Dating sacred manuscripts

This fragment, containing numerous references appearing later in the New Testament, is virtually unique, in being found within a secure, archaeological layer dated to 257 CE (and the fall of the town to an Iranian army).
When I credulously believed in a "Jesus Christ" appearing in the New Testament, I was most concerned in dating the early codices (and fragments) in order to construct a reliable chronology for early Christianity. I know now that there is no such character in the original manuscripts (where the name and title are either abbreviations, or "IS Chrest"), for "Jesus Christ" was made later. Even so, we need to know:
  1. When were the earliest, original manuscripts (those containing the abbreviations and/or "Is Chrest") written (then, by whom, under whose authority, and where).
  2. When did "Is Chrest" become "Jesus Christ", as in both the alterations to codex Sinaiticus, and in some later bibles, which used both the Chi-Rho and "Jesus Christ".
This would provide chronologies for Chrestianity, the origin of Christianity and the period of cross-over from one to the other.

Can this be achieved, or: as it has never been done, what is stopping this?

Archaeology uses a number of methods for dating, from finding artefacts in a secure, cultural layer in which dates can sometimes to provided to a variety of artefacts and structures, to use of a wide range of technologies directly on and to the artefacts. Unfortunately, nearly all texts described as 'early Christian' were not recovered archaeologically, but passed through numerous and often unknown hands to their present owners. This leaves us with study of the textual artefacts themselves (and their associated materials).

Are there rules as to what can be done? Generally, no, for there is no central archive for them; there is no law which insists how we keep, or treat them. They are held all over the world, by a huge variety of individuals and institutions; where they are rules, they are made by their owners and those with whom they share.

The method used commonly to date textual artefacts claimed as early Christian is paleography, which I have often dismissed as pseudo-scientific. In 2011, I posted Mani and Authorship of the Canonical Gospels containing this scholarly observation:
What emerges from this survey is nothing surprising to papyrologists: paleography is not the most effective method for dating texts, particularly those written in a literary hand. Roberts himself noted this point in his edition of P52. The real problem is the way scholars of the New Testament have used and abused papyrological evidence. I have not radically revised Roberts's work. I have not provided any third-century documentary papyri that are absolute “dead ringers” for the handwriting of P52, and even had I done so, that would not force us to date P52 at some exact point in the third century. Paleographic evidence does not work that way. What I have done is to show that any serious consideration of the window of possible dates for P52 must include dates in the later second and early third centuries. Thus, P52 cannot be used as evidence to silence other debates about the existence (or non-existence) of the Gospel of John in the first half of the second century. Only a papyrus containing an explicit date or one found in a clear archaeological stratigraphic context could do the work scholars want P52 to do. As it stands now, the papyrological evidence should take a second place to other forms of evidence in addressing debates about the dating of the Fourth Gospel. (“The Use and Abuse of P52: Papyrological Pitfalls in the Dating of the Fourth Gospel” by Brent Nongbri, Harvard Theological Review 98:23-52, 2005.) [Emphasis mine.]
He is not alone in such criticism: 'Noncanonical' Religious Texts in Early Judaism and Early Christianity by Lee Martin McDonald, James H. Charlesworth, 2012
The Christian apologist scholars always strive to move their sacred texts closer to their divine man.
ABSTRACT. — The date of the earliest New Testament papyri is nearly always based on palaeographical criteria. A consensus among papyrologists, palaeographers and New Testament scholars is presented in the edition of NESTLE–ALAND,1994. In the last twenty years several New Testament scholars (THIEDE, COMFORT–BARRETT, 1999, 2001 and JAROS, 2006) have argued for an earlier date of most of these texts. The present article analyzes the date of the earliest New Testament papyri on the basis of comparative palaeography and a clear distinction between different types of literary scripts. There are no first-century NewTestament papyri and only very few papyri can be attributed to the (second half of the) second century. It is only in the third and fourth centuries that New Testament manuscripts become more common, but here too the dates proposed by COMFORT–BARRETT, 1999, 2001, and JAROS, 2006 are often too early.
(Early New Testament Manuscripts and Their Dates. A Critique of Theological Palaeography by Pasquale Orsini and Willy C. Larysse, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 88/4 (2012))
A few days ago, I posted Dissatisfaction with the Chester Beatty Papyri, containing these scholarly comments:
(1) As to the reassessment of provenance, I think dissatisfaction is the order of the day. Because all of the codices passed through the hands of one or more dealers and are not associated with any secure archaeological context, the question of the provenance of the Beatty biblical papyri cannot be definitively settled. In all cases we are dealing with, at best, second- or third-hand hearsay.
(2) The Pauline epistles are numbered and described separately. After a note stating that ‘The papyri numbered 6231–6237 were purchased in Egypt during the season of 1931/32’, the Pauline epistles are inventoried after that list (as number 6238): ‘Thirty papyrus leaves containing part of the epistles of Paul. IV’. It is not clear who assigned the fourth century date.
(The Acquisition of the University of Michigan’s Portion of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri and a New Suggested Provenance by Brent Nongbri (Macquarie University))
Can we fairly demand C14 testing of sacred texts? There has not been a problem with the oldest Koran manuscripts, as I have noted for that of Sana'a and more recently, that discovered in Birmingham.
The Sana'a palimpsest, dubbed Ṣanʿā’ 1, is one of the oldest Quranic manuscripts in existence.[Sadeghi & Goudarzi 2012, p. 8.]...A radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment containing the lower text to before 671 AD with a 99% accuracy.[Sadeghi 2010, p. 353.]
Radio carbon dating found the manuscript was at least 1,370 years old, putting it among the earliest in existence. ('World's oldest' Koran: Birmingham reacts to discovery
It is not a problem for the oldest Jewish sacred texts:
Carbon dating the Dead Sea Scrolls refers to a series of radiocarbon dating tests performed on the Dead Sea Scrolls, first by the AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) lab of the Zurich Institute of Technology in 1991 and then by the AMS Facility at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 1994-95. There was also a historical test of a piece of linen performed in 1950 by Willard Libby, the inventor of the dating method. (Carbon dating the Dead Sea Scrolls)
Nobody is suggesting we ban archaeology, even though it is necessarily destructive (removing a cultural layer in order to study beneath). C14 dating is destructive, though only in very small part and that part need not contain text.
Codex Sinaiticus
So why not? What is holding back our experts?

I have noticed how those arguing most determinedly against my efforts usually claim to be atheists, or skeptics, yet the counter-arguments they make support the Christian apologists. The one I find most odd is to deny the historicity of the NT while using and openly supporting the textual tradition, which is largely fraudulent. The common claim is to trust authority, which is the antithesis of the scientific method. We need to date texts reliably; nothing less will do and those arguing against this are on the wrong side.

We need C14 dating, both absolute and relative, for multiple samples and by multiple laboratories, for Christian, Chrestian, Gnostic and Manichaean sacred texts.

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