Welcome to The Biblical Timeline. This site is dedicated to helping both novice and more serious readers understand how the events described in the Bible relate to each other and to the larger history of the world.
Old and New Chronologies
The timeline has been (and remains) a work in progress for fifteen years or so. The original version was based entirely on what is known as the “orthodox” or “old” chronology for the regnal dates of the kings of the world empires and kingdoms other than Israel. These are the dates that you might find in a text book or on Wikipedia and are what are accepted by the majority of scholars. These dates are by no means absolute and in fact if you scratch the surface you will find that there is still a lot of disagreement among scholars but that most of this involves relatively minor adjustments to the timeline.
Recently, I was introduced to what is known as the “new’ chronology which has been championed by egyptologist David Rohl, most recently in the documentary film Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, but also in earlier Rohl documentaries which were televised in the US and UK. The new chronology is based on a radical down dating of the Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. This is made possible by identifying that many Pharaohs which rule sequentially in the orthodox chronology actually ruled at the same time or in parallel in different parts of the country. The result is a shift of over 300 years in some parts of the timeline and about 200 years for the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (Joseph through the Exodus). This change has a ripple effect on other nations and periods that derive their chronologies from the Egyptian one. It does not however impact the chronology of Israel directly as the dates going back to the Exodus and beyond can be derived from scripture and from synchronisms with foreign kings whose dates are not in question (the old and new chronologies are in agreement from 664 BC onward for Egypt and from earlier dates for Assyria and Babylon). The new chronology resolves some disconnects between archaeology and scripture that exist in the orthodox chronology, particularly around the exodus, and therefore it’s good for biblical scholars to at least be aware of it.
Here at The Biblical Timeline the goal is to promote scholarship and study, and on that basis I have included versions based on both old and new chronologies for the period after the flood. Both versions can be found in the PDF and PPT files available on the download page.
The goal when I first began was to put as much of scripture as possible onto a timeline and then add the people and events of the larger world to see how they interacted. This provides some interesting insights and reveals some interactions that are not mentioned in scripture. For example, Queen Esther may have been present at the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis (if Xerxes brought his harem along on that campaign as kings sometimes did). King Ahab fought against Shalmaneser III as part of a coalition of kings just before he died. And in the new chronology, King Saul (as Labaya) corresponded with Pharaoh Akenaten as part of the Amarna Letters.
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, rather than putting all this information down in black and white tables of numbers as you often find it, I chose to graph it. In color. My hope is that by viewing it this way you can find some new insights. I welcome questions and feedback, so feel free to leave a comment.
If you are still reading this and have not yet clicked over to the downloads page to see more, you can see a sample below. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Below is a larger version showing the last three hundred years of the timeline. Remember that old and new chronologies agree after 664 BC, so what you see below will be the same for both.
You can find the timeline under the Timeline menu item and the best option for viewing it is to download the PDF and view it in Acrobat Reader which allows you to freely zoom and scroll. PDF versions of the timeline and the associated articles with their embedded graphics can also be found in the Downloads section.