historian of early Christianity

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Leucius Charinus »

mlinssen wrote: Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:10 pmI just can't help of thinking that "biblical historians" never even started any study in History, let alone that they got a degree in it, whereas "proper historians" all did.
The pinnacle of the church sponsored education system until recent centuries was the Doctor of Theology which opened all sorts of important doors within the church industry (and still does).

"If I had to produce my own candidate, I would go back to the first half of the
eighteenth century and name Pietro Giannone, who meditated deeply on the relation
between ecclesiastical and political history and about 1742 wrote in prison
a sketch of the history of ecclesiastical history which would be published only
in 1859 (Istoria del Pontificato di Gregorio Magno in Opere di Pietro
Giannone, ed. Bertelli-Ricuperati, Naples, 1971).

The truth is of course that historians of the church are still divided on the
fundamental issue of the divine origin of the church. The number of professional
historians who take the Church as a divine intitution -- and can therefore be
considered to be the followers of Eusebius -- increased rather than decreased
in the years after the FIrst World War. On the other hand the historians who
study the history of the Church as that of a human institution have consolidated
their methods. They have been helped by the general adoption in historiography
of those standards of erudite research which at seems at one time to have been
confined to ecclesiastical historians and controversialists. We sometimes forget
that Eduard Meyer was, at least in Germany, the first non-theologian to write a
scholarly history of the origins of Christianity, and this happened only in 1921.

-- p.151, The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography, Arnaldo Momigliano

Needless to say, just like referring to biblical texts as "historical records", thereby suggesting that they contain historical events, religiots abuse the term "historian" in order to suggest that whatever they say is firmly based in the study of History and thus has (fairly undisputable) historic value
Not just the biblical texts classed as NT canonical (highly valued holy writ) and NT apocryphal (poor cousins). The industry relies upon the "Ecclesiastical History" of Eusebius which they suggest contain historical events concerning the transmission of these two classes of NT texts to the 4th century and the waiting arms of Constantine


p.152
"Those who accept the notion of the Church as a divine institution
which is different from the other institutions
have to face the difficulty that the Church history reveals only too obviously
a continuous mixture of political and religious aspects:
hence the distinction frequently made by Church historians of the last two centuries
between internal and external history of the Church,
where internal means (more or less) religious
and external means (more or less) political.



p.152

"At the beginning of this imposing movement of research and controversy
there remains Eusebius of Caesarea. In 1834 Ferdinand Christian Baur
wrote in "Tubingen" a comparison between Eusebius and Herodotus:
Comparatur Eusebius Caesarensis historiae ecclesiasticae parens cum
parente historiarum Herodoto Halicarnassensi.

We can accept this comparison and meditate on his remark
that both Herodotus and Eusebius wrote under the inspiration
of a newly established freedom.

Conclusion

p.156
"The separation of religion and politics
is at the root of modern historiography.

Paradoxically, Christian ideas penetrated into modern historical books
only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
when faith in Christianity was at its lowest.

This was due to the attempt at giving one meaning to the historical process
as a whole --- from the origins of the world to the triumph of reason or to
the advent of the classless society.

When that happened, modern historical methods
had already been shaped upon their ancient models.

Modern philosophy of history - on a Christian basis -
and modern historical methods - on a classical basis -
have never quite agreed with each other.

It would take another book - one which I should probably
not be able to write - to disentangle the implications
of this elementary fact.

ibid

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neilgodfrey
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by neilgodfrey »

mlinssen wrote: Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:10 pm
I just can't help of thinking that "biblical historians" never even started any study in History, let alone that they got a degree in it, whereas "proper historians" all did. Needless to say, just like referring to biblical texts as "historical records", thereby suggesting that they contain historical events, religiots abuse the term "historian" in order to suggest that whatever they say is firmly based in the study of History and thus has (fairly undisputable) historic value

I haven't taken my pills today yet, no
I think real life is messier than that. Many historians seem not to think too much about methods and "how they know" in any philosophical sense because they are immersed from the get-go in a culture that by and large does things right ever since the signpost was put up by Leopold von Ranke. It's been documentary analysis ever since.

Michael Grant was a "genuine historian", trained in the classics, authored scores of books on ancient history topics, and along the way tried his hand at Jesus, with the book cover declaring, "Jesus: An Historian's View of the Gospels."

What would you expect? It turns out that his bibliography consisted entirely of the works any theologian would refer to in writing about Jesus. The historian Michael Grant simply shifted carriages for a moment and adapted himself with ease to the assumptions and methods underlying the theologically constructed histories of Jesus.
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

So in essence none of these people have any degree in History whatsoever - save for rare exceptions perhaps?
Is it even legal to call them(selves) historians?
lsayre
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by lsayre »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 1:02 am So in essence none of these people have any degree in History whatsoever - save for rare exceptions perhaps?
Is it even legal to call them(selves) historians?
Your rather cult-like bias is still showing.
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DCHindley
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by DCHindley »

An interesting book to add to everyone's reading list is The History of the Synoptic Problem by David Laird Dungan (1999). It is a bit lengthy, but interesting to see how a conservative employs Deconstructionist methodology.

Per the publisher's web site, this book "is an accessible, academic study of a question that has needled readers of the New Testament since before the Bible was canonized." I liked the way he traced the introduction of various methods/tools developed over time since the Renaissance into the summaries, and gave his spot analysis. FWIW, I think I can sum it up as "it was an inevitable tragedy in the making." I would class him as "Conservative" but he can apply deconstructionist methodology correctly, which is more often associated with "Progressive" secular and Christian scholarship. The conservative equivalent to deconstructive methodology would be the Reader Response and Narratology schools.

https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300 ... gospels%3F

DCH
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

lsayre wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 2:40 am
mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 1:02 am So in essence none of these people have any degree in History whatsoever - save for rare exceptions perhaps?
Is it even legal to call them(selves) historians?
Your rather cult-like bias is still showing.
It takes one to know one, they say. But it would seem that you could prove me wrong, by e.g. naming a handful of biblical academic "historians" who have a degree in History - by all means, please do
gryan
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by gryan »

Some years ago at a Quaker retreat center called Pendle Hill, I was at a weekend retreat where I not only heard Crossan speak in public, but shared a meal with him.

My impression is that this man is a kind of living history. He told stories about how he was a child prodigy in his early mastery of ancient languages. It was upsetting to the Catholic monks who were his teachers when this little boy had the audacity to correct their Latin! I don't agree with everything he writes about Paul and Jesus, not by far, but I do deeply respect the breadth of his research in the field called "history."
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Leucius Charinus »

mlinssen wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 1:02 am So in essence none of these people have any degree in History whatsoever - save for rare exceptions perhaps?
Is it even legal to call them(selves) historians?
For many centuries the cult has created its own laws. They reserved themselves to be the authoritative historians of the church (industry).
  • "We must not see the fact of usurpation; law was once introduced without reason, and has become reasonable. We must make it regarded as authoritative, eternal, and conceal its origin, if we do not wish that it should soon come to an end."
    Blaise Pascal, "Pensees"
lsayre wrote: Sat Apr 30, 2022 2:40 am Your rather cult-like bias is still showing.
The cult also invented the pseudo-history of the Holy Relic Trade which persisted for more than a thousand years. What other large scale pseudo-historical fabrications were undertaken by the Nicene Cult during the 4th century? Hagiography, martyrology, the cult of saints and martyrs.
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mlinssen
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by mlinssen »

I think the general outcome is that biblical studies enclose a partial course in History as there are many others such as archeology, philology, and so on

No one with a degree in Divinity or anything the like would present themselves as historian, archaeologist or philologist - they're simply not entitled to the title

So let's dispense with calling someone historian when he presents historical research - or extend the favour to everyone who does
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: historian of early Christianity

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

So let's dispense with calling someone historian when he presents historical research - or extend the favour to everyone who does
At least in American English, we already do extend that favor.

The term really doesn't mean anything grander in the US than what Dan posted early on in the thread.

It is easy enough to express a distinction between academic historians and other investigators of the human past if the situation requires doing so. It's not obvious why most people would bother in most situations. I stumbled across James McGrath making a cut in a discussion of Jesus mythicism. In passing he mentions "historians and other historical scholars." https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionp ... dates.html

Anyway, as to Crossan, it is perfectly reasonable to describe him as an historian as Americans use the word, and to do so without hedges, even when disagreeing with some of his conclusions. He is a "historical scholar," and there's no urgent reason to distinguish that from an historian, not even at the summit of scholarship that is a Wikipedia page.
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