Re: Living and dying with Inaccurate History (fwd)

Rodney Dunning (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 08:46:44 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 3 Mar 1997, Glenn Morton wrote:

> >I still agree with this. But as your objection to Is 51:18 shows, there
> >are times when it is not appropriate to apply the test.
> I wouldn't agree with this. The passage is not journalistic enough to know
> what to expect. What does it meand to be watered like a garden and to have
> my bones made strong. What journalistic information is being conveyed? If
> those statements are a hebrew idiom that I am unaware of, then that might
> impart more information.

Well I'm completely confused by this response. You disagree that it is
not appropriate to apply the Deut. test to this verse, then you give all
the reasons why the application would be fruitless. But let's get hung up
on this point.

> There must be something testable before a text can even be considered as a
> possible journalistic type account. If there is nothing testable, then it
> can't be journalistic. That is why "watering" is untestable.

This hasn't answered the question. Both A and B answer the journalistic
questions, so they are both testable. But we agreed that answering the
journalistic questions is not sufficient to establish a given text as a
historical chronicle. Thus, there must some other difference(s) between
A and B.

> agreed, I am tiring of this topic. You can have the last word.

My point all along has only been this: before deciding whether an account
is a truthful historical chronicle, we must first decide if it actually
intends to impart history to us. We certainly wouldn't criticize the
Hobbit for failing to be historically reliable if we understand that
Tolkien wasn't trying to write a record of actual events. Neither would
we claim to have found data supporting its historicity, either.

So the question of what kind of information the text intends to impart
must logically come first. But how do we answer this question? What are
the criteria we find in a text when we determine that it's meant as a
historical chronicle? The only answers we came up with are that the text
should answer the journalistic questions, and if it claims to come from
God, it should get all its facts straight. But we also agreed that
answering the journalistic questions is necessary but not sufficient. And
whether it gets its facts straight is meaningless if text never intended
to impart a chronicle of actual events. Anything it got right would be
coincidence, as the example of the book about the Titan and real Titanic
shows (you mentioned this earlier).

So in summary in the question remains unanswered regarding Genesis. It
seems that we have not actually determined that it should be read as a
chronicle of historical events.

That's all I have to say. Thank you for the conversation.

Rodney Dunning
voice: 910.759.4977 or 910.759.4980
fax: 910.759.6142