Larry Hurtado's Blog

Some commenters have asked if early papyri of NT writings have been submitted to carbon-14 dating.  I am moved to remind readers of an earlier blog-posting about a set of tests run on papyri here.  Essentially, these tests, run in three different laboratories, all roughly reached similar date conclusions.  Moreover, the most likely dates they arrived at were pretty close to those that had been reached previously by palaeographical method.  So, this should offer some encouragement to the dates arrived at by competent palaeographical experts.

The additional point to make, however, is that carbon-14 dating only speaks to the likely date of the writing material (papyri or parchment), not, actually, the date of the writing on the material.  Recall, as a warning example, the so-called “Jesus’ wife” fragment.  Carbon-14 tests suggested that the papyrus material in question came from the Byzantine period.  But subsequent close analysis of the…

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