The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography
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The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography
p.5 "We are increasingly aware of the fact that both Greeks and Jews developed some of the most characteristic features of their civilisations within the frame of the Persian Empire." p.7 "The account King Darius gave of himself in the Behistun or Bisutun inscription. His purpose was self-glorification in a limited number of words, not a complete autobiography." p.12 "Evidence (background to historiographical assessment) is examined under three heads: (1) use of documents in historiography (2) autobiographical and biographical tradition (3) the novelistic background. p.14 "P.Oxy. 2339 - is a forgery of Ctesias himself, and a rediculous one at that." p.20 "What Josephus seems to have missed is that the Greeks had criteria by which to judge the relative merits of verious versions (of public records and documents) which the Jewish historians had not. The very existence of different versions of the same event is something which, as far as I can remember, is not noted as such by the biblical historians. The distinction between various versions in the Bible is a modern application of Greek methods to biblical studies. In Hebrew historiography the collective memory about past events could never be verified according to objective criteria. If priests forged records - and priests are noriously inclined to pious frauds in all centuries - the Hebrew historian did not possess the critical instrument to discover the forgery. In so far as modern historiography is a critical one, it is a Greek, not a Jewish product." p.20 "The Greeks like history, but never made it the foundation of their lives." "To the biblical Hebrew, history and religion were one. This identification, via the Gospels, has never ceased to be relevant to Christian civilisation." p.23 "History had nothing to explain and little to reveal to the man who meditated the Law day and night. The Torah is not only permanent in its value, but regular in its effects." p.24 "The Law of the Jews was definitely beyond history". p.25 "Jewish Hellenism. There were entire communities which, even though they considered themselves Jews and practiced the Jewish religion, spoke Greek, thought in Greek, and knew hardly any Hebrew of Aramaic. For at least seven or eight centuries Greek remained the alternative cultural language of the Jews. ..... "A Demetrius of the third century BC and an Eupolemus of the second century BC who wrote about Jewish history, were taken to be pagans by Josephus. Later Eusebius realised, we do not know how, that they were Jews. No doubt some Jews disguised themselves as pagans in order to be more effective in their propaganda - and some interpolated authentic pagan works, such as those by Manethro and Hecateus of Abdera, in order to counter counteract hostile comments by pagans. Other Jews were genuine synchretists who mixed pagan and Jewish elements freely." p26 "Philo is another historian who cannot be classified either a Greek or a Jew." p.27 "New discoveries are not likely to disprove the obvious conclusion that neither II Maccabees, nor Philo, nor Josephus were ever reabsorbed into the Jewish tradition. They remained operative only in Christian learning. II Maccabees, in spirit if not in form, is behind the Christian Acta Martyrum. Philo's conception of history is related to that of Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum. More generally, Philo is the predecessor of the Christian Platonists. Finally, Josephus is one of the writers without whom Eusebius would not have been able to invent Ecclesiastical History." p.28 "By the time Christian historiography began in earnest in the third and fourth centuries AD, Jewish historiography in Hebrew was a thing of the remote past: and their had been no influential Jewish historian in Greek after Flavius Josephus.
p.37/38 "It is the merit of Professor H Strasburger to have shown skilfully and unassumingly Herodotus created his chronology. By implying in VIII,51,1 that Kalliades was the archon in Athens in the sixth year after the death of Darius, when Xerxes went to Greece, he constructed the bridge between Oriental and Greek chronologies that still holds good after 2,400 years." p.39/40 "Herodotus was acknowledged to have been the father of history - an apellation at least as old as Cicero. He was summurised by Theopompus and commented upon by Aristarchus. Yet his reputation was never that of a truthful historian. Even those who admired him the most, such as Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Lucian, praised his style rather than his reliability. Thucydides expresses his contempt for the levity of his predecessor, and the opinion of the succeeding centuries was on his side. Ctesias and Aristotle, Diodorus, Strabo, and Plutarch threw mud at Herodotus, and many were the books and pamphlets to denounce his lies. Even in the fourth century AD, Libanius felt obliged to write against Herodotus. His method clearly failed to persuade. p.41 "Thucydides had the same questioning mind as his contemporaries the Sophists, but he concentrated exclusively on political life.
p.54 "Throughout my life I have been fascinated by a type of man so near to my profession, so transparently sincere in his vocation, so understandable in his enthusiasm, and yet so deeply mysterious in his ultimate aims: the type of man who is interested in historical facts without being interested in history." p.73 "Winklemann's History of Greek Art and Gibbon's Decline and Fall are the products of this combination [Philosophic history and erudition], and we know how conscious Gibbon was of being both an antiquary and a philosopher - that is, he was a philosophic historian with the antiquarian's love of the minutiae and non-literary evidence."
p.81. "The Greeks were never able to produce a tradition of national history for themselves, for the simple reason that they were never politically unified." p.91 "I am stating as a fact that Fabius wrote in Greek because Cicero (De div I,43) and Dionysius of Halicarnassus (I,6,2) say so categorically.
p.113. "Tacitus never claimed to be a historian with a method of his own, as Thucydides or Polybius did .... He does not want to appear as an innovator. Yet in another sense Tacitus is one of the most experimental historians of antiquity. Only Xenophon, among historians who have come down to us, can be compared with him in this respect. Xenophon wtried biography, historical novel, military history with an autobiographical element, mere historical narrative, and finally a collection of philosophical sayings. Superficially Tacitus is not so many-sided. He tried only biography, ethnography, historical discussion of the decline of eloquence, and finally plain annalistic writing. But almost all his experiments are complex. p.117 "His notoriously ambiguous account of the persecution of Christians under Nero, though critical of the Emperor, does not question his ultimate right to persecute. Tacitus' real aim was to unmask the imperial rule, in so far as it was government by debasement, hypocrisy, and cruelty. He did not exclude any class from the consequences of such a regime, but concentrated on the imperial court itself and on the senators. Individual exceptions he allowed.
p.132 "The connection between ecclesiastical history and fireworks is perhaps not the most obvious. But in one case fireworks demonstrably helped the study of ecclesiastical history. The name of Bendetto Bacchini stands out among the learned Benedictine monks of the end of the seventeeth century." ***************************************************** Four pages are then spent outlining the attempts of this Bachi to publish a document he had found - the "Liber Pontificalis". p.133 "The author of the chronicle, Agnellus, a priest of Ravenna between 820 and 845, compiled his "Liber Pontificalis" as a series of lectures for his fellow priests of the Capitolum of Ravenna." This related to other evidence indicating an alleged conferment of the pallium on the Bishop of Ravenna by the Roman Emperor Valentinianus (III) p.135 "At a certain point the Inquisition intervened and requested Bacchini to surrender all his papers on Agnellus: at the same time the Librarian of the Duke of Moderna, L.A. Muratori, who was Bacchini's pupil, was asked not to allow outsiders to read the "Liber Pontificalis" of Ravenna. Finally a compomise was reached. Bacchini consented to write a new preface in which he had to declare that Agnellus' statement on the pallium was utterly incredible and wicked - and after many further negotiations about the details the "Liber Pontificalis" could appear about 1708. It was incidentally the last book Bacchini was permitted to publish. At least two others were stopped by censorship." ***************************************************** p.136 " I have dwelt on this episode not only because it is little known, but also because I feel it serves to bring home most immediately one of the distinctive features of ecclesiastical history -- and consequently of ecclesisatical historiography. An event of the fifth century as told by a local ecclesiastical historian of the ninth century still had practical implications for the eighteenth century - and not only in Ravenna, but everywhere in Chistendom." "In no other history does precedent mean so much as ecclesiastical history. The very continuity of the institution of the church throughout the centuries makes it inevitable that anything which happened in the church's past should be relevant to its present. Furthermore - and this is most essential - in the Church conformity with the origins is evidence of truth. This doctrine may be interpretted differently in the various denominations; but it is never absent in any of them. A Church that consciously breaks with its original principles and its original institutions is inconceivable. The Church knows a return to the principles, not a break with the principles." p.136 "The corpus mysticum of the Ecclesia universalis". p.137 "What is unmistakably apparent in ecclesiatical historians is the care for their documentation." "The very importance of precedent and tradition in ecclesiastical history compelled the ecclesiastical historians to quote documentary evidence to an extent which is seldom to be found in political historians." p.138 "We have defined some of the essential elements of ecclesiastical historiography: 1) the continuous interrelation of dogma and facts; 2) the transcendental significance attributed to the period of origins; 3) the emphasis on factual evidence; 4) the ever present problem of relating events of local churches to the mystical body of the universal church." Part II p.138 "Simple and majestic Eusebius of Caesarea claims for himself the merit of having invented ecclesiastical history. This merit cannot be disputed. "Sozomenus though that Eusebius had been preceded as an ecclesiastical historian by Clemens, Hegesippus, and Julius Africanus. None of these names can really compete with that of Eusebius." Clemens the alleged author of the Gospel of Peter - not an ecclesiastical history. Sextus Julius Africanus - was a chronographer The more mysterious Hegesippus -- appears to be an anti-Gnostic apologist 2nd CE p.139 "Preparatio evangelica is one of the boldest attempts ever made to show continuity between pagan and Christian thought." "[Eusebius], the witness of the last persecution and the advisor and apologist of Constantine was in a vantage position to appreciate the autonomy and strength of the institution that had compelled the Roman state to surrender at the Milvian Bridge in 312. Though anxious to preserve the pagan cultural heritage in the new Christian order - indeed very anxious, as we shall soon see, to use the pagan tradition for his Ecclesiastical History - Eusebius knew that the Christians were a nation, and a victorious nation at that; and that their history could not be told except within the framework of the Church in which they lived. Furthermore, he was well aware that the Christian nation was what it was by virtue of its being both the oldest and the newest nation of the world." p.140 "Apostolic succession and the doctrinal orthodoxy were pillars of the new Christian nation; its enemies were the persecutors and the heretics. Thus ecclesiastical history replaced the battles of ordinary political history by the trials inherent in resistence to persecution and heresy. **** paraphrased: It is obvious that in developing this conception Eusebius had before him the Old Testament (Struggle against persecutors had its precedent in the Books of Maccabees) Flavius Josephus (idea of a holy nation,also in Bible), and the Acts of the Apostles (classic document of the spreading of Christianity). "One of the important factors of Christian historiography is that there was no continuation to the Acts of the Apostles. They remained a document of the heroic age of Christianity, to be put together with the Gospels. More than two hundred years later Eusebius made a new start on a completely different basis: he was not primarily concerned with the spread of Christianity by propaganda and miracle, but with its survival of persecution and heresy from which it was to emerge victorious." "Novelty -- "heresy" in the Christian sense is absent from the Bible and Josephus. "One kind of account in pagan historiography Pagan historiography could help Eusebius considerably. That was the history of philosophical schools - such as we find in Diogenes Laertius. **** (1) the idea of succession was equally important in philosophical schools and and in Eusebius' notion of Christianity. The bishops were the diadochoi of the Apostles, just as the scholarchai were the diadochoi of Plato, Zeno, and Epicurus. (2) Like any philosophical school, Christianity had its orthodoxy and its deviationists. (3) Historians of philosophy in Greece used antiquarian methods and quoted documents much more frequently and thoroughly than than their colleagues, the political historians. p.141 re: both Eusebius and Diogenes Laertius ... "Direct original evidence was essential to establish the rightful claims of orthodoxy against external persecutors and internal dissidents. Here again we can be certain that Jewish influences were not without importance for Eusebius. The idea of scholarly succession is fundamental to rabbinic thought, which had developed in its turn under the impact f Greek theory." "It was Hellenic scholarship that Eusebius drew upon to shape the new model of ecclesiastical history. In this he was faithful to the Hellenistic tradition of his teachers and to his own programme in the Praeparatio evangelica. The immense authority which Eusebius gained was well deserved. He had continuators but no rivals." p.141 "Eusebius' History of the Church ideally reflected the moment in which the Church had emerged victorious under Constantine - a separate body within the Roman Empire. With all his gifts Eusebius could not shape his historiography in such a way as to envisage situations in which it would be impossible to separate what belonged to Caesar from what belonged to Christ." There was a very real duality in Eusebius' notion of eccesiastical history: p.141/142: "on the one hand eclesiastical history was the history of the Christian nation now emerging as the ruling class of the Roman Empire. On the other hand it was the history of a divine institution not contaminated by political problems." "How to deal with this divine institution's very earthly relations with other institutions in terms of power, violence and even territorial claims? "How would the continuators of Eusebius deal with the politics of the emperors, the plotical intrigues of the bishops?" "If we had the Christian History which the priest Philip of Side wrote about 430, we would know more about the significance of the predominance of the Eusebian model. It is evident that Philip of Side tried to go his own way and to avoid imitating Eusebius..." CONTINUATORS OF EUSEBIUS: in order of appearance by Momigliano .... ### NAME Wrote Span of Ecclesiastical History NOTES -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 101 Ammianus M 390? 91 to 390 NB: (Pagan) Political History 102 Nichomachus F 5th CE NB: (Pagan) Political History 103 Zosimus 5th CE NB: (Pagan) Political History -1- Philipe of Side 430 Origin of World to 430 Did not survive -2- Gelasius of Caesarea ?? Wrote 365-400 (Bishop) Recovery of lost work 000 Rufinus Not considered as an historian AM considers as translator 001 Socrates 303 to 439 002 Sozomenus 303 to 421 003 Theodoretus 303 to 428 004 Gelasius of Cyzicus 475 324 to 475 (Constantine) 005 Philostorgius 425? 317 to 425 (Arian controversy) "An Arian of the Eunomian variety" 006 Procopius 007 Agathias 008 John of Ephesus 585 "monophysite" wrote in Syria 009 Euagrius Scholasticus 594 --- The last ecclesiastical historians who can claim direct descent from Eusebius. --- Nicephorus Callistus (writing 1320) "regretted that Euagrius had no successor" p.147 "Abandonment (in the West, of the Eusebian form of ecclesiastical historiography) was not complete because each writer kept faith with the Eusebian premise of the existence of a Universal Church and of the necessity for documentary evidence." p.149/150 "In 1519 Luther made himself familiar with Eusebius in Rufinus' translation. In 1530 Caspar Hedio published the Chronica der alten christlichen Kirchen aus Eusebius und der Tripartita. Flacius Illyricus and his team of centuriators knew their Eusebius by heart, of course - and the same can be said of all the ecclesiatical historians who worked after them, be it in the Protestant or the Catholic camp. What both Protestants and Catholics wanted to prove was that they had the authority of the first centuries of the Church on their side." p.150 re:the universal church "Eusebius dealt with heresies, but he had no suspicion that the very course of events of the first Christian centuries could be disputed and that there might be more than one interpretation of basic events. The position of St. Peter, the development of ecclesiastical hierarchy, the origin and development of at least certain sacraments were not a matter of controversy for him. They were, needless to say, at the centre of attention both by Flacius Illyricus and by Caesare Baronio, who, after attempts by others, at last produced the Catholic answer to the Protestant ecclesiastical historiography. What characterises the new historiography of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation is the search for the true image of Early Christianity to be opposed to the false ones of the rivals." p.151 "As long as the notion of a Universal Church was not in dispute, Eusebius remained the source of inspiration for ecclesiatical historians. The enormous, almost pathological, output of ecclesiastical history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries becomes more and more involved in the discussions of details, and more and more diversified in theological outlook, but it never repudiates the basic notion that a Universal Church exists beyond the individual Christian comminities." "It is of course impossible to indicate the exact moment in which the history of the Church began to be studied as the history of a human community instead of a divine institution." "If I had to produce my own candidate, I would go back to the first half of the eighteenth century and name Pietro Giannone, who meditated deeply on the relation between ecclesiastical and political history and about 1742 wrote in prison a sketch of the history of ecclesiastical history which would be published only in 1859 (Istoria del Pontificato di Gregorio Magno in Opere di Pietro Giannone, ed. Bertelli-Ricuperati, Naples, 1971). The truth is of course that historians of the church are still divided on the fundamental issue of the divine origin of the church. The number of professional historians who take the Church as a divine intitution -- and can therefore be considered to be the followers of Eusebius -- increased rather than decreased in the years after the FIrst World War. On the other hand the historians who study the history of the Church as that of a human institution have consolidated their methods. They have been helped by the general adoption in historiography of those standards of erudite research which at seems at one time to have been confined to ecclesiastical historians and controversialists. We sometimes forget that Eduard Meyer was, at least in Germany, the first non-theologian to write a scholarly history of the origins of Christianity, and this happened only in 1921. p.152 "Those who accept the notion of the Church as a divine institution which is different from the other institutions have to face the difficulty that the Church history reveals only too obviously a continuous mixture of political and religious aspects: hence the distinction frequently made by Church historians of the last two centuries between internal and external history of the Church, where internal means (more or less) religious and external means (more or less) political. p.152 "At the beginning of this imposing movement of research and controversy there remains Eusebius of Caesarea. In 1834 Ferdinand Christian Baur wrote in "Tubingen" a comparison between Eusebius and Herodotus: Comparatur Eusebius Caesarensis historiae ecclesiasticae parens cum parente historiarum Herodoto Halicarnassensi. We can accept this comparison and meditate on his remark that both Herodotus and Eusebius wrote under the inspiration of a newly established freedom.
p.156 "The separation of religion and politics is at the root of modern historiography. Paradoxically, Christian ideas penetrated into modern historical books only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when faith in Christianity was at its lowest. This was due to the attempt at giving one meaning to the historical process as a whole --- from the origins of the world to the triumph of reason or to the advent of the classless society. When that happened, modern historical methods had already been shaped upon their ancient models. Modern philosophy of history - on a Christian basis - and modern historical methods - on a classical basis - have never quite agreed with each other. It would take another book - one which I should probably not be able to write - to disentangle the implications of this elementary fact.
p.157-162 Listing of over 300 names.