Was Creation on a Saturday?

As we’re now only ten days away from Christmas, I write today on Marshall’s Chronological tables:

Marshall, Benjamin and William Lloyd. Chronological Tables In which are contain’d not only all the chief things of Sacred History from the Creation of the World till Christ’s Time, but also all other the most Remarkeable Things of those times that are recorded in any of the Antient Writers now extant. For the Church Matters, They, are chiefly collected out of the Holy Scriptures: but not without such additions as are to be had out of Josephus. For the Other Matters, They are taken partly out of Africanus and Georgius Syncellus; and partly out of Eusebius, and St Jerom: not without consulting the most learned Joseph Scaliger; and those most eminent Chronologers of our own Country, Arch-Bishop Ussher and Sr John Marsham, and Mr Dodwell. But immediately as to Church Matters, for them we are most particularly indebted to the present Lord Bishop of Worcester: as well in what is contain’d in the Tables before, as also but more especially in the Appendix which his Lordship hath added in the end of the Third, and is continued in the Whole Fourth Table. All these Tables were compiled, and are here represented together. Eight sheets in four. Oxford: At the Theater [viz. Oxford University Press], 1712-1713 [1713].

These four magnificent tables, each composed of two sheets of super royal paper (ca. 25” x 17”) pasted long-end to long-end (thus 34” x 25”), chart the events – births, reigns, occurrences and the like – of the whole ancient Western world from Creation to the birth of Christ.

Benjamin Marshall was a domestic chaplain to the William Lloyd (1627-1717), Bishop of Worcester. Lloyd worked for many years to revise the chronology of James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, which established the creation at 6 pm on Saturday, 23 October 4004 B.C.; these tables also contain a calculation according to the Alexandrian Septuagint (LXX), which takes the year of creation as 5260. It is unclear to what extent Lloyd and Marshall worked together; Lloyd wrote the whole of the lengthy appendix on the life of Christ and the decades following his death (the second half of table 3 and all of table 4). Because some sources for the dates are extra-biblical, the tables ultimately become a chronology of the whole ancient world: Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Sicyon, Troy, Macedon, Rome all correlated with the bible by column. A major goal of the project was to establish the correct (fixed) dates for the major Christian festivals. Lloyd focused on the nativity (set as 25 December, 4 before A.D.), and calculated from years before and after A.D. (i.e., the traditional year of Christ’s birth, set by Dionysus Exiguus). Thus the tables mark the beginning of the calendar of festivals that governs much of the world today. Lloyd was mocked for his Ussherism, but he was a man of profound learning; the British Library has correspondence between Lloyd and Isaac Newton on the subject of the lunar year. The scale of the project’s ambition matches its product’s size.

For a detailed treatment, see Scott Mandelbrote, “‘The doors shall fly open’: Chronology and Biblical Interpretation in England, c. 1630-1730” in The Oxford Handbook of the Bible in England, c. 1530-1700, edd. K. Killeen, H. Smith, R.J. Willie, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 176-195, esp. 192-195.

ESTC T93609.

ODE. Mr. Cowley's Book presenting it self to the University Library of Oxford.

Hail Learnings Pantheon! Hail the sacred Ark
Where all the World of Science does embarque!
Which ever shall withstand, and hast so long withstood,
    Insatiate times devouring Flood.

Hail Tree of Knowledge, thy leaves Fruit! which well
Dost in the midst of Paradise arise,
    Oxford and the Muses Paradise,
From which may never Sword the blest expell.
Hail Bank of all past Ages! where they lie
T’inrich with interest Posterity!
    Hail Wits illustrious Galaxy!
Where thousand Lights into one brightness spread;
Hail living Univers’ty of the dead!


Unconfus’d Babel of all Tongues, which e’r
The mighty Linguist Fame, or Time, the mighty Traveller,
    That could speak, or this could hear.
Majestick Monument and Pyramide,
Where still the shapes of parted Souls abide
Embalm’d in verse, exalted Souls which now
Enjoy those Arts they woo’d so well below,
    Which now all wonders plainly see,
    That have been, are, or are to be
    In the mysterious Librarie,
The Beatifick Bodley of the Deitie.



Will you into your Sacred throng admit
    The meanest British wit?
You Gen’ral-Council of the Priests of Fame,
    Will you not murmur and disdain,
    That I place among you claim,
    The humblest Deacon of her Train?
Will you allow me th’ honourable chain?
    The chain of Ornament which here
    Your noble Pris’ners proudly wear;
A Chain which will more pleasant seem to me
Than all my own Pindarick Libertie:
Will ye to bind me with those mighty names submit,
    Like an Apocrypha with holy Writ?
Whatever happy Book is chained here,
No other place or People need to fear;
His Chain’s a Passport to go ev’ry where.



    As when a seat in Heaven,
Is to an unmalicious sinner given,
    Who casting round his wond’ring eye
Does not but Patriarchs and Apostles there espy;
    Martyrs who did their lives bestow,
    And Saints, who Martyrs liv’d below,
With trembling and amazement he begins,
To recollect his frailties past, and sins,
He doubts almost his Station there,
His soul says to it self, How came I here?
It fares no otherwise with me
When I my self with conscious wonder see,
Amidst this purify’d elected Companie.
    With harship they, and pain,
Did to this happiness attain;
No labour I nor merits can pretend,
I think Predestination only was my friend.



Ah that my Author had been ty’d like me
To such a place and such a Companie!
Instead of sev’ral Countreys, sev’ral Men,
    And business which the Muses hate,
He might have then improv’d that small Estate
Which nature sparingly did to him give,
And settled upon my his Child, somewhat to live,
’T had happier been for him as well as me,
    For when all, (alas) is done,
We Books I mean, You Books will prove to be
The best and noblest conversation.
    For though some errors will get in,
    Like tinctures of Original sin:
    Yet sure we from our Fathers wit
    Draw all the stength and sp’rit of it:
Leaving the grosser parts for conversation,
As the best blood of Man’s imploy’d in generation.

–Abraham Cowley, The Works of Mr Abraham Cowley. Consisting of Those which were formerly Printed: And Those which he Design’d for the Press, Now Published out of the Author’s Original Copies. To this Edition are added several Commendatory Copies of Verses on the Author, by Persons of Honour. As also a Table to the whole Works, never before printed. London: Printed by J.M. [John Macock] for H. Herringman, 1688. Eee3v-Eee4v.

Folio in 4s (11 1/2” x 7 5/16”, 293mm x 186mm). Binder’s blank, A2(–A2) a-c4 B-C4 C∗4 D-Ccc4 Ddd2 Eee-Yyy4 Zzz2 [$2], binder’s blank. 285 leaves, pp. [26], [3], blank, [12], [8], 41, [1], 1-2 3-80, [4], 1-58 61-70, 1-2 3-154, 1-23, blank, 1-148 [=l, 520]. Engraved portrait frontispiece, signed “W. Faithorne Sculp. 1687.”