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3000 B.C. Sumerian civilization flourishing in what is now Iraq.
Invention of writing (cuneiform writing, not alphabetic writing which is not invented until 1300 B.C. Note: Sumerian civilization contemporaneous with Minoan civilization on the island of Crete.
1800 Abraham comes out of the land
of Ur and wanders through the lands of contemporary Syria and Israel.
Stories of the age of Abraham and the other patriarchs are preserved
orally just as are the stories of Troy in the Greek tradition until
Homer writes them down.
1750 Code of Hammurabi.King of Babylonia.
1700 Israelites arrive in Egypt.
We should recognize that the Egyptian part of the story of the Jews
is the most controversial among scholars and lacks documentary evidence
such as that which we have for the post-Exodus period.
1400-1300 Invention of alphabetic writing in Phoenicia
(present day Lebanon and Israel along the Mediterranean coast.)
The invention of alphabetic writing is extremely important to both
the story of the creation of the Bible and to the story of the creation
of the Iliad. The alphabet was a tool that the common man could
master whereas previous cuneiform writing was complex and difficult
and limited to a priestly elite.. Thus the arrival of the alphabet
means a social as well as a literary revolution.
1377-1358 Rule of Akhnaton in Egypt.Enforce a monotheistic religion on Egypt.(Aton)
1304-1290 Seti I.
Egyptian pharaoh most likely responsible for enslaving the Israelites.
1290-1224 Ramses II.
Pharaoh of the Exodus period.
1250 Moses leads the Exodus.
Notice this is contemporary with Agamemnon, Oedipus, and Theseus
in Greek civilization.
1220-1200 Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.Israelites come out of the desert. Invade the land of Canaan and
occupy the hillsides around Jerusalem.
1200 Begin the period of the Judges (to 1025).
Contemporary with the flourishing of Troy.
1030-1010 King Saul.
Rules a confederation of the Israelites.
1000 King David.David conquers Jerusalem and makes it his capital. David’s reign
is extremely important for all of later Jewish history. During his
reign the first attempts are made to bring together and write down
the tales of the patriarchs that have been preserved through an
oral tradition exactly like the oral tradition that has preserved
the tales of the Trojan war in Greece. The writer of this first
compilation is usually referred to as “J.”
970-931 King Solomon.
Rules Israel.
966 King Solomon builds the Temple of Jerusalem.
The “wall” that is venerated today in Jerusalem derives
from this building.
931 Israel collapses into schism and two
new political states emerge:
Israel (in the north) and Judah (in the south including Jerusalem).
This division of the political entities means that there now develops
two Biblical traditions too that will have to be joined together
later.(“E” in the north, “J” in the south.)
850 Elijah.
Beginning of the prophetic tradition.
Bible: writing Kings I and II (150 years after the events).
750 The prophet Amos. ( The Book of
The first of the “literary” prophets. Warns of the dangers
from Assyria. Amos exactly contemporaneous with Homer.
740 The prophet Isaiah.(The Book
of Isaiah)
Born in Jerusalem about 765. Often called the greatest of the prophets
and author of some of the greatest of Biblical writing. His whole
life and work is bound up with the fate of his native city of Jerusalem.
722 Israel conquered by the Assyrian Sargon
Israelites carried off.
700 Begin to join the two Biblical traditions
of “J” and “E.”This process going on as the Iliad becomes known in the Greek world
as the work of the writer Homer.
640-609 King Josiah,
last good king of the southern kingdom of Judah.
605 The prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah often viewed as one of the three great voices of the early
Jewish tradition with Isaiah and Moses. Jeremiah warns that idolatry
and corruption will bring down the wrath of God on his people. Our
record of the words of Jeremiah unusually accurate: he dictated
his own words to a scribe. In 587 all his prophecies come true.
587 Conquest and destruction of Jerusalem
by Babylonian troops of Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem is razed
and the people are all take off into exile. (The Babylonian Captivity)
550 The Exile and the Book.
The period of the Babylonian exile is extremely important for the
creation of the final text of the Jewish Bible. During the exile,
the need for authoritative texts to preserve the tradition compels
the Jewish community to produce the beginning of the present first
five books of the Jewish Bible.
539 Persian emperor Cyrus conquers
Babylonia. Soon allows Jews to return to their homeland.
537 Jerusalem:
lay the foundations of the Second Temple.
500 The exiles recently returned from Babylon
now turn with renewed energy to the compilation of an authoritative
Bible. Produce the first Pentateuch: the first five books of the
Jewish Bible: Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut. (This contemporaneous
with the great age of Greek dramatic literature beginning with Aeschylus,
b. 525).
450 Job.
The Song of Songs.
In Greece the Age of Pericles. (Acropolis, 447 B.C.)
333 Battle of Issus. Alexander the
Great defeats Darius, Emperor of the Persia. This signals a shift
to Greece and the capture of the whole of the Middle east by Greek
civilization. This has important consequences for both Jewish and
Christian religious traditions since from this time forward they
will move out of the limited arena of the Middle east and be carried
by the Greek language all over the Mediterranean.
332 Alexander conquers the east coast of
the Mediterranean
including Israel.
331 Foundation of the city of Alexandria.
This city quickly becomes the most advanced center of learning in
the whole of the Mediterranean and thus important for Jewish studies
323 Death of Alexander the Great. Body taken
to Alexandria thus instantly elevating this city to preeminence
within the vast confines of the Alexandrian empire. The Ptolemaic
dynasty of which Cleopatra is the last of the rulers, strives to
raise Alexandria to a position of unrivaled importance in the cultural
world of the times. Most important is the fabulous library that
they endow in Alexandria.
250 The Ptolemies in their active support
of the arts and literature encourage the creation of a Greek Bible.
This is the “Septuagint” Bible, meaning “The Seventy”
named for the 70 Jewish scholars are are reputed to have collaborated
on the creation of an authoritative text of the Jewish Bible in
Greek. This Bible has enormous influence because it is in Greek
and thus can carry the fame and power of the Jewish Bible all over
the Mediterranean world.
147 Rome conquers Greece and now the expanding
Roman world will soon swoop down on the remaining Greek empire in
the Middle east.
63 Pompey completes the conquest
of the former Greek empire in the region of Palestine and Syria.
(In 70. A.D., the final destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of
Emperor Titus)