the great theologian of his time, took up the subject. He accepted the dominant view, not only of Hebrew but of all other chronology, without anything like real criticism; the childlike faith and simplicity of his system may be imagined from his summaries which follow. He tells us:
"Joseph lived one hundred and five years. Greece began to cultivate grain.
"The Jews were in slavery in Egypt one hundred and forty-four years. Atlas discovered astrology.
"Joshua ruled for twenty-seven years. Ericthonius yoked horses together.
"Othniel, forty years. Cadmus introduced letters into Greece.
"Deborah, forty years. Apollo discovered the art of medicine and invented the cithara.
"Gideon, forty years. Mercury invented the lyre and gave it to Orpheus."
Reasoning in this general way, Isidore kept well under the longer date; and the great theological authority of southern Europe having thus spoken, the question was virtually at rest throughout Christendom for nearly a hundred years.
Early in the eighth century the Venerable Bede, the great theological authority of the North, took up the problem. Dwelling especially upon the received Hebrew text of the Old Testament, he soon entangled himself in very serious difficulties; but, in spite of the great fathers of the first three centuries, he reduced the antiquity of man on the earth by nearly a thousand years, and, in spite of mutterings against him as coming dangerously near a limit which made the theological argument from six days to six ages look doubtful, his authority had great weight, and did much to fix western Europe in its allegiance to the general system laid down by Eusebius and Jerome.
In the twelfth century this belief was re-enforced by a tide of thought from a very different quarter. Rabbi Moses Maimonides and other Jewish scholars, by careful study of the Hebrew text, arrived at conclusions diminishing the antiquity of man still further, and thus gave strength to the shorter chronology throughout the middle ages: it was incorporated into the sacred science of Christianity; and Vincent de Beauvais, in his great Speculum Historiale, forming part of that still more enormous work which sums up all the knowledge possessed by the ages of faith, placed the creation of man at about four thousand years before our era.
- For the date of man's creation as given by leading chronologists in various branches of the Church, see L'Art de Vérifier les Dates, Paris, 1819, vol. i, pp. 27 et seq. In this edition there are sundry typographical errors; compare with Wallace, True Age of the World, London, 1844. As to preference for the longer computation by the fathers of the Church, see Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, vol. ii, p. 291. For the sacred significance of the six days of