• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

    Previously at:
    blogs.salon.com/0003494
    barthsnotes.wordpress.com

    Email me
    (Non-commercial only)

  • Archives

  • Twitter

  • Supporting

  • Recent comments

Rise of the House of Ussher

WND reports on “one of the most significant Christian publishing events of our era”: a new edition, in modern English, of Archbishop James Ussher’s Annals of the World, first published in 1658:

Integrating biblical history (around 15 percent of the text is from the Bible) with secular sources, Ussher wrote this masterpiece. Considered not only a literary classic, but also an accurate reference, “The Annals of the World” was so highly regarded for its preciseness that the timeline from it was included in the margins of many King James Version Bibles throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

However, WND fails to mention sole reason for which the work is (perhaps unfairly) remembered today: it is the book in which Ussher made his claim that the universe was created on October 23 4004 BC. In fact, WND‘s ad for the book is an expurgated version of one that appears on the publisher’s website:

Considered not only a literary classic, but also an accurate reference, The Annals of the World was so highly regarded for its preciseness that the timeline from it was included in the margins of many King James Version Bibles throughout the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, calling to mind the fact that the earth is only around 6,000 years old. The fact that Ussher’s chronology has been deleted from Bibles is evidence of the Church’s backsliding into the deceptive ideas of evolution.

The publisher is Master Books, an imprint of New Leaf Press

In 1996, New Leaf Press bought Master Books, which was also established in 1975. Henry Morris and Tim LaHaye founded what has come to be known as the only publishing house in the world that publishes creation-based material exclusively. Since coming in under the New Leaf Press umbrella, Master Books has had a 300% growth over its best previous year. I feel that my father would be very pleased with this purchase and with the mission statement of promoting creationism that Master Books upholds. Together the two companies publish around 35 titles a year.

The publisher does not tell us who is actually responsible for the new edition, but other sites give the honour to Larry and Marion Pierce. Larry Pierce is a long-time champion of Ussher, as in this article from the Answers in Genesis magazine Creation:

Ussher was neither charlatan nor naive; in fact, he was one of the most learned men of his day. Understanding the assumptions with which he began his calculations (particularly the one we should all begin with, namely that God’s Word is true and reliable), we can readily understand how he arrived at his date for creation. In fact, if one assumes that there are no deliberate ‘jumps’ or gaps in the later genealogies (for which the evidence in my view is inadequate), then his date is a perfectly reasonable deduction based on his detailed knowledge of and reverence for the Word of God.

Shame that reverence included a belief in religious persecution in Ireland:

The Protestants were alarmed and at the installation of the new Deputy (Sept. 1622) James Ussher, then Protestant Bishop of Meath, taking as his text, “He beareth not the sword in vain,” preached a violent sermon in favour of religious persecution. Primate Hampton wrote immediately to the preacher, reproving him for his imprudence, asking him to explain away what he had said about the sword, and advising him to spend more of his time in his own diocese of Meath, where matters were far from being satisfactory.

But actually, assuming that the Pierces have done a competent job, the new edition of Ussher’s Annals may well be a decent resource for seventeenth-century studies. Could it be that the Creationists have finally managed to produce a volume of some use?

2 Responses

  1. Could be — this reminds me of my friends who teach US colonial and early national history; one of the best presses for new editions of enlightenment texts is the Liberty Fund Press, which is not *screechingly* idiological but which is clearly devoted to Cato-institute-type ideals… Good books…hate to give ’em money.

  2. […] Funnily enough, when WND first announced it was selling copies of Archbishop Ussher’s opus, it actually downplayed the “4004″ date. I blogged on the book and its publisher here. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.