Edwin R. Thiele
Edwin R. Thiele (1895-1986) was a missionary, an archaeologist, and a professor of Old Testament studies. He is best known for his 1943 doctoral dissertation, in which he attempted to synchronize the King Lists of the Divided Kingdoms Northern and Southern with archaeological records of the ancient Assyrian civilization.
- 1918: Bachelor of Arts degree from Emmanuel Missionary College (since renamed to Andrews University), Chicago, Illinois, United States
- 1918-20: Home missionary secretary, East Michigan Conference
- 1920-32: missionary in China
- 1937: Master of Arts in Archaeology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
- 1943: Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
- 1963-5: Professor of Antiquity, Andrews University, Chicago, Illinois.
- The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, Chicago, IL, 1943 (his doctoral dissertation). Reprinted by Kregel Academic and Professional Publishers, November 10, 1994, 256 pages, paperback. ISBN 082543825X
Dr. Thiele's major thesis
Assyrian chronology anchors on the solar eclipse in the eponym of Bar-Sagale, determined by archaoastronomy to be 763 BC. Using this absolute date, Thiele took the Assyrian record of Jehu's tribute explicitly dated to Shalmaneser III's 18th year (841 BC) and his campaign against Ahab in his 6th year as biblical synchronisms.
Thiele believed that the king lists in I and II Kings were inconsistent with one another, and either in error or simply misinterpreted in light of the published history of the Assyrians. He therefore sought to reconcile the chronology of the Divided Kingdoms with the chronology of the Assyrians. His key assumptions were:
- That King Jehu of the Northern Kingdom paid a tribute to Shalmaneser III in 843 BC.
- That King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom took part in the Battle of Qarqar against Shalmaneser III in 853 BC.
Because a strict read of I and II Kings would make these dates untenable, Thiele concluded that the history of the Northern Kingdom was long by 45 years. By extension, the history of the Southern Kingdom was also overly long by this same number of years.
Most evangelical scholars have accepted his work without question. But Larry Pierce in 2003 published an English translation of The Annals of the World by James Ussher. He then launched a public challenge to Dr. Thiele's work, and the assumptions behind it, in order to validate Ussher's original chronology.
- The eponyms of the Assyrian empire 910-612 BC. by A. R. Millard, Robert M. Whiting. State Archives of Assyria, Vol. 2. Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 1994.