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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Luther's Chronology of the World, Part 1

In the December 1898 (volume 44) issue of Lehre und Wehre, Franz Pieper reviewed the latest issue of the St. Louis Edition of Luther's Works, volume 14 from Concordia Publishing House. A portion of this volume contains Luther's Chronology of the World.  Here are Pieper's comments:
... Finally, this book contains in Columns 484-802 the so-called "historical and philological writings." In the first place, "Luther's Chronikon or Calculation of the Years of the World" is here. This writing is also particularly important, because Luther here clearly provides the authority of Scripture over all human research and science. Here Luther says, among other things: "This thing has moved me that though I have not despised the historians completely, I have preferred Holy Scripture to them. I use the historians in such a way that I am not made to contradict the Scriptures. For I believe that in the Scriptures the true God speaks; but in the histories, good people by their ability, their diligence, and their faithfulness prove (but as human beings), or at least that the copyists, can err." (Column 491) So must every Christian theologian stand. This should be remembered particularly by our modern shard collectors [archaeologists], for whom the authority of Scripture is often less than that of a lying Oriental royal court historian who, in the interest of the stomach, imputes a dozen ancestors to his ruler more than he really has. ...
 F. P.
I believe Pieper's last comment refers especially to the confusion of the histories of the Egyptian Pharaohs by European historians.  What a comedy!  A Christian's response to any finding of archaeologists that a certain piece of Bible history may be true is this:
  ==>> So what?  I knew it was first true because God said it in His Word!  It doesn't matter what you archaeologists may think is true, for I know what true history is as far as Biblical people, places, and events.

In Luther's Chronikon, you learn of Luther's calculations as best as humanly possible as far as God has given in the Bible.

There is another book sold by AnswersInGenesis.org (AIG) by James Ussher entitled Annals of the World, also available for free download here.  AIG has published a nice graphic of Ussher's chronology – PDF file here.  It looks like this:

I would like sometime to compare Ussher's analysis to Luther's but I will take Luther's as more authoritative.  I believe Luther stuck to the Bible text better than Ussher, especially when Ussher tries to fix the exact year and day of the beginning of Creation. Luther fixes the beginning about 3960 B.C, while Ussher says "1a AM, 710 JP, 4004 BC".  In the Wikipedia article on Ussher or Ussher's Chronology, there is no mention of Luther's Chronikon.  Why don't today's Lutherans hold up this teaching of Luther?  The old German Missouri Synod did. Are modern "Lutherans" afraid of the scoffing of the world on practically all things Biblical, such as Creation, Geocentrism, the Jews, etc?

This series is continued in Part 2 where I present an English translation of Luther's work on Biblical Chronology.
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Sept. 23, 2012:   Because this series will be extensive, I am including a Table of Contents in this Part 1 so that one can jump to any of the parts from here:
Table of Contents – Biblical Chronology and Luther
  • Part 1 – Introduction; Pieper's comments on St. Louis Edition, vol. 20 containing Luther's Chronikon; also comments on James Ussher's Biblical Chronology and AnswersInGenesis.org publishings
  • Part 2 – English translation by Pastor Kenneth K. Miller, with download
  • Part 3 – Original of Luther's version in German from the St. Louis Edition of Luther's Works, with download
  • Part 4 – Preface texts by Pastor Miller and Martin Luther
  • Part 5 – Comments on Preface texts; introduction of Prof. James Barr, modern scholar
  • Part 6a – Review of James Barr essays, Part 1
  • Part 6b – James Barr and modern theologians and scholars
  •      Part 1 – Pieper's defense of Doctrine of Inspiration, variant readings of Bible text
  •      Part 2 – Pieper's defense of Inspiration, Contradictions and Errors
  • Part 6c – Barr's objections to the general figure of 4000 years in Old Testament
  • Part 6d – Barr's use of the term "theoretical schematism" -- actually legends and myths of the Bible
  • Part 6e – Barr's use of textual variations and textual criticism of the Bible
  • Part 6f – Barr's remarks about the Bible's "inconsistencies" and "errors"
  • Part 6g – Barr's demand for the use of the "historical critical" methodology – i.e. "scholarship"
  • Part 6h – Barr's insistence that Scripture be "reasonable" and "sensible"... for him.
  • Part 6i – Barr's comments against Luther's use of Daniel's prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
  • Part 6j – Barr's demand for extra-biblical information to have a true biblical chronology.
  • Part 6k – Barr's second "gotcha" – Luther "followed" historical forgeries. 
  • Part 6L – Conclusion to reviews of Barr – his grand notion of the Bible's "literal intention" 
  • Part 7a – Review of WELS Prof. John Brug's essays on biblical chronology
  • Part 7b – Review of WELS Prof. John C. Jeske's essays on biblical chronology
  • Part 7c – Review of WELS Prof. Siegbert Becker
  • Part 8 – Conclusion

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