From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology by Andrew E. Steinmann

As I’ve noted before, Andrew Steinmann has been remarkably prolific in recent years:

2008 – a 600 page commentary on Daniel

2009 – a 700 page commentary on Proverbs

2010 – a 600 page commentary on Ezra and Nehemiah

And now this year, 2011, he has brought out a 400 page book on biblical chronology. There is a lot of great stuff here, but what I want to highlight is what Steinmann says about the date of the exodus. I won’t repeat his whole argument, but in my view his discussion is a great summary of the reasons the late date of the exodus (1200’s BC) should be retired altogether.

Steinmann observes that the late date for the exodus:

“was popularized by William F. Albright in the 1930s. The primary motive for Albright’s theory was to harmonize the Exodus with archeological evidence from Palestine. In the decades since Albright’s death in 1971 most Palestinian archeologists and most critical scholars have abandoned this theory in favor of denying the historicity of the Exodus and conquest. Virtually all of the remaining adherents of a thirteenth century Exodus are evangelical scholars” (54).

Steinmann demonstrates how the late-date theory is unconvincing on 1 Kings 6:1 and Exodus 1:11, and, though the main impetus for the theory is archeological, even the archeological evidence for it is disputed.

The early date for the exodus, meanwhile, based on 1 Kings 6:1, fits naturally with Judges 11:26 and is confirmed by traditions from Jewish sources that shed light on the calculation of Jubilee years and Sabbatical cycles. Steinmann’s discussion of these matters is a great introduction to the Sabbatical cycles and the Jubilee years, and along the way it becomes apparent that the most natural explanation for this evidence is that the priests faithfully counted the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles on the basis of Leviticus 25–27, texts that must have been in existence from “the late fifteenth century BC” (52–53).

There is, of course, a lot of other valuable chronological information in this volume, and I expect to return to it often.

Steinmann’s approach at point after point confirms the veracity, historicity, and accuracy of what is recorded in the biblical text. He comes to the texts sympathetically and patiently sifts the evidence, seeking explanations that account for all the evidence. This is evangelical scholarship at its best.

My only regret about this book is its price! I don’t understand why this volume costs twice as much as comparable books do, and I hope the price does not prove prohibitive. From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology is a faithful, up to date discussion of what we can know about when these events in the Bible took place.

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  1. My question at the end of this comment is not directly related to the issue of dating the Exodus retrospectively from the birth of Christ. I accept the reference in 1Ki.6:1 as conclusive, which necessarily makes me an early-date advocate.

    I realize there are two schools of thought on the length of the sojourn in Egypt. My understanding is that Steinmann defends the “longer” time actually spent by the children of Israel in Goshen/Egypt (@ 400 yrs, Gen.15:13; cf.Ex.12:40, 430 yrs).

    I tend to think that Gal.3:17 qualifies our understanding of the time spent, that “down in Egypt” was 215 of the 430 years, because Paul speaks of the promise unto Abraham as the point forward from which the Exodus may be dated. That is, the sojourn-period inclusive of, rather than exclusive of, the days of the elder patriarchs. And I think there is other intertextual evidence that support this view.

    Do you have an opinion?

      1. He goes with AD 33 for the date of Jesus’ death. He doesn’t base this on Daniel’s 70 wks, and in the Daniel commentary he interprets them symbolically – no specific reference to dates and times . . .

        1. Too bad; he’d lose me there. Seven whatevers followed by sixty-two whatevers and then one more whatever divided in to half a whatever and another half a whatever. Pretty precise, for a whatever.


          BUT I am in no way devaluing the whole. Steinmann did some very careful work on Proverbs, which made for helpful reference in the authorship discussion in my book. Plus, his commentary on Proverbs is quite a wonder. I’ve used it here and there, and mean to read through the whole.

          1. I’m with Dan. I read his work on Daniel and liked it overall, but when he came to Daniel 9, he totally derailed. It was rather sad to behold.

            At 80 bucks, its books like these that I wish would have a cyber Monday deal. Not those skimpy 150 page paperbacks.

    1. He says “Paul probably considered Jacob’s entry into Egypt as the ratification of the covenant” (69).

      I definitely agree with him that Gen 15:13 also speaks of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt in the round number of 400 years.

      So I think that Paul has grabbed a convenient time ref. from Exod 12:40 that is meant to summarize the period from Abraham to Moses.

  2. For an inexpensive work on the chronology of the OT, see the book by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones, PhD, ThD. Chronology of the Old Testament: A Return to the Basics. He does an exhaustive study on the 430 sojourn in Egypt with supporting charts that are very good and user friendly. For a free digital version, go to the website, Standard Bearers ( and look under the heading, Chronology of the OT for a PDF portfolio containing the book, excerpt on the 430 sojourn and charts (give it a moment to load).

  3. I’d like to see this reviewed by a competent archaeologist. Mass migrations are the kinds of things that leave archaeological traces.

    1. I know I am coming lately to this, but I doubt the exodus was the massive migration we think it might have been. I know people like Dr. Goldingay think that maybe we misunderstand and mistranslated some older Hebrew numbers. What if instead the exodus was only a few thousand people instead of millions. Then you might miss the the archaeological traces. Just a thought

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