March 12, 2019

Historians Imagine Scenarios

Today I just want to quote the first paragraph of James McGrath's brilliant post today about fiction and non-fiction. James' personal testimony about this means more than any words I could add in appreciation, and I look forward to hearing more from James about his efforts in this area.
What an odd path my academic life has followed. They say truth is stranger than fiction. I pursued study of the Bible bringing with me naïve assumptions about its historicity. Study challenged those assumptions. I then undertook research and then taught and continued researching the Bible using methods of historical critical analysis. Teaching gave me the opportunity to branch out into areas like the study of science fiction, which led me to write science fiction. That has led me to try writing historical fiction. And that is proving surprisingly relevant to the work I do about history, in all sorts of ways. I have begun revisiting ideas, hunches, and hypotheses about the history behind the Bible, discovering that the effort to turn those possibilities into stories, with plausible character motives and events, is providing a more rigorous testing thereof than any other critical analysis I had subjected them to.
These words are thrilling, and I am so deeply intrigued. The rest of James' fascinating post meanders a bit through various aspects of fiction, non-fiction, and psychology, and I recommend checking out all of his links, but my own primary interest remains fixed on these challenging dynamics of integrating critical judgment and historical imagination.

My own explorations about these subjects will post here as they continue to develop, but of course there are different ways to combine these ingredients. I dearly hope we can expect hear more about how James continues his own "rigorous testing" in future postings at Religion Prof.

Anon... 
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