History, Chronology and the Bible

by | History, Reviews | 24 comments

Do you suppose that when we get to heaven there will be thousands of video rooms where we can watch reruns of history. In one room there will be a recording of Noah and his sons building the ark and caring for the animals during that year on the water. In another room we can see David fighting Goliath, or who really was the pharaoh of the Exodus. I especially want to see what happened at Babel — did the continents drift apart at that time, as some scientists believe, and exactly how did the different languages appear and how did the people react to the confusion.

History, along with its companion subjects of chronology and geography, has always been my favorite. I think that might be because I learned next to nothing about history growing up — I wanted to, but school hindered me from it. They kept us too busy memorizing dates and names to leave any time for the best part of history — the STORY part.

In recent years, I’ve studied more ancient history, emphasizing the chronology part of history. Chronology is the science or study of locating events in time and arranging these events in order from earliest to latest. People usually write out chronologies on timelines.

I’d like to list for you here a few of the curriculum resources our family has found useful in our study of ancient history.

Beechick, Ruth. Adam and His Kin: The Lost History of Their Lives and Times. Pollock Pines, CA: Arrow Press, 1990. This important book gives children a biblically accurate overview of the book of Genesis, told in a narrative style. We suggest that you read this book to your children before you begin your study of ancient history.

Bloom, Jan. Who Should We Then Read: Authors of Good Books for Children and Young Adults. Cokato, MN: Books Bloom, 1999. This 250 page reference guide contains titles of 140 biographies of authors of great books for children and young adults, and it contains alphabetical lists of quality series such as Landmark, We Were There, Vision Biographies, and Childhood of Famous Americans.

Dang, Katherine, ed. Universal History: Volume 1, Ancient History, Law Without Liberty. Oakland, CA: Katherine Dang, 2000. This large, beautiful volume, which matches the other big, red books published by the Principle Approach people, is a chronological compilation of excerpts from 18th,19th, and early 20th century history textbooks. Included are numerous detailed timelines, maps, and genealogical charts. This text is the Principle Approach application to ancient history. Not primary sources, though. Two volumes available.

Grun, Bernard, based upon Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan. The Timetables of History: The world-famous reference that tells who did what when from 4500 B.C. to the present day ­ A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster, first published in 1946, reprinted in 1991. This book lists what happened in the world for every year since Creation. It covers politics, literature, theater, religion, philosophy, learning, visual arts, music, science, technology, growth, and daily life. You will find listed the titles of works by well known and lesser known scientists, historians, and fiction and nonfiction writers.

Guerber, H.A. The Story of the Romans. Ft. Collins, CO: Nothing New Press, originally published 1896, reprinted 2002. If you could judge a book by its cover, then this reprint of Guerber’s Story of the Romans would get an A+. But that’s not the only great thing about this book ­ it’s the literary value that makes me love it. Mrs. Guerber has turned dry history textbook facts into a fascinating, yet accurate and pleasing story that children and adults of all ages will enjoy. I don’t believe in talking down to children, and that’s another reason why I like the Guerber books ­ the vocabulary and sentence structure are complex enough to grab older kids and adults, yet younger children will be perfectly capable of understanding them.

Guerber, H.A. The Story of the Greeks. Ft. Collins, CO: Nothing New Press, originally published 1896, reprinted 2001. Here’s another one of the great Guerber reprints. This one tells the history of the Greek culture in a way that everyone can understand. The black and white illustrations are lovely and can be used for copywork.

Hobar, Linda Lacour. The Mystery of History: Volume I ­ Creation to the Resurrection. Dover, DE: Bright Ideas Press, 2002. The Mystery of History combines a detailed historical narrative with lesson plans, tests, and projects. I love the Biblical emphasis, the thoroughness, the ease of use, and the lay-out of this curriculum. The narrative is both historically accurate (she doesn’t get into speculation or mythology) and entertaining. This curriculum is recommended for grades 4-8, but I think K-3 could also use it. Volume II is also available.

Hulcy, Jessica, Sarah Rose, and Carole Thaxton. KONOS History of the World: Year One, The Ancient World. Anna, TX: Konos, 1994. KONOS is the earliest model of the unit study curriculum from which all other unit study curricula have been patterned. History of the World consists of Bible study, timeline events, lists of noted people, map study, related vocabulary lists, and activities all taught chronologically beginning with Creation and ending with early Rome. Research, dialog, reading classical literature, and writing are combined with creative and challenging activities to make the study of history light years away from the tedious way we studied history in our public school days. This curriculum says it is geared to students in grades 9-12, but I’m sure some seventh and eighth graders could benefit from it as well. Year Two also available.

Hull, Edward. The Wall Chart of World History. U.S.A.: Dorset Press, 1988. Large fold-out timeline. Follows the chronology of Archbishop James Ussher. This is my favorite timeline.

Miller, Christine. All Through the Ages: A Guide to Experiencing History Through Literature. Fort Collins, CO: Nothing New Press, 1997. Extensive compilation of books arranged chronologically and geographically. For all ages.

Miller, Michelle. TruthQuest History. Traverse City, MI: ThinkWrite, L.L.C., 1997-1999.
­ Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece
­ Ancient Rome
These study guides, which can be used by students of all ages, contain short, concise historical commentary along with exhaustive book recommendations (both in-print and out-of-print) for every key person and event covered. Also included are writing exercises placed throughout the commentary. I love the cautions that Michelle gives us. At numerous points she suggests that we be careful in our study of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilization, and she shows us which books would not be appropriate for young children or even some older students. There is just enough commentary throughout the books to guide us and keep us on the correct path so that we won’t leave out any important historical events or people. A family is free to spend as long or as little time at each stop on the timeline as they wish.

Shukin, Barbara. Ancient History Portfolio and Timeline. A sturdy spiral-bound book of blank maps and spaces for drawings, narrations or reports. Also contains a uniquely designed timeline for students to add dates and drawings. Can be used to supplement any history curriculum. Four volumes available.

Somerville, Marcia. Tapestry of Grace. Derwood, MD: Books ‘N Kids, Inc., 2001. This comprehensive unit study curriculum combines the subjects of history (studied chronologically), literature, geography, writing, vocabulary, government, fine arts, and church history. Each week the student will read history and literature, discuss what he reads, and communicate what he has learned through writing projects, displays, activities, and oral presentations. This curriculum is thorough and detailed, and is an excellent application of the trivium approach, with the student activities divided into four levels: lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Four volumes.

Stanton, Mary and Albert Hyma. Streams of Civilization: Volume One and Volume Two. Arlington Heights, IL: Christian Liberty Press, 1992. Good all-round history text from a Christian perspective.

Walton, John H. Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994. Dozens of charts which help us understand the history, literature, archaeology, theology, and chronology of the Old Testament.
After five years of work, Larry and Marion Pierce (authors of The Online Bible) and publisher Master Books have released one of the most important history books ever to be written:

In 1654 Archbishop James Ussher finished researching and writing The Annals of the World, a comprehensive history of the world covering every major event from creation up to AD 70. In writing this history, Ussher read everything about ancient history that existed in the 17th century (many of these works have been lost to time or are no longer available for study), and his work is extensively footnoted with thousands of references to ancient writers. This work is actually a summary of what the ancients wrote. The book was written first in Latin, and then in 1658 translated into English. Today, the Pierces have revised, updated, and translated The Annals into modern English. All the footnotes have been updated to reference works in the Loeb Classical Library, and all Ussher’s original citations have been checked against the latest textual scholarship.

This book will prove to be the most valuable source of all time for the study of ancient history and chronology.
Another tool I believe to be indispensable if you are studying ancient history is The Reese Chronological Bible by Edward Reese. The Bible was not compiled in strict chronological order — either by the Jews, or by the Gentiles. Even some portions of the historical books seem to be out of chronological order. There are numerous chronological issues which seem to be unresolveable on the basis of Biblical data, so they require presuppositions and speculations just to come up with theories. If you use a chronologically arranged Bible, such as the Reese Chronological Bible, you will be following Dr. Reese’s theories which are not adequately, if at all, explained, and you often won’t be able to separate the sound chronology from the speculative chronology. That’s okay, as long as you understand this before you begin. I would supplement this Bible with a couple of books on chronology so you can at least appreciate the complexity of the issues and different attempts at resolving them.
Books on chronology:

Anstey, Martin. Chronology of the Old Testament.
Beechick, Ruth. The Language Wars and Other Writings for Homeschoolers.
Down, David. Searching for Moses.
Fairbairn, Patrick. The Imperial Bible Dictionary.
Jones, Floyd Nolen. Chronology of the Old Testament.
Mauro, Philip. The Wonders of Bible Chronology.
Pierce, Larry. In the Days of Peleg.
I have been using the Ancient History from Primary Sources: A Literary Timelinethis year and have really enjoyed it. The side by side timeline has been so helpful in visualizing the sequence of events. I have been frustrated, however, with some of the dates on the Egyptian Pharaohs. I understand that there is no absolute dating for these ancient events, but some of the dates were off about 300 years, according to at least 3 other sources. These other sources agreed within about 10 years and were both Christian and non-Christian. I am wondering what sources you used to determine these dates? Is is possible that more recent excavation and findings give more accurate dates than Botsford and Breasted? Other than this little problem – I have found the book to be extremely helpful and the CDs have been great.

Sincerely, Krysti
Good question! On pages 203-213 of Ancient History From Primary Sources you will find an article entitled The Bible Chronology Puzzle. This will give you a simple introduction to the chronology problem. Then on pages 218-220 we list all the chronology resources we consulted in writing the book. You will note that we adopted the New Chronology as outlined by David Rohl in his book Pharaohs and Kings. We first become interested in this new approach to chronology after hearing Rob Shearer (of Greenleaf Press) speak favorably of Rohl, and have since found that numerous well-known Bible chronologists also lean toward this approach. Ruth Beechick addresses the issue in a chapter of her book The Language Wars.

Rohl is an Egyptologist and ancient historian who, though not a Christian, believes that the Bible should be valued just like any other historical document — not rejected, as do most secular historians. His New Chronology provides the archaeological evidence for the existence of many Old Testament characters, and redates Egyptian history. He places Dudimose as the pharaoh of the Exodus, and dates the Exodus at 1447 BC.

Botsford and Breasted hold to the standard chronology.

Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest by David M. Rohl (There is also a video that goes along with this book and is very valuable. The video has the same title as the book and is produced by The Learning Channel.)
One other resource I’d like to recommend is a small two-page color timeline which covers creation through 70 A.D and follows Ussher’s dates. You can find this timeline as an insert in the September/November 2005 issue of Creation magazine. I have found this timeline to be the best compact, all inclusive record of Biblical events. All important events and people are included on this timeline so you can see at a glance who did what, when.
Taken from The Wonders of Bible Chronology by Philip Mauro

“It is safe to say that, if Genesis 5 were not in the Bible, and if a tablet were exhumed, say in Assyria or Egypt, bearing the same concise statistical statements, it would be hailed as the most wonderful and valuable relic of antiquity. And not only so, but many who attach little or no importance to the statements as found in the Bible, would give full credence to the very same statements, if recorded by some unknown Egyptian or Babylonian sinner.”