Happy Birthday, Universe!
By Marty Leipzig
[The date of the creation of the universe] was October 23, in 4004 BCE, at 8:00 PM that Anglican Bishop
James Ussher calculated that God created the Universe. The following is a treatise by Dr. Marty Leipzig on
the subject, which I (cross) post out of respect for this day.
If, for no other reason than a rainy Sunday afternoon, I recall someone about asking about Archbishop
Ussher's date of creation. For no particular reason, I dug out of my library the "Annals of the World" (1658),
by none other than the venerated Archbishop himself. If I may....
James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was highly regarded in his day
as a churchman and as a scholar. Of his many works, his treatise on chronology has proved to be the most
durable. Based on an intricate correlation of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean histories and the Holy Writ, it
was incorporated into an authorized version of the Bible published in 1701, and thus came to be regraded with
almost as much unquestioning reverence as the Bible itself. Having established the first day of creation as
Sunday 23 October (what? you missed the party?), 4004 BC, by the arguments set forth in the quoted passage
to follow, Ussher calculated the dates of various other biblical events, concluding, for example, that Adam and
Eve were driven from paradise on Monday 10 November 4004 BC and that the ark grounded on Mt.Ararat on
5 May 1491 BC, "on a Wednesday."
- "For as much as our Christian epoch falls many ages after the beginning of the world, and the number of years before
that backward is not only troublesome, but (unless great care is taken) more lyable to errour; also it hath pleased our modern
chronologers, to adde to that generally received hypothesis (which asserted the Julian years, with their three cycles by a
certain mathematical prolepsis, to have run down to the very beginning of the world) an artificial epoch, framed out of three
cycles in themselves; for the Solar Circle being multiplied by the Lunar, or the number of 28 by 19, produces the great
Paschal Cycle of 532 years, and that again multiplied by 15, the number of the indication, there arises the period of 7980
years, which was first (if I mistake not) observed by Robert Lotharing, Bishop of Hereford, in our island of Britain, and 500
years after by Joseph Scaliger fitted for chronological uses, and called by name of the Julian Period, because it conteined a
cycle of so many Julian years. Now if the series of the three minor cycles be from this present year extended backward unto
precedent times, the 4713 years before the beginning of our Christian account will be found to be that year into which the
first year of the indication, the first of the Lunar Cicle, and the first of the Solar will fall. Having placed therefore the heads
of this period in the kalends of January in that proleptick year, the first of our Christian vulgar account must be reckoned the
4714 of the Julian Period, which, being divided by 15, 19, 28, will present us with the 4 Roman indication, the 2 Lunar
Cycle and the 10 Solar, which are the principal characters of that year.
- We find moreover that the year of our fore-fathers, and the years of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews were of the
same quantity with the Julian, consisting of 12 equal spaced moneths, every one of them conteining 30 days (for it cannot be
proved that the Hebrews did use lunary moneths before the Babylonian Captivity) adjoying to the end of the twelfth moneth,
the addition of five days, and every four year six.
- And I have observed by the continued succession of these years, as they are delivered in holy writ, that the end of the
great Nebuchadnezzars and the beginning of the Evilmerodachs (his sons) reign, fell out in the 3442 year of the world, but
by collation of Chaldean history and the astronomical cannon, it fell out in the 186 year of Nabonasar, and, as by certain
connexion, it must follow in the 562 year before the Christian account, and of the Julian Period, the 4152. and from thence I
gathered the creation of the world did fall out upon the 710 year of the
- Julian Period, by placing its beginning in autumn: but for as much as the first day of the world began with the evening
of the first day of the week, I have observed that the Sunday, which in the year 710 aforesaid came nearest the Autumnal
Equinox, by astronomical tables (notwithstanding the stay of the sun in the dayes of Joshua, and the going back of it in the
dayes of Ezekiah) happened upon the 23 day of the Julian October; from thence concluded that from the evening preceding
that first day of the Julian year, both the first day of creation and the first motion of time are to be deduced." - J. Ussher