Sunday, July 13, 2008

Farrer on the relative method of dating

"the datings of all these books are like a line of tipsy revellers walking home arm-in-arm; each is kept in position by the others and none is firmly grounded. The whole series can lurch five years this way or that, and still not collide with a solid obstacle."

Austin Farrer, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964) , 37. This on the so-called "relative" method of dating, which Martin Mosse would distinguish from the "historical": "I doubt whether the optimal approach to any historical problem is to jettison all the available ancient evidence at the outset" (Mosse, as quoted by A. E. Harvey, Times literary supplement no. 5486 (23 May 2008): 30).

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