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Newton and the Origin of Civilization$
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Jed Z. Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154787.001.0001

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Aberrant Numbers

Aberrant Numbers

The Propagation of Mankind before and after the Deluge

(p.164) 5 Aberrant Numbers
Newton and the Origin of Civilization

Jed Z. Buchwald

Mordechai Feingold

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines early modern conceptions regarding population, which impinged crucially on contemporary views—including Isaac Newton’s—regarding chronology, and the veracity of Scripture more generally. The Bible was universally perceived as the only authoritative account of “prehistory,” its divine authorship compelling unqualified assent. The first chapters of Genesis accordingly entailed that mankind had expanded quite rapidly from a common ancestor—both before and, especially, after the Deluge. While commentators on Genesis, especially the more zealous Protestants, saw little reason to engage in vain speculations regarding the number of mankind—or to synchronize sacred and secular histories beyond what Scripture itself required—a handful of chronologers and academic theologians began treading this territory at the turn of the seventeenth century. A pioneer of this new approach was Jean Du Temps (Johannes Temporarius), a French Protestant jurist.

Keywords:   Isaac Newton, Bible, Scripture, population, chronology, Genesis, Jean Du Temps

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