What is History?


  1. Shaped by human choice, but influence by God towards a final goal
  2. Events reflect evolutionary or naturalistic process
  3. Heaven’s mandate manifested in a harmonious society
  4. Shaped by God who expects absolute submission to His will
  5. Humans, possessing divinity, make history in an evolving world
  6. Shaped by heroic persons with power
  7. Human choice shapes history
  8. On-going struggle with the spirit world
  9. Endless cycle of birth, suffering, and death
  10. We all have our stories, but there is no larger master story
  11. History is about the meaning of events [1]

The answer may reflect; Confucianism, Islam, Buddhism, New Age, Hinduism, Naturalism, Nihilism, Post-Modernism, Animism, Existentialism, or Judeo-Christianity. The most common worldview frameworks worldwide.

So what is your view of what history is? Francois Marie Arouet ( Voltaire )

According to the great Enlightenment figure, Voltaire, “History, is the lie that everyone agrees on”. This is ironic, and probably not true. But this was his view. He of course is famous for his own works of historiography, along with his counterpart Edward Gibbon and their slander of the church. They are responsible for a number of Myths in regard to history. Just as they are responsible for some very decent history. Good history is informative as to what events took place, and maybe why.

Ancient historiography is about how deity shaped the human and cosmological events of the past.

Modern historiography is typically about how human choices and natural processes shaped the events of the past.

But the question remains, what if any is the level of Gods involvement in the process?

[1] 2013 Bob Osburn (based upon an earlier survey by David Montoya)

Categories: Enlightenment, History, Modern, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Renaissance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “What is History?

  1. I think your last two points bear upon our interpretation of scripture, especially Genesis and the ‘historical’ books – maybe they’re not written according to standards, conventions, and purposes in telling and recording history.

    I don’t know about the ‘lie’ that everyone agrees on, maybe that the most powerful people agree upon enough not to enthusiastically oppose.

    • Yes, well it is interesting that actually OT history does follow the standard for telling and recording history. At least in the that the ancient world did. Most ANE histories are riddled with deity, the will of deity, and how deity brought about human and cosmological events. The Old Testament does not stray from mentioning Gods involvement in history. Particularly in regards to relationship with men and women.

      • I agree with you that much of ANE history reads similarly to the Bible. Check out Nate Claiborne’s Genesis blog series and how it reads, and was probably understood, similarly to other ANE creation accounts:

        Wait a minute….that was meant to be an ‘our’ standards in my original comment, which would have made my ‘maybe’ more obviously sarcastic, sorry!

      • Cool. I like this guy. Seems he is using C. John Collins. I use his work as well. Also John H. Walton is in the same boat.

        Collins did a book on Genesis 1-4, and Walton has a great book on the same passages called, “The Lost World of Genesis 1”. Great stuff.

        These guys are a gold mine for some of the best OT literature analysis. They really put it into its cultural and literary context. Such good stuff. My post on Ancient Mythology talks a bit about this stuff if your interested.

      • Yeap he dug a lot out of their work, and studied under one of them, I think. I’ve got The Lost World on my shelf waiting it’s turn.

  2. Pingback: Evangelicals: Are we merely speaking to ourselves? | Bible on Tap

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