[Grand Lodge]
[Calendar] [Search] [Resources] [History] [Links] [Sitemap]
John Lightfoot, D.D.
Misquotes and errors
Both Archbiship James Ussher and John Lightfoot, D.D. are regularly misquoted as having determined the hour of day that the world was created. One notable example was Andrew D. White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, in which he committed a number of errors.
These details may be considered trivial and unimportant in today’s world, but the exposure of such errors is revealing. It tells us that the historical record is written and kept by the fallible. It reminds us how easily an error can become accepted as truth. And if it can happen in the unimportant details, with the passage of time it can happen anywhere.
In a brief work entitled A Few and New Observations upon the Book of Genesis... (London, 1642), Lightfoot comments on Genesis, verse by verse. Apropos of chapter one, verse two he says "Heaven and earth centre and circumference, were created together in the same instant; and clouds full of water (not such as we see made by evaporation, but such as are called the 'windows' or 'cataracts of heaven') were created in the same instant with them" (pp. 1-2) Two pages later, he comments on verse twenty six of chapter one as follows: "Man created by the Trinity about the third hour of the day, or nine of the clock in the morning" (p. 4) There is no mention of October 23, 4004; nor are the words "this work took place and" found in Lightfoot.
In another work, The Harmony of the Four Evangelists: Among Themselves and With the Old Testament... (London, 1644), Lightfoot gives his chronology which is quite different from that of Ussher. In an unpaginated Prolegomena, he says that the world was created at the equinox in September of 3928. For him that meant September 12 as he made clear in an undated sermon, The Sabbath Hallowed, which can be found in The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot, D.D. (London, 1822. See volume VII, pp. 372-373.) White repeats this misinformation on page 256 of volume one of his work and here he compounds the confusion by adding a footnote referring the reader to the wrong work of Lightfoot: The Prologomena of The Harmony of the Four Evangelists..., rather than to A Few and New Observations upon the Book of Genesis...
For the record, Lightfoot believed that the world was created on Sunday, September 12, 3928 and that man was created on Friday, September 17, 3928, at nine a.m..

Early English Books, 1641-1700 [microfilm] A Few and New Observations... is found on reel 23l, item no. 1, section 30.
Lightfoot, John, (1602-1675) The harmony, chronicle and order of the New Testament : The text of the four Evangelists methodized. Story of the Acts of the apostles analyzed. Order of the epistles manifested. Times of the Revelation observed. All illustrated, with variety of observations upon the chiefest difficulties textuall & talmudicall: for clearing of their sense and language. With an additional discourse concerning the fall of Jerusalem and the condition of the Jews in that land afterward. London : printed by A.M. for Simon Miller at the Starre in St Pauls Church-yard., M.DC.LV (Physical Desc.:[16], 195, [1] p ; fol)
Lightfoot, John, (1602-1675) The whole works of the Rev. John Lightfoot : master of Catharine Hall, Cambridge. edited by John Rogers Pitman. London : Printed by J.F. Dove, 1822-1825 [Physical Desc.: 13v : ill ; 23 cm]
We are indebted to Charles H. Leighton, Professor Emeritus of Spanish and Humanities at the University of New Hampshire, for kindly providing this information.


© 1871-2017 Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon A.F. & A.M. Updated: April 2, 2001