James Ussher in Catholic Apologetics · Ussher II · Ussher III · Ussher IV
- I was in a class today, and one of my teachers cited the John Ussher estimation of the age of the Earth, according to what he found in the Bible, which places the age of the Earth at around 6,000 years. More so indirectly defying this, they said that the Earth was billions of years old, which I think I believe. Is there something I am missing? Was John Ussher incorrect in his assumption in any way? How should I have responded? FYI this is a throwaway account.
- Submission accepted by
- Theo Fessenden
- Amoque Stipper
- Apr 14 2023
- The 6000 year figure comes from painstakingly calculating the generations and linage outlined in the bible. Counting the generations of Adam through the house of David, through on to Jesus… is roughly 6000 years. But we have no evidence that every generation is listed (I honestly don’t know, but I cannot recall any generations carried through the maternal line. It seems likely, but I am not sure). I do not doubt the authority or accuracy of the Bible, but I cannot KNOW the record is complete. The bible is not a genealogy text and there is no DNA proof. I believe that the names listed are in genealogical order, but is the list complete? Does the bible say, “These are ALL the generations?” I don’t know.
For myself, I set aside a determination and leave the issue open in my mind. I try to concentrate on those things that truly matter in my quest to walk more a more Christ-like life and take some comfort in the fact that if the Bible did not say explicitly, then I needn’t know for certain.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- "But we have no evidence that every generation is listed (I honestly don’t know, but I cannot recall any generations carried through the maternal line. It seems likely, but I am not sure)."
You have, as I, as every one else, two parents. That means four grandparents, four in one and the same generation. Usually four different persons, except for the grandchildren of Adam and Eve and except for people made in incest. Third generation back behind you, that's eight ancestors, the greatgrandparents.
The Bible usually gives the single patrilinear genealogy : one father, one paternal grandfather, one twice paternal great-grandfather. One in each generation.
"The bible is not a genealogy text"
It certainly contains genealogy textS. 1 Paralipomenon starts with 9 chapters mostly genealogies.
"and there is no DNA proof."
Does orally transmitted genealogy actually need that?
"but is the list complete? Does the bible say, “These are ALL the generations?” I don’t know."
For the one in Genesis 11, there is at least one possible omission in the Masoretic and Vulgate, namely a second man named Cainan between Arphaxad and Shela. Because the most manuscripts and standard text of the LXX Genesis 11 and most manuscripts and standard text for Luke 3 include him.
But this one makes a difference of 128 years. Not tens of thousands.
However, before we got tens of thousands of years by calculating omissions, we would be dealing with "Swiss cheese genealogies" - you know some cheeses are per volume more hole than cheese, and if a genealogy is like that, it is very ill preserved. In contrast, omitting four people in Matthew 1 or one man in Genesis 11 could be deliberate damnatio memoriae.
If a genealogy is very ill preserved, so could the other history be from times near when it started. It would make Genesis 3 untrustworthy as history.
In other words, now you are getting close to opening up to attacks against the privileges of the Blessed Virgin, in case it was badly transmitted from Adam and Eve what God said to the snake.