A mathematician's look at the chronology of the life of Jesus
King Herod. The census that brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. The guiding star. The building of the temple at Jerusalem. The crucifixion. These are among the events that we know of from the Bible that might be used to set the life of Jesus in the historical record. But generations of researchers have found that it is far from easy to reconcile the different accounts of Jesus's life given in the four Gospels, and to tie them to independently verifiable historical dates. And in contrast to his massive significance in the centuries since his life, Jesus of Nazareth was known by only a few during his lifetime, and left little mark on the historical records of his time. As a result there is still much debate about the exact dates of his life. When was he born? When did his ministry begin, and when did he die?
Stephen Dudley takes a mathematician's approach to the issue. He looks not only at the events in the Gospels that might be linked to independent histories, but also at the difficulties of dating each one. What exactly is meant by `in his thirtieth year', for instance? Even simple statements like this can be surprisingly misleading. Using a careful process of logical analysis, this account tries to identify both the evidence and the pitfalls in interpreting it.
Stephen Dudley was born in Selly Park, Birmingham in 1948, and educated at Warwick School for Boys. He was an apprentice at Jaguar-Daimler, becoming a body engineer in 1969, and receiving the freedom of the City of Coventry in the same year. In 1976 he went to Warwick University, graduating with a bachelorship of Education in Pure Maths and Film Studies, and he subsequently became a maths teacher in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Somerset. Since 2007 he has lived the Loire valley, France. An atheist, he has spent many years researching the chronology of the life of Christ.
Acknowledgements; The objective; The chronology; 1 Preparing the way: Of source documents and their authors; The canonical Gospels; The four evangelists; The unwritten gospel; Josephus: a brief biography; Of other sources and circular reasoning; Of secondary sources; Modus operandi; The trouble with time; The rules of engagement; 2 The investigation: The nativity ; The consensus - Part 1; Of two Herods; The reign of Herod the Great; The short reign of Herod Archelaus; Summary; The evidence of Matthew; The guiding star; The massacre of the innocents; The evidence of Luke; Of Luke and the fourth element; Of two censuses and two births; The two nativities hypotheses: grasping at straws?; Summary of the nativity evidence; Cometh the hour, cometh the man? Of two beginnings; The consensus - Part 2; The beginning of his public life; The beginning of his ministry; Following the consensus; The gospel truth; A different perspective; Loose ends; The baptism of Jesus; The temptation in the wilderness; The missing years; The aberrant incident; Summary; The year of his crucifixion; Of Patrizi and the patristic testimonies; Of Luke and the Fourth Gospel; Of Loisy and Suetonius; Schonfield's hypothesis; Summary; 3 The chronology: A matter of fact; A matter of opinion; References; Index