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Essorant
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0 posted 04-27-2008 06:49 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

When did human history begin?  
Stephanos
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It depends on which definition of 'history' you mean.  If you mean merely 'whatever happened to people in the past, recorded or not' then it started when humanity started.  If you mean 'whatever has been related in writing', then it began when people first began to produce written accounts of themselves and their times, or whenever the first surviving chronicles were written (for it is possible that some of this second kind of 'history' has been lost).

Stephen
Bob K
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     Shortly after reflexive verbs?
Essorant
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I mean the etymological/literal meaning of history as in story or record of events. We usually think of literary, but are not all forms of monuments that capture and express something that was in the past, history?
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     Doesn't aboriginal Dream Time lay claim to 50,000 years?There are several flood stories.  After a certain point, the question seems to become, How do you carbon-date a dream?
Stephanos
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As far as "history" goes, the earliest known writing doesn't go back 50,000, but 5500 at most.  The 50000 estimate seems to be conjectural on part of scientists, though there has been a wide variance of results in paleontological dating over the years.  

"Dreamtime" is a translated word coming from aboriginal religion that refers to their mythic beliefs about creation before time itself began.


Stephen
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Dear Stephanos,  

           Time and myth are difficult to talk about.  The 50,000 year span of The Dreaming doesn't count time the way we do.  It is simultaneous, past, present and future; and not linear except by co-incidence or convenience.  Wikipedia has some interesting stuff on it, a teaser, really.

     This is the sort of problem we lurch into when we try to talk about myth and historicity, and I think my earlier question has some validity here:  How do you carbon date a dream?  Some folks have tried to shoehorn everything we have learned about science and history into six thousand years.  That's their dream and they have elaborate Ptolomaic reasons for why it must be true and good for them.  For myself, I find the Aboriginal folk a touch more convincing, simply because they've survived in a harsher environment successfully using fewer resources for a longer time.

     And the Dreaming certainly counts as oral history.  Certainly if you count the O.T. as such, and I would.  Perhaps you wouldn't, I don't know.  What our concept is of events and what their concept is of events may differ; so what?  Anyway, that's what I think for now, until somebody says something I'll need to think through.
Best to everybody, BobK.
Essorant
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But imagine if men had started writing much earlier!  Think how much more history we would be able to have in a much stronger way.   It seems we know not but a minority of all the history of the human race.  But the reason we know that minority of history so well is because it includes the part of being set and preserved in writing.  After further thought, I think it is very reasonable that written history is emphasized more than other forms of history.  It deserves stronger emphasis, because it is the stronger form of history.


Stephanos
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Bob:
quote:
For myself, I find the Aboriginal folk a touch more convincing, simply because they've survived in a harsher environment successfully using fewer resources for a longer time.


This is all conjectural.  But there are "older" finds of human remains in Africa, which is much closer to the Mesopotamian "Garden of Eden", or the cradle of humanity.  But all of the date setting is extremely doubtful, as far as I can understand it, using methods which have produced wildly variable results.

I'm not saying anything negative about the indigenous peoples of Australia, but it does seem to me that the ANE (Ancient Near East) has produced much more historical data in the form of writing.  The book of Job is a very ancient piece of writing.  And you've already mentioned the various flood stories in the same general vicinity.  Can you tell me what the earliest Australian Aboriginal writings are?  I am curious to learn more.  What was the earliest times these oral traditions were written down?  If I understand it rightly, cultures tend to display a transition from oral to scribal tradition.    

I am currently of the opinion that humanity originated from one place (Mesopotamia) and spread from there in a much smaller time frame than 40,000 years.  (Again the dating methods have produced variable results here)  Austrailia would have been originally populated from migration from Africa.  At any rate, it is conceivable that ANE oral tradition is older than Australian Aboriginal oral tradition.


Stephen
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Dear Stephanos,

          I'd simply resolve that the biblical teachings were correct in some more essential way before looking into whatever data there is might offer.  Religious fact is a sort of parallel stream of fact that isn't obligated by the same rules as science is.  Folks keep turing their brains inside out without need.

    Job is indeed very old; as far as I know, probably the oldest text in the bible.  

     Writing is an important marker for cultures.  But it's easy to think of these markers as evidence of progress, and that may not be good anthropology.  Writing marks a technological shift whose beginnings are usually shown by the need to keep records of numbers and then to make sure that people knew what the number described:  Bushels of wheat rather than grains of gold rather than tons of quarried limestone.

     With the technological shift came diversification of cultural members as they organized around who did what to service the various roles mandated by the lists.  Do you weave baskets for the wheat, gather sheaves of it or make sure that the wheat is not spoiled by rot?  That's the way I remember it.

     Eventually the labels became differentiated and flexible enough to write down stories.

     What happened was that the areas of sophistication within the culture got shuffled around, not that the overall level of sophistication necessarily increased.  Claude Levi-Strauss, out of fashion today, is still pretty convincing about this application of structuralism.  Cultures which are widely literate and which have wide access to written material tend to lose their memories for the vast ranges of information they once had by heart.  There are ethnobotanists today with Ph.D.'s whose profoundest hope it is to find some of the pre-literate shamans who still carry the knowledge of the use of plants, which plants help which illnesses, when they should be picked, what they need to be mixed with, how they should be applied.

     The ethnobotanist may have the organic chemistry to begin to figure out what the substances are in the plants that seem to do the work, although probably not all the chemicals in the plant that contribute to the spectrum of effects the Shaman is looking for, right?  He's hoping simply to tag along and catch up on knowledge these guys have had for a very long time.

     I'd rather a surgeon take out my appendix, mind you, but the Shaman isn't the gibbering idiot portrayed in films and certain kinds of novels, either.

     In other words, written doesn't necessarily make it better.  Is it Lord who went back into the hills of Yugoslavia with a tape recorder and recorded illiterate shepherds who could recite long passages of the Iliad by heart?  Pretty much world perfect.
  
     There's some understanding by use of DNA analysis of where Homo Sapiens originated (apparently in central Africa) and some understanding of his spread Northward and south, his spread across Egypt and so on.  If I go into any detail at all, I'm afraid I will be giving you wrong information, and I have no desire to do that.  The central Africa part I'm reasonably sure of.

     This should have no bearing on the religious facts for you at all.  I certainly hope it doesn't.  The religious facts are the way that people understand revelation, and revelation is always so much greater than the vessels that are permitted to carry it.   When the Aborigines moved to Australia, I have no idea, but their DNA would be able to show roughly when they split off from the migration.

     My personal belief is that science too is a revelation, but one short of communion and spirit and transcendence.
It hasn't found the feminine side of its nature yet and remains in the most roosterly sense of the phrase that you would care to apply cocksure of itself.

Best wishes, BobK.
Stephanos
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Bob:
quote:
Religious fact is a sort of parallel stream of fact that isn't obligated by the same rules as science is.  Folks keep turing their brains inside out without need.

I agree with you, but with the caveat that a religion rooted in history and historical claims can never be completely fideistic.  Historical Faith and the sciences are different modes of description, with differing priorities and methods, but they both must be shown to be describing reality (the same subject).  Don't think that that means I don't appreciate your thoughts on revelation, because I think I know what you mean.


I also appreciate your sharing of information otherwise, giving me some things to explore.  It is a very fascinating subject.  One thing is for certain, it is difficult to date and comment on ancient human remains and cultures which have left only trace of archaeological residue behind.  And like Chesterton once expressed, sometimes there isn't enough healthy agnosticism in these speculative sciences.  


We are still left with two versions of what may be called history ... 1) written history, and 2) Prehistory.  (the latter being much more speculative)


Stephen
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Dear Stephanos,

          And texts which survive, which may be about history or may not, such as cuneiform tablets of lists from which inference about history may be drawn.  And site excavations, which may also yield important data, even in the form of charcoal fragments, sometime capable of establishing the types vegetation and weather patterns, and bone fragments which may establish tool use and types and diet.  All of these things are also about history.

     If we take all written texts as history, or even all written texts about holy things as history, things become very complicated very fast.  My understanding, which may be obsolete by now, is that there age ancient garbage sites from which texts or portions of texts are still being removed, such as Oxyrhynchus.  Versions of the gospel of St. Thomas were found there, but also versions of lost Greek Satyr plays.  You may and should have an understandable attachment to the Christian text, but to some extent both the satyr plays and the gospel are mythological texts as well as historical texts.

     We have no idea what texts may be pulled out of that— I think— first century midden heap in the future; perhaps copies of much older texts, or variations on them.  

     I suspect that our best hope of tracing that migration is still by checking DNA markers and their distribution across the globe. This history is probably written more basically than any other, since each of us carries a copy of the text.  It won't have all the details that make well written history so exciting, but it should have more than enough details to be unsettling for most of us.  A close analysis may well be able to supply a time line as well as the route for this longest of long marches.

     I love this, by way of an aside, the way that myth and fact whisper and echo each other.  What a thing it was and still is to think of that long journey, on foot, in boats in the face of plague, starvation, desert heat and ice and now with the same uncertainty as always looking outward at the sky.  And it's still there as a theme in our dreams, what Jung calls The Night Sea Journey, which not only duplicates the sense of travel and danger which by now must be baked into our marrow, but also has become a spiritual journey toward safety or salvation but also a psychological journey toward wholeness, moses in the desert with the people of Israel, with the sure knowledge that nobody who begins the journey will reach their goal, but will only bring their descendants closer to it.  The best Moses could hope for was a glimpse through failing eyes.  Think of all those lost cities, all those fountains of youth, all those mountain climbers imagining the dream of the end of the journey might be placed someplace in the waking world!  And how amazingly close folks have come to finding it there at times, only to see it rounding the corner out of sight when they got to the place where they fancied they might find the door to the Promised Land.  I guess it's one of the reasons I love people so much.  We're so...so..., well, Human, I guess.

      Best to your and your Folk, BobK.
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Bob:
quote:
And texts which survive, which may be about history or may not, such as cuneiform tablets of lists from which inference about history may be drawn.


I take it for granted that texts will vary as to how much historical value they will have.

quote:
And site excavations, which may also yield important data, even in the form of charcoal fragments, sometime capable of establishing the types vegetation and weather patterns, and bone fragments which may establish tool use and types and diet.  All of these things are also about history.


Such things are real but do not always warrant some of the sprawlling inferences I've heard drawn from them.  I'm not saying they have no value in historical consideration.  I am saying that, historically speaking, the value is extremely modest when it comes to the ancients.  I'm only suggesting that there's good reason we make the distinction between 'history' and 'pre-history'.  And though the distinction isn't absolute, it is meaningful.

quote:
You may and should have an understandable attachment to the Christian text, but to some extent both the satyr plays and the gospel are mythological texts as well as historical texts.



You are right that they are, but in differing ways.  I consider both to be mythological in the stricter sense of historical accuracy ... The Gospel of Thomas being much more informative about 2nd Century Gnosticism than the historical person of Jesus.  But much that is "historical" can be gathered from such texts nonetheless.  The canonical gospels I deem to be historical a different way than these, as I believe their earlier authorship and nature of content gives credence to their greater authenticity relating to the events they relate.  As far as literary style is concerned, they definitely weren't written with as myth, but more like narrative reportage.

But to discuss the criteria for historical authenticity in these kinds of documents would launch us into a discussion at least as complex as one about genetics wouldn't it?    


quote:
A close (genetic) analysis may well be able to supply a time line as well as the route for this longest of long marches.


As far as I can understand it, genetic analysis alone cannot supply a conjectural time line, but only in accordance with other dating methods.  Again, the dating of Mungo man alone has ranged from anywhere from 3000 to 70,000 years using various methods.

quote:
The best Moses could hope for was a glimpse through failing eyes.  Think of all those lost cities, all those fountains of youth, all those mountain climbers imagining the dream of the end of the journey might be placed someplace in the waking world!  And how amazingly close folks have come to finding it there at times, only to see it rounding the corner out of sight when they got to the place where they fancied they might find the door to the Promised Land.  I guess it's one of the reasons I love people so much.  We're so...so..., well, Human, I guess.


I enjoyed your description of the human adventure, and here, I do share your wonder.


Stephen


Essorant
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Earth 6,000 years old, says creationist

What do you think about this kind of belief?
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I personally think that the first three chapters of Genesis is non-Western, non-scientific, and didactically stylized enough to encompass a wide range of cosmological views.  That doesn't mean it doesn't teach definite truths, or that it doesn't correspond to historical reality; It just means that when all is said and done, it is not a science textbook.  I personally lean toward a belief in a much older Earth.  Though I don't find the Evolutionary theory of common descent to be convincing.  I guess I'm still working out my cosmology, and still willing to hear the various arguments for particular views.


  
Stephen
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     Ah!  The wonders of history!  

     The stories of the Old Testament or The Dreaming or some of the Babylonian myths are wonderful, and deserve a treasured place in our evaluation of historical record.  My flawed understanding is that these things are treasured and important but are really considered sources that are a little bit less reliable as sources of historical data than are actual primary sources.

     These things might include diaries, letters and records of transactions, court records, birth and death records and things of this type because there is less (relatively less, certainly) spin attached to them.  When you read Caesar's account of the wars in Gaul, what you get is—on the surface—an account of the war in Gaul.  It's only been over the past fifty or so years that the highly political nature of this classic document has begun to be examined, and the actual nature of the culture of the  Celts and Franks presented there has been looked at with a degree of skepticism.  The degree to which the book was a way for Caesar to set the stage for his own political ambitions vis-s-vis Pompey and the clique of senators then in power has not been given sufficient weight (apparently) because we have been dazzled by the power of Caesar's prose and the narrative he presents.

     This is what happens when we get carried away by secondary sources.

     Ultimately we cannot avoid it.  But we can base our historical understandings on a more careful consideration of primary source material first, and we can try to limit the lengths we go in making suppositions from the primary source material we have.

     The comments you make, Stephanos, about taking necessary care in jumping to conclusions on the basis of primary source material are to by reading, reasonable, although exactly what those would be, we would would have to be more specific about.  I'm really no good on hard science and I wouldn't want to pretend to be.  At the same time, I think much can be said in the other direction as well; that is, much that we have assumed to be settled about the historical record may be more fluid and open to conjecture especially about mythological narrative than we tend to assume because we don't have primary sources to back it up.  The material that we do have tends to the political and partisan.  How much of Joe McCarthy's stories about Joe Stalin are you going to accept as accurate, or vice versa?  This is certainly an unreasonably broadly-brushed example; the problem is, there may be no solid way of estimating exactly how broadly brushed it is.

     In other words, while we may know more about "pre-history" than previously supposed, we may also know less about "history" than we have previously prided ourselves in.  The distinction may be more limited than it suggests, since the type of history that is being spoken about is "written history."  One of the other correctives that history has been applying to itself over the previous fifty years is to notice that the "history" that has been told is a narrow history of a narrow segment of people with power, money and station, and that it is privileged in the direction of  Men, battles, and religion and away from women, the poor, the arts and crafts, business and the everyday life of everyday people, about which we have studied almost nothing.

     The political elements of the gospel were to my mind extremely important.  You and I differ as to the dating of the canonical gospels, as I recall.  I want to be respectful of the religious content; I simply find it difficult to believe that material touched by the hand of man in a situation where political advantage would be useful to acquire would manage to be unaffected by it, however pure the motive might be.  I am more than pleased to be wrong should that be the case, and, frankly, I see no way of determining the reality of it.

     The Gospel may be God's word, you should pardon the hard nosed academic attitude, but it still ain't primary source material.  And yes, I know, I'm a terrible man.

     The Wikipedia entry about Mungo man gives no reference to dating as recent as that which you mention, and gives fairly straightforward explanations for the variation in the measurements that were seen.  The 60,000 plus year old date  was an artifact of the dating method, and more recent measurements seem to be focusing in on a dating of approximately 40,000 years with a variation plus or minus of about 6,000 years.  I was fascinated to see that the dating and the DNA results meant that the out of Africa theory, or at least the single origin theory might have to be re-considered, which would be a wonderful piece of new knowledge, either way.

     It does seem to be an example of a primary source piece of data casting a new light on an already elaborated piece of theory.  Look at the marvelous mischief it's seemed to stir up!

Best to you, Stephanos, Best to your family.  Yours, BobK.
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Bob:
quote:
The comments you make, Stephanos, about taking necessary care in jumping to conclusions on the basis of primary source material are to by reading, reasonable, although exactly what those would be, we would would have to be more specific about.  I'm really no good on hard science and I wouldn't want to pretend to be.


Neither would I Bob.  I guess my saying would need to cite specific examples, though I seem to remember a host of them coming from popular documentaries and the casually accepted scientific verities offered to the American Public through television.  It's about the feeling of "how can they know that?" when certain things are said in an assumptive way.  Probably better than citing certain examples though, I'd rather share a bit of prose from the likable Gilbert Keith that well expresses (if not demonstrates) the kind of thing I'm referring to.  As always, if nothing else, maybe you'll enjoy his frisky pen, and have a chuckle or two.     And, as a disclaimer, in no way do I feel that all science or anthropology is open to this kind of criticism.


"The science whose modern marvels we all admire succeeds by incessantly adding to its data. In all practical inventions, in most natural discoveries, it can always increase evidence by experiment. But it cannot experiment in making men; or even in watching to see what the first men make. An inventor can advance step by step in the construction of an airplane even if he is only experimenting with sticks and scraps of metal in his own backyard. But he cannot watch the Missing Link evolving in his own backyard. If he has made a mistake in his calculations, the airplane will correct it by crashing to the ground. But if he has made a mistake about the arboreal habitat of his ancestor, he cannot see his arboreal ancestor falling off the tree. He cannot keep a caveman like a cat in the backyard and watch him to see whether he does really practice cannibalism or carry off his mate on the principles of marriage by capture. He cannot keep a tribe of primitive men like a pack of hounds and notice how far they are influenced by the herd instinct. If he sees a particular bird behave in a particular way, he can get other birds and see if they behave in that way; but if be finds a skull, or the scrap of a skull in the hollow of a hill, he cannot multiply it into a vision of the valley of dry bones. In dealing with a past that has almost entirely perished he can only go by evidence and not by experiment. And there is hardly enough evidence to be even evidential. Thus while most science moves in a sort of curve, being constantly corrected by new evidence, this science flies off into space in a straight line uncorrected by anything.


But the habit of forming conclusions, as they can really be formed in more fruitful fields, is so fixed in the Scientific mind that it cannot resist talking like this. It talks about the idea suggested by one scrap of bone as if it were something like the airplane which is constructed at last out of whole scrapheaps of scraps of metal. The trouble with the professor of the prehistoric is that he cannot scrap his scrap. The marvelous and triumphant airplane is made out of a hundred mistakes. The student of origins can only make one mistake and stick to it.


We talk very truly of the patience of science; but in this department it would be truer to talk of the impatience of science. Owing to the difficulty above described, the theorist is in far too much of a hurry. We have a series of hypotheses so hasty that they may well be called fancies, and cannot in any case be further corrected by facts. The most empirical anthropologist is here as limited as an antiquary. He can only cling to a fragment of the past and has no way of increasing it for the future. He can only clutch his fragment of fact, almost as the primitive man clutched his fragment of flint. And indeed he does deal with it in much the same way and for much the same reason. It is his tool and his only tool. It is his weapon and his only weapon. He often wields it with a fanaticism far in excess of anything shown by men of science when they can collect more facts from experience and even add new facts by experiment. Sometimes the professor with his bone becomes almost as dangerous as a dog with his bone. And the dog at least does not deduce a theory from it, proving that mankind is going to the dogs- or that it came from them. For instance, I have pointed out the difficulty of keeping a monkey and watching it evolve into a man. Experimental evidence of such an evolution being impossible, the professor is not content to say (as most of us would be ready to say) that such an evolution is likely enough anyhow. He produces his little bone, or little collection of bones, and deduces the most marvelous things from it. He found in Java a piece of a skull, seeming by its contour to be smaller than the human. Somewhere near it he found an upright thigh-bone and in the same scattered fashion some teeth that were not human. If they all form part of one creature, which is doubtful, our conception of the creature would be almost equally doubtful. But the effect on popular science was to produce a complete and even complex figure, finished down to the last details of hair and habits. He was given a name as if he were an ordinary historical character. People talked of Pithecanthropus as of Pitt or Fox or Napoleon. Popular histories published portraits of 'him like the portraits of Charles the First and George the Fourth. A detailed drawing was reproduced, carefully shaded, to show that the very hairs of his head were all numbered. No uninformed person looking at its carefully lined face and wistful eyes would imagine for a moment that this was the portrait of a thigh bone; or of a few teeth and a fragment of a cranium.

...

The other day a scientific summary of the state of a prehistoric tribe began confidently with the words 'They wore no clothes! Not one reader in a hundred probably stopped to ask himself how we should come to know whether clothes had once been worn by people of whom everything has perished except a few chips of bone and stone. It was doubtless hoped that we should find a stone hat as well as a stone hatchet. It was evidently anticipated that we might discover an everlasting pair of trousers of the same substance as the everlasting rock. But to persons of a less sanguine temperament it will be immediately apparent that people might wear simple garments, or even highly ornamental garments, without leaving any more traces of them than these people have left. The plaiting of rushes and grasses, for instance, might have become more and more elaborate without in the least becoming more eternal. One civilisation might specialize in things that happen to be perishable, like weaving and embroidering, and not in things that happen to be more permanent, like architecture and sculpture. There have been plenty of examples of such specialist societies. A man of the future finding the ruins of our factory machinery might as fairly say that we were acquainted with iron and with no other substance; and announce the discovery that the proprietor and manager of the factory undoubtedly walked about naked-or possibly wore iron hats and trousers. It is not contended here that these primitive men did wear clothes any more than they did weave rushes; but merely that we have not enough evidence to know whether they did or not.
(G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man)


quote:
One of the other correctives that history has been applying to itself over the previous fifty years is to notice that the "history" that has been told is a narrow history of a narrow segment of people with power, money and station ...

You and I differ as to the dating of the canonical gospels, as I recall.  I want to be respectful of the religious content; I simply find it difficult to believe that material touched by the hand of man in a situation where political advantage would be useful to acquire would manage to be unaffected by it, however pure the motive might be.  I am more than pleased to be wrong should that be the case, and, frankly, I see no way of determining the reality of it.



Well, what you say has much truth.  But may I suggest another thought for your consideration and exploration?  One of the tendencies of postmodernism has been to take the insight of the impossibility of escaping the subjective, and made it into a kind of dogma itself.  With such an insight turned universal, mistrust, or what N.T. Wright referred to as a 'hermeneutic of suspicion', was much easier to retain.  In fact, many times, no rigorous consideration of particular historical and cultural situations was thought necessary in regard of their verdict.  After all, subjectivism, bias, and the political happens to all.


In light of this, I would suggest to you that the charge of 'politics' being a corrupting influence in the Canonical Gospels is based more upon this kind of tacit belief than it is upon real textual and historical critique.  When the Gospels were written, the Jewish culture was monolithic enough in their religious hierarchy (no separation of church and state) to guarantee that the disciples of Jesus would be ostracized for turning their backs on "Moses and the Law".  The relatively poor fisherman and ragtag band that first began to follow Jesus (from whom the texts of the gospels were born) seemed to have little to gain by this 'movement', if the traditionally political perks are assumed to have been their goal:  power, money, wide influence.  And though the Christianizing of Rome that occurred centuries later under Constantine made some of the inheritors of the original "faith" more open to such a charge, their history and dating makes this allegation against the gospels themselves anachronistic.  Also the tendency of the early disciples to fervently preach and believe in a Kingdom "not of this world" and prove it by their own disregard of temporal wellbeing when necessary, makes the charge of seeking political advantage ironic.
  

Cousin to this charge, is the popular belief that the Canon of Scriptures was determined by Constantine, and the Council of Nicea.  But even a precursory look at the facts shows that the Canon of Scripture was not decided at Nicea, but rather questions regarding the Arian Heresy.  In 367 A.D. Athanasius, in his "thirty ninth Festal Letter", identified a list of books which corresponds to what is accepted as canonical scripture today.  But his declaration was not at all arbitrary or politically determined.  As a matter of fact, these same books had been generally approved of and accepted by the Church as authoritative since much earlier times.  Justin Martyr was referring to "The New Testament" from early on.  By the time of Irenaeus, it was pretty much accepted that there were four gospels.  And by the late 2nd Century, there was consensus that the four Gospels, Acts, and Paul's letters had the status of 'scripture'.  Clement of Alexandria, more perfectly recognized the forming 'canon' and listed the books in his writings as well.  So while the recognition of the Divinely inspired books was somewhat 'gradual', the recognition is well documented before the assumed power trips of "In Hoc Signo Vinces".  When Christianity was in 'the Ghetto' so to speak, these books were already being acknowledged in a widespread way among the Christian communities.  The official act of "Canonizing" was more like formal recognition than arbitrary determination.


quote:
The Gospel may be God's word, you should pardon the hard nosed academic attitude, but it still ain't primary source material.  And yes, I know, I'm a terrible man.


I don't mind the hard nosed academic.  As long as you're willing also to acknowedge that we don't have the autographs (originals) for any ancient writings (many of which we accept as authentic) and that the manuscripts of the New Testment represent the most abundant and the closest to the autographs in all of antiquity.  

As far as Bibliographical credentials go, I'll give you an idea:  Homer's Iliad is the closest second with some 645 manuscripts, and the earliest complete text from the 13th century.  The Entire New Testament can be found in manuscript form as early as 325 A.D. (though partial manuscripts are as early as 114 A.D.), with thousands of partial and complete manuscripts besides.  
      

Yikes!  Look at the time.  Gotta get to bed to get up early.

Enjoying the exchange,

Stephen
Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


17 posted 05-03-2008 03:06 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"Trace Science, then, with modesty thy guide;
First strip off all her equipage of pride;
Deduct what is but vanity or dress,
Or learning's luxury, or idleness;
Or tricks to show the stretch of human brain,
Mere curious pleasure, or ingenious pain;
Expunge the whole, or lop th' excrescent parts
Of all our vices have created arts;
Then see how little the remaining sum,
Which served the past, and must the times to come!"

Alexander Pope's Essay on Man

 
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