Monday, October 02, 2006

Historical Writings

Something I've learnt over a hermenuetics class this week is that 'history' is not the same as 'historiography'. History is what actually happened in the past, while historiography, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary, is "the writing of history", which is a way of portraying or telling what had happened during actual events.

The way a writing or message is conveyed in historiography involves the perspective of the author, which can be selective in content (John 20:30-31). Depending on the message the author wish to convey or achieve, a text is chosen to tell the story of the event. This, of course, does not mean the event did not take place, but rather it means history or the event can be told differently by different people, depending on the individual's perspective and objective.

For example, when Matthew wrote the gospel, it was to the Jews, so many Scriptural verses of the Old Testament were quoted. Mark, on the other hand, wrote to the Romans, so the word 'immediately' is frequently seen, because the Romans were the ruling party at that time, thus a sense of immediacy was depicted to show action.When reading the Bible, therefore, there are occasions where people see it contradictory in content, but in actual fact, it is merely the difference in perspective and objective. What is needed when reading God's word, therefore, is for us to put ourselves in the context of the time the text is written, and read its content through the eyes of the author, constantly remembering that:

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" (2 Timothy 3:16 NAS)