"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Problems of Christian Historiography

Over the last several years I have come to think more and more that disputes between Eastern and Western Christians turn as often as not on rival ways of thinking about the past in constructing identities for the present and hopes (or fears) for the future. The uses and abuses of history, as well as the calls for reassessing the past and healing its memories, continue to fascinate me. A recently published book lays bare some of the historiographical issues Christians face when writing about the past:  Jay D. Green, Christian Historiography: Five Rival Versions (Baylor University Press, 2015), 217pp.

About this book we are told:
Christian faith complicates the task of historical writing. It does so because Christianity is at once deeply historical and profoundly transhistorical. Christian historians taking up the challenge of writing about the past have thus struggled to craft a single, identifiable Christian historiography. Overlapping, and even contradictory, Christian models for thinking and writing about the past abound―from accountings empathetic toward past religious expressions, to history imbued with Christian moral concern, to narratives tracing God's movement through the ages. The nature and shape of Christian historiography have been, and remain, hotly contested.
Christian Historiography serves as a basic introduction to the variety of ways contemporary historians have applied their Christian convictions to historical research and reconstruction. Christian teachers and students developing their own sense of the past will benefit from exploring the variety of Christian historiographical approaches described and evaluated in this volume.

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