The More I Learn About Baptist History...

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by Bugman, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. Bugman

    Bugman
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    The more I learn about baptist history, the more I come to relize uour view depends on what litature you believe. But when you have many books written on one side, and jsut as many on the other how do you know what ones to believe?

    Unlike other topics the only place I can find out about history is in books and since there is no God inspired history book of the Baptist faith it's starting to seem like a toss up as to which people's writting on it I believe.

    Bryan
    SDG
     
  2. rsr

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    Only partially. All the literature must cite sources to be credible; those with original or near-original sources that can be checked - for accuracy and bias - are more credible than those that can't.

    This does not establish the absolute validity of those with "better" sources, because the opposing original sources may have been lost or suppressed. Since we cannot know, we cannot make claims from the unauthenticated sources.

    History is a messy business, not nearly so neat as most people want it to be. Sifting evidence, examining sources, looking for context is vital. You do the best you can.
     
  3. Dr. Bob

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    It's called "Primary Source" and that is imperative to understanding and deciphering what history "books" might say.

    Most of what is discussed in, say, Trail of Blood is NOT from such primary source material, but just compilations of what others wrote.

    Because of this there are gross inaccuracies and wrong conclusions. I have had my feet put to the fire for using info that was second or third generation reference rather than primary source.
     
  4. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    In writing a proper history of anything, there should be at the very least a bibliography of sources consulted, and preferably footnotes to indicate where the author got the quote, idea, etc.

    Unfortunately 100 years ago, more or less, that school of thought was not adhered to except on rare occasions. Now, a history of what ever subject has to be taken with great caution if sources are not cited.

    So, if you find a book on what ever subject of history and it doesn't cite its sources, you can discount what it has to say.

    Now what constitutes a first hand account. An account written by the subject of study or by someone who knew him/her, or if studying a group of people someone who was a member of the group, or someone who was knowledgeable about the group. Secondary sources are things written/said about what was told them, or written by another historian.

    Another problem with making a credible history is -- Were all the relevant sources consulted. In today's environment, this is where most modern histories will fail (if they fail at all).

    One also has to make an assessment on the predjuices of the author. Everyone has their own set of values, etc., but in order to be a good history the author has to set those mental conflicts aside. If he/she doesn't you have commentary and not history. Much of what passes as church/religious history is actually commentary and not strictly speaking history. This can be difficult for the casual reader to determine.

    That all said there is another kind of history that does have some merit what I call folk history. A folk history is written more or less as a first hand account. If the author of the "history" has been intimately involved in what is being discussed, a folk history is perfectly acceptable. With a folk history though you have to determine what the writer's point of view is, and make the same judgments about whether or not the writer has been objective in outlining what may not necessarily put him/her in the best light. For example, have written and have had 24 Civil War histories published. In searching for source material, I often run across these folk histories, where someone notes that they could have won the war by themselves if they had had just a little more help. I discount those accounts. But if the author of the account frankly admits his/her mistakes, then I find it to have more credibility.

    Hope it helps.

    Jeff
     
  5. Major B

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    A good secondary source that helps with this process is "The Martyr's Mirror," a compilation of original source stories from the gruesome martyrdoms of the Mennonites and associated groups. It is about 1215 pages long!

    The greatest problem in assessing Baptist history, however, is that the groups that represent baptist heritage were persecuted groups whose writings have mostly not survived. That means that historians must deal with original sources (Catholic, mainly) that were virulent opponents of the baptists. Probably the best job I've seen of pulling this off was done by Leonard Verduin in his "The Reformers and Their Stepchildren."
     
  6. Bugman

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    Thanks for the advice. When go about buying some of my own books on Church history it will coem in useful

    Bryan
    SDG
     

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