An eminent historian has written, ‘the historian, like the camera, always lies’. His point is that the camera only pictures what it is focussed on and even there the focus can be ‘soft’. So, even when true it can only be a partial truth. Even using film it is impossible to record an event from every perspective. Except for a very short event, viewing every ‘perspective’ could take a very long time.
Written history shares that difficulty, historians, of necessity, must be selective. Writing or reading history demands that we be aware of the presuppositions; ours, and those of the writer. Read any headline, listen to international news and we are often given a simple analysis: we are ‘right’, they are ‘wrong’, where ‘they’ is the current occupant of the international ‘naughty chair’.
And so we need to take especial care with the history we find in scripture, firstly because it was not written in the way or for the purpose we understand as modern history.
Ancient history is written as story, often described as ‘victor history’. That term is not always helpful, especially when we look at the Bible where much of it is far from victorious. It is written from a particular perspective and has survived for a purpose. It is ‘true’ within a much broader context, which we must try to ‘know’ in order to better understand. Even the historical bits are written in a style that doesn’t fit well with modern history.
With that brief introduction it will be sufficient to note here that much history of the land of the Holy One is taken for granted but wrong. Links are provided to various documents that summarize or detail what we actually know. What we know of history is then the starting point for meeting others with their story, the art and work of peacemaking.
click the links below for more information