D. MASON: "Only in a single case (523 BC) is there a parallel inscription on an extant cuneiform tablet, and even this is problematical." 523 BC is the revised date for the 7th year of Ptolemy. The "extant" COPY that matches this single parallel is the SK400 which was a "copy" created during the Seleucid Period. It is NOT a extant contemporary document from that year. Thus like the VAT4956, which is also a "copy" from the Seleucid Era, some 200+ years after the fact, the historical information cannot be trusted as the WTS has pointed out.
Now the "problem" here is that Ptolemy and the SK400 both record an eclipse on Tammuz 14 as beginning "one hour before midnight", that is, around 11 p.m. give or take 4 minutes. The SK400 records this eclipse beginning specifically at 3:20 "after night". That is, 3 hours 20 minutes after "night" begins, which is a Babylonian division of the night, 32 minutes after sunset. That is, sunset occurs on this date at 7:09 p.m. Add 32 minutes and you get 7:41 p.m. as the "beginning of night." Add 3:20 to this and you get 10:61, which is 11:01, and thus 1 hour after midnight within 4 minutes, the smallest observed rounded interval used by the Babylonians. Of course, you have two documents now that coordinate earth time with lunar time. Thus you can determine by this single reference within a minute precisely how to coordinate the Earth's rotational position and thus "speed of deceleration" by this reference.
But the popular astronomers prefer another reference for determining this, a single solar eclipse reference in the 4th century BC as I recall. When making their calculations adjusted by a "delta-T" factor, the eclipse in 523 BCE, which by two texts time the eclipse precisely at "one hour before midnight" we find it is dated from Babylon 3 minutes after 10 p.m., thus representing a 57-minute discrepancy. So, yes, this is "problematic." That doesn't even address the second eclipse reference in the SK400 which is timed to 5 hours before morning which creates a 2:46 interval of time between the two eclipses. That is, it is represented as occurring at 1:47, thus: The eclipse is dated to Tebet 14 (6 months after Tammuz 14 eclipse), 5 hours before morning. Sunrise was at 7:19 a.m., which is 6:79. "Morning" begins 32 minutes before sunrise and thus at 6:47 a.m. (6:79 - 32 = 6:47). We then subtract 5 hours from this to get 1:47 a.m. (6:47 - 5:00 = 1:47). One hour before midnight would create an interval between these two eclipses of 2:47. But because the SK400 is more specific about the precise time based on the time of sunset at 7:09, we subtract 1 minute to get 2:46. That is, the interval between 11:01 p.m. and 1:47 a.m. is 2:46. Or in other words, 60 minutes added to 1:47 is 2:47, 59 minutes added to 1:47 is 2:26. The PROBLEM is, though, the interval between the eclipses in 523 BCE is 2 hours greater at 4:46. So yes, there is a "problem" with this incredible parallel reference.
I've done research at several universities of the astronomical texts and basically once these astronomical texts were found, there was some interest in it becoming an academic specialty relating to ASTROCHRONOLOGY. But they began to find so many contradictions and problems that that idea just fizzled out and there is nothing there but some specialized inquiries. So that is the state of things. Of course, we might wonder why is that? Why are the contemporary Babylonian astronomical texts missing? Why are a couple of "copies" so critical to Babylonian dating? The two "extant" copies being the SK4090 and the VAT4956, both mentioned by Robert Newton who otherwise considers Ptolemy a complete historical fraud. The answer to that is that the popular history was revised last by Xenophon who used astronomical references to set the new Babylonian timeline. Then later the extant contemporary records were either destroyed or revised, adding the new kinglist to the revised documents. Original astronomical texts seldom were concerned about who was ruling at the time. But revisionists would be. So when you see a king connected with an astronomical text, it is a dead giveaway it is part of a revisionist scheme.
Having noted that, therefore, any astronomical texts that reflect the revised dating from Xenophon we know for a fact is a fake astronomical text. Xenophon added a net 57 fake years to the Greek timeline. This pushed Babylonian dates at the time of Nebuchadnezzar back 57 years. Thus the VAT4956 reflects the 57-year discrepancy by inserting dates from the original year 37 of Nebuchadnezzar in 511 BCE (in lines 3 and 14) along with many references to the revised date of 568 BCE. So "diaries" were actually created as "safety texts" to record from the original astronomical texts that were fated to destruction in the context of the revised, popular chronology. So Ptolemy's canon had no option but to copy from these revised astronomical texts that had already redated the kings from the Neo-Babylonian Period.
That's why Ptolemy's canon doesn't even get on the table as a reference, other than as a background reference for how extensively the astronomical texts were revised. What is wonderful, though, is that the parallel reference found for the Tammuz 14 eclipse dated to "one hour before midnight" gives us a critical eclipse reference for the original chronology. That is, we can use that single eclipse reference to correct all eclipse times when it is dated to the original event, which was not 523 BCE, year 7 of Kambyses, but "year 7" of Nebuchadnezzar in 541 BCE. That is, the eclipse interval of 2:46 is a non-match to 523 BCE, which is an interval of 4:46. But 18 years earlier is a precise match for that that interval in 541 BCE. If we presume a transfer of that eclipse time and dating, we get year 7 of Nebuchadnezzar in 541 BCE, which matches the VAT4956's dating of year 37 in 511 BCE. So it's a done deal at this point what is going on. The eclipse and astronomical information doesn't match well because of the revisions and because of an attempt to not only change the historical information but the lunar eclipse times.
So a critical discussion of Ptolemy in the absence of the Biblical timeline which dates the 1st of Cyrus to 455 BCE and year 23 to 525 BCE is basically just irrelevant to any true dating for the period. So academically, Ptolemy would be considered to be spurious and thus unrelated to the Biblical timeline. So this is handled analytically, which means you simply observe what dating Ptolemy is representing and compare that to the VAT4956 and SK400 and the Bible's timeline, then make up your own mind which or if either are reliable. The important thing is to observe that the Bible's dating for the Neo-Babylonian Period is some 26 years longer than that represented by Ptolemy which is a foundation to the popular timeline. Of note, Josephus and the Bible both introduce 70 years of exile for the last deportees, year 23 of Nebuchadnezzar II. That means from the fall of Babylon to the 1st of Cyrus is 74-75 years. Popular chronology dating the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE and the return in 537 BCE is a 50-year interval.
So to begin a discussion of astrochronology in the context of Bible chronology, you first have to recognize there is never going to be any compatibility. One represents the revised timeline and the other the original. Fortunately, the VAT4956 and the SK400 can be used to establish the absolute original rule of Nebuchadnezzar II beginning in 547 BCE which allows us the critical comparison to Biblical chronology for year 23 of Nebuchadnezzar based on 455 BCE for the 1st of Cyrus, 70 years later. That comparison shows 100% compatibility. That is, the SK400 dating year 7 to 541 BCE agrees with the VAT4956 dating year 37 to 511 BCE, which agrees with dating year 23 to 525 BCE, exactly 70 years earlier than 455 BCE, the true date for the 1st of Cyrus.