Archive for January, 2013

A prosopographical approach to history

January 9th, 2013 Posted in Church History, Historians

In distinction from the reigning paradigms in how to do history—socio-economic and gender—it seems to me that a prosopographical approach to history is the vital element in teaching and writing. I believe this is the approach to history patterned for us in holy Scripture. It is also a way of approach that is perennially fascinating and illuminating. Ten years ago, in an article on English historian Linda Colley, Daniel Snowman put it well when he argued for the use of multiple biography to create a portrait of a bygone era.

On writing history

January 8th, 2013 Posted in 18th Century, Andrew Fuller, Church History, Historians

Trying to write the history of the modern day is extremely difficult: the closeness of the events distorts one’s vision and then there is the overwhelming amount of sources. Robert Louis Stevenson’s observation is surely right: “The obscurest epoch is today” (cited Charles Nicholl, Traces Remain: Essays and Explorations [London: Penguin Books, 2011], xvii).

A few years ago, the renowned English historian Linda Colley suggested the best century—she called it “God’s century”—to study was the 18th century (David Snowman, “Linda Colley”, History Today, 53, no.1 [January 2003], 18). The sources for this period are abundant but not so much as to overwhelm the researcher. Of course, anyone who spends an enormous amount of time in Andrew Fuller must be biased and it didn’t take much to convince me Colley was spot-on.