After the Flood, by Bill Cooper


Chapter 9

Ancient Chronologies and the Age of the Earth


That the earth might be millions or even billions of years old is a fairly recent idea which did not really begin to be formed until the turn of the 18th and the 19th centuries, after the works of Hutton and Lyle were first published. They introduced an idea known as the uniformitarian theory, stating in effect that the processes of nature had always been the same slow processes that they are today, and that hence the earth's features formed gradually over aeons of time. It was a notion in which there was no room given to either a recent six-day Creation or the Flood of Noah. The notion of uniformitarianism, as well as laying the foundations for the theory of evolution which was to follow, was deemed sufficient in its own right to disprove the Genesis record, and the somewhat dubious philosophical attractions of this idea have led to the near universal acceptance of the theory. Indeed, the rejection of the Genesis account seems to have been the one objective behind the formulation of the theory in the first place. (1) There have been many learned and complex criticisms published of late against the uniformitarian theory by creationists and others, and I will not repeat here what they have said. All that concerns us in this present study is what our ancient forebears thought of the age of the earth, and exactly how old they reckoned it to be.

Particular interest was shown amongst the Anglo-Saxons and the early Britons in establishing a firm chronology for their histories, and although there may be good reasons today for questioning some of the dates provided by their systems of reckoning, we are nevertheless left with unequivocal evidence that shows them to have believed in a young earth (a recent Creation) and the Flood. For example, the version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle known as the Parker Chronicle (2) states that from the beginning of the world until the year AD 6 were 5200 years. The Laud Chronicle (3) differs slightly from this, stating that the same period elapsed from the Creation to the year AD 11, indicating either a simple scribal error or a derivation from two distinct sources. However, both chronicles agree that from the Creation to the year AD 33, the year of the Crucifixion, was a period of 5226 years. In other words, as far as the Saxons were concerned, the world was created about 5200 BC.

Further to this, is the statement found elsewhere amongst the Anglo-Saxon records that:

Fram Adame ...(to the) ...flod ... were) ...twa hund wintra & twa thusenda & twa &fiowertig. (From Adam to the Flood were 2242 winters.') (4) (My translation)

It would be interesting to discover whence the Saxons got this figure of 2242 years for the antediluvian period, for it does not appear in the Latin Vulgate which gives 1656 years for this period, thus agreeing with the Hebrew; and they were not familiar with the Septuagint version which gives in any case a period of 2256 years for the antediluvian era. However, their figure does agree exactly with that of the Britons, as passed down to us by Nennius: (5)

'From the beginning of the world until the Flood (are) 2242 years.

From the Flood until Abraham (are) 942 years.

From Abraham to Moses (are) 640 years.

From Moses to David (are) 500 years.

From David to Nebuchadnezzar are 569 years.

From Adam until the migration to Babylonia (i.e. the Captivity of the Jews) are 4879 years.

From the migration to Babylonia until Christ are 566 years.

From Adam therefore until the Passion of Christ are 5228 years.

From the Passion of Christ have been completed 796 years.

And from His Incarnation 831 years.'

(Nennius, chapters 1-4; my translation)

We would say today that there are certain points on which this early British chronology is patently wrong. For example, there were not 942 years between the Flood and Abraham, but only ca 427 until Abraham's entry into Canaan. (6) Again, adding the years given in lines 1-7, we have a period of 5459 years between Adam and Christ, whereas the chronology' states towards the end that from Adam until Christ's Passion was only 5228 years, an error of 231 years! Assuming that Nennius was himself quite capable of doing simple arithmetic, we have to conclude that he passed down to us, characteristically unedited and uncorrected, a faulty (and therefore much older?) source. However, the early Britons and the Saxons are seen by their records to have looked back to a Creation of about 5200 BC.

The Irish chronology, on the other hand, seems to have favoured a date for the Creation of about 4000 BC. Now, there are admittedly certain complex difficulties concerning Irish chronology, but these have to do with events recorded for the period between the Flood and the Milesian colony of ca 500 BC. For example, Partholan, if we accept the Irish chronology, landed in Ireland in the 15th century BC, whereas the British chronicle dates him to the reign of Gurguit (who, it is said, gave Ireland to him) in the 4th century BC. These difficulties can be resolved however. It seems that it is the British chronology that is in error here, but how did this error of over a thousand years come about?

There are various possibilities. Firstly, it could be that Gurguit was mistaken for a much earlier British king. But when. we consider that Partholan began his reign some 380 years before the British royal line was even founded (by Brutus in ca 1104 BC), then this possibility is immediately discounted.{ Could Partholan have been confused with a much later Irish king of similar name and whose reign was contemporary with that of Gurguit? That is just possible, although the Irish records are silent concerning such a king. Finally, we can consider the possibility that there was some kind of political agreement between the Irish and British monarchies during the 4th century BC (i.e. during the reign of Gurguit), and that Partholan's name, as the original founder of Irish kingship and in whose name the present kingship of Ireland was held, simply became embroiled with that of the king under whom the agreement was made. This way, the discrepancy becomes one of name only rather than one of chronology.

However, the Creation date of ca 4000 BC favoured by the early Irish chroniclers brings to mind the most famous of all proposed for the Creation, that of Ussher, who, in his 17th century work, Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti, calculated a date of 4004 BC. Ussher was himself an Irishman, of course, who was doubtless steeped in the lore of his countrymen. But whether Ussher was influenced by this or not, we note that the favoured dates for the Creation between the Britons, Saxons and Irish were somewhere between ca 4000 BC on the one hand, and ca 5200 BC on the other. Which brings us to the following observation concerning the work of the 16th century chronologist, Scaliger.

Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a scholar of immense ability who broke much new ground in the study of classical literature. Yet his chief claim to fame (if the comparative obscurity so far afforded him can be described as fame), lies in his work, De Ernendatione Temporurn, which he published in 1583 and which paved the way for the modern science of chronology. (This was followed by the publication in 1606 of his Thesaurus Ternporum, in which he reconstructed Eusebius's Chronicon.)

Scaliger turned his interest from classical literature and languages to chronology primarily because chronology was a science that had degenerated into some disarray by his own day. Indeed, it was so beset with difficulties that it was nigh 'unworkable, and Scaliger set himself the task of either improving it or replacing it altogether. In his De Ernendatione Temporurn, Scaliger rightly recognised that the calendar as it now stands, i.e. the Gregorian Calendar which was introduced in Europe in 1582, and which he heavily criticised, was a somewhat cumbersome apparatus with which to reconstruct the chronology of past events. Its very complexity lent itself to mistakes, whilst its inherent inaccuracies lent themselves to yet further inaccuracies. So he decided to solve the problem, and his solution was as ingenious as it was simple. Instead of an event being said to have occurred at such a date in such a year BC or AD, it would henceforth be said to have occurred on a certain numbered day.

Now, although a day count was the answer, it raised a further question. From which point in time should this day count begin? The answer was obvious. It should begin from Day 1 of the Creation. But when did Day 1 occur? Well, Scaliger (partially) solved the problem by turning his attention to the three basic units upon which virtually all workable calendars are based, namely, the Solar Cycle, the Metonic Cycle and the Roman Indiction.

In simple terms, the Solar Cycle is completed every 28 years, the Metonic Cycle every 19 years, and the Roman Indiction every 15 years. Scaliger realised that there must obviously be points in time when all three cycles begin and end together, so, noting carefully the age of each cycle at the moment when he began his calculations, he counted the years backwards until he came to that year when all three cycles began together. And that was the year 4713 BC.

Simple arithmetic then told him that the three cycles would only meet together in time every 7980 years (this figure being the product of 28 x 19 x 15), and given that they had begun together in 4713 BC, the period, which he named the Julian Period in honour of his father Julius, would not end until the close of the year AD 3267 (7).

This was an excellent and broad base upon which to build his system of chronology, and for convenience's sake Scaliger counted 1st January 4713 BC as Day 1, building up his chronology from there. However, the fact that the three cycles (Solar, Metonic and Roman Indiction) began in the year 4713 BC will hold a certain significance for creationists, for Genesis is quite clear on the matter when it tells us that, apart from their light-giving properties, the solar system and its backdrop of stars were created so that we could measure by them times and seasons, days and years. In other words, God had created a gigantic clock, and what more natural than that the Creator should start that clock ticking, as it were, at a setting that would measure the age of the universe as well as the more mundane passing of the seasons here on earth?

But, before we recklessly assume that Scaliger had all unwittingly stumbled across the true date for the Creation, we must remember that Scaliger based his calculations on the present values of the Solar and Metonic Cycles, or at least the values of these cycles as they stood in the year 1582/3. Creationists should be painfully aware by now that values today may not necessarily be the values of the past. This is constantly argued by creationists in refutation of the uniformitarian hypothesis. Much damage, disruption and mayhem has occurred which will undoubtedly have altered those values to an extent we can only guess at. On a local (planet earth) level, we have had the global Flood of Noah and other geological disasters to alter the rotation of the earth and hence the lengths of the day and year. The moon has suffered local catastrophes of its own affecting no doubt the length of the lunar month, and the universe in general has degenerated noticeably in its values during the past six thousand years or so simply through the inexorable workings of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

There is, moreover, much documentary evidence to suggest that calendar calculations underwent several revisions both during the more immediate centuries of the post-Flood era and later. Why were these revisions necessary? The deteriorations in the motions of the earth, moon and stars, and hence the calendar, seem to have occurred not gradually over an immense period of time, as implied by most modernist writers on the subject, but at certain points in history when one day the current calendar was workable and the next when it was not. Studying the revisions that had to be made and of which we have any record, intercalations were suddenly brought in to correct for suddenly observed discrepancies.

Now, if the deteriorations in the calendar, especially the lunar calendar, were indeed gradual, as some would have us believe, then why were the reforms that corrected for this deterioration not brought in in equally gradual stages? It is simply not good enough to assume, as most modern writers on the subject assume, that the early calendar makers were merely poor observers who possessed no theoretical astronomy and who could thus only make poor calendars that had to be corrected from time to time. If the people of the time had truly devised a calendar that was unworkably in error, then they would surely have discovered this within only a year or two of its inauguration, and would not have waited centuries to allegedly evolve sufficient acumen to notice that the seasons were wildly at variance with their own calculated harvest time. With ignorance and stupidity of that order, it is difficult to see how they would have coped with some of life's more challenging problems.

One such people who are said not to have possessed any mathematics of a particularly high order, nor any theoretical astronomy, are the Maya of South America. Now, the Maya instituted a day count exactly like that which Scaliger devised in order to solve certain chronological and genealogical problems that they had come across whilst reconstructing their own ancient history. The unnerving aspect of this from the modernist point of view, however, is the fact that the Maya perfected their day count some six hundred years or more before Scaliger was even thought of. Scaliger, we are rightly told, was a genius. The Maya, we are wrongly told, were not.

But why are we told that the Maya were not geniuses? Why do modernist authors insist on telling us that the Maya had no theoretical astronomy and no system of theoretical mathematics in spite of much concrete evidence to the contrary? At Chichen Itza in Mexico stand the ruins of a gigantic observatory that the Maya built, whose passageways are aligned with the sun, moon and stars. With this, and in conjunction with other aligned observatories, the Maya were able to predict lunar and solar eclipses with great accuracy as well as measuring the synodic cycle of Venus with a precision that has only been matched and realised in modern times. (8) But perhaps there is method in the modernist madness.

If we correlate the Mayan day count with that of Scaliger, we find that the Mayan Day 1 began on Julian Day 584283, (9) which equals in our terms 10th August 3113 BC (I make that a Thursday) for the start of the Mayan day count. Now, the significance of this lies in the fact that although the Mayan concept of time was cyclic, they nevertheless knew that the world-destroying catastrophe that had closed the previous age was brought about by water, and that their own age had begun after that catastrophe. In other words, they looked back to the Flood as the close of the old age and the beginning of the new. And it is here that their day count takes on an immense significance. Scaliger's day count, we remember, took him back to the year 4713 BC, and it is more than probable that this corresponds roughly to the year of the Creation. The Mayans, however, did not begin their day count from the Creation, but from the Flood, and this event was set in their chronology, not Scaliger's, in the year 3113 BC, and subtracting 3113 from 4713 leaves us with a 1600 year period between the two dates for the Creation and the Flood, a period of time which corresponds remarkably closely to the 1656 year period set out so precisely in the Genesis record. Little wonder that this information is precluded these days by a cursory dismissal of Mayan mathematics and astronomy. If I were a modernist, I'd dismiss it too!

But to briefly take stock of the situation, we may see by all the evidence noted above that not only did our ancient forebears look back, in pre-Christian times, to their descent from patriarchs that are named in the Table of Nations, but they also held that the earth was of recent creation and that it had once suffered a Flood. And they knew all this without any recourse to the book of Genesis, of which they were entirely unaware. In all, their records constitute a rather formidable body of evidence. But there is another subject that has a bearing on our enquiry, and again it was something that our forebears accepted without any problem at all. Indeed, they recorded its occurrence regularly in their annals and chronicles, blissfully unaware of the fact that today it would be a most controversial and sensitive subject. It is one that we deal with in the following chapter.


1. See Bowden's Rise of the Evolution Fraud.

2. Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS. 173. For an English translation see Garmonsway. pp. 6-7.

3. Bodleian MS. Laud 636. See also Garmonsway. pp. 6-7.

4. MS. Cotton. Vespasian. D. IV. fol. 69v.

5. A principio mundi usque ad diluvium anni II CC XL II.

A diluvio usque ad Abraham anni D CCCC XL II.

Ab Abraham usque ad Moysen anni D C XL.

A Moyse usque ad David anni D.

A David usque .A/abuchodonosor anni sunt D LX ViIiI.

Ab Adam usque trausmigrationem Babyloniae anni sunt 1111 DCCC LXX VHII.

A transmigratione Babyloniae usque ad Christum D LX VI.

Ab Adam vero usque ad passionem Christi anni sunt V CC XX VIII.

A passione autem Christi peracti sunt anni D CC LXXXX VI.

Ab incarnatione autem eius anni sunt D CCC XXX I.

(Nennius 1-4; see also Morris. p. 59)

6. Osgood, John. The Times of Abraham. CEN Tech. J. Vol. 2. 1986. p. 79.

7. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1985 ed. Vol. 15. p. 463.

8. The Mayans calculated a 584 day cycle, against the modern value of 583.92 days. See Ronan, C. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the World's Science. Newnes. Cambridge. 1983. p. 55.

9. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1985 ed. Vol. 15. p. 474.

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