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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