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"Checking It Out"

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  • karayanann@aol.com
    Good morning to all - As a newcomer and layperson, it has been a wonderful experience to listen in on these discussions. One thing has jumped out at me
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 3, 2002
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      Good morning to all -

      As a newcomer and layperson, it has been a wonderful experience to "listen"
      in on these discussions. One thing has jumped out at me during the past
      couple of weeks that I would like someone to explain if they would.

      I have seen folks use the argument that others could check out what Mark
      wrote and therefore, he couldn't just make up a "fact" such as the tomb
      story. (To put it in a nutshell without any of the subtleties.)

      I am having a very difficult time finding the "checking it out" by others to
      be a convincing argument. "Checking it out" is a fairly modern practice -
      most certainly not one often used in antiquity. No one "checked out"
      Josephus, Luke (the census in Herod the Great's time), Strabo, Livy or much
      of anyone else. If one reads of events even into the centuries near us, one
      is constantly finding historical claims made but no one followed it up. I
      have been unable to find instances where the practice of checking the
      historicity(?) of claims was a common practice until recently.

      Would someone be so kind as to help me understand the foundation to this
      argument since I am probably missing something here?

      Thanks to all.

      Liz Slick
      Austin, TX
    • bjtraff
      ... Hello Liz You ask a good question, though it is predicated on a faulty assumption that is not uncommon in modern times. The ancients certainly did not
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 4, 2002
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        --- In crosstalk2@y..., karayanann@a... wrote:

        >I am having a very difficult time finding the "checking it out" by
        >others to be a convincing argument. "Checking it out" is a fairly
        >modern practice -
        >most certainly not one often used in antiquity. No one "checked
        >out" Josephus, Luke (the census in Herod the Great's time), Strabo,
        >Livy or much of anyone else. If one reads of events even into the
        >centuries near us, one is constantly finding historical claims made
        >but no one followed it up. I have been unable to find instances
        >where the practice of checking the historicity(?) of claims was a
        >common practice until recently.

        Hello Liz

        You ask a good question, though it is predicated on a faulty
        assumption that is not uncommon in modern times. The ancients
        certainly did not practice historical critical methodology as we know
        it, nor did they write biographies as we would call them today. But
        they did, very often, seek to verify things being said to them.

        Within the NT itself, especially in Paul's letters and the book of
        Acts we are see the author relating stories in which people either
        checked out what was being said, they were invited to check them out,
        or even that some rejected the stories as fantastic. The
        introduction to Luke, as well (1:1-4) indicates that the author made
        an effort to verify as much as he could in his own gospel. But the
        secular examples of such efforts to "check the story out" can also be
        found. I will offer one especially good quotatation on the subject
        (emphasis is mine):

        "With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered
        before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard
        myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases
        difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so my habit
        has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of
        them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as
        possible to the general sense of what they really said. AND WITH
        REFERENCE TO THE NARRATIVE OF EVENTS, FAR FROM PERMITTING MYSELF TO
        DERIVE IT FROM THE FIRST SOURCE THAT CAME TO HAND, I did not even
        trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself,
        partly on what others saw for me, THE ACCURACY OF THE REPORT BEING
        ALWAYS TRIED BY THE MOST SEVERE AN DETAILED TESTS POSSIBLE. My
        conclusions have cost me some labour from the want of coincidence
        between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses,
        arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue
        partiality for one side or the other. The absence of romance in my
        history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest; but if it
        be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of
        the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the
        course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I
        shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay
        which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for
        all time. "
        Thucydides, _History of the Pelonnesian War_ Book 1, Ch. 1.22

        Perhaps Thucydides is being a bit self serving here, but he is at
        least trying to present himself as one who has "checked out" the
        facts as best as he could, and is willing to let his readers do the
        same.

        Peace,

        Brian Trafford
        Calgary, AB, Canada
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