In the Fullness of Time

Topic: Chronology

Type: Article

Author: A. Allison Lewis

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law [GAL 4:4].

Interesting, useful and even vital as dates and times are to history we NEED to have a realistic understanding of the awesome complexities of recorded dates. In some instances we will find errors of original recording. In others copies may have unintentional copyists errors. While in others there may be copyists sincere attempts to make what they believed to be corrections and in fact have introduced more errors. Some dates found in various history books are simply the historians guesses. Then some books may be taken as history though in truth be nothing more than intended fiction as is a large part of modern literature. However, the MOST important problem in our attempts to date the events of our recorded past is the VAST number of systems of recording time and the fact that almost none of these "calendars" make any attempt to relate to any other! Some of these systems are very simple while others are of various complexities. When anyone claims to have all his dates exact you will know that you are dealing with someone very ignorant or deceitful.

From personal experience the ease of making errors in records is illustrated from our wedding certificate. Instead of being recorded as December 29, 1963 it reads December 28, 1963. Obviously the clerk, or whoever was responsible, simply forgot to change the calendar when they went to work that morning.

Years ago I came across a book about counties in the United States. In the preface the author points out a number of problems he had in trying to be clear and accurate about the dates of events relating to the 3,067 American counties. Mr. Kane in the preface tells us:

A study of generally accepted dates reveals many discrepancies. In addition to typographical and natural human errors as a result of annual transcription - and they are plentiful - there are many others due to misconceptions in terminology. Dates often listed as referring to the same event refer to similar but actually different happenings. Research reveals that little, if any, distinction has been made in the various compilations between (1) the date the statute creating a county was passed by the legislature (2) the date when it was approved by the governor or by a popular election or referendum or (3) the date when the act took effect. Furthermore, some books list the dates when the county complied with all legal requirements for its organization, and some the particular date specified for the coming into being of the county.
. . .

Some counties, whose names have been changed, are listed according to the date when the original county was created, while others are listed by the date when the change of name was made or became effective.

Original legislation was often inexact and controversial with respect to county boundaries and new acts were accordingly passed clarifying them. As a result, some sources give the date of the legislation and others give the dates of the amending legislation. Still others may give the dates when areas were taken away from or added to the county.
. . .

States have often changed their classifications of entries from time-to-time. As there is no standard procedure, patience and perseverance are sometimes greater virtues than knowledge and experience.

Even if one knows the title of an act, the date when it was passed or its chapter number, whether the act was a general or special one, the desired information may still be difficult to obtain. Legislative sessions do not always begin on the first day of the year and they often carry over from year to year. Thus, it is frequently necessary to consult several years. For example, legislation enacted on May 15, 1815 may be found in the laws of 1814-1815, or the laws of 1815, or the laws of 1815-16 as the case may be. To further complicate matters, the date on the spine or cover of the book often bears no true relationship to its actual content. A volume marked "1814" for example may contain the laws of 1813, 1814 or 1815 and in subsequent volumes the method of titling may be changed.

The exact date of the passage of much of the legislation in colonial days is not given and the only date which can be found is when the legislative assembly met or adjourned. In some instances, legislation although earlier passed did not become effective until the conclusion of the session when all the laws were finally approved. In other cases, colonial laws did not become effective until they were signed by the king.

The dates given in local and state histories have generally been inaccurate and no reliance has been placed upon them. Dates have been checked with prime sources but even here one notices typographical or orthographical errors. In many instances in the same law, the name of the county is variously spelled. Errors in name have sometimes been changed by later legislation but generally correction has been made by usage, common acceptance, geographic boards or nomenclature groups. Where this situation exists, the present generally accepted spelling is used [Kane Joseph Nathan. The American Counties. c. 1960, New York: NY, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. pp. iii-vi].

The frailties of human productions is illustrated in the last paragraph of Kane’s preface:

The author hopes that this book is free from error. As reference is made to 3,067 countries [sic! the "r" is an obvious typo-aal] and the subject matter is highly controversial, a few errors may have crept in. If any of the facts contained herein are provably in error, the author will appreciate being apprised of them so that corrections may be made in future editions [Ibid. p. vi].

Kane illustrates the use of various spellings of the same name when he writes:

Although several counties have the same name, there are variations in spelling. There is an Allegany County in Maryland and New York, but North Carolina and Virginia have an Alleghany County, and Pennsylvania has an Allegheny County. There is a Pottawatomie County in Kansas and Oklahoma, but the county in Iowa is Pottawattamie County. Ohio has its Wyandot County whereas Kansas has a Wyandotte County. Cheboygan County is in Michigan and Sheboygan County is in Wisconsin [Ibid. p. 23].

These illustrations are from our recent, advanced, sophisticated, civilized Western world! Can we learn then to be a little patient with our study of the manuscripts, copies, copies of copies, translations of manuscripts, translations of translations of manuscripts and copies and even translations of translations of translations!

[Payne, J. Barton. The Theology of the Older Testament. c. 1962, Grand Rapids: MI]

70 weeks of years = 490 years.
This was for the accomplishing of the Messiah’s priestly work [DAN 9:24].
(In 538 BC the decree authorizing the rebuilding of the temple was given [EZR 1:1-4; ISA 44:28]).

   458 BC  = the extended authorization by Artaxerxes I (465-424 BC) for
               		rebuilding the city walls [EZR 4:11,12,23; 7:18,25; 9:9].
               		This was finished in 444 BC
  +483     = 69 weeks of years (69 x 7)
     +1     = to account for the change from BC to AD
     26 AD = beginning of Jesus ministry (baptism at age 30; therefore He was born 5 BC).
    +3   = the length of His ministry ending with His death
 -------        	(It is finished JOH 19:30).
    30 AD = in the midst of the week [DAN 9:27]. (Spring).
   +3    = The Jews cut themselves off–Stephen’s stoning and Paul’s
   33 AD  = completion of the 70th week. End of "70 weeks" of DAN 9:24.
 +37      = This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled [MAT 24:34].
  70 AD  = Jerusalem and Temple destroyed and Jews dispersed.

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This Page Last Updated: 05/15/00 A. Allison Lewis