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john a t robinson redating-64

This is a question that the outsider might be forgiven for thinking that the experts must by now have settled.

Yet, as in archaeology, datings that seem agreed in the textbooks can suddenly appear much less secure than the consensus would suggest.

For both in archaeology and in New Testament chronology one is dealing with a combination of absolute and relative datings.

There are a limited number of more or less fixed points, and between them phenomena to be accounted for are strung along at intervals like beads on a string according to the supposed requirements of dependence, diffusion and development.

New absolute dates will force reconsideration of relative dates, and the intervals will contract or expand with the years available.

In the process long-held assumptions about the pattern of dependence, diffusion and development may be upset, and patterns that the textbooks have taken for granted become subjected to radical questioning.

The parallel with what of late has been happening in archaeology is interesting.

The story can be followed in a recent book by Colin Renfrew.

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