Reasons to Believe

Q&A: Does the Gobekli Tepe Site Contradict the Biblical Account of Man?

From Peg in Mesa, AZ

How does RTB explain the Gobekli Tepe mystery? For many people this type of archeological evidence is very difficult to reconcile with the biblical account of man.

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I presume the difficulty to which you refer is the early dates for artifacts found at the Gobekli Tepe site. Radiocarbon dates for these artifacts range from 8,400 to 9,600 years ago. These dates certainly pose a challenge for Archbishop Ussher’s chronology of events described in the Bible. His chronology presumes that the creation days in Genesis 1 were six consecutive 24-hour periods and that the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 are exhaustively complete.

As I describe in much detail in my book Navigating Genesis, both of Ussher’s presumptions are incorrect. Excellent textual evidence establishes that the creation days are six consecutive long periods of time. A long, finite time period is one of the literal definitions of the Hebrew word, yôm, which is translated as “day” in Genesis 1. Likewise, Hebrew linguists point out that all the biblical genealogies are incomplete. For example, Luke 3 lists 11 names for the genealogy (this number includes the addition of Cainan's name) running from Adam to Noah while Genesis 5 only mentions 10 names (see page 73 in Navigating Genesis for further explanation). In Hebrew, the words translated “father” and “son” (’āb and bēn) are also used, respectively, for “grandfather,” “great-grandfather,” etc., and “grandson,” “great-grandson,” etc. The flexibility in the usage of ’āb and bēn can explain the apparent discrepencies between parallel genealogies (see, for example, 1 Chronicles 3, Matthew 1, and Luke 3).

In Navigating Genesis I use known dates for when Abraham and Peleg lived to calibrate the Genesis genealogies. This calibration roughly places Noah as living 20,000–60,000 years ago. Therefore, there is no conflict between the Bible’s date for human history and those coming from Gobekli Tepe. Also in Navigating Genesis, I describe sites around the shore of the Persian Gulf that show that humans were constructing villages and engaging in trade at least 12,000 years ago.

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.