The Reformers Timeline

The Reformers Timeline

The year 2017 marks the 500th year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. October 31, 1517 is traditionally believed as the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, which started the wave of theological movements all throughout Europe.

 

To commemorate this quincentennial, my church is doing a series on the Protestant Reformers, which syncs well with my current preoccupation with timelines. I was curious to see how the lives of the Reformers overlapped each other, since they certainly influenced each other’s work and ministry.

 

This Reformers timeline is based on the names mentioned in the book the Great Controversy. It’s by no means the most comprehensive list, but it transcends the 16th century Reformers to a few individuals who were precursors to the Reformation and to a few who influenced Christianity in the succeeding centuries. Here it is.

 

Reformers Timeline

(Click image to enlarge)

 

A few interesting things to note:

  • In 1517, Martin Luther was about 34 years old, younger than I initially imagined.
  • Most of the other Reformers were also in their 20s and early 30s. Their protests would continue for the rest of their lives.
  • From this chart, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were executed (burned at the stake) together.
  • These Reformers were in different countries, England, Bohemia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Scotland. William Miller was in America. I probably should have differentiated these locations in the plot. Next time.

 

Now the interesting part for me, and the whole reason of doing these timelines, is to combine different historical narratives in one visualization. In the image below, I added William Wilberforce, the English MP who championed the abolition of the slave trade (a personal hero), to see who were his contemporaries. One of the last letters that John Wesley wrote was for Wilberforce, encouraging him in his work to abolish the slave trade. John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship, author of the popular hymn “Amazing Grace”, was also Wilberforce’s mentor (also on the plot).

Reformers and U.S. Presidential Timeline

Adding to the fun, here’s a combined timeline of the Reformers and the U.S. Presidential Timeline from the last post.

 

It’s interesting to see that William Miller, a preacher during the Second Great Awakening in America, lived through 12 presidents. He died during the short presidency of Zachary Taylor. William Wilberforce corresponded with some of America’s founding fathers. There are probably many more fun facts that can be unearthed from this timeline. If you know any, let me know!

 

 

U.S. Presidential Timeline

U.S. Presidential Timeline

Longtime readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of timelines. Timelines are a great visualization technique to see a “slice” of history–what events take place at the same time in different places? This time, my subject of choice is the U.S. Presidential Timeline.

 

As an immigrant who did not grow up in the U.S., and someone who pursues a STEM education through and through, it so happens that I have never studied American History in a classroom setting. But ever since I became a permanent–as opposed to alien–resident, and now have given birth to an American, my interest in this nation’s history has increasingly grown. It’s hard to fully engage and understand today’s sociopolitical and cultural conversations without proper background, something like walking into somebody else’s conversation, and the American conversation is often rapt with historical jargon.

 

Everything I’ve learned about American History is self-taught, from reading, watching, listening, basically consuming all kinds of media. Thanks to my friend, Amy, my current obsession is binge-listening to the Presidential podcast by Lilian Cunningham of the Washington Post. It’s a great first pass of the last 241 years of history. I’ve thought about reading one of each U.S. President’s biographies–sounds like a great education–but since they’re typically 1000 pages apiece, this will be slow going. (Anyone else interested? Let’s form a support group, maybe? By the way, the Presidential podcast has a great reading list here.)

 

In any case, it’s hard for me not to see data whenever I delve into history. I have a long term project of synthesizing everything I read into a big giant timeline, to gain perspective of how things relate, or don’t, across the globe. For the U.S., this is the start.

 

U.S. Presidential Timeline

(Click image to enlarge)

 

This U.S. Presidential Timeline has both each President’s lifespan and their presidency. The trivia masters among you can probably spit out the-most facts of presidential history, like the shortest presidency, the longest, the youngest to take office, the oldest, who died in office, etc. For the rest of us, maybe we can turn this timeline into a game.

 

One thing that jumps out to me though is the gaps in the Presidents’ ages between before and after Eisenhower, and before and after George H. W. Bush. It seems like the presidency skips a generation born circa early 1900s and 1930s (WWI and WWII? Is this real?). Internet, please enlighten me.

 

What do you observe from this timeline? Comment with your interesting observations!

 

As usual, if you’re interested in the source file for this timeline, let me know! There are more details there than displayed here.

 

Enjoy!

 

Postdiluvian Timeline

When I worked on the Antediluvian Timeline, I was fascinated. But when I worked on this Postdiluvian Timeline, I was… flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Needless to say, it completely changed the way I read Genesis and the stories in that book. So, I invite you to go through this with me – I think it’d be worth your time.

Postdiluvian timeline

There’s no easy way to communicate all of the fascinating points observed from this exercise, so I’ll do it in bullet points. I’d also add that with the postdiluvian timeline, there’s some caveat and uncertainties in the accounting, since the data are not as explicit as the antediluvian ones. I’ll go over these uncertainties in this post. And for references too, the bulk of the data is found in Genesis 11:10-26.

  • I was fascinated to find out that 9 generations lived together for 56 years in the antediluvian period, but after the flood, there were 10 generations who lived together for 118 years! It was the sequence from Noah to Terah (Abram’s father), from year count 1878-1996. This happened because the age of humankind shortened after the flood, so while Noah and Shem still had the blessing of longevity, their offspring were starting to reproduce at younger ages. Thus, they saw more generations.
  • Actually, it may even be 11 generations (or more) living at the same time, since according to Luke 3:36, between Arphaxad and Salah, there’s Cainan. For some reason the genealogy in Genesis 11 skips Cainan (this is true in some instances of genealogies where the ‘father’ may not necessarily be the direct parent, but may actually be the grandfather or great-grandfather, etc). So here, I’m taking Gen 11:12 to mean that Salah was born when Arphaxad was 530 years, doesn’t matter whether Arphaxad was his father or grandfather. What I’m not assuming is that Arphaxad actually begat Cainan when he was 530 and we don’t know at what age Cainan begat Salah. I hope you could follow that.. (comments on this point are welcome)
  • Shem was still alive when Abram was born. Even greater yet, he was still alive when Isaac was born. Shem died when Isaac was 50 years old, some 10 years before Esau and Jacob were born, 10 years after Isaac married Rebecca.
  • Shem saw 10 generations after him, although not all living at the same time.
  • In Patriarchs and Prophets p. 125, it says “Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, in unbroken line, had preserved from age to age the precious revealings of His will. The son of Terah became the inheritor of this holy trust.” This is taken to imply that Abram was instructed by Shem personally. Imagine that, to hear of God’s grace and judgment from someone who went through the flood, who saw and experienced the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.
  • Abram was born some ~350 years after the flood, but he was instructed by someone who actually went through the flood! (This is so crazy I have to write it twice!)
  • In Gen 10-11, it is recorded that the nations were divided after the flood. So, even though these generations lived at the same time, they might not live in the same places, although of course there are possibilities of them traveling and visiting each other, as probably what happened in the case of Abram and Shem.
  • Everyone from Arphaxad to Isaac had direct interaction with at least one person who actually went through the flood.
  • Everyone from Arphaxad to Terah could hear about the flood from Noah himself!
  • This means that everyone who was born from right after the flood up until the days of Isaac was contemporary of the survivors of the flood. Imagine how ridiculous a skeptic would sound in those time periods who would deny the flood ever took place. Noah and Shem would be like, “Err..I was there.” It would be equivalent to a 21st century person saying that 9/11 didn’t happen. Basically for these people, the flood was not ancient history.
  • Noah outlived Nahor (Abram’s grandfather) by 9 years.

Postdiluvian Genealogies

  • If you put the postdiluvian timeline side by side with the postdiluvian genealogy below (click on picture), you’ll see something else that’s amazing. In Gen 23 after Sarah died, Abraham went to the children of Heth to buy a piece of land for Sarah’s burial. Sarah died when she was 127 years old, i.e., when Isaac was 37 years old, 3 years before Isaac got married (year count 2145).
  • Heth was Canaan’s son, Ham’s grandson, meaning that he was approximately contemporary of Salah, who was still alive during the time of Abram, but died before year count 2145. This means that it could very well be that when Abraham went to the children of Heth, Heth himself might still be alive, or even Caanan himself might still be alive. But what’s more likely is that Ham was still alive, since he also probably had a long life as Shem did. (Note: the descendants of Heth were called the Hittites – FYI; in Gen 26:34-35, Esau married two Hittite women and grieved his parents). I recommend using these figures when you read Genesis or even the rest of the Old Testament. It’s kinda cool to see the lineage of certain people and nations in Israel’s history.

 

Genesis Genealogy

Antediluvian and Postdiluvian Patriarchs

Now if you zoom out to see both the antediluvian and the postdiluvian timelines, you can count the degrees of separation between Adam to Abram.

Adam to Joseph Timeline

  • Adam could pass on his knowledge of God to Methuselah and Lamech, who had direct interactions with Shem for about 100 years. Shem, then passed it on to Abram, and possibly Isaac. Thus, there are only 3 degrees of separation between Adam and Abram. See why they didn’t need written records as much back then?
  • Seeing this zoomed-out version makes me realize that there’s not that many degree of separation between these guys and Moses as well, since Moses lived around 200 years after Joseph’s time (my next timeline project). This means that the assumption that the Israelites forgot everything about the true God while they were enslaved in Egypt may not be true, since these things were not ancient history for them. In fact, it may very well be that they remembered a lot of it.

As before, if you want the Excel file for these timelines, let me know and I can email it to you. There’s much more notes than what I can share in this blog entry, especially with the collection of the data. For example, the age of Terah when Abram was born is inferred from several Bible verses, so there’s some uncertainties there. The age of Jacob when Joseph was born also needed to be calculated from several time points given in multiple places in Genesis. I still have to type these out, but if you want them, I can send it to you as well.

This is the second of the Genesis Timeline and Genealogies series. Read the first here.

Antediluvian Timeline: From Adam to Noah

This is the first of the Genesis Timeline and Genealogies series. Read the second here.

How many of you, when you read Genesis 5, are just itching to draw a timeline? I love Bible genealogies, and so when I read the numbers in Genesis 5, the data are calling out to me to analyze them. The antediluvian timeline really is fascinating, and there are a lot of lessons to be gleaned from it.

The Patriarchs’ Lives

When I was younger, I’d read the chapter and because of the way it’s written, I got the impression that these people lived back-to-back, i.e., one dies before the another starts his life. For example:

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan.” Gen 5:3-9

Because it would describe a complete life of a person first before going to the next, the overlap is not as highlighted. But in fact, the overlap is quite remarkable, because the reality is that Adam didn’t die in verse 5; he was still alive when Lamech was born in verse 25! These overlaps paint a different picture of life back then, and here’s my version of the antediluvian timeline.

Antediluvian Timeline from Adam to Noah

This means that Genesis 5 can also be written in the following way:

Adam lived 130 years and begat Seth.

When Adam was 235, Seth begat Enos.

When Adam was 325, Enos begat Cainan.

When Adam was 395, Cainan begat Mahalaleel.

When Adam was 460, Mahalaleel begat Jared.

When Adam was 622, Jared begat Enoch.

When Adam was 687, Enoch begat Methuselah.

When Adam was 874, Methuselah begat Lamech.

When Lamech was 56, Adam died.

All the days that Adam lived were 930 years.

That’s 9 generations living at one point for 56 years!!

Here are some points of observations from the timeline:

  • Of the 10 antediluvian patriarchs, Methuselah lived the longest. He died the same year as the Flood.
  • Methuselah was also the first patriarch to see a son died. All the other patriarchs died before their sons.
  • Methuselah’s son, Lamech, died 5 years before the Flood (i.e., he did not die because of the Flood. God showed kindness to him and laid him to rest).
  • Lamech was the most short-lived patriarch out of the 10. He died at 777. Interesting number.
  • Lamech was also the only patriarch to be recorded to prophesy in Genesis 5 when he named his son, Noah. “And he called his name Noah [which means rest or comfort], saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.” Gen 5:29. It sounds like he was weary of some toil – perhaps preaching to the people around him about righteousness and God.
  • All 10 patriarchs saw the deprivation of mankind in their lifetime.
  • Methuselah saw all the patriarchs from Adam (except Enoch and Noah) died.
  • Enoch was taken up to heaven at year count 987.
  • Seth was still alive when Enoch was taken up to heaven – he was 857 years old.
  • This means that everyone from Seth to Lamech was around when Enoch was taken up to heaven.
  • This also means that only Adam had died when this happened, meaning that everyone only saw one death, and the next big thing was Enoch’s translation. What encouragement! Adam had to leave Eden, but just 57 years after he died, someone in the 7th generation made it back to heaven. It’s a message of hope to humanity.
  • Noah was born 14 years after Enoch’s translation.
  • The chapter before records the genealogy of Cain. It does not, however, contain markings of time (i.e., no age, no date of birth). The way that we can tell time is through the lineage of the righteous.

If you have any additional observations, feel free to comment!

P.S. If you want the Excel file I used to create the image, let me know and I can email it to you.