Validation Of History

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by tyndale1946, Feb 17, 2003.

  1. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    If you all don't know by now I love to read The Complete Works Of Josephus and will often compare his historical secular writings with scripture... Only from an historical standpoint.

    I don't look at the writings of Josephus as inspired but I do view it as history. Can we say that those things that Josephus wrote about really happened?... What do we use as our measuring stick... And can we or can we not use the Bible?... What other sources can we use to validate the writings of Josephus or is Josephus the reference that others should measure from?

    Since Josephus wrote from the time of Christ and his disciples doesn't this pose a problem as his writings are strictly historical secular and maybe chroniciled to save his own hide... As some have implied.

    To go into Brother Jeffs ballpark... What if during the Civil War one person wrote about the whole thing. It was passed down by generation to generation up until our time... Would anyone believe the writings of one man?... If there was no one there to validate it and say... Here there was a battle... and here... and here... and here... and here... and what happened at each and every battle and who was involved... Better yet eyewitnesses to what happened. we also had pictures and letters and Civil War artifacts and the places it happened. We have proof positive! [​IMG]

    That being said how do you prove that, that is only penned down for future generations and there are no validators to the history because the time span is to great? :confused: Some may say that is not true that is what he penned down and you know men do lie. What he wrote was not to benefit anyone but him. Then where are the validators to any mans history?... If it is more than just his personal history and him not being of historical importance none is needed... Only for him and his family geneology... But if it is of historical importance for mankind and his place in it then validation of history is needed and the search for truth must be persued whereever it leads... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Bro. Glen wrote:

    Much of Josephus can be validated from other ancient sources, so his credibility as a secular historian of this period is pretty good. There were other historians of the period, and in many cases they will confirm Josephus, sometimes they allude to the same or similar situations, so that is that for what it is worth.

    Almost anyone in Josephus' position would have written to save his own hide, and that caveat must be kept in mind when reading Josephus. Just because he was trying to save his own hide doesn't automatically invalidate the story. Just points that there maybe other points of view about the story.

    Sometimes there are only a few witnesses to great events in history, and perhaps only one or two of them choose to write about it. In ancient times, perhaps only one or two were capable of writing about it. And then consider the distance in time, and it is remarkable that any of it survived. To supplement the knowledge of the ancient past, archeology is an invaluable resource. (Did I ever tell you I did some archeology back in college days -- but it was Revolutionary War period excavations). In addition to written history, archelogical evidence, one must also consider the oral tradition. The oral tradition becomes less reliable the further back in history one goes, but it is nonetheless something to be considered.

    Bro. Glen. My 2 cents on this last paragraph is a bit difficult to express fairly. The validation of Josephus can be drawn from Roman era civil records (some are extant); contemporary historians (Pliny comes to mind); from archeology; some from scripture. Everything must be filtered one against the other to come up with the actual record of events. I realize that some will be upset that I didnt mention scripture more. Scripture however, was written for one purpose (the instruction and edification of the Church), and secular history is written for an entirely different reason(s).

    A fair representation of Roman secular writings can be found online at:
    http://myron.sjsu.edu/romeweb/WRITERS/contents.htm#mid

    Additionally some corroberation of Josephus' accouts of this and that can be found in the writings of the Church Fathers.

    Hope it helps.

    Jeff.
     
  3. rsr

    rsr
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    I think you've covered it pretty well, Jeff.

    Josephus' reputation has waxed and waned over the centuries.

    It's also likely the very last books of "Antiquities" were written by his assistants. And there are textual questions, such as whether certain passages are original or were added at a later date.

    All in all, he's stood up pretty well (though not perhaps on his own military career.) He is like a breath of fresh air compared to Herodotus.
     
  4. rlvaughn

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    What they said. [​IMG]
     
  5. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Have one question... Since the Romans and the Jews were meticulous on record keeping... Would there not be a record by Pontius Pilate on the trial of Jesus?... Just asking as they say a dumb question is the one not asked... So I'm asking!... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    The Archko Saga purports to be detailed proofs and records from Caiaphas, Pilate and a host of others. Suspicious at best, blatant lies at worst.

    I am almost as suspect of the works of Josephus and wonder about the validity of most of what he says. When studying in Israel, most of the men there were questioning about every thing that he said.

    Would make an interesting study.
     
  7. rsr

    rsr
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    Bro. Glen, I will make a few guesses, but that's all they are.

    A trial of a person who was not a citizen of Rome would have been of little importance for the official chroniclers.

    Second, preservation of provincial records was likely not a high priority. And there is the little matter of the destruction of Jerusalem not long thereafter. And who knows what all was lost when the library in Alexandria was burned?

    I am not familiar with the recordkeeping of the Sanhedrin. Sorry.

    So far as I know, the best records of Roman trials were not from "official" sources but from accounts of eyewitnesses (or fabrication; there is some disagreement there.) Just as there is no official detailed record of the Continental Congress that declared independence; in fact, there is only one detailed diary of the event. And without Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention we would be severely at a loss to explain what happened.

    Most people would be shocked to learn how thin the manuscript evidence for much of history really is. The oldest versions of Josephus, for example, date to the ninth century. And that's a pretty good record, compared to others of the ancients.

    [ February 18, 2003, 12:33 AM: Message edited by: rsr ]
     
  8. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    Stephen makes some good points. (Wish I had thought to have made them). Even if the trial of Jesus had been considered a momentous enough of an event to warrant a detailed record in the first place, and even if had made its way to Rome or Alexandria, the ravages of time would have made its survival difficult (improbable/impossible).

    Stephen is also correct in that some of the mss. fabric is very sheer, even in modern times. There are things you think should be there that just aren't. Bad things happen as well. Case in point - my grandfather's Civil War records were in a house that was destroyed by a flood -- no copies were made. Lots of things like that can happen. Can you say Nero Fiddled while Rome Burned?? :D In a contemporary setting, I get folks who just can't find grandpa in Confederate records. Doesn't mean he didn't serve, just means that Richmond burned in April 1865.

    Jeff.
     
  9. Jeff Weaver

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