August 12, 2009

NT Historical Math

The purpose of chronology is not so we can put the right number in the right check box and be proud of ourselves. The purpose of chronology is to provide the proper perspective for looking at events in the order they most likely happened.

The numbers matter for two reasons. We have to get the story straight. And we need to feel confident that the story is straight. We aren't trying to get the context of a verse here or there. We're setting our sights on the whole panorama. Bethlehem. Nazareth. Galilee. Jerusalem. Antioch. Galatia. Greece. Asia. Crete. Italy.

The new testament is a story that needs to be put into sequence. It's sentences do not need to be numbered. It's events do.

4 comments:

Peter Kirk said...

Indeed. Have you read what Frank Viola and George Barna had to say about the need for proper biblical chronology? I linked to this here.

Bill said...

Frank's not real picky about chronology, in the sense that he took the best of what was around. I still need to school my friend someday on the "real" dates. ;-)

But, yes. Chapter 11 of P.C. is probably my favorite in the whole book. I was thrilled for Frank making it available as a PDF and thrilled to see you linking to it.

Thanks, Peter.

David said...

I remember trying to put the Gospels in some kind of chronological order in 1970, and found there were some real problems. And there was an unbelieving newspaper writer who pointed out different accounts of who actually did what at what times around the Resurrection.
This just tells me that no one messed with the original documents and tried to smooth them out into one neat package.

Bill said...

That's a great point, David.

As you can tell if you look here, I'm more concerned with years than days.

No, the Gospel writers weren't terribly oriented towards precise chronology. In larger scope, however, I think they give us more than enough to build upon.

One reason I'll never try to harmonize the Passion Week accounts is because I think we've all got a pretty firm grasp on how & why Jesus died. One reason I focus on a broader chronology is because I'm far more interested in how Jesus lived.

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