Isaac Newton – Historian
“And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
In another Creation Moment, we discussed the fact that the famous scientist and mathematician Isaac Newton believed Genesis to be a true book. We would probably not want to follow Newton’s theological beliefs, given that they were Arian in nature, but it is not often realized that Newton wrote extensively on the subject of history. His views on history were broadly the same as those of Archbishop James Ussher, whose calculations Newton endorsed.
The significance of Newton’s historical writings is that he compared biblical timescales to those of other nations and peoples. He started with an important presupposition – that the biblical timescale is correct. He then proceeded into a great deal of detail about historical chronologies, showing that the comparison with a biblical timescale makes sense and works. Newton went to a great deal of effort to describe his calculations for four key dates: the birth of Lycurgus (708 BC), the return of Heraclides (825 BC), the Fall of Troy (904 BC), and the Argonaut (933 BC). He tied in these dates with biblical dates, relating them, for example, to the death of King Solomon in 975 BC.
It is notable that Newton’s chronologies do not agree with many of the modern chronologies which are used to undermine faith in the Bible. For example, it is often said that the dating of the Egyptian Pharaohs cannot be reconciled with a biblical timescale. Newton was, however, familiar with these non-biblical timescales and argues strongly and convincingly for the biblical approach.
Newton’s writings are not Gospel. But when such a noted figure of genius produces calculations which are consistent with the Bible, it is time that people took notice.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the talents that You have bestowed on so many people down the ages. Whether they acknowledge You or not, their gifts have come from You. Amen.
Ref: Newton, I. (published posthumously 1728), Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books), see p. 9. Image: Adobe Stock Images, licensed to author.
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