The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER NINETEEN: Calvin Clear Only Regarding Antichrist

I. Bird’s-eye View of Leading Allocations of 70 Weeks

Before continuing with the line of witnesses on prophetic exposition, particularly in French Switzerland, let us pause long enough to get a bird’s-eye view of the leading positions on the chronological placing of the seventy weeks. This will shed light on the frequent expositions and slight variations of this vital time prophecy, held as weeks of years by Jews, Catholics, and Protestants alike. We will first have a glance at the technical or chronological reasons for the slightly divergent datings. There is general agreement among Christian writers that the beginning point was either from the time of the vision or from some imperial edict connected with the restoration of Jerusalem. Similarly, the ending is placed at or near the time of Christ’s death, though a few extend the period to the destruction of Jerusalem. Aside from the prophetic expositors dealt with elsewhere in this volume, notice will here be taken of eight leading writers on the seventy weeks, and a convenient tabular reference list will be given to summarize the leading datings from Luther (1530) to William Hales (1799). PFF2 426.1

Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Bibliander all interpreted the seventy weeks as weeks of years, beginning them with the edict of Cyrus, the reign of Darius Hystaspes, or the second year of Darius (identified as Artaxerxes Longimanus). Funck produced a more systematic synchronization of the various datings, by which he aligned the canon of Ptolemy with the Olympiad dates, although he placed the first Olympiad a year later in the B.C. scale than the standard dating. 1 Bullinger and Nigrinus followed Funck on the seventy weeks. Then came a series of writers who, while dealing principally with chronology or history, are mentioned in this present volume because they referred to the period of the seventy weeks. They will be considered further in Volume IV, in connection with the nineteenth-century interpretations of the 2300 year-days. Here are the eight not discussed elsewhere in this volume: PFF2 426.2

1. JOSEPH SCALIGER (1540-1609)

was a French Protestant, the most prominent scholar of his time, and the father of modern technical and historical chronology. He devised the chronological system called the Julian Period, based on lunar and solar cycles, which by using a single long scale avoided the difficulty of computing B.C. and A.D. dates in two directions. In the Julian Period dating, J.P. 4713 and J.P. 4714 correspond respectively to 1 B.C. and A.D. 1. Scaliger reckoned the seventy weeks from the second year of Darius Nothus to the destruction of Jerusalem, or from J.P. 4290 to J.P. 4783 (which is 424 B.C.-A.D. 70). He makes the interval 493 years, because he takes the “midst” or “half” of the week, three and a half years, as a separate period in addition to the seventy weeks. 2 PFF2 427.1


better known as Dionysius Petavius (1583-1652), was a noted Jesuit theologian. He also wrote an extended work on chronology (1627), in which he generally followed that of Scaliger, criticized it violently in the polemical fashion of the day, and in many points improved on it. He began the seventy weeks with Nehemiah’s return in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (not the twentieth from the death of Xerxes, but from a conjectured coregency beginning ten years earlier), and calculated the period from J.P. 4259, or 455 B.C., with the crucifixion in J.P. 4744, or A.D. 31, in the third year of the seventieth week (which would end the week in A.D. 36). 3 Petavius regards the ceasing of the sacrifices in the midst of the week as the abrogation of the old covenant at the crucifixion, and understands the abomination of desolation as the ruin of the city and temple under the Romans. 4 PFF2 428.1

3. JAMES USSHER (1581-1656)

Anglican archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, published his Annales (1650-54), which became the standard for Biblical chronology for nearly two hundred years among both Catholics and Protestants. Ussher, like Petavius, shifts the accession of Artaxerxes, but he puts it nine years earlier, rather than ten. So the seventy weeks, from the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, run from 454 B.C. to A.D. 37, with the cross in A.D. 33. 5 Ussher’s dating of the seventy weeks was followed by many later authorities. It appeared in chronological supplements of both Protestant and Catholic Bibles, and was followed by such Catholic writers as Calmet (1672-1757) and Rollin (1661-1741). 6 It is odd that the Protestant Ussher’s seventy-week dating should have been more popular among Catholics than that of their own Petavius; perhaps the one year’s dif ference escaped the readers. PFF2 428.2

4. PHILIPPE LABBE (1607-1667)

distinguished Jesuit theologian and writer on history, geography, and philology, was best known for his collaboration with Gabriel Cossart in the compilation of the Sacrosancta Concilia. He also wrote an ex tensive work on chronology (1638). If the posthumous 1670 edition represents his own chronology, he deals with the seventy weeks as follows: On the one hand he gives Artaxerxes a nine- year coregency, like Petavius, yet does not follow his interpretation exactly; on the other hand he, like Ussher, counts the seventy weeks from 454 B.C. to A.D. 37, beginning with the return of Nehemiah, placing the baptism of Jesus at the end of the sixty-nine weeks, and the cross three and a half years later, in the fourth year of the 70th week, A.D. 33. 7 PFF2 429.1

5. WILLIAM LIOYD (1627-1717)

bishop of Worcester, who in 1701 inserted the Ussher chronology (with minor revisions) in the Authorized Version margin, did not follow Ussher on the dating of the seventy weeks. Using the canon dating, he began the period in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, 445 B.C., but ended it in A.D. 70 by an unusual method. Reckoning 483 years at 360 days each, instead of true solar years, he reached A.D. 32 for the end of the 69th week, with the cross at the next Passover, in 33, followed, after a gap, by the 70th week during the Jewish Wars, from A.D. 63 to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. 8 PFF2 429.2

6. HUMPHREY PRIDEAUX (1648-1724)

dean of Norwich and Oriental scholar, follows the canon dating as given by Scaliger and Petavius, but runs the 490 years from 458 B.C. to A.D. 33, or J.P. 4256 to 4746; like many others after him, he begins at the popularly held crucifixion date in A.D. 33 and reckons back to arrive at the starting point, the seventh year of Artaxerxes 9 PFF2 429.3

7. JOHN BLAIR (d. 1782)

of Edinburgh, published chronological tables (1754) synchronizing the Julian Period, B.C., Roman, Olympiad, and canon dating, which were a standard reference work for two hundred years. He ran the seventy weeks, like Prideaux, from the seventh year of Artaxerxes to the cross (458 B.C. to A.D. 33). 10 PFF2 431.1

8. JAMES FERGUSON, F.R.S. (1710-1776)

Scottish astronomer, published in 1756 an explanation of the seventy weeks, ending the period at the crucifixion. This he placed at A.D. 33 through astronomical calculations similar to those of Roger Bacon in the thirteenth century: By assuming that the Jewish Rabbinical calendar (which actually was revised to its historic form several centuries later) was applicable in the time of Christ, and by calculating for several possible years, the full moon dates on which the Passover, according to that calendar, would have fallen, he arrived at A.D. 33 as the only year in which such a Passover date would fall on Friday. From this year, then (J.P. 4746), he counted back 490 years to reach the starting point of the seventy weeks at J.P. 4256, the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, which he called 457 “before Christ,” according to the astronomical method of numbering (-457, as modern astronomers would write it), but which is the common chronological 458 B.C. 11 His work did much to popularize the 33 cruci- fixion date among the prophetic writers of the nineteenth century, as will be seen in Volume IV of the present work. PFF2 431.2

The accompanying table embraces the foregoing writers on the seventy weeks, together with the leading expositors on this period covered in this present volume. Hales, who closes the series, is treated in Volume III. We now return to the prophetic witness. PFF2 432.1