Date Information in the Book of Genesis
The book of Genesis does not contain any unified calendar system. Rather, it provides ages of certain Patriarchs when certain events occurred, when a person died and when they ‘begat’ their child. We can use this chain of patriarchs and given ages to construct a timeline of Genesis from the Fall of Adam all the way down to Joseph of Egypt.
Margin of Error and Reference Points
A margin of error must be accounted for because age can be counted two different ways. For example, you can say you are “20 years old” or you could say you are “in your 21st year”. Also, years are always given in whole numbers, with no months and days, so when chronicling events we must take these two ideas into account and state the date with a certain Margin of Error. And because each event is measured from the one before it, the margin of error compounds as you go further down the timeline.
I have provided on my timeline the event, the event it is referenced from in Genesis, and the resulting Margin of Error in years After the Fall (A.F.) Naturally, the further the events are from the Fall, the larger the margin of error.
Latter-day Revelation and Genesis
The books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price and some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants offer some corrections and additions to the timeline so I have included here a timeline based solely on the Genesis account and another that includes the latterday revelation corrections and additions.
What’s the point?
The purpose of making this timeline for me was to gain more insight into the lives of the people of the scriptures. The more we understand their lives as people, the more we appreciate their faithful examples and how we can be like them. I could learn from this that Noah’s father probably knew Adam personally, that Shem outlived his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I learned how long it was for Joseph without seeing his family while he was in Egypt. Seeing how their lives overlapped and what things they did helps us relate to them as humans.