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A "Conversation" about 1914 as it appeared in the Watchtower's "1914-2014 Anniversary Celebration" issues.


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Anna, it seems you are impressed by a show of scholarship and not the real thing.  Insider likes to use the babylonian chronicles and stars because then he can look smart,

The olympiad method is much easier, quicker and more accurate AND less debate and controversy.  You need not use the stars either....

This date of 530 BCE as cyrus' death is set in stone - no controversy about it. ..... and the beauty of it....... It fits with the biblical  chronology. (JWs do not adapt biblical chronology to fit with secular chronology but Visa versa. 

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The glitch I am speaking of is the following: (But first some doctrinal history because I know how much certain people here just love doctrinal history.) Russell left the "1914" doctrine in disarray by predicting so many things for it that failed. And even changing the "End of the Gentile Times" to 1915, and at least once also implying that the "Jewish Year 1915" could run from October 1915 to October 1916. But even Rutherford had continued to create a mess around the 1914 problem by w

I was harsh, because the more I study it, the more I believe that one MUST use deception to keep any kind of "prophetic chronology" going. I see the way that F.W.Franz toyed with language to keep people hyped up about 1975. I see the way that Rutherford was using deceptive language to keep people hyped up about 1925. And then looking back at Miller and Barbour I see the same thing. I just read some of Harold Camping's predictions for May 21, 2011 and I see the same exact style. And, as I started

I changed my mind about creating a table of the Jon/Cameron comments and then commenting on various portions. It seemed that it was just a repetition of what we have already gone over, and are still going over elsewhere. Although this is mostly true, I think a lot of Witnesses don't realize that almost all Bible commentators and scholars count 70 years back from around 537 (plus or minus two years) and end up believing that 607 BCE is acceptable (plus or minus two years). Because of the "

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15 hours ago, Arauna said:

The olympiad method is much easier, quicker and more accurate AND less debate and controversy.  You need not use the stars either....

Around the year 400 BCE a historian/writer named Hippias of Elis began a "sports magazine" which came to be called Olympianikai, in which he assembled cumulative victor lists from the Olympic games. (The Pythian Games had been held every 4 years, too, and the Nemean and Isthmian games were held every two years.)  The Olympic were the most popular. Prior to Hippias, there were several lists, but no consistent, portable, useful preserved lists of the victors. At this time no one had yet thought to number the Olympic games from a specific starting point to make a "common era" of Olympiads by which to count calendar years, but that would come within a few decades. Hippias guessed that the Olympic games in their official current format had been started by a famous Spartan Lawgiver, which Hippias thought was nearly 400 years earlier.

Here's a pretty easy to understand bit of research on the topic:

Contrary to what one might expect, Hippias did not arrive at the date of 776 on the basis of written records pertaining to the Olympics or to Olympic victors. Instead, he calculated the date of the first Olympiad by associating that Olympiad with a famous Spartan lawgiver named Lycurgus, who was a member of one of the Spartan royal families and who was believed to have helped organize the Olympic Games. Hippias used a list of Spartan kings to determine the number of generations between his own time and that of Lycurgus. He then assigned a fixed number of years to each generation and ended up with a date for Lycurgus and hence the first Olympiad. The inaccuracies inherent in this approach mean that the date of 776 for the first Olympiad is at best an approximation. The excavators at Olympia have suggested a date closer to 700.

Of course, neither Hippias in 400 BCE nor anyone else would have used the number 776 BCE, because the BCE/CE era wouldn't be invented for another few hundred years. Until then, just like the Babylonians, one needed an eponym list, or king list with lengths of reigns on them, if one wanted to get the full number of years between events far apart. That's why Hippias needed a king list of Spartan kings.

By the year 350 BCE or so, Ephorus began using those Olympic game 4 year "pegs" as markers for writing history. And several decades after that the Librarian at Alexandria around 200 BCE, accepted the notion that the first Olympic games had happened about 600 years earlier, a date we now call 776 BCE, agreeing with Hippias.

Now, one could more easily calculate how long ago Nebuchadnezzar lived, or Cyrus, or Darius the Great, or Xerxes or Artaxerxes, or famous persons who had lived during the time of those kings, like Socrates or Homer. And all they had to do is take the appropriate kings' lists to get the order of the kings, their names, and the lengths of their reign and begin working backwards to see which Olympiad that king's reign must have corresponded to. At about the same time as Ephorus began using the Olympiads for his writing around 350 BCE, The Greeks and Babylonians (and Jews) had already begun using the new Seleucid Era beginning in what we now call 311 BCE. Even one of the later "Babylonian Chronicles" mentions the Seleucid Era, and the Seleucids would continue to use the king's lists and astronomy to date their findings and observations within dates in this new era. It's used in some Jewish and Catholic Bibles in the books of the Maccabees. The Seleucids would still use king lists and astronomy to figure out how many years Before Seleucid Era an event had occurred. 

But, back to the Olympiads, which began as a dating system about 200 years after Cyrus (539).  It should also be mentioned that there was a 1,500 year gap in the games, and the Olympiad method was depopularized as Christianity took over around 393 CE and stopped the ceremonial games:

    Hello guest!

The longest gap between Olympic Games, in years. [1,500] Whilst 4 years was and is the longest you have to wait between each games, prior to their resumption in 1896 you have to go all the way back to Theodosius I in AD 393, to the last time the olympics were run. Although the precise date is not certain, we do know that the ceremony was abandoned in order to establish Christianity as the de facto religion. Having conquered Greece, the Romans saw the Games as a pagan festival and a threat to the new state religion.

Just a note that most Greco-Romans and Christians were actually already using the Diocletian Era ever since it had started in the year we now call 284 AD/CE. It wasn't until about 525 AD/CE when the term "525" was first used as the Anno Domini dating system was devised by Dionysius Exiguus. So no one really used the term 500 BC, or 600 BC until well after Dionysius Exiguus. What we now call 776 or 539 BCE, was actually still calculated by kings' lists, or eras like the Seleucid era, or for a while, the Olympiad era. But historicans first calculated them backwards with kings' lists (which had been passed down and verified with star and planetary observations for Babylonian, Persian, and Greek kings) to be able to "peg" a king or famous person to the right Olympiad in the past. The Seleucid Era (SE) was still a widespread dating era alongside the Olympiads, and the SE lasted until the 500's CE/AD about the time when AD (BCE/CE) was becoming popular.

The main point is that no historical kings or events were tied to a specific Olympiad until after about 350 BCE, or about 200 years after Cyrus. But the fact that these had been attached to Olympiads by working backwards with the kings' lists, which were validated by stars and planets, meant that most of those Babylonian/Persian era kings would be as accurate as those kings' lists and the stars and planets themselves. Therefore we should expect Cyrus to have been "pegged" to the right date, and any other king mentioned by historians who were transferring those lists over to the Olympiad system.

This is why it is surprising that the WTS accepts Cyrus from 200 years before the Olympiad dating system was started, but rejects the Olympiad dating for Artaxerxes which would have been "pegged" only about 100 years prior to the first use of the Olympiad dating system.

The WTS rejects the archaeological dates from just before 539 BCE so that 1914 will work, and the WTS rejects the Olympiad dates from around 455 BCE so that 33 CE will work. Rejecting them in 455 (actually the change to Artaxerxes accession year is changed in the WT from 465 to 475 BCE, but it is mostly his 20th year that the WTS wants to adjust, which throws off the Olympiads dating by about 2 and one/half Olympiads.

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4 hours ago, Anna said:

While I have been formulating a reply to Ann’s last post on here, (which I hadn’t posted yet and probably won’t bother in view of your comments here). I had been noticing blanket statements in some of the WT publications regarding some dates. I suppose this is what you mean when you and others refer to intellectual dishonesty. In my reply to Ann I was trying to reconcile two points of view for the same event, one of servitude and the other of desolation. She says that it is “this (mis)understanding (desolation) that locks Watchtower into its chronological scheme."

In my reply I wanted to say that Jeremiah does say that the land will be ruined, and it goes without saying that it’s obvious the impact an invading army would have on a sovereign state, especially if that army took victory. Although Jeremiah does not specifically use the word desolation, Daniel does: Daniel 9:2  In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of years mentioned in the word of Jehovah to Jeremiah the prophet to fulfill the desolation of Jerusalem, namely, 70 years. So in view of that, I don’t think it’s wrong to use desolation and servitude interchangeably. Both situations arise from the same thing; the conquest of a people.

But it seems to me, from what you say, that the understanding of what the 70 years refer to exactly is of secondary importance, and that the key to it all is not the 70 years, but Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as king. I would tend to agree with that.

Insight says: Second ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire; son of Nabopolassar and father of Awil-Marduk (Evil-merodach), who succeeded him to the throne. Nebuchadnezzar ruled as king for 43 years (624-582 B.C.E.)

Secular scholars say he ruled as king 605 BC – c. 562 BC

So where does WT get those dates for Nebuchadnezzar’s rule? Why is WT chronology regarding the Neo Babylonian period 20 years earlier than secular chronology? (and I am not looking for an answer that says in order for it to fit 1914 😄)

Why doesn't it do that?

Had you read the links I already gave you, you'd have all your answers.

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2 hours ago, AlanF said:

Had you read the links I already gave you, you'd have all your answers.

I was hoping I could get an answer in a few short paragraphs 😄

P.s. I will take a look.

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12 hours ago, Anna said:

I was hoping I could get an answer in a few short paragraphs 😄

P.s. I will take a look.

The subject is too complicated to be covered in a few short paragraphs. You need to carefully go into ALL the details. The devil is in the details, right?

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15 hours ago, AlanF said:

links I already gave

In one of the links you say: 

"Because Jews were taken into exile in 605/4, 597, 587 and 582 BCE, and released in 538, there was not a single period of exile or captivity. Therefore it is wrong to speak of a 70-year exile or captivity. Similarly it is wrong to speak of a 70-year desolation of Judah......"

Although there was not a single deportation, and the desolation of Jerusalem and Judah occurred  in stages, doesn't mean that we should disregard Jeremiah's 70 years as one continuous block of time, I don't think. That was the time set for a specific period, with a beginning and an end, regardless whether it meant captivity, desolation or servitude (since surely these terms would all apply to a people who had been invaded by a foreign army). It might be difficult to pinpoint the start of the 70 year period (because of the said various deportations) so for that reason I still do not see a problem with counting from the end of the 70 years, since the end of that period is easier to identify. The return, and/or the rebuilding of Jerusalem (which according to your table was 538/7) seems indicative that the 70 year period of desolation/captivity/servitude was definitely ended.

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Anna said:

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16 hours ago, AlanF said:
links I already gave

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In one of the links you say: 

"Because Jews were taken into exile in 605/4, 597, 587 and 582 BCE, and released in 538, there was not a single period of exile or captivity. Therefore it is wrong to speak of a 70-year exile or captivity. Similarly it is wrong to speak of a 70-year desolation of Judah......"

Although there was not a single deportation, and the desolation of Jerusalem and Judah occurred  in stages, doesn't mean that we should disregard Jeremiah's 70 years as one continuous block of time, I don't think.

 

No one is suggesting that the 70 years be ignored. The problem is what it applies to, and its beginning and its end.

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That was the time set for a specific period, with a beginning and an end, regardless whether it meant captivity, desolation or servitude (since surely these terms would all apply to a people who had been invaded by a foreign army).

Remember that all three things happened at various times from 609 through 538 BCE. Servitude of ALL Middle Eastern nations to Babylon began in 609 when Nabopolassar's forces under Nebuchadnezzar conquered the last remnant of the Assyrian army at the battle of Harran. More specific instances of servitude began, first in 605 when Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took Daniel and others captive, then in 597 when Jehoiachin and the majority of Jews were taken captive, again in 587 when Jerusalem was destroyed and most of the remaining Jews were taken, and finally in 582 when an unspecified group of Jews were taken. Each of these events is a deportation, a captivity and the start of an exile. Desolation occurred in connection with each event.

Why desolation? Because the Hebrew word chorbah does not exclusively mean "without inhabitant". Basically it means "ruined" which can be ruined physically or metaphorically. Thus, after Daniel and company were taken captive in 605, and Temple implements were taken, Jerusalem was properly described as "ruined" (chorbah) or "desolated" in at least a spiritual or religious sense. Such "desolation" ended when the Jews returned in 538 BCE.

Note, on the other hand, that servitude to Babylon ended in 539 BCE when Babylon was conquered and its kings Nabonidus and Belshazzar were "called to account" (Jer. 25:12; Dan. 5). At that point, one can say that servitude to the Persian Empire began and continued for a few months (2 Chron. 36:20).

Also note that captivity in Babylon ended about Nisan 1, 538 BCE when Cyrus issued his proclamation of freedom. But the "desolation" of Jerusalem ended some four months after the Jews set out to return to Judah, which was by Tishri (Sept/Oct), 538. And obviously, the four exiles ended either when the Jews began or ended their return journey, depending on how one defines "end of exile".

Thus, the periods of servitude, captivity, desolation and exile do not necessarily correspond.

Finally, since the Bible does not state the beginning of the 70 years, but only its end, no one can be dogmatic about it. A beginning in 609 results in exactly 70 years. A beginning in 607 or 605 gives approximately 70 years, just like the life span of a human is about 70 years. Some authors define the 70 years somewhat differently, but again no one can afford to be dogmatic.

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It might be difficult to pinpoint the start of the 70 year period (because of the said various deportations) so for that reason I still do not see a problem with counting from the end of the 70 years, since the end of that period is easier to identify.

As mentioned above, that assumes that the 70 years was an exact period. Since the Bible does not say, and there are many instances where some number is obviously approximate, we cannot be certain.

And of course, Jer. 25:12 and Dan. 5 are clear, beyond rational argument, that the 70 years ended in 539 BCE.

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The return, and/or the rebuilding of Jerusalem (which according to your table was 538/7) seems indicative that the 70 year period of desolation/captivity/servitude was definitely ended.

Of course -- but the time of servitude ended in 539 BCE when there was no longer a Babylonian Empire to be in servitude to.

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On 1/6/2021 at 2:53 PM, AlanF said:

The problem is what it applies to, and its beginning and its end.

Yes, and can we know for sure?

On 1/6/2021 at 2:53 PM, AlanF said:
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The return, and/or the rebuilding of Jerusalem (which according to your table was 538/7) seems indicative that the 70 year period of desolation/captivity/servitude was definitely ended.

Of course -- but the time of servitude ended in 539 BCE when there was no longer a Babylonian Empire to be in servitude to.

Right, but as you said it's all up to the definition, and it depends whether you are going to use servitude or desolation as your decisive circumstance. If you are going to use desolation, as Daniel did, then it could be said that Jerusalem was desolate until the Jews returned and started building. 

It seems there is quite a bit of ambiguity and leeway in the interpretation of the beginning and even the end, and even the number of years. (Although the number of years in my opinion seem to be quite definite and I don't see a reason why they should not be literal). 
I do not see it a big problem with just a couple of years plus or minus on the beginning or end of the exile/servitude 
I think its difficult to completely rely on something that was recorded over 2500 years ago (I am talking mainly about secular archeological finds, not the Bible) to be accurate to the year or month. Yes, definite months might be mentioned and are, but it's difficult to discern what really happened on a particular date.

I was trying to think of some kind of a modern comparison: thinking of the pandemic we are experiencing right now, generally, it is recognized that the coronavirus infection was first reported to the WHO organization on Dec. 31 and on Jan 30 WHO declared the virus a global health emergency. So, hypothetically, someone 2500 years into the future would read this information from various preserved sources and would be able to come to the same conclusion. So we would be ok with that. However, if someone wanted to know 'when' the virus actually started, not when it was reported, we might run into various opinions. Also, we might need to be specific with the definitions, do we mean when the virus started, or do we mean when the pandemic started? We might also want to know where it started and what caused it. We might find various information on that, and not one definite answer. Also we will want to know when it ended, and what classified it as being "ended" was it when less than 1% of the population were reportedly infected in one given month for a specified amount of time or something else? There are so many variables.....and what will end up being written in the annals of history in the end? I am comparing a time period of superior technological and scientific knowledge with a time period of comparative primitiveness. And still there can be varying opinions drawn.  How much more so with something that happened over 2500 years ago? 

So when WT prefers to view the 70 years as literal, and start them in 607, and wants to call them desolation, would that not be acceptable? 

However, a 20 year difference in WT neo Banylonian chronology is too much. I will have to look at that next...

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Anna said:

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 On 1/6/2021 at 12:53 PM, AlanF said:
The problem is what it applies to, and its beginning and its end.

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Yes, and can we know for sure?

The beginning -- as I've explained several times -- no. The end -- as I've explained several times -- YES: 539 BCE.

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  On 1/6/2021 at 12:53 PM, AlanF said:
  Quote
Anna: The return, and/or the rebuilding of Jerusalem (which according to your table was 538/7) seems indicative that the 70 year period of desolation/captivity/servitude was definitely ended.

AlanF: Of course -- but the time of servitude ended in 539 BCE when there was no longer a Babylonian Empire to be in servitude to.

. . .
  
Right, but as you said it's all up to the definition, and it depends whether you are going to use servitude or desolation as your decisive circumstance.

 

You have no choice -- IF you believe the Bible. Once again: Jeremiah 25:12 and 2 Chronicles 36:20 decisively settle the issue: servitude of ALL the nations to Babylon ended when Cyrus conquered it and the Persian Empire came to power.

Don't you believe what the Bible says?

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If you are going to use desolation, as Daniel did, then it could be said that Jerusalem was desolate until the Jews returned and started building.

Daniel did NOT use desolation as the end of the 70 years. What Daniel said about the 70 years is AMBIGUOUS. About half the commentators I've read understand his words to mean that, now that Babylon had fallen, and based on Jeremiah's words in Jer. 29:10 and most likely 25:12 and chapter 27, the 70 years had just ended, and Jehovah would go about restoring the Jews to Judah.

The Watchtower and others get the cart before the horse, claiming that Daniel anticipated the soon-to-come fall of Babylon based on his 'understanding' that the 70 years were about to end. But that notion makes several assumptions that are not stated anywhere in the book of Jeremiah, because Jeremiah said nothing about 70 years of desolation. In other words, it's a fallacy of assuming the conclusion.

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It seems there is quite a bit of ambiguity and leeway in the interpretation of the beginning and even the end,

The beginning, yes. But not the end.

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and even the number of years. (Although the number of years in my opinion seem to be quite definite and I don't see a reason why they should not be literal).

The Bible often uses a specific number to describe an approximate period. "70 years" works with the dates 609 to 539, 605 to 539, etc.

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I do not see it a big problem with just a couple of years plus or minus on the beginning or end of the exile/servitude 
I think its difficult to completely rely on something that was recorded over 2500 years ago (I am talking mainly about secular archeological finds, not the Bible) to be accurate to the year or month. Yes, definite months might be mentioned and are, but it's difficult to discern what really happened on a particular date.

You've just argued away the Watchtower's arguments for the 70 years having an exact beginning and end.

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. . .

So when WT prefers to view the 70 years as literal, and start them in 607, and wants to call them desolation, would that not be acceptable? 

 

No, because that view directly contradicts a number of Bible passages, as described above and elsewhere.

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However, a 20 year difference in WT neo Banylonian chronology is too much. I will have to look at that next...

That's a big deal alright. And it comes about precisely because the WTS needs to maintain the 1914 date.

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