How (not) to Choose a Timeline

April 15, 2020
April 15, 2020 Robyn Van Eck

How (not) to Choose a Timeline

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

The hallmark of a Christian classical homeschool curriculum is The Timeline.  But before Christians teach a timeline to their children, they ought to ask some questions.  Who picked the events that are included in the Timeline?  How did they choose which events made the cut and which didn’t?  For ancient history, are the dates based on a Darwinist-humanist worldview or the biblical worldview?  Are all of the Timeline’s events accurately dated, presenting a true record of the flow of history?

Does It Really Matter?

When I first started homeschooling, I was using a popular Christian classical curriculum, one that makes strong claims about teaching biblical worldview.  At parent meetings and practicums the leaders prayed over our work and encouraged us parents with scriptures; a quick glance through their Timeline showed mentions of Creation, the Flood, and the Patriarchs in Israel; I was thrilled to have a curriculum that was Christian, classical, and beautifully planned out for me!

But once we got started using the curriculum, the much-vaunted Timeline soon had me scratching my head.  It claimed that the dates of Creation and the Flood were “uncertain”, while the dates for the Babylonians and Assyrians were over 1,000 years earlier than when the Bible dates the rise of those empires.

I love stories; I love adventure; I love danger and courage and stories of the human drama; and I especially love them when they’re true stories.  Hence, I love history.  Can’t get enough of it. 

So when I was preparing to teach this Timeline to my children, I was already quite familiar with these dates and events.  So this is why I’m scratching my head.  These dates were wrong.  The order of some of the events was wrong.  If I taught my children that this was the Timeline of world history, then when they got older and began to read and understand the Bible’s dates, they would quickly realize that the Bible was inaccurate when it came to actual historical events. 

I speak with familiarity with this, because this was my story.  I loved history, loved learning about it in school, loved the Bible, paid attention to what I was reading in it as I got older, had been taught for sure that the dates in my history books were Definitely Right, and couldn’t figure out why the Bible’s dates were wrong.  And if the Bible made up all of this stuff about Assyrians, for example, whose empire was long gone before the Bible starts writing about them according to the Accepted Dates, how can I believe it about anything else?  Much confusion ensued.

This is why I want my children to be taught a biblical worldview, so they will not be indoctrinated with all of the subtle, tricky deceptions that are taught in the secular schools, having snares laid at their feet before they are even old enough to know their right hand from their left.

But you may ask, how do we know which dates are right?  We’re not really sure what the Bible’s dates are, right?  I’m glad you asked; let’s tackle the first question first.

Shh!  You’re Not Supposed to Find This Out

Let me tell you a little secret about ancient history.  

The vast majority of the ancients did not keep a written record of their peoples’ history.  As cool as archaeological finds like frescoes, stelae, and pottery are, trying to decipher the history of, say, ancient Babylon from them is like being given 3 pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle and being asked to solve it.  

For real.

Egypt is a really cool place to study ancient history.  Because of its desert climate, the ancient artifacts are wonderfully well-preserved; secular historians say that we know more about ancient Egypt than about any other ancient civilization.  Yet, in the words of famed Oxford Egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner, “What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters.”


Yes.  What is proudly advertised as Egyptian history is merely a collection of rags and tatters.

What is needed to understand the history of a nation is a written history, written by a reliable source.  According to Darwinist historians, we do not have written histories at all from the earliest times, because people were just stopping being monkeys and still scrounging around acting little better than animals.  And even once people began to write, the writings were filled with fairy tales like wars among the gods, magic, half-man-half-animal creatures, and mystical visions—casting more than a little suspicion on the veracity of the “histories” recorded by authors like Homer and Hesiod.


We do have a history that goes back to the earliest times, written by a reliable source.

It goes back to the very first day of the world.  And it was written by the only Person who never lies, never misinterprets or misunderstands events, and was actually there.

Are you with me here???

The Bible Doesn’t Have Dates…?

Okay, but we’re not sure about the Bible’s dates, right?


Any child who knows how to carry can add up the dates from the beginning of the world through the split of Israel and Judah (the first 3,000 years).  It’s that straightforward.  The dates from the divided kingdoms through the birth of Christ are a little more complicated, because the authors of Kings and Chronicles picked different starting dates for some events—for example, one king may have had a co-regnum of ten years while his father was still alive, and the author of Kings may have counted those ten years as part of his reign, while the author of Chronicles may have not counted those ten years as part of his reign, that sort of thing.  But when you puzzle through all of those differences, both books line up.  And even if you weren’t great at puzzling through those differences, you would only be off by a few years, not hundreds and thousands of years.

Then why do the margin notes in my Bible say that we’re unsure about certain dates?

Yeah.  Good question.  You ought to look into that.  Those margin notes added a lot to the confusion and doubt I had to struggle through as a young adult.

The text of the Bible itself is really clear.  God starts with the beginning, and counts forward from there (see this article about Anno Mundi dates to learn about how backward—literally—it is to use the BC dating system).  So from Adam’s birth, it was this many years til Seth’s birth.  From Abraham’s birth, it was this many years til the Exodus.  From the entry into the Promised Land, it was this many years til the Babylonian Captivity.  From the Babylonian Capitivity, it was this many years til Christ came.

And our entire dating system is based on Christ’s birth (even if the secularists change the name to “CE” and “BCE”, they’re still dating from Christ’s birth, which makes me laugh).  So if the Bible gives us dates for everything between Creation and Christ, we have a complete history of the world, a complete Timeline.

Biblical Worldview

Look, when Darwinist historians come up with a date of 3500 BC for the Mesopotamians, I get it.  They reject the Bible’s history, and without that, they’ve got pretty much nothing to go on.  Given that, they’ve done a pretty good job; they’re only off by about 1,200 years.  Really, given their handicap, that’s not bad!

But what I want to know is, why The Timeline of a Christian curriculum, which promises to “incorporate biblical worldview” into the history subject, teaches that we have no idea when the world was created or when the Flood was, but we know for sure that the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indus River Valley, Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations—and even the Great Pyramid—existed before when God tells us He sent the Great Flood which destroyed everything and all people, save 8, on the earth?  Either the Great Flood didn’t wipe any of them out, and they all survived, or God is really lousy at math and didn’t record his dates right, or the Flood is a fairy tale that didn’t happen at all…?

When a curriculum claims to be Christian, check details.  When a curriculum claims to teach biblical worldview, I’m sorry to say, but that’s a trendy phrase now, and people are throwing it around who either have no idea what it means or are just trying to take advantage of you.  You’ve got to look under the covers.

This is going to sound really wild.  Wait for it…  You’ll find out how to teach biblical worldview by this really great book called The Bible.  If a curriculum has tons and tons of Bible reading, you’re probably heading down the right track.  If it doesn’t have any Bible reading, that curriculum may be teaching a lot of things, but it’s not teaching biblical worldview.

The Grammar of Grace Timeline not only uses the Bible’s dates as the anchor for all of world history, but also uses the Bible’s judgment about which events were most important in history.  For example, it includes most of the Judges of Israel, and all of the biblical prophets, so children will understand where each of the prophetic books fit in history.  It includes church fathers like Augustine and Clement, missionaries like Cyril and Methodius, and reformers like Wycliffe and Huss.  It assumes that the spread of God’s kingdom is the most important event in human history.

I put it together so my children would have an accurate overview of history in their minds, so when they read about historical events, the pieces of the puzzle will actually fit together!  When American classical style education was the norm, it was common for Bibles to have Archbishop James Ussher’s dates (the Bible’s dates, all puzzled through and added together like we talked about, above) printed in the margins; children grew up learning accurate dates of world history.  If we’re going to bring the understanding of history back, we need to bring back true dates!

Thanks for dropping by; please keep us in prayer.

Comments (3)

  1. Kristan Niles

    Hey there.
    This is a bit of a stretch, but would you sell you timeline as a single unit and as a download? Iv been stuggling with finding a reliable timeline myself and your post echoed alot of my thoughts.
    Thanks Kristan.

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