My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This an accessible academic book that builds on the previous work of John Robinson in “Redating the New Testament” as a quasi spiritual successor. As such it pretty much treads the same ideas, with slightly different analysis and opinion on the arguments presented for both an earlier and a later compositional date assignment (as well as a providing a benchmark of a nominal middle ground for comparison). For the most part, it doesn’t move the earlier dates much, but it does answer some of the criticisms advanced against the low chronology, as well as addressing some of the arguments for the later dating. The basic premises is that many of the arguments against are in fact inconclusive (aka non-probative) at best; however, the arguments for the earlier dates typically rest on a more likely than not (for best fit) analysis, so clearly there is room for disagreement. What I found most edifying though was the interconnectedness of all the scriptures that pretty much required everything to move as a block (as everyone more or less agreed on the sequence). I also found his analysis to be clear and persuasive, with a common organization to each group of text that was examined and would be very interested in any counter arguments that are likely on the horizon.
The method of analysis detailed is the Introduction and it is well worth the read so that you understand the approach undertaken. In each chapter, there is a section on synchronization or how the text under consideration is related to other text. The next section is typically contextualization where the author attempts to place the text within the appropriate time periods that make the most sense, while still recognizing that other time periods may not be completely foreclosed by the challenges identified. The next step is to examine what is known of the presumed author, with particular attention to when and where they were active at the proposed time. In the interest of identifying fallacious argumentation (both in previous arguments and in the current analysis), several other data points (or evidentiary scope) are examined; the most common fallacy identified appeared to be an argument from Silence (or the absence of evidence presuming the negation of it). In all, this was a strong book to read if you wish to understand what was happening within the early church, even if you do not agree with the earlier dates proposed; it is for that reason I highly recommend this book.
Part 1 - The Synoptic Gospels and Acts
- Chapter 1: Synchronization
- Chapter 2 - Contextualization and Authorial Biography
Part 2 - The Johannine Tradition
- Chapter 3 - The Gospel of John
- Chapter 4 - The Epistles of John and Revelation
Part 3 - The Pauline Corpus
- Chapter 5 - Critical Matters in Dating the Pauline Corpus
- Chapter 6 - The Compositional Dates of the Pauline Corpus
Part 4 - Hebrews and the Letters of James, Peter and Jude
- Chapter 7 - Hebrews and James
- Chapter 8 - 1 and 2 Peter and Jude
Part 5 - Early Extracanonical Writings
- Chapter 9 - 1 Clement and the Didache
- Chapter 10 - The Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepard of Hermas
I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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