Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Ancient History – Mostly Silly

Posted by NT Wrong on October 26, 2008

Ancient Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, writing in the first century BC, sums up the work of the earliest Greek historians as “silly” nonsense. He explains that, whenever early historians tried to write histories of remote times, they were prone to simply making it all up.

According to Dionysius, the earliest historians had the goal of:

“bringing to the common knowledge of all whatever records or traditions were to be found among the natives of the individual nationalities or states, whether recorded in places sacred or profane, and to deliver these just as they received them without adding thereto or subtracting therefrom, rejecting not even the legends which had been believed for many generations nor dramatic tales which seem to men of the present time to have a large measure of silliness”
(On Thucydides)

While historians today don’t engage in such silliness, some biblical apologists are prone to naively taking the words of the historiographic biblical books at face value, paraphrasing them, with a complete lack of any historiographic discrimination. Silly biblical praphrases are still being written by apologists such as Provan, Kitchen, and Hoffmeier, more than 2000 years after Dionysius of Halicarnassus recognised such writings for the silliness they are.

How silly.

One Response to “Ancient History – Mostly Silly”

  1. Emanuel Pfoh said

    Oh, Bishop, may the minimalist guild bless you! 🙂

    Emanuel Pfoh,
    post-dionysiac historian

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