Friday, February 10, 2017

Historians, Christians, Non-Christians

How different is history according to Christianity than history according to historians?

Own answer
Hans-Georg Lundahl,
History buff since childhood. CSL & Eco added to Medieval lore. + Classics.
Written just now
You have to clarify two points:

  • 1 a) Do you mean pre-Roman history and pre-History or do you mean Medieval History?
  • 1 b) Or, between them, Greco-Roman Antique History, including but not limited to life and times of Jesus?
  • 2) What exact Historians do you mean? Do only modern historians count, or do Christian historians of pre-modern centuries count? Are you aware that many modern historians are Christians?

Meanwhile, assuming you mean only modern Historians count, I’ll give it a try for each of the periods.

  • 1) In pre-Roman and pre-historic history, the difference is very marked, due to the fact that modern historians (including Christians) accept C14 dating and do not accept Genesis as a historic source.
  • 2) In Greco-Roman antiquities, modern historians range from fully Christian to very anti-Christian, from those accepting Jesus Christ as God and Lord, over those who think the Gospels gave a human only rabbi a makeoever, to those who deny the Jesus of the Gospels even had a human model at all in the first place (the latter not being most typical). Not surprisingly, the topic on which they differ most is the life and times of Jesus and closely related topics.
  • 3) And in Middle Ages, it is among the non-Christians (and Evangelical Christians) mostly non-professionals, non-historians who differ from the Catholic version of what happened.

Here is some more detail on the example of the Middle Ages.

For instance, all agree the Crusades happened, so pro- and anti-Catholic historians only disagree on whether they were justified or not. Same with Inquisition. Professional historians (outside East Block Communism and 19th C. Protestantism) tend to either think they were somehow justified or if not at least somewhat mitigated. BUT where versions of what happened differ, it is non-historians who disagree with Catholic Historians.

For instance, a Catholic Historian will say that Middle Ages had a Latin Liturgy and Bible because Latin was a vernacular in Late Antiquity and remained largely understandable to men starting to speak somewhat different even after Latin as now taught in school had gone out of use, partly also by adapting to popular pronunciation : in Church Slavonic, “of the lions” or the City which in German is Lemberg will be lvoov according to spelling (in Latin alphabet transcription), but in Russian it will be pronounced Lvoff and in Ukrainean it will be pronounced Lviv. So also with Latin a few centuries in into the Middle Ages.

This changed in 800, in the Empire of Charlemagne, because that is where Latin had been pronounced with greatest divergence. An Englishman who had learned Latin only as a “foreign language” in his country - but one which had been there for centuries as such - gave the Empire a much older pronunciation. Result, quickly noticed, people no longer understood if they were not clerks. Very quickly this in turn resulted in Sermons becoming mandatory, so nobody should miss what the Gospels was about. This happened in 813.

A professional historian of the Middle Ages (pro- or anti-Catholic) will not disagree with this.

The one who will claim that Latin was introduced or kept because or despite its being incomprehensible, is the Anti-Catholics who is NOT a professional historian.

Same as with claims the Catholic Church was against scientific research. Or that Columbus discovered the Earth was Round.

Curiously, when a fairly good historian who is an Atheist, like Tim O’Neill, corrects any of the urban legends about Medieval History, he is accused by non-historians of being a biassed Christian only posing as an Atheist. He is not.

After the Middle Ages, historians usually disagree more along lines of factions (including within Christianity) than about anything which is specifically pro- or anti-Christian.

One could say that Soviet historiography about Orthodox Church in Czar Russia was anti-Christian, and I think it ultimately is, so I will call it anti-Christian in that sense, but there are Christians, including Russian Orthodox, who actually agree with it, while there are atheist anticommunists who disagree with it.

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