Significant Dates in Biblical History

Although there is some controversy regarding the most appropriate method of dating, I have chosen to use "CE" to indicate the Christian era and "BCE," before the Christian era. Different cultures use different systems of dating. The system of dating years from the birth of the saviour accepted by the Christian tradition is not common to all people. Nor does dating years in this way imply that the entire world is now in a Christian Era, rather that this is the dating used by Christians (and some, but not all, others).
"C." means circa, that is, approximately.

13th C. BCE Exodus from Egypt. THE EXODUS.

1250-1200 BCE Gradual conquest of Palestine. ENTRY INTO THE PROMISED LAND.

1020-922 BCE Kingdom of Israel united under Saul (crowned 1020), David, and Solomon. THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL.

959-952 BCE Building of the Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. THE FIRST TEMPLE.

922 BCE Death of Solomon and division into the northern Kingdom (Israel)and the southern Kingdom (Judah).

Earliest possible period of the consolidation of the Yahwistic and Elohistic traditions (J & E). They were combined after composition of the Deuteronomic tradition (D).

737 BCE Assyrians invade Israel.

722 BCE Destruction and exile of Israel by Sargon II of Assyria. THE "TEN LOST TRIBES".

701?688 BCE Assyrians under Sennacherib invade Kingdom of Judah.

Earliest possible period of consolidation of Deuteronomic tradition (D).

627 BCE Death of Emperor Asshurbanapal and slow collapse of Assyria.

622 BCE Finding of the Book of the Law (2 Kings 22:8 and 2 Chr 34:14)

612 BCE Babylonians and Medes destroy Nineveh, capitol of Assyria.

597 BCE First deportation into exile in Babylon of leaders of Judah.

587/6 BCE Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple and second deportation.

582 BCE Third and final deportation. THE EXILE.

Earliest possible period of consolidation of the Priestly tradition (P).

539 BCE The Persians under Cyrus the Great conquer Babylonian Empire.

538 BCE Cyrus issues edict allowing the repatriation of the exiles. He pursues a policy of local identity and self-rule.

THE POST EXILIC PERIOD.

520 - 515 The Jerusalem Temple is rebuilt with the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah and the assistance of Persia.

494 & 480 The Greeks defeat the Persians at the battles of Marathon and Salamis but the Persians keep Asia Minor.

445 BCE Nehemiah, cupbearer to Artaxerxes the Persian emperor, is appointed governor of Judah. He further rebuilds Jerusalem, and enforces Ezra's ban on inter-marriage.

428 BCE (possibly 458 or even 398) The Persians appoint Ezra "scribe of the law of the god of heaven" (Ezra 7:12) to assist in the Jewish restoration. Ezra re-establishes the Laws of Moses (Torah? Deuteronomy? "Holiness code" of Leviticus 17-26)

Earliest possible period of canonization of the Hebrew Torah (=Pentateuch).

350 BCE Philip II of Macedon unites Greece and Macedonia and plans the invasion of Asia Minor.

336 BCE Philip is assassinated and Alexander inherits the empire.

334 BCE Alexander crosses the Hellespont and extends the Greek empire.

333 & 2 BCE Alexander conquers Israel and extends the Greek Empire to Egypt and Persia. THE HELENISTIC PERIOD.

323 BCE Alexander dies of fever on the way back to Macedonia.

313 BCE Alexander's generals Seleucus and Ptolemy secure their rule of Babylon and Egypt respectively. The Ptolemies rule Palestine.

Earliest possible period of completion of Hebrew Nevi'im (The Prophets).

250 BCE Beginning of the translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek - the Septuagint.

200 BCE Seleucids take Palestine from the Ptolemies with the assistance of the pro-Greek Jewish aristocracy.

190 BCE The Romans defeat Antiochus III, the Seleucid emperor, at Magnesia and bring the Seleucids into crisis.

175 BCE Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) succeeds to the Seleucid throne.

167 BCE Antiochus Epiphanes profanes the Temple by introducing the cult of Zeus and offering sacrifices including pigs. This provokes the Maccabean revolt.

164 BCE The Maccabean revolt temporarily regains independence and rededicates the Temple to the worship of Yahweh. This is celebrated in the Feast of Hanukkah.

Earliest possible period of completion of Hebrew Ketuvim (The Writings).

THE ROMAN PERIOD.

67 BCE The Romans take Antioch, Damascus, and Jerusalem.

63 BCE The Roman empire inherits all of Palestine (and all its problems) from the Greek Empire.

54-53 BCE Crassus, the Roman consul for Syria, including what later became known as “Syria Palaestina,” pillaged the area, including the Temple in Jerusalem, but shortly after was defeated and killed by a much smaller Parthian force.

40 BCE The Parthians invade Palestine and temporarily expel the Romans, returning Jerusalem into Hasmonean hands and then withdrawing.

38 BCE The Romans re-occupy Syria.

c. 1-30 CE The life of Jesus of Nazareth.

70 CE The Romans destroy the Temple after a revolt and the Diaspora begins in earnest.

Earliest possible period of the complete canonization of the Hebrew Bible.

135 CE After the Bar-Kochba revolt the Romans prohibit Jews from Judea.

313 CE Christianity receives Roman Imperial support.



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brennie@westminster.edu