Leslie McFall [1944-2015] was a British scholar who was formerly a lecturer in Hebrew and the Old Testament before becoming a full time researcher. Much of his research was done at Tyndale House, Cambridge, where he had been a Research Fellow. He is best known for his works on chronology, in which he further refined the groundbreaking work of Edwin Thiele. His refinements to Thiele's chronology are accepted as the most satisfactory explanation of the chronology of the Hebrew kingdom period in Jack Finegan's influential Handbook of Biblical Chronology, by virtue of which it may be said that he is one of the most significant living authorities, if not the most significant, in the field of the Biblical chronology for the kingdom period.
Needs to be supplied
As taken from McFall's home page:
Old and New Testament chronology (incl. LXX); chronology of Jesus' ministry; new approach to a Harmony of the four Gospels; the Majority (Byzantine) Text as the Autograph Text of the New Testament; divorce; headship; and solving apparent contradictions in the Bible where they are a stumblingblock to faith in the trustworthiness of Scripture.
Dr. McFall's research for the past several years has focused on the harmony of the four Gospels he mentions just above. This will have a full critical apparatus.
The Hebrew Verbal System (1978: Cambridge University Ph.D thesis. Published by Almond Press, Sheffield, 1982). This work deals extensively with the temporal aspects of the Hebrew verb, and the difficulties encountered when trying to translate Hebrew verbs into a language such as English which is more tense- or temporal-specific. McFall's research in this area was to prove very useful when he turned his attention to chronological considerations in the Scripture.
"A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991), pp. 3-45. This widely consulted work corrected the deficiencies of Thiele's chronology for Judean kings in the eighth century BC, a time for which Thiele declared the Bible was in error. McFall's careful examination of the relevant Hebrew texts showed that there was no need for such an assumption. The article shows that a coherent, rational, and believable chronology can be constructed by close adherence to a proper translation of all the relevant Biblical texts. That the resultant chronology agrees at several critical points with established Assyrian and Babylonian dates is not because Thiele or McFall somehow twisted the Biblical texts to match those dates, but because these texts were taken from authentic, accurate Hebrew court records, and then after becoming a part of Scripture they were preserved faithfully in the Masoretic and prior scribal traditions until our own times.
Principles underlying McFall's chronology
McFall's principles in developing his chronology were basically those of Edwin Thiele, whose page may be consulted in this regard. McFall's approach was therefore to first examine the relevant Scriptures in the original Hebrew language in order to determine exactly what the Scriptures were saying, and to develop all chronological understandings from this basis. For McFall, Scripture has always had priority over the changing ideas of secular historians or the often-dubious findings of archaeology. That is not to say that Thiele's chronology, and McFall's refinements to it, have not found verification by proper archaeological research. In many cases, new findings, made after Thiele's chronology was published, have verified that Thiele's understanding of the Biblical texts was the correct one. In at least one case, that of the Iran Stele, some new archaeological information has also verified the Thiele/McFall chronology at a date later than McFall's 1991 publication, as explained on the Thiele page. But McFall's starting point has always been the Scripture of the Masoretic text, aided by his extensive knowledge of the Hebrew language. He has never found occasion to say that that text needed modification to fit his chronology, as has been the case for all chronologists who do not have a high view of the inspiration of Scripture.
McFall's chronology of the kingdom period
The following table provides an abstract of the Thiele/McFall chronology for the kingdom period, as presented in McFall's revision to that chronology in August 2008. The table is a simplified version of the table as found on his Web page.
|Jeroboam I||931n||910n||22 (21)|
|Jeroboam II||793n||782n||753n||41 (40)|
|Jehoahaz||July 609||Oct 609||3 mo.|
|Jehoiakim||Oct 609||9 Dec 598||11|
|Jehoiachin||608t||9 Dec 598||Apr 597||3 mo.|
|Zedekiah||Apr 597||Aug 586||11|
In this table, the notation 1010n means the calendar year starting on Nisan 1 of 1010 BC and ending the day before Nisan 1 of 1009 BC. 932t means the calendar year starting on Tishri 1 of 932 BC and ending the day before Tishri 1 of 931 BC. Nisan is a lunar month, corresponding roughly to April. Tishri, six months later, corresponds roughly to our October.
The table represents the data found in the table found on McFall's Web page, but with the following simplifications. (1) The Nisan/Tishri notation, explained just above, is used for dates, rather than McFall's Apr/Sep notation. (2) Many dates in McFall's table show which half of the year (either a Nisan year or a Tishri year) the king began or ended, but this finer detail is omitted in favor of just giving the official Nisan year or Tishri year that would be used in calculating elapsed years, thereby simplifying calculations from the table. (3) The rightmost column was added to aid the user in checking that the number of regnal years matches the starting date (for either sole reign or coregency) and the ending date. When the number in this column is followed by a second number in parentheses (always one less), it means that the first number is the number given in Scripture, but it is to be taken in a non-accession sense (see next paragraph).
Thiele established that during the divided monarchy, Judah started the regnal year on Tishri 1, whereas Israel (the northern kingdom) started their regnal year on Nisan 1. Thiele also found from studying the first reigns of the divided kingdom that Judah was using accession years (first partial year of a king's reign was counted as year zero) and Israel was using non-accession years (first partial year was counted as year one) for their kings. Unknown to Thiele when he first published this result, the same conclusion was reached by V. Coucke of Belgium some two decades earlier. In the above table, McFall basically follows this convention. A new development (as of August 2008), however, is the idea that David used Nisan years, and Solomon switched to the Tishri years that were used subsequently by all the kings of Judah. This conclusion is shown in the table above and in the Web page from which it was taken, but so far McFall has not published his reasoning behind this particular idea.
The major difference between the table presented here and the chronology presented in McFall's 1991 article in Bibliotheca Sacra is his moving the regnal dates for the first kings of Judah, David through Jehoshaphat, back one year earlier in time. In this regard, he acknowledges that he is adopting the research on the dates for these first Judean kings by Rodger C. Young in his 2003 article "When Did Solomon Die?" This change, plus the idea that David's years were by a Nisan calendar, are the only changes from his chronology as published in the 1991 Bibliotheca Sacra article.
- Jack Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology, rev. ed., (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1998)
- Rodger C. Young, "When Did Solomon Die?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society"" 46 (2003), pp. 589-603. Available here.
- "Hebrew Language" in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. (Edited by G. W. Bromily. 4 vols; Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1979-1982), Vol. 2, pp. 657-662.
- "Did Thiele Overlook Hezekiah's Coregency?" Bibliotheca Sacra vol. 146 (1989) pp. 393-404.
- "Was Nehemiah Contemporary with Ezra in 458 BC?" Westminster Theological Journal Vol. 53 (1991) pp. 263-293.
- "A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in Kings and Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra Vol. 148 (1991) pp. 3-45.
- "Has the Chronology of the Hebrew Kings been finally settled?" Themelios Vol. 17 (1991) pp. 6-11.
- "Some Missing Coregencies in Thiele's Chronology," Andrews University Seminary Studies Vol. 30 (1992) pp. 35-58.
- "Tatian's Diatessaron: Mischievious or Misleading?" Westminster Theological Journal Vol. 56 (1994) 87-114.
- Book review in Vetus Testamentum 49 (1999) 572-74 of Gershon Galil, The Chronology of the Kings of Israel and Judah. (Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 9). E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1996.
- Entries "Sacred Meals" and "Serpent" in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. D. Alexander & B. S. Rosner. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000.
- "The Evidence for a Logical Arrangement of the Psalter," Westminster Theological Journal 62 (2000) 223-56.
There are links to some of these articles on McFall's home page.