Autographs, MSS and REAL Historiography Re: Methods in bib lical scholarship

Niels Peter Lemche npl at teol.ku.dk
Wed Dec 29 18:50:47 EST 1999



>   Asking whether Herodotus had clear purposes or not is not really the
> issue, as I see it.  The issue is twofold:
> 1.  What did Hellenistic historiographers say they were trying to
> accomplish?  
> 2.  Has anyone ever written ideologically free history or written
> history without an ideological agenda?
> 
> For the first, history should be accurate, based on eye witness accounts
> primarily, and only secondarily, well-written and entertaining, or as
> Lucian puts it, a "well-seasoned soup" or some such thing (the word is a
> hapax and difficult to translate).
> 
>     As for 2., the answer is no.  No one, not me, not Lemche, not
> Thucydides, no one ever wrote an ideology-free, aim-free historical
> work.  It cannot be done.  It's of little moment to say that an ancient
> writer had purposes.  All history writers have purposes.  When I was in
> high school I had to read an American history text called "land of the
> Free", a book that a Democrat would love and Republican would hate, as
> it was clearly written from a specific political perspective and with a
> specific political agenda in its selection and presentation of events,
> and I don't think for one solitary moment my teacher was unaware of
> this.  This is simply illustrative of how all historiography is done. 
> It's methodologically improper to treat ancient historigraphy as
> different in kind than modern.
> 
> Ken Litwak
> 
> 
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  Well, interesting enough I can side with most
of what is written in this mail. And it is correct that a lot of modern
history writing is close to Antique samples of the genre (but not all, think
of meticulously researched economic history with scores of tables--I have
never heard about an ancient historian who was interested in this). Lucian
has a point and there was a school that believed so, i.e. that history
should be contemporary history, but there was also another school that
included authors like Livy (not very respected by the first school).
Although Livy certainly uses sources, we may ask what sources he really
possessed for the early history of Rome? Lucian, Thucydides and probably
also Polybius would never have written a work like his. Neither would Lucian
ever have written anything like the DH, or what did you think?

	NPL




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