Wednesday, October 24, 2012

History and Historiography

While ignorance of the historical context of the Bible threatens a correct understanding of the Bible, a second major danger confronts the reader. This danger is the imposition of contemporary Western values on the historical writings of the Old Testament.

It is thus of great importance that we not only describe the value of a historical approach to the Old Testament but also explore the nature of Old Testament historiography.

[History] refers to the events that have taken place in the past . . . [Historiography] refers to writing about the events. . . .

The subjectivity involved in historic narration does not invalidate the historical intention, as some skeptics argue; rather, the interpreter of the biblical historian must take into account the latter’s perspective on the past.

-from Longman and Dillard, An Introduction to the Old Testament (2d Edition 2006), at pp. 18 and 19.

This is pretty elementary stuff to the secular historian.  Why is it so difficult for some believers and some skeptics alike to grasp, without being criticized by others in their respective peer groups?

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