Did you know that sometime during this night and before dawn of 23 October marks the anniversary of the creation of the universe?
So says the Irish Anglican primate of Ireland, Bishop James Ussher (+1654).
You can read more about this in Ussher’s Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti … Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world.
For as much as our Christian epoch falls many ages after the
beginning of the world, and the number of years before that
backward is not only more troublesome, but (unless greater care be
taken) more lyable to errour; also it hath pleased our modern
chronologers, to adde to that generally received hypothesis (which
asserted the Julian years, with their three cycles by a certain
mathematical prolepsis, to have run down to the very beginning of
the world) an artificial epoch, framed out of three cycles
multiplied in themselves; for the Solar Cicle being multiplied by
the Lunar, or the number of 28 by 19, produces the great Paschal
Cycle of 532 years, and that again multiplied by fifteen, the
number of the indiction, there arises the period of 7980 years,
which was first (if I mistake not) observed by Robert Lotharing,
Bishop of Hereford, in our island of Britain, and 500 years after
by Joseph Scaliger fitted for chronological uses, and called by the
name of the Julian Period, because it conteined a cycle of so many
Julian years. Now if the series of the three minor cicles be from
this present year extended backward unto precedent times, the 4713
years before the beginning of our Christian account will be found
to be that year into which the first year of the indiction, the
first of the Lunar Cicle, and the first of the Solar will fall.
Having placed there fore the heads of this period in the kalends
of January in that proleptick year, the first of our Christian
vulgar account must be reckoned the 4714 of the Julian Period,
which, being divided by 15. 19. 28. will present us with the 4
Roman indiction, the 2 Lunar Cycle, and the 10 Solar, which are the
principal characters of that year.
We find moreover that the year of our fore-fathers, and the years
of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews were of the same quantity with
the Julian, consisting of twelve equal moneths, every of them
conteining 30 days, (for it cannot be proved that the Hebrews did
use lunary moneths before the Babylonian Captivity) adjoying to
the end of the twelfth moneth, the addition of five dayes, and
every four year six. And I have observed by the continued
succession of these years, as they are delivered in holy writ, that
the end of the great Nebuchadnezars and the beginning of
Evilmerodachs (his sons) reign, fell out in the 3442 year of the
world, but by collation of Chaldean history and the astronomical
cannon, it fell out in the 186 year c Nabonasar, and, as by certain
connexion, it must follow in the 562 year before the Christian
account, and of the Julian Period, the 4152. and from thence I
gathered the creation of the world did fall out upon the 710 year of
the Julian Period, by placing its beginning in autumn: but for as
much as the first day of the world began with the evening of the
first day of the week, I have observed that the Sunday, which in
the year 710 aforesaid came nearest the Autumnal Æquinox, by
astronomical tables (notwithstanding the stay of the sun in the
dayes of Joshua, and the going back of it in the dayes c Ezekiah)
happened upon the 23 day of the Julian October; from thence
concluded that from the evening preceding that first day of the
Julian year, both the first day of the creation and the first
motion of time are to be deduced.
— J. Ussher, The Annals of the World iv (1658)
You’ve got to hand it to his guy. He was mentally agile! Imagine the time it took for him to sort through the references and come up with this stuff!