Bar Kochba revolt

From Teach The Net
Revision as of 01:41, 23 October 2019 by Emeth (talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Current stuff I need to dig through


Akiba Conspiracy

More importantly, a formal, documented meeting was not necessary for the rabbis to carry out their deflation scheme. There was a limited circle of rabbinic authority in Israel in the aftermath of the Temple’s destruction, one which eventually centered around Rabbi Akiba (ca. AD 50-132)14 and number of other prominent rabbis. They could have easily conspired together and have left behind no trace of their conspiracy proper and any meeting(s) associated with it.

Moreover, the rabbis did indeed have adequate authority and control over the limited number of Hebrew manuscripts that had survived the destruction of the Temple. They did not require a formal meeting to obtain or receive such authority since they already possessed it. The dominant Hebrew text that emerged from the aftermath of AD 70 (the proto–MT) was solely in the hands of the only sect that had survived, the Pharisaic rabbis. This is an indisputable historical fact:

…after 70 CE only [MT] was left in Jewish hands. [The old LXX] no longer exerted any influence in Jewish circles since it was now in Christian hands, [SP] was with the Samaritan community, and the Qumran scrolls were hidden in caves. Other scrolls may have been circulating in Palestine, the likes of those that were imported to Qumran. However, we do not hear about such scrolls, probably because there was no organized community left in Palestine that would use texts like 4QJerb,d or 4QJosha, which deviate greatly from [MT]… the evidence after 70 CE is monolithically rabbinic.15

Rabbi Akiba had the authority and power to order the removal of older biblical manuscripts (MSS) and institute the use of new ones, and he could deem Hebrew texts in the Temple Court to be unfit for public reading.16 Rabbinic sources indicate that the rabbis also had the authority to dispose of entire biblical books if they deemed them unfit or inferior, and in fact, they did so on numerous occasions.17 Further, they also controlled the copying and dissemination of new Hebrew MSS.

Even prior to the destruction of the Temple there is already evidence of centralized control by the Jerusalem Temple authorities over Hebrew biblical manuscripts circulating in Israel. Scribes worked in the Temple Court and used master copies stored in the Temple archives to “correct” scrolls brought to Jerusalem by local leaders. This is recorded in the rabbinic literature,18 and is also evidenced by Hebrew texts found in the Judaean Desert which possess textual affinities and exhibit scribal habits very close to those seen in later forms of the MT.19 When the Temple was destroyed and other Jewish sects disappeared (such as the Essenes at Qumran),20 the rabbis emerged with full control over the proto–MT text and the doctrines and writings of rabbinic Judaism. Theses writings became absolutely authoritative for Palestinian and Diaspora Jews.21 Akiba and other influential rabbis traveled and successfully exerted their authority in the Diaspora.22 In time, the rabbinic worldview became central to Jewish belief and practice all around the world.23


Tov observes: “Had the LXX and SP not been preserved and the Qumran scrolls not been found, we would have known little about non-rabbinic copies of Hebrew Scripture."29



While Gen 5/11 are not messianic texts proper, they had profound messianic implications during Second Temple Judaism.43 Beckwith explains:

There is strong evidence to show that the Essenes, the Pharisees and the Zealots all thought that they could date, at least approximately, the time when the Son of David would come, and that in each case their calculations were based upon Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 Weeks (Dan 9:24–27), understood as 70 weeks of years… In ancient Jewish literature, the interpretation of Daniel’s 70 Weeks is always linked to come kind of chronological scheme... They are alike in beginning from Creation, and in proceeding on the assumption that, for the earliest period of history, time can be computed by adding together the ages of patriarchs in Genesis 5.44
- quoted from here

Demetrius the Chronographer

From the orthography of proper names, and from various expressions used, it is evident that Demetrius used the Septuagint text of the Bible. For the determination of certain dates he relied on the Biblical exegesis in use among the Palestinian Jews. Josephus used Demetrius' chronicles for his Antiquities of the Jews and adopted his chronological system.[5]
- quoted from
Question: Is there a compelling reason not to conclude that the LXX came to be under the pen of Origen?
Answer: Yes. Demetrius the Chronographer gives a clear attestation of the LXX chronology in Alexandria a couple centuries before Christ.
- quoted from


Below quote from

We hate to be so blunt, but Smith’s citation of Augustine’s City of God XV:13 is wildly incorrect. He says, “Clearly aware of the 167/187 discrepancy, Augustine (AD 354–430) provides the most logical and plausible explanation for the reading of 167,” and then quotes Augustine,

“One must therefore more plausibly maintain, that when first their labors began to be transcribed from the copy in Ptolemy’s library, some such misstatement might find its way into the first copy made, and from it might be disseminated far and wide; and that this might arise from no fraud, but from a mere copyist’s error. This is a sufficiently plausible account of the difficulty regarding Methuselah’s life.” But two chapters earlier, in the chapter entitled “Whether, in computing years, we ought to follow the Hebrew or the Septuagint” Augustine says something rather important. For context we will quote him at length:

“However, if I ask them which of the two is more credible, that the Jewish nation, scattered far and wide, could have unanimously conspired to forge this lie, and so, though envying others the authority of their Scriptures, have deprived themselves of their verity; or that seventy men, who were also themselves Jews, shut up in one place (for Ptolemy king of Egypt had got them together for this work), should have envied foreign nations that same truth, and by common consent inserted these errors: who does not see which can be more naturally and readily believed? But far be it from any prudent man to believe either that the Jews, however malicious and wrong-headed, could have tampered with so many and so widely-dispersed manuscripts; or that those renowned seventy individuals had any common purpose to grudge truth to the nations. One must therefore more plausibly maintain, that when first their labors began to be transcribed from the copy in Ptolemy’s library, some such misstatement might find its way into the first copy made, and from it might be disseminated far and wide; and that this might arise from no fraud, but from a mere copyist’s error. This is a sufficiently plausible account of the difficulty regarding Methuselah’s life, and of that other case in which there is a difference in the total of twenty-four years. But in those cases in which there is a methodical resemblance in the falsification, so that uniformly the one version allots to the period before a son and successor is both 100 years more than the other, and to the period before a son and successor is born 100 years more than the other, and to the period subsequent 100 years less, and vice versa, so that the totals may agree—and this holds true of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and seventh generations—in these cases error seems to have, if we may say so, a certain kind of constancy, and savors not of accident, but of design.

Accordingly, that diversity of numbers which distinguishes the Hebrew from the Greek and Latin copies of Scripture, and which consists of a uniform addition and deduction of 100 years in each lifetime for several consecutive generations, is to be attributed neither to the malice of the Jews nor to men so diligent and prudent as the seventy translators, but to the error of the copyist who was first allowed to transcribe the manuscript from the library of the above-mentioned king. For even now, in cases where numbers contribute nothing to the easier comprehension or more satisfactory knowledge of anything, they are both carelessly transcribed, and still more carelessly emended. For who will trouble himself to learn how many thousand men the several tribes of Israel contained? He sees no resulting benefit of such knowledge. Or how many men are there who are aware of the vast advantage that lies hid in this knowledge? But in this case, in which during so many consecutive generations 100 years are added in one manuscript where they are not reckoned in the other, and then, after the birth of the son and successor, the years which were wanting are added, it is obvious that the copyist who contrived this arrangement designed to insinuate that the antediluvians lived an excessive number of years only because each year was excessively brief, and that he tried to draw the attention to this fact by his statement of their age of puberty at which they became able to beget children. For, lest the incredulous might stumble at the difficulty of so long a lifetime, he insinuated that 100 of their years equalled but ten of ours; and this insinuation he conveyed by adding 100 years whenever he found the age below 160 years or thereabouts, deducting these years again from the period after the son's birth, that the total might harmonize. By this means he intended to ascribe the generation of offspring to a fit age, without diminishing the total sum of years ascribed to the lifetime of the individuals. And the very fact that in the sixth generation he departed from this uniform practice, inclines us all the rather to believe that when the circumstance we have referred to required his alterations, he made them; seeing that when this circumstance did not exist, he made no alteration. For in the same generation he found in the Hebrew manuscript, that Jared lived before he begat Enoch 162 years, which, according to the short year computation, is sixteen years and somewhat less than two months, an age capable of procreation; and therefore it was not necessary to add 100 short years, and so make the age twenty-six years of the usual length; and of course it was not necessary to deduct, after the son's birth, years which he had not added before it. And thus it comes to pass that in this instance there is no variation between the two manuscripts.

This is corroborated still further by the fact that in the eighth generation, while the Hebrew books assign 182 years to Methuselah before Lamech's birth, ours assign to him twenty less, though usually 100 years are added to this period; then, after Lamech's birth, the twenty years are restored, so as to equalize the total in the two books. For if his design was that these 170 years be understood as seventeen, so as to suit the age of puberty, as there was no need for him adding anything, so there was none for his subtracting anything; for in this case he found an age fit for the generation of children, for the sake of which he was in the habit of adding those 100 years in cases where he did not find the age already sufficient. This difference of twenty years we might, indeed, have supposed had happened accidentally, had he not taken care to restore them afterwards as he had deducted them from the period before, so that there might be no deficiency in the total. Or are we perhaps to suppose that there was the still more astute design of concealing the deliberate and uniform addition of 100 years to the first period and their deduction from the subsequent period -- did he design to conceal this by doing something similar, that is to say, adding and deducting, not indeed a century, but some years, even in a case in which there was no need for his doing so? But whatever may be thought of this, whether it be believed that he did so or not, whether, in fine, it be so or not, I would have no manner of doubt that when any diversity is found in the books, since both cannot be true to fact, we do well to believe in preference that language out of which the translation was made into another by translators. For there are three Greek Mss., one Latin, and one Syriac, which agree with one another, and in all of these Methuselah is said to have died six years before the deluge.

That was a long quote, but the point is clear: Augustine is noting that there are two kinds of differences between the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. There are those which are most likely the result of a simple scribal error, and there are those which must be intentional, because they are systematic. Augustine argues that the Hebrew manuscripts are too widely spread to be changed uniformly, and in any case, the Jews would not ‘cut off their nose to spite their face’ by corrupting their own Scriptures. This is the Achilles’ heel of the idea that the MT was the result of a deliberate attempt to change the Bible. How could such a change have been made, then disseminated across the entire Jewish world (which ranged at least from Morocco to Burma14 by that time), without causing a major conflict?

But the Septuagint was originally translated in Alexandria, and very early could have had the ages inflated. Augustine’s reason for this is that the inflator wanted to make the genealogy look more plausible to those who would be skeptical about the ages at which men had their children. By inflating the ages so that one-tenth of the age would put the father post-puberty, they could argue that the pre-Flood genealogy reckoned one of our years as 10 of theirs.


For calendric purposes, Bede made a new calculation of the age of the world since the creation, which he dated as 3952 BC. Due to his innovations in computing the age of the world, he was accused of heresy at the table of Bishop Wilfrid, his chronology being contrary to accepted calculations. Once informed of the accusations of these "lewd rustics," Bede refuted them in his Letter to Plegwin.
- Quoted from here


Eusebius argues for the superiority of the LXX, but as Smith admits in the very same note, “Eusebius does not attribute the motive to messianic chronology and discrediting Jesus, [sic] rather, their purpose was to encourage their contemporaries to lower their age of marrying” (ARJ, note 4).
- Quoted from here

Eusebius (ca. AD 310) argued that the LXX should be followed (in part) because it “was translated from old and accurate Hebrew copies.”13 Conversely, the MT’s timeline was deflated, and Eusebius states: “Therefore we suspect that this was something which the Jews did. 
- Quoted here
- Links here for reference

We also have the testimony of Augustine in North Africa (ca. AD 420), who reports that unspecified Christians of his time argued that that the Jewish scribes “made alterations in their texts as to undermine the authority of ours.” He specifically deals with the numbers in Genesis 5 (City of God XV.10–11, 13), and attempts to refute the Christian claim that the Jews had deflated the antediluvian begetting ages in the Hebrew text (see my analysis of Augustine’s arguments below in § II.4.1–10). Augustine thus serves as another ancient witness, a hostile witness, to this explanation for the origin of the MT’s primeval timeline. Since Augustine felt that the argument was important enough to respond to, it logically follows that this viewpoint was a commonly held in the Church in the 5th century AD.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad Biruni
In The Chronology of Ancient Nations, Muslim scholar Biruni (AD 973–1048) testifies that Christians of his era accused the Jews of deflating the chronology in Gen 5/11. Biruni’s work was translated from Arabic into English by Eduard Sachau in 1879. Biruni writes:

The Jews and Christians differ widely on this subject; for, according to the doctrine of the Jews, the time between Adam and Alexander is 3,448 years, whilst, according to the Christian doctrine, it is 5,180 years. The Christians reproach the Jews with having diminished the number of years with the view of making the appearance of Jesus fall into the fourth millennium in the middle of the seven millennia, which are, according to their view, the time of the duration of the world, so as not to coincide with that time at which, as the prophets after Moses had prophesied, the birth of Jesus from a pure virgin at the end of time, was to take place. 59

An obvious opponent of both parties and living in Persia,60 Biruni is an independent witness to the Christian claim that the Jews had deliberately deflated the primeval chronology. Note also that Biruni is referring to Christians as a group, and not just to one particular individual, indicating that this was a commonly held view in Biruni's day.

Bar Hebraeus (aka Abulpharag)
Bar Hebraeus was also included in my list (AD 1226–1286).53 Though his statements are from a later period, they serve as another link in the chain of evidence. Bar Hebraeus was known by numerous names, including Abulpharag.54 He was a prolific author of the 13th century AD,55 whose work includes the Chronicon Syriacum, in which he details a chronology of history from creation using the longer primeval chronology. Additional resources written by Bar Hebreaus can be found online.56

C&C dismiss Bar Hebraeus out of hand for two illegitimate reasons. First they state that “we can’t find a statement in writing that the Jews intentionally altered the text.” I provided a citation from Seyffarth in my ARJ article, who cites and quotes Albulpharag (=Bar Hebraeus). In 1663, Edward Pococke published a translation of Bar Hebraeus’ Historia Compendiosa Dynastarium from Syriac into Latin, which Seyffarth explicitly cites. This work can be found online, where there is a facsimile of the Syriac text along with Pococke’s Latin translation and analysis. Seyffarth reproduces the Latin text in a footnote, and provides an English translation of Bar Hebraeus’ statement:

According to the Hebrew Testament there elapsed between the creation and Christ 1375 years less, than according to the Septuagint. This shortening of time is the work of the older Rabbis. For, as it had been foretold in the Law and the Prophets, that the Messiah would come into the world in the last days (or time) at the end of the sixth millennium, they shortened the lives of the Patriarchs for the purpose of rejecting Christ, and expecting another Messiah.57

George Syncellus

Byzantine Chronologist George Syncellus (d. AD 810) documented Eusebius’ statement that the Septuagint’s chronology came from an ancient and uncorrupted Hebrew copy of Genesis:

According to the most ancient Hebrew text, which is to this day still in fact preserved by the Samaritans, there is, then, clear agreement with the Septuagint that the patriarchs from the Flood up to Abraham procreated after the passing of one hundred years plus some additional period of time… On this issue, then, careful reflection suggests this conclusion: there is no choice but to acknowledge that, with the exception of Jared and two generations after him, the text of scripture used by the Jews has erred in its chronology from Adam to Abraham, whereas the Samaritan text is in error only for the years from Adam to the Flood. For the years from the Flood up to Abraham are found to be in agreement with the record of years reported in the Septuagint. But it is abundantly clear that the Hebrew text used by the Jews is wrong… There is thus complete confirmation that the Septuagint translation was translated from, so it would seem, an ancient and a strictly accurate Hebrew text of scripture.50

Now one might argue that Syncellus in this instance is not explicitly accusing the Jews of being in error on the primeval chronology. That would be a fair point, and I should have been more precise about this in my ARJ footnote. There are two reasons I cited Syncellus. First, he notoriously blasted Eusebius with ad hominems for perceived mistakes. For example, Eusebius is Syncelleus’ regular object of derision because of his omission of Kainan in LXX Gen 11. Syncellus treats everyone else with equal contempt when he believes they have gone astray. By his silence and style, there is little doubt he agreed with Eusebius’ assessment.

Second, and more concretely, the 19th century Egyptologist Gustav Seyffarth attributes a very pointed statement to Syncellus: “I concur entirely in the opinion, that this (the shortening of the lives of several of the patriarchs, in the Hebrew text) was a criminal act of the Jews.”51 Seyffarth’s footnote reads “Syncell. p. 84 Ed. Paris.” After a thorough check, I did not find this exact quote in Adler and Tuffin’s 725–page translation and analysis of Syncellus’ Chronography. They do not provide their own text critical analysis, however, depending instead upon A.A. Mosshammer’s text critical reconstruction of the extant manuscripts.

Seyffarth is referencing a manuscript of Syncellus that was being kept in Paris. Adler and Tuffin discuss Parisian manuscripts A (#1711) and B (#1764).52 There are other known extant manuscripts of Syncelllus as well. It is possible that Mosshammer decided this statement documented by Seyffarth was an inferior textual variant. Adler and Tuffin do note that the early manuscript tradition of Syncellus was likely written in the form of two codices, leading to numerous textual divergences (p. lxxvii). Nonetheless, Seyffarth’s quotation and citation directly from an 11th century AD Syncellus manuscript seems to show that Syncellus made more overt, direct claims beyond his implicit approval of Eusebius’ argument. Further research will bear this out for sure. While the evidence for the inclusion of Syncellus is not as strong as the other references, I see no reason to exclude him from this current list unless new information requires it.

Julian of Toledo

The Jewish Encyclopedia claims that Julian of Toledo accused the Jews of falsifying their chronology in connection with an argument that the Messiah was to arrive in the “sixth age”. 
- quoted here
- Reference note: Singer, Isidore and Adler, Cyrus et al., eds. Julian of Toledo, in Jewish Encyclopedia 7:391, 1901–1901; unedited full text from, 2002–2011.
Julian of Toledo (AD 642-690), bishop of Spain, wrote a work in AD 686 entitled, “The Demonstration of the Sixth Age of the World Against the Jews with a Prayer Letter to King Ervig.” Sergio Stancati explains:

Therefore, it is a reproposal of the traditional subject of the centuries–old biblical and theological controversy between Jews and Christians about the end of time and the coming of the Messiah. We can say, more specifically, the work was written by Julian for contesting the Jewish doctrine, based on interpretations of the Babylonian Talmud, about the era, far in the future, according to Jewish thought, in which the Messiah is to appear… Judaism maintained that the Messiah would have been born and appeared only after the sixth millennium after the creation of the world and humankind. Obviously, Jewish theologians believed this date to be far in the future. With this interpretation, they denied that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah…45

C&C refer to the Jewish Encyclopedia, which explicitly states that Julian accused the Jews of deflating their chronology: “[Julian] attempts to prove that Jesus was actually born in the sixth age, in which the Messiah was to come; ‘but,’ he adds, ‘this time should not be reckoned according to the Hebrew original, which has been falsified by the Jews, but according to the Septuagint, which is more trustworthy.’” I was fully aware of the direct quote in the Jewish Encyclopedia (which provides older Latin academic references to support its quotation of Julian). However, I referred to Stancati’s book instead to provide a more recent source in English that would also more thoroughly explain Julian’s argument and perspective. A close reading of Stancati’s work on Julian illustrates agreement with the explicit quote found in the Jewish Encyclopedia. The title of his work makes that crystal clear.46

Jacob of Edessa (AD 700)

Yet another ancient author mentioned by Smith, Jacob of Edessa (AD 640–708), claimed the Jews falsified the Hebrew numbers to disqualify Jesus from being the Messiah under the eschatological scheme of chiliasm.9 But Jacob of Edessa simply asserts this without any evidence to substantiate it, and it is just as late a statement as that of Julian of Toledo (seventh century). 
- Quoted here
- Note 1: Chiliasm is derived from the Greek word for ‘thousand’. It is the belief that the world will last for 7,000 years, with each thousand years corresponding to one of the days of Creation Week, and the seventh day corresponding to a future Millennium. It was a common eschatological scheme for both Jews and Christians, though there are different forms.
- Note 2: ter Haar Romeny, B. Jacob of Edessa on Genesis: His quotations of the Peshitta and his revision of the text, in ter Haar Romeny, B., ed., Jacob of Edessa and the Syriac Culture of His Day, Brill: Boston, 2008, p. 154.
In his Commentary on the Octateuch, Jacob claims that the Hebrew text of Gen 5/11 had been deliberately deflated by Jewish authorities to demonstrate that the Christ had not yet come.61
Jacob also wrote a Commentary on the Octateuch. In it, Jacob claims that “…the original Hebrew text was falsified ‘by the same Hebrews’ in order to show that Christ had not come yet. They subtracted… one hundred years from the age of Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, and Mahalalel.”64 Jacob’s Bible translation also included the longer antediluvian chronology, and interestingly, a begetting age of 187 for Methuselah instead of the widespread and erroneous 167 reading found in many LXX manuscripts.65
As I mentioned above (§ I), my incorrect citation of Ephraem turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While I was trying to get to the bottom of things, I discovered that Jacob’s complete Commentary on the Octateuch is reproduced in Syriac and translated into Latin in Joseph Assemani’s Bibliotheca Orientalis. The text is taken directly from manuscript Vat. sir. 103,66 the same MSS examined and exposited by Romeny. On pages 65–66 (vol. I), Assemani reproduces Jacob’s Syriac text, then translates it into Latin. Adler provides an English translation of Jacob’s pertinent statement: “The Hebrews, wanting to pervert the computation of years, in order to show that Christ had not yet arrived, subtract 100 years from Adam before he fathered Seth.”67 While this statement specifically refers to Adam’s begetting age, it is clear that Jacob believed the entire primeval chronology had been altered by the Jewish scribes. To discredit the time of Jesus’ arrival, the entire timeline from Adam to Abraham was reduced. The longer chronology is also reflected in his Bible translation of Gen 5 and 11. This is confirmed above by Romeny, who paraphrased Jacob’s statements.
Moreover, there was another significant statement made by Jacob. A couple of years ago, I came across this footnote written by William Hales: “*Jacobus Edessenus, who flourished about A.D. 700, states, that he found in some sufficiently accurate Hebrew histories, that Adam begat Seth when he was 230 years old.”68 This, of course, grabbed my attention, but I had been unable to independently corroborate Hales’ quotation of Jacob, so I did not use it… until now.
Discussing the numerical divergences in Gen 5/11, Adler turns to Jacob and quotes him (above). Adler then says this: “In this same notice, Jacob claims also that in his time there were certain Hebrew manuscripts that confirmed the Septuagint chronology.”69 After reading this, I went back to Bibliotheca Orientalis and was able to verify that Adler’s assessment was correct. Four scholars (Assemani, Hales, Adler and Romeny) are all in agreement on this point.70
Jacob went beyond the mere charge that the rabbis had deflated the original, longer chronology. No, Jacob knew of concrete evidence that supported his argument and vindicated his inclusion of the LXX’s numbers in both his Bible translation and commentary. He did not merely appeal to Church tradition or to Aristeas: Jacob had knowledge of copies of Hebrew manuscripts that existed in his day that confirmed the Septuagint’s longer primeval chronology.71

Ephraem of Syria

Answers in Genesis
Ephraem of Syria is the first known ancient source to explicitly argue that the Jewish rabbis of the second century AD deflated the primeval chronology by ca. 1300 years in their Hebrew MSS for the purpose of discrediting Jesus as the Christ: “The Jews have subtracted 600 years [in Genesis 5] from the generations of Adam, Seth, etc., in order that their own books might not convict them concerning the coming of CHRIST: he having been predicted to appear for the deliverance of mankind after 5500 years.” Cited in: Hales (1830, 278). For additional citations of Ephraem’s claims, see: Assemani (1719), Wacholder (1974, 99), and Anstey (1913, 46). Ephraem was one of many ancient authors who claimed that the rabbis deliberately reduced the primeval chronology for messianic reasons. 
Wikipedia: Cave of Treasures
The Cave of Treasures, sometimes referred to simply as The Treasure, is a book of the New Testament apocrypha. It is believed to have been written in the sixth century or later. This text is attributed to Ephrem Syrus, who was born at Nisibis soon after AD 306 and died in 373, but it is now generally believed that its current form is 6th century or newer... He saw that the manuscript contained the history of 5,500 years, from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ, and that it was based upon the Scriptures. He says that fables are found in it everywhere, especially concerning the antediluvian Patriarchs, and the genealogy of Christ and His Mother. cave of treasures
The writer of the "Book of Adam and Eve" meant the two sections to form a complete work. The first shows how Adam fell, and the second tells us how God fulfilled the promise which He made to Adam more than once, that after five and a half weeks, i.e. 5,500 years, He would send a Redeemer into the world who would save both Adam and his descendants from the destruction which his sin in Paradise had incurred... He read the MS. carefully and saw that it contained the history of a period of 5,500 years, i.e. from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ, and that it was a historical chronicle based upon the Scriptures. He says that fables are found in it everywhere, and especially in that part of it which treats of the antediluvian Patriarchs, and the genealogy of Christ and His Mother... When Adam and Eve left Paradise they went into a strange land, and were terrified at the stones and sand which they saw before them, and became like dead folk. Then God sent His Word to them, and He told them that after five and a half weeks, i.e. 5,500 years, He would come in the flesh and save man. He had already made them this promise in Paradise, when they stood by the tree of forbidden fruit.
"5500"&source=bl&ots=NI8tt_HoJ4&sig=ACfU3U3SoqRI0hxUJfaefrCk9k9SwF_-7Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjv6bvn9LDlAhW3HzQIHXB5DNsQ6AEwBnoECDEQAQ#v=onepage&q=Ephrem%20the%20Syrian%20"5500"&f=false Google Books: Cave of treasures, Latin life
The first of these is the Cave of Treasures, a Christian account of the history of the world from the Creation to the birth of Christ, a period taken to be 5,500 years. This accords with the promise to Seth of the coming of a saviour after 5,500 years found in certain manuscripts of the LATIN LIFE.

Latin life presumably refers to apocryphal Latin_Life_of_Adam_and_Eve, but I see no reference to it there. It does say only certain manuscripts of it contain it though.

A rebuttal from

When examining Smith’s work, a problem with his sources comes up extremely early (i.e. the third sentence of his introductory paragraph in the ARJ paper). Concerning the date differences between the MT and LXX, he says that “Eusebius (AD 260–340) is the first known author to explicitly cite and discuss the divergences, followed by Ephraem of Syria (AD 306–373)…” (ARJ, p. 169). That sounds innocuous enough, but in the note for that statement, he says,

“Ephraem of Syria is the first known ancient source to explicitly argue that the Jewish rabbis of the second century AD deflated the primeval chronology by ca. 1300 years in their Hebrew MSS for the purpose of discrediting Jesus as the Christ: ‘The Jews have subtracted 600 years [in Genesis 5] from the generations of Adam, Seth, etc., in order that their own books might not convict them concerning the coming of CHRIST: he having been predicted to appear for the deliverance of mankind after 5500 years.’ Cited in: Hales (1830, 278). For additional citations of Ephraem’s claims, see: Assemani (1719), Wacholder (1974, 99), and Anstey (1913, 46).” (ARJ, note 3, all punctuation and italics in original).

But Smith did not cite an original source for the Ephraem quote. As good students of biblical scholarship, we should trace everything back to the original if possible. But after repeated attempts, we were not able to authenticate this quote by Ephraem the Syrian, nor to trace it further back than Hales (who Smith referenced in the quote above). This is a critical piece of evidence for those that support the LXX’s authority.


Yet, Ephraem the Syrian wrote a commentary on Genesis. One might expect to be able to ascertain his specific interest in chronology, and what text he was drawing from, by consulting that work. In his comment on Genesis 5, Ephraem says,

“Then after he [Moses] had finished writing about the tribes of the descendants of Cain and had completed the story of the words of Lamech to his wives, [Moses] turned to record the generations of the house of Seth, beginning from Adam, saying that when Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he begot a son in his own likeness according to his image.”3

But the LXX has “230” years for Adam’s age when Seth was born. Ephraem also says that Noah was 500 when he bore his sons, about which all traditions agree.

There is another intriguing statement in Ephraem’s commentary that conclusively shows he was using a MT-like chronology. Regarding Melchizedek, he says:

“This Melchizedek is Shem … Shem lived not only to the time of Abraham, as Scripture says, but even to [the time of] Jacob and Esau, the grandsons of Abraham.”4

This statement is true if we use the MT chronology, but is impossible with an LXX-like chronology, for with the extended ages of paternity in the LXX chronology of Genesis 11, Shem would have been long since dead. How can anyone claim that Ephraem viewed the MT chronology as a corruption by unbelieving Jews, when he was more than happy to use it in multiple places in his Genesis commentary?

Thus, we have already uncovered multiple problems: Smith’s quote above claims to be from Ephraem the Syrian, but it is not yet traceable back to anything Ephraem the Syrian actually wrote. We could not authenticate it and Smith provides no way for anyone else to effectively do so. This is sloppy on his part. Furthermore, Ephraem’s extant work includes a commentary on Genesis in which he uses the Masoretic text! Unlike Smith, we cited a primary source to make it easy for anyone to find. Why did Smith not reference Ephraem’s Genesis commentary? Was he unaware that it existed?

Update (4 October 2018): A helpful reader was able to provide us with the Wacholder reference. This allowed us to pinpoint the specific location of the quote within Assemani's Biblioteca Orientalis. Assemani traces the quote to Ephraem’s Exposition of Genesis and Exodus, which as we showed uses an MT chronology and lacks any such statement by Ephraem.

We are unable to trace the quote further than Assemani. In any case, it is clear that an entire line of scholars, from the 18th through the early 20th centuries, transmitted an apparently fake quote. This has been cited by numerous modern LXX advocates who also did not bother to authenticate it. We have attempted exactly that, and not only were we unable to do so, but we found strong evidence that Ephraem believed no such thing.

The guy who made the original quote responds here:

Admitting it was an error...

Among those sources, I included Ephraem of Syria, a 4th century AD Syriac theologian and prolific author. C&C critique my use of this reference, arguing that the evidence indicates Ephraem followed the MT’s shorter chronology. I believe that C&C are correct on this specific point, and that the use of Ephraem as a reference is, in fact, an error on my part. For the sake of transparency, I would like to provide a full accounting of how the mistake transpired.

Population growth, after noah, before babel

quoted from


I read several paragraphs and the prejudice against the (LXX) is more than obvious. It seems to me that both the (MT) and the (LXX) have their own separate issues. The (MT) for example doesn't provide enough population growth in the 100 years from the landing of the ark to the Tower of Babel. This is one of reasons that "scientists" reject the historicity of the Bible. Where as the (LXX) provides an additional 600 years , and that's more than enough time based on normal population growth rates to build the tower. So, I'm personally more inclined to agree with the (LXX).


Perhaps if you read more than several paragraphs you would see that the reasons we came down on the side of the Masoretic has to do with the evidence and not with some pre-conceived bias.

What population growth are you assuming? See Modelling biblical human population growth Why is it incomprehensible that construction on the Tower of Babel would be started 100 years after the Flood? (We don't know how far the building project progressed before God confused their languages.)

An extra 600 years isn't going to impress anyone, scientists or otherwise, who do not believe the Bible's history. So we might do better to carefully examine the evidence at hand and do our best to have a civil dialogue among those of us who have a commitment to the Bible as history.

David Bercot


“Saying the Jews altered their text was not based on a scholarly comparison of the texts but was a conclusion from an a priori belief that the LXX was inspired.” That’s a good point. Interestingly, the belief that the LXX was (and maybe is) inspired and “uncorrupted” is reappearing today.

David Bercot, for one, believes that the LXX is superior to the MT and encourages its use (in an English translation) as a person’s OT. He would say that around AD 100 the unbelieving Jewish Rabbis corrupted the Hebrew text so the prophecies would not point to Jesus as the Messiah. He believes that they 1) barred the Apocrypha from the OT canon and decreed that only the Hebrew OT be used, 2) edited the prophecies that were apparently too plain for them (as the LXX read), and 3) shortened the chronology of Genesis, for some vague reason. Bercot believes that this corrupted text has become the Masoretic Text. He has published several CDs about the Septuagint and Apocrypha, saying that Jerome was dishonest and wrong when he corrected the Latin copies by the MT.

Bercot believes the synagogue inscriptions in Israel indicate that the Jews spoke primarily Greek and that they used the LXX in their synagogues. Since there were 67 inscriptions in Greek, 54 in Aramaic, and 14 in Hebrew, Bercot takes this as evidence that those of Jesus’ time preferred the LXX over the MT, and (for other reasons as well) we should too.

The issue might become clearer if I could find out: 1) Does the presence of Greek synagogue inscriptions indicate that they used the LXX? 2) How widely was the LXX really used east of Israel by Jews or Christians? 3) Was the LXX used in the synagogues in Babylon and other places of the east? The answers might give us a clue about its importance to the other half of the early church.


Around 100 AD all the major variants of the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies already existed. So the MT couldn't have been invented at that time in a roundabout attempt to prove Jesus wasn't the Messiah. Incidentally, if it was Akiba, the same argument that supposedly would disqualify Jesus from being the Messiah would also disqualify Bar Kochba.

The LXX was widely used, especially in Diaspora communities. But was that used because they examined the different manuscripts closely and came to a decision that the LXX was better? Or was it for the same reason that we use English translations in our churches today--because that's the language we speak?

quoted from

Research Notes

Ephraem of Syria is the first known ancient source to explicitly argue that the Jewish rabbis of the second century AD deflated the primeval chronology by ca. 1300 years in their Hebrew MSS for the purpose of discrediting Jesus as the Christ: “The Jews have subtracted 600 years [in Genesis 5] from the generations of Adam, Seth, etc., in order that their own books might not convict them concerning the coming of CHRIST: he having been predicted to appear for the deliverance of mankind after 5500 years.” Cited in: Hales (1830, 278). For additional citations of Ephraem’s claims, see: Assemani (1719), Wacholder (1974, 99), and Anstey (1913, 46). Ephraem was one of many ancient authors who claimed that the rabbis deliberately reduced the primeval chronology for messianic reasons.

Eusebius (AD 260–340) is the first known author to explicitly cite and discuss the divergences, followed by Ephraem of Syria (AD 306–373),3, 4 Jerome (AD 340–420), Julian of Toledo (AD 642–690), Jacob of Edessa (AD 640–708), Byzantine chronologist George Syncellus (d. AD 810), and Armenian annalist Bar Hebraeus (AD 1226–1286),14 just to name a few.4

Each of these ancient authors (save Jerome) argued that the Jewish rabbis in the second century AD deflated the primeval chronology by ca. 1300 years in their Hebrew manuscripts to discredit Jesus as the Messiah. Chronological speculations and calculations about the time of the messiah’s arrival (messianic chronology) were widespread in Second Temple Judaism. Messianic chronologies were usually associated with the Days of Creation, with each day representing 1000 years of history. In some schemes, the messiah would arrive in the 6th millennium (5000–5999 AM), and usher in the kingdom in the 7th millennium (6000 AM) (Beckwith 1996). Many Jews believed the Messiah would arrive in/around the year 4000 AM (Silver 1927, 6, 16). See also the rabbinic Babylonian Talmud: Abodah Zarah 9a, Sanhedrin 97b. Reducing the primeval chronology as presently found in the MT places Jesus’ life outside the time of the coming of the Messiah. The rabbinic world chronology in The Seder Olam Rabbah (ca. AD 150), which is derived from the MT, places Creation at 3761 BC, and the arrival of the Messiah about AD 240, eliminating Jesus from messianic consideration. The Seder Olam significantly deflates post-Exilic chronology as well, and reinterprets Daniel 9 to associate it with the destruction of the Temple instead of Jesus Christ. It was written by the very same rabbis who, we argue, deflated the proto-MT’s numbers, and who had complete control over the Hebrew manuscripts that survived the destruction of the Temple. This ancient and historically-grounded claim has been recently reintroduced to conservative OT scholarship by Sexton (2015, 210–218) who documents numerous post-Reformation Christian scholars who also made this argument, favoring the priority of the LXX in Genesis 5 and 11. See also: Sexton and Smith Jr. (2016). The arguments from this article favoring the LXX’s primeval chronology were recently surveyed in Thomas (2017, 125). Eusebius does not attribute the motive to messianic chronology and discrediting Jesus, rather, their purpose was to encourage their contemporaries to lower their age of marrying. This motivation is inadequate and is not supported by any historical evidence (Chronicle 25:10) . However, Eusebius’ explanation confirms the widespread belief that the rabbis altered the text.

Julius Africanus (ca. AD 221/222) Julius Africanus (AD 170–240) wrote his Chronographiae while living in Israel, and was an advocate of the LXX chronology. Fragment 16a details the Septuagint’s antediluvian begetting ages, listing Methuselah’s as 187 years old. In 16b, Africanus provides a pre-Flood summation of 2262 years, which places Methuselah’s death six years before the Flood, consistent with the 187 figure (Wallraff, Roberto, and Pinggera 2007, 27–29, 35).

Fragment 15 reads: “. . . and from their remaining Hebrew histories, they [the Jews] have handed down a period of 5500 years up to the advent of the Word of salvation [Christ] . . .” (Wallraff, Roberto, and Pinggera 2007, 25). Africanus resided in Israel most of his life, and had knowledge of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. He even refers to Hebrew as “our” way of speaking (Wallraff, Roberto, and Pinggera 2007, xv–xvi). Thus, Africanus would have been able to compare manuscripts of the LXX to those available to him in Hebrew. It is interesting that Africanus never mentions the numerical divergences between the (proto) MT and LXX in Genesis 5 and 11. Perhaps this is evidence that his particular Hebrew texts contained the higher begetting ages. According to classical Jewish sources, the Hebrew year 6000 (from sunset of 29 September 2239[2] until nightfall of 16 September 2240[3] on the Gregorian calendar) marks the latest time for the initiation of the Messianic Age. The Talmud,[4] Midrash,[5] and the Kabbalistic work, the Zohar,[6] state that the 'deadline' by which the Messiah must appear is 6,000 years from creation. According to tradition, the Hebrew calendar started at the time of Creation, placed at 3761 BCE.[7] The current (2019/2020) Hebrew year is 5780.

12th day of the 10th month 5847 years after the creation of Adam The 10th Month in the Second year of the third Sabbatical Cycle The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences.

The Jewish sage Rabbi Akiva (alternatively Akiba) indulged the possibility that Simon Bar Kosiba (Bar Kokhba) could be the Jewish Messiah, and gave him the surname “Bar Kokhba” meaning “son of a star” in the Aramaic language, from the Star Prophecy verse from Numbers 24:17: “There shall come a star out of Jacob”[6]

At the time, Jewish Christians were still a minor sect of Judaism, and most historians believe that it was this messianic claim in favor of Bar Kokhba alienated many of them, who believed that the true Messiah was Yehshua, and sharply deepened the schism between Jews and messianic Jews

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 CE. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans “went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils”.[10] The Talmud also relates that for seventeen years the Romans did not allow the Jews to bury their dead in Betar.

Outcome of the war According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews were killed, and 50 fortified towns and 985 villages razed.

Hadrian attempted to root out Judaism, which he saw as the cause of continuous rebellions. He prohibited the Torah law and the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars. The sacred scroll was ceremonially burned on the Temple Mount. At the former Temple sanctuary, he installed two statues, one of Jupiter, another of himself. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, he wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina (after the Philistines, the ancient enemies of the Jews) supplanting earlier terms, such as “Judaea” and Israel. Similarly, he re-established Jerusalem but now as the Roman pagan polis of Aelia Capitolina, and Jews were forbidden from entering it, except on the day of Tisha B’Av.

According to a Rabbinic midrash (the Ten Martyrs), in addition to Bar Kokhba the Romans executed ten leading members of the Sanhedrin: the high priest, R. Ishmael; the president of the Sanhedrin, R. Shimon ben Gamaliel; R. Akiba; R. Hanania ben Teradion; the interpreter of the Sanhedrin, R. Huspith; R. Eliezer ben Shamua; R. Hanina ben Hakinai; the secretary of the Sanhedrin, R. Yeshevav; R. Yehuda ben Dama; and R. Yehuda ben Baba. The Rabbinic account describes agonizing tortures: R. Akiba was flayed, R. Ishmael had the skin of his head pulled off slowly, and R. Hanania was burned at a stake, with wet wool held by a Torah scroll wrapped around his body to prolong his death.[14]

They note that, unlike the aftermath of the First Jewish-Roman War chronicled by Josephus, the majority of the Jewish population of Judea was either killed, exiled, or sold into slavery after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, and Jewish religious and political authority was suppressed far more brutally. After the revolt the Jewish religious center shifted to the Babylonian Jewish community and its scholars. Judea would not be a center of Jewish religious, cultural, or political life again until the modern era, though Jews continued to live there and important religious developments still occurred there. In Galilee, the Jerusalem Talmud was compiled in the 2nd–4th centuries. Eventually, Safed became known as a center of Jewish learning, especially Kabbalah in the 15th century. [15]

The disastrous end of the revolt also occasioned major changes in Jewish religious thought. Messianism was abstracted and spiritualized, and rabbinical political thought became deeply cautious and conservative. The Talmud, for instance, refers to Bar-Kokhba as “Ben-Kusiba”, a derogatory term used to indicate that he was a false Messiah. The deeply ambivalent rabbinical position regarding Messianism, as expressed most famously in the Rambam’s (also known as Maimonides) “Epistle to Yemen”, would seem to have its origins in the attempt to deal with the trauma of a failed Messianic uprising

Last week we shared with you the history of events around the Bar Kokhba Revolt. We wanted you to understand the events of the time and how Judah wanted Simon to be the Messiah. Mostly at the prompting of Rabbi Akiva

Bar Kochba’s supporters read into the Second Revolt a fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel, 9:24-27, which states that the messiah would come AFTER 483 weeks (incorrectly interpreted to mean 483 years), i.e. in the 484th year of the building of the second Temple. In their calculations, the destruction of Jerusalem (70CE) took place in the 421st year of this era. 2/7 Since the 421st year of this period equals 70 CE, the rabbis began this era in 351 BCE (see chart B). In reality, this construction is impossible. The era starts when the command went forth to build the second Temple; yet the first stages of the second Temple were already completed in the sixth year of King Darius of Persia (515 BCE). Therefore, the early construction of the second Temple was actually completed some 164 years before the rabbis calculated that the work to build it had started. Neither can the rabbinical understanding be a reference to a later building phase, for the second Temple was not enlarged until the eighteenth year of King Herod (20/19 BCE)

The clear intent of the contrived chronology from the period is to prove that Bar Kochba was the promised messiah. The 484th year of this era, the year in which the messiah was to appear, becomes 133/134 CE. This date, therefore, proves that the Second Revolt would have actually begun in 133 CE not 132 CE (133 CE being the year in which the messiah’s appearance was expected). Other contemporary rabbis and later rabbis dismissed the Bar Kochba messianic attachment to the chronology but inaccurately continued use of it as if it was a factual framework for the past

The Bar Kochba Chronology Let us first examine in more depth the origin of the Bar Kochba Chronology. A major error of the advocates of system “B”, “C”, and “D” has been their failure to take into account the source of the chronology used by the authors of the Seder Olam and other Talmudic works. This chronology originated from the supporters of Bar Kochba who read into the Bar Kochba revolt the prophecy of Daniel, 9;24-27, which foretold of the appearance of the messiah. First, it can be no mere coincidence that the year 133 CE, year 16 of Hadrian, is the 484th year of the era of building the second Temple – the year 351 BCE being the date determined by the rabbis as the time when the building of the second Temple began. Why did these rabbis calculate a date so far from the truth (i.e. over 164 years) if it had not arisen for some religious and political purpose? The very fact that the chronology agreed upon by the rabbis from the time of Rabbi Jose (about 160 CE) was based upon the prophecy of Daniel, 9:24-27 – and then finding that his chronology fulfills the messianic expectation at the time of Bar Kochba’s insurrection – clearly indicates its original source and intent. In fact, Rabbi Jose, who wrote the Seder Olam (the text upon which Talmudic chronology is built) only about 25 years after the end of that revolt, also 3/7 lived at the time of the Second Revolt. Nevertheless, he was not the originator of the chronology but only its transmitter.

Rabbi Yahanan, who lived in the next century after Jose, and the Babylonian Talmudic works Yebamot (82b) and Niddah (46b) report that Rabbi Jose “taught” Seder Olam. Rabbi Jose (Yose) is himself cited nine times in the Seder Olam, while other Rabbis, all of them Tannaim, appear altogether ten times. Milikowsky concludes from this evidence.

Jerome (early fifth century CE) gives the view of some of the Jewish scholars in his day that the last septennium of Daniel, 9:27, is to be divided between the siege of Vespasian and the siege of Hadrian. That is, three and one half years are to be allotted to each event. It is clear from Jerome that the underlying idea of some of the Jews in the Talmudic period was to apply the calculations of the end time prophecy of Daniel to the two destructions of Jerusalem, which occurred during the First and Second Revolts.

John MacArthur's interpretation of this prophecy from a christian perspective to mean Jesus:

A response, against those pushing LXX support

Dead Sea Scrolls

4Q2 Genesisb
Genesis 5
13 Kenan lived after he became the father of Mahalalel eight hundred forty years, and became the father of other sons and daughters.