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Re: "Checking It Out"

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  • 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 1 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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