purely theological reasoning: for, just as the seven candlesticks of the Apocalypse were long held to prove the existence of seven planets revolving about the earth, so it was felt that the six days of creation prefigured six thousand years during which the earth in its first form was to endure; and that, as the first Adam came on the sixth day, Christ, the second Adam, had come at the sixth millennial period. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, in the second century, clinched this argument with the text, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years"; hence the view of the early Church, that the world was then in its last period, and that the seventh day—the great millennium—would arrive about the year 1000 of our era. What striking consequences this belief finally produced all scholars of mediæval history know well.
On the other hand, Eusebius and St. Jerome, dwelling more especially upon the Hebrew text, which we are brought up to revere, thought that man's origin took place at a somewhat shorter period before the Christian era; and St. Jerome's overwhelming authority made this the dominant view throughout western Europe during fifteen centuries.
The simplicity of these great fathers as regards chronology is especially reflected from the tables of Eusebius. In these, Moses, Joshua, and Bacchus—Deborah, Orpheus, and the Amazons—Abimelech, the Sphinx, and Œdipus, appear together as personages equally real, and their positions in chronology equally ascertained.
At times great bitterness was aroused between those holding the longer and the shorter chronology, but, after all, the difference between them, as we now see, was trivial; and it may be broadly stated that in the early Church, "always, and everywhere, and by all," it was held as certain, upon the absolute warrant of Scripture, that man was created from four to six thousand years before the Christian era.
To doubt this, and even much less than this, was to risk damnation. St. Augustine insisted that belief in the antipodes and in the longer duration of the earth than six thousand years were deadly heresies, equally hostile to Scripture. Philastrius, the friend of St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, whose fearful catalogue of heresies served as a guide to intolerance throughout the middle ages, condemned with the same holy horror those who expressed doubt as to the orthodox number of years since the beginning of the world, and those who doubted an earthquake to be the literal voice of an angry God, or who questioned the plurality of the heavens, or who gainsaid the statement that God brings out the stars from His treasures and hangs them up in the solid firmament above the earth every night.
About the beginning of the seventh century, Isidore of Seville,