic covenant (Leviticus 2:13; Leviticus 24:8; Leviticus 26:9, 15, 25, 44, 45). The facts indicate, therefore, principally a difference of emphasis.

In the light partly of the facts already noted, however, it is held by many that the covenant idea between God and man is comparatively late. This view is that there were no covenants with Abraham and at Sinai, but that in Israel's early conceptions of the relation to Yahweh He was their tribal God, bound by natural ties, not ethical as the covenant implies. This is a larger question than at first appears. Really the whole problem of the relation of Israel to Yahweh throughout Old Testament history is involved, in particular the question at what time a comprehensive conception of the ethical character of God was developed. The subject will therefore naturally receive a fuller treatment in other articles. It is perhaps sufficient here to express the conviction that there was a very considerable conception of the ethical character of Yahweh in the early history of Israel, and that consequently there is no sufficient reason for doubting the fact of the covenants with Abraham and at Sinai. The statement of W. Robertson Smith expresses the essence of the matter (op. cit., 319): "That Yahweh's relation is not natural but ethical is the doctrine of the prophets, and is emphasized, in dependence on their teaching, in the Book of Deuteronomy. But the passages cited show that the idea had its foundation in pre prophetic times; and indeed the prophets, though they give it fresh and powerful application, plainly do not regard the conception as an innovation."

A little further consideration should be given to the new covenant of the prophets. The general teaching is that the covenant was broken by the sins of the people which led to the exile. Hence, during the exile the people had been cast off, the covenant was no longer in force. This is stated, using other terminology, in Hosea 3:3; 1:09; 2:02. The prophets speak, however, in anticipation, of the making of a covenant again after the return from the exile. For the most part, in the passages already cited, this covenant is spoken of as if it were the old one renewed. Special emphasis is put, however, upon its being an everlasting covenant, as the old one did not prove to be, implying that it will not be broken as was that one. Jeremiah's teaching, however, has a little different emphasis. He speaks of the old covenant as passed away (31:32). Accordingly he speaks of a new covenant (31:31, 33). This new covenant in its provisions, however, is much like the old. But there is a new emphasis upon individuality in approach to God. In the old covenant, as already noted, it was the nation as a whole that entered into the relation; here it is the individual, and the law is to be written upon the individual heart.

In the later usage the specific covenant idea is sometimes less prominent, so that the term is used practically of the religion as a whole; see Isaiah 56:4 Psalm 103:18.


Valeton, ZATW, XII, XIII (1892-93); Candlish, The Expositor Times, 1892, Oct., Nov.; Kraetzschmar, Die Bundesvorstellung im Altes Testament, Marburg, 1896; articles "Covenant" in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes) and Encyclopedia Biblica.

George Ricker Berry


de-ses' (teleutao, "to come to an end," "married and deceased" (Matthew 22:25)): With thanato, "death," "die the death" (Matthew 15:4 Mark 7:10, the Revised Version, margin "surely die"). Elsewhere the word is translated "die" (Matthew 2:19; Matthew 9:18 Mark 9:48 and often; Hebrews 11:22, the Revised Version (British and American) "end was nigh").

Also the substantive, exodos, "exodus," "exit," "departure," "his decease which he was about to accomplish" (Luke 9:31, the Revised Version, margin "departure"); "after my decease" (2 Peter 1:15, the Revised Version, margin "departure").

1242. diatheke -- testament, will, covenant
... testament, will, covenant. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: diatheke
Phonetic Spelling: (dee-ath-ay'-kay) Short Definition: a covenant, will ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1242.htm - 7k

3551. nomos -- that which is assigned, hence usage, law
... of a force or influence impelling to action; of the Mosaic law; meton: of the books
which contain the law, the Pentateuch, the Old Testament scriptures in ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3551.htm - 7k

2817. kleronomia -- an inheritance
... Short Definition: an inheritance Definition: an inheritance, an heritage, regularly
the gift of God to His chosen people, in the Old Testament: the Promised ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2817.htm - 7k

3085. lutrosis -- a ransoming, a redemption
... lutrosis Phonetic Spelling: (loo'-tro-sis) Short Definition: liberation, deliverance,
release Definition: (in the Old Testament: ransoming from imprisonment ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3085.htm - 7k

2229. e -- surely.
... surely. An adverb of confirmation; perhaps intensive of e; used only (in the New
Testament) before men; assuredly -- surely. see GREEK e. see GREEK men. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2229.htm - 6k

903. Balaam -- Balaam, an unrighteous prophet
... Balaam Phonetic Spelling: (bal-ah-am') Short Definition: Balaam Definition: Balaam,
son of Beor of Pethor on the Euphrates, a soothsayer in the Old Testament. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/903.htm - 6k

3098. Magog -- Magog, a foreign nation
... ogue') Short Definition: Magog Definition: (Hebrew), Magog, sometimes as name of
a people, sometimes as name of a country in the Old Testament, probably the ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3098.htm - 6k

2492. Iob -- Job, a patriarch
... Transliteration: Iob Phonetic Spelling: (ee-obe') Short Definition: Job Definition:
(Hebrew), Job, the hero of the book of that name in the Old Testament. Job. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2492.htm - 5k

3544. nomikos -- relating to law, learned in the law
... law, one learned in the Law Definition: (a) adj: connected with law, about law,
(b) noun: a lawyer, one learned in the Law, one learned in the Old Testament. ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/3544.htm - 8k

922. baros -- weight
... Probably from the same as basis (through the notion of going down; compare bathos);
weight; in the New Testament only, figuratively, a load, abundance ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/922.htm - 7k


The Origin of the New Testament
The Origin of the New Testament. <. The Origin of the New Testament
Adolf Harnack. Table of Contents. Title Page. PREFACE. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/harnack/the origin of the new testament/

The New Testament Commentary Vol. III: John
The New Testament Commentary Vol. III: John. <. The New Testament Commentary
Vol. III: John BW Johnson. Table of Contents. Title Page. Preface. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/johnson/the new testament commentary vol iii john/

sermons on selected lessons of the new testament
sermons on selected lessons of the new testament. <. sermons on selected lessons
of the new testament Saint Augustine. Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
/.../augustine/sermons on selected lessons of the new testament/

Mother Stories from the Old Testament
Mother Stories from the Old Testament. <. Mother Stories from the
Old Testament Anonymous. Produced by Juliet Sutherland ...
//christianbookshelf.org/anonymous/mother stories from the old testament/

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Mother Stories from the New Testament. <. Mother Stories from the
New Testament Anonymous. Produced by Juliet Sutherland ...
//christianbookshelf.org/anonymous/mother stories from the new testament/

Christology of the Old Testament
Christology of the Old Testament. <. Christology of the Old Testament
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg. Produced by Charles ...
//christianbookshelf.org/hengstenberg/christology of the old testament/

Introduction to the Old Testament
Introduction to the Old Testament. <. Introduction to the Old
Testament John Edgar McFadyen. This eBook was produced ...
//christianbookshelf.org/mcfadyen/introduction to the old testament/

An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Additional Notes
An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Additional Notes. <.
An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek. Additional ...
/.../swete/an introduction to the old testament in greek additional notes/

Introduction to the New Testament
Introduction to the New Testament. <. Introduction to the New
Testament Henry Drummond. Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/drummond/introduction to the new testament/

The Books of the New Testament
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Pullan. E-text prepared by Al Haines Table of Contents. Title Page. ...
//christianbookshelf.org/pullan/the books of the new testament/



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