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History and the Bible: Genesis

Updated on September 26, 2016
cam8510 profile image

Chris spent 50 years in the Evangelical world as a layman, as a student at a prominent Christian University and as a missionary and pastor.

Purpose of This Article

My purpose in this article is to describe the highlights of biblical history up to the time of Abraham when biblical and secular history merge. I do this so that believers in the biblical record and nonbelievers alike can have a better appreciation for how the final events of the first twelve chapters of the book of Genesis dovetail with secular, documented history.

Secular History

Secular historians begin to trace civilizations according to written history from between 4000 to 3000 BC along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the region of modern day Iran and Iraq. Archaeology extends the founding of those civilizations back to around 6500 BC which is known as the Ubaid period. One of the important cities of this period was called Ur. Archaeological studies tell us that in Ur, there were structures known as ziggurats which were constructed for religious purposes.

4,000 Year Old Ziggurat in Iraq

U.S. Soldiers from the 17th Fires Brigade make their way up the stairs of the 4,000-year-old Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq, near Contingency Operating Base Adder, May 18, 2010. Photo by Spc. Samantha Ciaramitaro.
U.S. Soldiers from the 17th Fires Brigade make their way up the stairs of the 4,000-year-old Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq, near Contingency Operating Base Adder, May 18, 2010. Photo by Spc. Samantha Ciaramitaro. | Source

The Dovetail of Biblical and Secular History

It is during the Ubaid period that biblical and secular history meet. An interesting observation at this point is that in Genesis chapter eleven a tower was being built by the descendants of Noah that would reach to the heavens. In the very chapter of Genesis in which this tower is described, we are introduced to a man named Abram (later Abraham) who lived in the Sumerian city-state of Ur where, according to documented history, there existed a structure known as the Ziggurat of Ur which was for all practical purposes, a tower. The biblical man, Noah, who lived in what secularists call prehistory, had descendants who extended into the Ubaid, historical period. These descendants of Noah were also the ancestors of Abraham. They even constructed a tower in or around the city of Ur, where such structures have been confirmed by archaeologists and historians.

Abraham: Historically and Geographically

What we have then is a documented time and place in history, characterized by a unique type of architecture about which biblical history and secular history agree. While this does not necessarily validate all that the Bible describes prior to Abraham, it does seem to validate the man himself. The tower in Genesis and the ziggurats of Ur help to place Abraham, a biblical character, at a certain place and time in history.

Genealogical Tree of Noah After the Biblical Flood

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Highlights of Genesis Chapters One through Twelve

The bulleted points that follow are the highlights of Genesis chapters one through twelve. Notice how seamlessly the final points, by use of genealogies, link Noah with Abraham, a man who lived in a verified, documented time and place called Ur in the Ubaid period of early civilizations.

  • Creation G1-2 (G=Genesis) These two chapters give two accounts of Creation. Chapter one is a day by day description of the six days of creation. Chapter two focuses on the separate creations of Adam and Eve,followed by the description of their place and purpose in the Garden of Eden.
  • Fall of Adam (and of mankind in general) G-3
    -God prohibits Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
    -Eve is deceived by the serpent (described later in the Bible as Satan) and eats from the prohibited Tree, sharing the fruit with Adam.
    -Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden of Eden as punishment for eating from the Tree.
  • The story of Cain and Abel G4
  • The genealogical record from Adam to Noah G5
  • The flood of Noah G6-9
  • Descendants of the sons of Noah to the time of the Tower of Babel G10
  • The Tower of Babel and the creation of nations G11
  • Genealogy of Noah’s son, Shem, to Abram (Abraham) G11
  • Abram (Abraham) living in the city-state of Ur during the Ubaid period of civilization G 11-12

By Author, Francis A Schaeffer

Genesis in Space and Time: The Flow of Biblical History (Bible commentary for layman)
Genesis in Space and Time: The Flow of Biblical History (Bible commentary for layman)

I have read this several times. In my opinion it presents the best case for the historicity of Genesis.

 

Respect for the Opposing Position

It is my belief that when people disagree about a particular subject, understanding of the opposing position helps to promote peaceful coexistence. Those who believe in the events described in the first twelve chapters of the book of Genesis are often ridiculed by those who do not believe. My goal is that those who do not believe in the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis will at least recognize an intellectual foundation that exists for those who do believe and therefore treat them with a modicum of respect.

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    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Thanks for the reminder Eric. I don't want to miss the wonder of this world by being obsessed with relatively unimportant details. I stood on top of a 10000 foot mountain today and looked at the seemingly endless Bitterroot Mountain range. The question of age never entered my mind. I was simply in awe.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Every day when I venture into nature or even society if I stay aware I find some new fascinating marvel. That is just little old me. But I keep looking for them. Red Tail hawks are not mentioned in the bible but by studying them we can learn so much about our earth and the winds.

      How much more important is it that we do this on a grand scale? From molecules to super-novas --- not mentioned in the bible. Cures for diseases other than miracles not mentioned in the bible.

      Touching a Nautilus fossil impression in billion year old rock in the bottom of the Grand Canyon and dating of things seems to be almost irrelevant. When was the last time you heard of a case of leprosy?

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Dannytaylor, we should start a forum about the reliability of carbon14 dating. It could yield some interesting results

    • Dannytaylor02 profile image

      Daniel Nathan Taylor 3 years ago from United Kingdom, Liverpool

      Cam check out the suess effect, the burning of fossil fuels and such continues this problem.

      As for the comment on life on other planets, ok the bible doesn't reveal it one way or the other but surely the fact god intends to set up his kingdom first in heaven and then on earth(Daniel 2:44) should give us an indicator of where life is limited to...unless he doesn't care about his other creation in which case he is evil.

      my interpretation is using the bible as a whole and then coming to the most logical solution. I am all for further exploration but in the example of the search for life on other planets what has it achieved? A massive bill and that's all.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Dannytaylor, first of all, the radioactivity that made C14 unreliable has dissipated. C14 is now a reliable dating method for up to around 65000 years. That is ample time for dating the earliest civilizations.

      Second, you seem to oppose research and exploration if, according to your interpretation, the Bible has already given a clear teaching on the subject. I'll use your example of the Vatican having an observatory to look for alien life. Why is that a bad thing to you? The Bible makes no comment whatsoever about the possibility of other worlds. So it comes down to biblical interpretation. You seem to think the Bible comments on the subject of life on other planets and that the Bible teaches there is no life elsewhere. I don't think that the Bible touches this subject. Which interpretation should be used? Yours negates any further exploration. Mine opens the door for further exploration. Your method is the same as the Church's at the time of Galileo. They punished him for suggesting that the earth orbited the sun and not the other way around. This is an example of Christianity being dead wrong and impeding the progress of science.

      The purpose of my hub is to show that there is an intellectual basis for believing the first twelve chapters of Genesis. But, those who believe should be careful to not give up their intellectual footing.

    • Dannytaylor02 profile image

      Daniel Nathan Taylor 3 years ago from United Kingdom, Liverpool

      Cam I have read your hub and it explains how secular views and biblical views can and do match.

      My point is that the priests and whatnot that own the bible even they will not stand up for It, they allow secular thoughts to overtake them...E.G did you know that the roman catholic church has an observatory which they use to look for alien life? sorry if I am detracting from your hub but its no wonder that many people won't take a blind bit of notice to what the bible says because the "experts" on the bible ignore its teachings, so naturally intelligent (logically thinking) people will see that and come to the conclusion that if even the people who claim to live by the bible actually don't so why should they?

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Eric, welcome back to this hub. I'm afraid that taking a non-controversial position in this hub, I have not stirred much interest.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Dannytaylor02, I have read your comments several times and honestly can't tell if you actually read my hub. I don't see any correlation between your comments and what I said in my hub. Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm not sure what you were trying to say in your comments.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Cam I keep following this one. I saw the new comment and came over. I decided this is just to hard a concept for people to grasp well enough to comment on. hihihi. I got more out of it reading it again. I got a little stuck on the title -- just take off "in Genesis". Sure they can and why not?

    • Dannytaylor02 profile image

      Daniel Nathan Taylor 3 years ago from United Kingdom, Liverpool

      The typological view of life still stands as true today as it ever has.

      I heard a story about a person asking a priest where ca'an got his wife, the priest answered "he married a monkey" The problem is even the people who claim to believe in the bible will not stand up for it.

      True the earth may well be 4.5 billion years old and life is probably a lot older than 6,000 years (don't forget that in the 50's carbon dating was announced as unreliable because of the amount of nuclear waste that we have put into the atmosphere) but you can't just accept the new theories of the time just because they happen to be popular right now.

    • cam8510 profile image
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      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      ryanjhoe, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • ryanjhoe profile image

      ryanjhoe 3 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Well, I think it is depend on each individual's perspective. Nice hub anyway, thanks for share this!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      appsthatpayyou, thanks for reading my hub and for the comment. It is very much appreciated.

    • Appsthatpayyou profile image

      Appsthatpayyou 3 years ago from London

      A super hub and very detailed treatment of the issue. Love the print image!

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Eric, thanks for reading and for the kind comment. You are right, people on either side tend to be closed minded to even allowing others to have a different opinion. The fact is we are probably all wrong to some extent because we are tied to the here and now. No one can see the big picture well. The more open minded we are, the more information we have to work with. Thanks for your input, Eric.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very wonderfully done. One of the problems with giving another respect is that many on either side of the issues, will condemn for lack of purity. I hope hubs like this bring people together, extremists are an unhealthy.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Michael, I am glad you were able to make it to this hub. I believe in a good deal of the biblical history, just not all. The biblical and the secular blend as one in Genesis eleven far too well to be ignored. I appreciate your comments and presence as always.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 4 years ago

      Outstanding.

      You've done it again Chris. Great work . A noble proposition for respectful coexistence of opposing view understanding ' history .'

      Perhaps flood of comments will make clear willingness to accept the biblical interpretation of mankind's history. I believe .

      Up and very interesting .

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      mactavers, It is very nice having you visit my hub. The Bible offers something new every time we open it, I agree. Thank you for your comment.

    • cam8510 profile image
      Author

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      Jeremy, I hope you don't mind me using your real name, I appreciate your feelings on this. I actually thought of you a couple of times as I wrote, wondering how you might feel about this. Thanks for chiming in and for the votes.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 4 years ago

      Great Hub. During Lent, at our church we are taking another look at Judas through the eyes of forgiveness. No matter how many times, I've read the Biblical stories, there is always something new to be discussed.

    • HeadlyvonNoggin profile image

      Jeremy Christian 4 years ago from Texas

      Good hub, Cam. As you may recall from previous discussions, you're shedding a light on one of my favorite subjects, and I appreciate the sentiment here as far as trying to promote more unity in a notoriously divisive topic. I whole-heartedly agree. Voted up.

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