Historiography: An Overview

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The English word history, as well as the French histoire and the Italian storia, stems from the Greek historia, which was used first to refer to a general inquiry into things and only later to refer to history as it is now understood. Germans speak of Geschichte (from geschehen, "to happen"); Chinese choose shih (meaning both "fact" and "history"); Hindus use terms such as itihāsa (tradition; lit., "verily thus it happened") and purāa (ancient lore); and Arabs alternate tarʾikh (derived from the word for dating events), khabar ("report"), and ʿibar (derived from the verb meaning "to pass on, through, over, or beyond"). Because the meanings of these terms are bound to cultures and periods, etymological analysis does not provide a ready explanation for the universality of the writing of history.

An investigation of time as the basic dimension of human existence yields more profound insights. It demonstrates the relentless change from past to present to future and how that change leads human beings to search for elements of continuity so as to reconcile their memories of the past with their experiences of the present and their expectations for the future. History is the endeavor that reconciles change and continuity by constructing such a unity of past, present, and future. That purpose links history to religion, itself the affirmation of a continuity transcending the world and time. Indeed, the history of historiography is marked decisively by the fate of that link between religion and historiography. In the mythological stage, sacred concepts alone defined the unity in time, telling of the emergence first of the cosmos and then of human society. In the subsequent stage of traditional historiography the ever more multitudinous and complex human phenomena of the ongoing present and the expected future were linked to the sacred past (be it the mythological core or the works of Confucius, the Buddha, Jesus, or Muammad) and thereby given meaning. In the later phases of traditional historiography, that creative process of establishing continuity through reference to the sacred past became more complicated as human history revealed more and more of its scope and some self-regulating patterns. The less frequent direct linkage between the present and a sacred past resulted in a greater prominence of human phenomena in the world's traditional historiographies, a prominence in many cases supported by a nascent rationalist undercurrent. Finally, in modern Western civilization, that linkage snapped completely and a historiographical revolution began that challenged the very link between religion and historiography. The repercussions became worldwide.

For centuries, the mythical accounts of how the cosmos and human society were created shaped both the substance and the tenor of historical works. Therefore, it mattered whether the world was perceived as going through endlessly recurrent cycles (ancient Indian accounts) from which human beings strove to escape into a state of timelessness; or as the onetime creation by an all-powerful creator (the three monotheistic religions), which demanded of human beings lives of decision with reference to a Last Judgment at the end of time; or as depending on the mythological age mainly for the substance and legitimacy of its moral and political order (Chinese and Japanese accounts).

Of even greater import to traditional historiography were accounts of the foundation of human society, most often formulated in terms of a loss of perfection. Ancient Indian texts spoke of a decline from the Golden Age, first to one marked by a need to eat and engage in sex, shortening the human life span, and then, crucially, to one of agriculture and private property that necessitated restraints on power and violence through law and government. The process had four stages (yuga s): the ideal stage, the ktayuga ; the beginning of degeneration in the tretāyuga ; the dvāparayuga ; and the present, destructive stage of kaliyuga. In the Jewish and Christian traditions human society resulted from an act of disobedienceAdam and Eve trying to partake of God's full knowledge. Expulsion from the Garden of Eden brought the new human world of toil and suffering but also the possibility of joy and prosperity contingent on the proper relationship between God and human beings. Chinese, Greeks, and Romans spoke of a decline in more general terms: Confucian scholars saw decay as an ever-present threat (if the proper precepts were not obeyed); Greeks knew of the five consecutive ages (or races) of declining quality suggested by Hesiod; and Greek and Roman writers repeated tales of a lost Golden Age. Each of these fundamental views left its imprint on traditional historiography.

Traditional Historiographies

Historiographies in the traditional manner prevailed in the West until the eighteenth century and outside of the West for two more centuries. Traditional historiography established for all events their continuity with the sacred past by authorizing what constitutes proper memory, by interpreting the why and how of events, and by using a methodology that stresses the consensus of continuing texts rather than verification measured according to human reason. In all of this, the "authority of the past" is dominant.

Indian traditional historiography

Indian historiography, which has its mythological anchor in the Vedic literature, particularly the fourth Vedathe Upaniadswith its exhortation to focus human life on a union with the all-encompassing and changeless Absolute, gives little encouragement to record the world's changing phenomena. Indeed, it has been argued (too sweepingly) that because of this focus Indian culture lacks a historical consciousness. While no large body of ancient historical works exists, there is a body of historical material in the Vedas, the Itihāsa. Among its historical genres, the Purāas contained genealogies and stories of kings. The royal genealogies were kept by a special court official, the sūta and later the māghada ; the genealogies traced the king and his family back to the mythological period. Other lists showed the proper priestly succession. These were important because the link to sacred antiquity gave legitimacy to priests and kings. The Itihāsa-Purāa tradition also contained stories with clear lessons on conduct. Narrative historiography, as epic history, found an outstanding example in the Mahābhārata (uncertain date; some parts extant in the seventh century) and the popular genre of ākhyāna. By 300 ce ancient Indian historiography had found its enduring form. From then on, largely undisturbed by the Muslim and European hegemonies, it offered chronicles of the various feudal states and biographies of outstanding persons in the form of the carita. All of these manifest the basic characteristics of Indian historiography: a lack of interest in precise dating; a lack of desire to distinguish clearly between legend, fantasy, and fact; a love of poetry; a preference for the idealized over the realistic; and the absence of a method for establishing the congruence of text and preceding text or of text and observable world. All of these characteristics are consistent with the emphasis on achieving union with the Absolute and reflect the resulting relative inattention to the story of human phenomena for their own sake. Thus, history was seen as the outward manifestation of an inner drama, whose logic was not to be found in mechanical cause-and-effect relationships but in karman, a structure by which punishments follow wrong deeds and rewards follow good ones.

Into this historiography was fitted, with some considerable modifications of the ancient tradition, both the Buddhist and Jain histories. In their basic tenor these traditions too placed strong emphasis on individuals escaping from the transient world, although they offer somewhat more encouragement for an involvement in that world. Their radically new feature was the reanchoring of history in the teachings and examples of persons who had actually lived in history. Buddhist historiography anchored in the Tripiaka, with its account of episodes in the Buddha's life (566486 bce), the formulation of his teachings, and the founding of the sagha ("community"). Thus, Mahānāma's famous Mahāvasa (Chronicle of Ceylon) was written in the traditional Indian manner, but, while acknowledging the Vedic core, it stressed the Buddha's life and teachings and the teacher Mahinda's work in Ceylon; none of this was intended to reconstruct accurately the past but to edify readers and listeners. Jain historiography varied Hindu tradition by introducing a succession of twenty-four jina s (saints), the last one being Vardhamāa Mahāvīra (d. 476?), and by deemphasizing some supernatural explanations in favor of rational ones.

Chinese traditional historiography

Given to the concrete and the particular rather than the supernatural and abstract, Chinese historiography had as its narrow mythological base the mandate of Heaven (tian-ming ), which required the emperor to organize and maintain a social order according to moral precepts. The mandate deified the emperor without making him a god, but also sanctioned his overthrow if the order was either not maintained or failed to conform to the moral code. Heaven provided for the authority of the ruling dynasty but also for revolution and the subsequent establishment of a new dynasty. That view accorded well with the fifth-century Chunqiu (Spring and autumn annals) of the state of Lu. This work, comprising typical annals of military campaigns, events at court, and unusual occurrences, became in the edition attributed to Confucius an instrument of moral and social teaching. Thereafter, the dependence of the fortunes of individuals and dynasties on conformance to the moral code and its correlate political wisdom remained a theme in Chinese historiography. The close connection between the mythical mandate, history writing, the state, and the moral structure of life was maintained when, after 221 bce, a strong imperial government emerged. Even the destruction by imperial decree (213 bce) of all previous historical materials emphasized that link: these records fostered the survival of memories dangerous to the new order. History writing was affirmed with the establishment of a commission to collect ancient texts (136 bce) and a "grand college" (124 bce), and above all through the sponsorship of the Zhengshi (Standard histories). The pioneering work, the Shiji (Records of the historian) by Sima Tan (d. 110 bce?) and his son Sima Qian (c. 14585 bce), contained composite annals (mostly court accounts), genealogical tables of the imperial family, lists of ministers of state, and a biographical section devoted to famous statesmen and scholars. Later, such histories were created by the official history office (shi guan ). In accordance with the principle of orderly successionthe manifestation of the triumph of peace and harmony over chaosit became the duty of each dynasty to compose the history of the preceding one, always mindful of linking authority to ancient times and of offering proper lessons from the past. Thus a stable historical record, sustaining and reflecting traditional China, spans the period to the end of the monarchy in 1911. Even Chinese Buddhism with its sense of universal equality and compassion for all human beings, its longing for release from this life, and sense of decline in human history, was adjusted in its historiography to Chinese traditionalism andpartially because of intermittent coercion by the statenever developed a true alternative to the official view of the past.

Japanese traditional historiography

Beginning with the early Nihonshoki or Nihongi (Chronicles of Japan; 720 ce) and its cruder predecessor the Kojiki (Record of ancient matters, 712 ce), Japanese historiography carried the imprint of the well-developed Chinese historiography. But while the Confucian linkage of virtue and fortune was present in them, the stronger feature was the Shintō assertion of an unbroken sequence of emperors originally descendant from the sun goddess. This sacred imperial line made superfluous the Chinese concept of the mandate of Heaven and its rationale for dynastic change. Yet, from the eleventh to the seventeenth century there were no imperial histories, because that historiography did not fit a society in which the power was held by noble families. The Japanese prose writings, the Rekishi monogatari (Historical tales) and the Gunki monogatari (Military tales), recorded the powerful lords' deeds and their relationship with the imperial family. The dominance of noble families, ruling for and through the emperor, raised the issue of legitimate authority. Works by imperial partisans, such as the fourteenth-century Jinnō shōtōki (Chronicle of gods and sovereigns) by Kitābatake Chikafusa, extolled the divine/human position of the emperor as the descendant of the sun goddess, a mode of thinking characteristic for the whole "loyalty to the emperor" school, which centuries later (in 1868) was instrumental in the restoration of imperial power.

Historians sympathetic to the feudal overlords foundin the Confucian mannerthe dominance by feudal families legitimate if the law and thus harmony was effectively maintained andin the Shintō mannerif a genealogical link with the imperial line could be established. In either case the traditionally sanctioned authority of the emperor remained above the rise and fall of political power. The Buddhist priest Jien's Gukanshō (1219) illustrates well the complexity of interpretation in Japanese traditional historiography. Although written with an ostensibly political purpose it called upon the Shintō concept of the direct divine descent of emperors, the Confucian linkage of virtue, order, and harmony, and a profusion of Buddhist organizing concepts: kalpa s (cycles with a first half of decadence and a second one of recuperation); the tripartite scheme of True, Imitation, and Final Law (the last being the worst, when even Buddhist teachings were corrupted); and finally, interwoven into all of these, the Principles (impersonal shaping forces, one for each age). In the end all of these schemes were subject to the Buddhist doctrine of continuous universal decline despite temporary respites, a message that fit the pessimism of a difficult period. With the reemergence of a strong central (although not imperial) government under the Tokugawa shoguns (16001868), the Chinese historiographical model emphasizing centralized power became once more attractive and shaped the late seventeenth-century Honchō tsugan (Comprehensive mirror of Japan). It stressed the political lessons of history interpreted according to the now strongly encouraged Confucianism.

Greek and Roman historiographies

Greek and Roman historiographies were in their entirety traditional, as they were never decisively shaped by the rationalism and skepticism of their own cultures and, of course, never by that of modernity. The Homeric epics were the mythological core of Greek historiography, and their heroic history befitted the ideals of the Greece before the city state (polis ) and organized record keeping. The Greece of the polis preferred an "unheroic" history, although the lessons of honor and noble passions derived from the narratives of the struggles and tragic fates of heroes were never forgotten. The prose histories with a human dimension, often structured by crude chronologies (generation counts, lists of officeholders, priests, and priestesses), offered grand inquiries into cultures (Herodotos, c. 484c. 425 bce) or wished to serve the citizens of the polis (Thucydides, c. 460c. 400 bce). The Homeric gods who had so frequently and directly interfered in battles and individual lives receded soon into a lesser role, punishing those immoderately in love with money or power (Herodotos) or yielding all influence to the human drive for power (Thucydides). The exact role of the often-mentioned Tyche (fate or fortune) was never clear. Yet many traditionalist historians, despite their admiration for human deeds, still gave proper credit to the gods. The uncertain role of gods and mythology continued in Greek historiography after the latter had lost its city-state focus, in the Macedonian monarchy and subsequently in the monarchical Hellenistic states. Universal history, attempted in the fourth century bce by Ephorus of Cyme, proved impossible in a tradition that lacked any ingredient conducive to the linking of non-Greek and Greek records into a universal history. Traditional historiography, most often local in nature, received support from the antiquarians, who composed critical histories of ancient religious legends and rituals, hoping to use the increasingly rationalist ideal of accuracy for the support of tradition.

Early Roman historiography was really Greco-Roman. One of Rome's mythological roots reached back to Aeneas, the Trojan refugee who came to Italy and was linked genealogically to the seven legendary Roman kings. The first of these, Romulus, the founder of Rome, was also part of another mythological tradition, that of a Vestal Virgin's two sons, of Romulus and Remus, set out to die and nursed by a she-wolf. Elaborated at great length, these mythological traditions constituted Rome's ancient heritage. A nonmythological ritual tradition had a more direct impact on Roman historiography: the Annales Maximi kept for each year by the high priest (pontifex maximus ) fixed the days when sacred law permitted business and court transactions (the dies fasti ), and thus began a strong annalistic genre that recorded much of the public Roman life. But until the second century bce the influence of late Greek historiography, speculative in nature and detached from Roman tradition, was overpowering. Histories in Greek predominated, reaching their peak in the Histories of Polybius (c. 200118 bce), with its cyclical philosophy of history in which each ideal government form first decays into corruption and then is replaced by another ideal form: monarchy moves to tyranny; aristocracy to oligarchy; then democracy to mob rule, whereupon, it is implied, the cycle begins anew with monarchy. For Polybius this was a cycle only Rome could escape, because only Rome had mixed the three ideal forms in one composite constitution. Decadence also concerned Polybius's contemporary Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder, who condemned the Greek influence as destructive of traditional "Old Rome." This theme persisted, the idea that the "Old Rome" of tradition, where people practiced ancient religious rituals and civic virtues and rendered public service willingly, was being corrupted. But as much as the great Roman historians between 86 bce and 120 ce (Sallust, Livy, and Tacitus) spoke of decadence, none of them suggested a truly cyclical view of history, because the gods had pronounced Rome eternal.

The Roman state and historiography alike remained linked to the traditional core, and Roman historians never speculated in an abstract manner about general forces and patterns shaping events, as some Greeks had done (e.g., Thucydides, Polybius, and the Stoic Posidonius of Apameia). In the main, Greek and Roman histories focused on individual events and deeds, which they judged according to moral precepts and public benefits. For Romans, decadence stemmed from the failure to affirm the ancient virtues; hence the importance of the Roman antiquarians, particularly Marcus Terentius Varro (11627 bce). Such history in support of tradition conformed to Aristotle's dictum that history dealt only with individual phenomena and not with universals (as did poetry and philosophy); hence the firm link of history to rhetoric (as the art of persuasion) rather than to philosophy (as the endeavor to explain).

Jewish historiography

Jewish historiography expressed a unique sense of historyhistory as sacred memory, telling of God's great acts throughout time and the Jews' reactions to them, most importantly God's choice of the Jews as the instrument for the fulfillment of his purpose. In the covenant that affirmed God's choice of the Jews as the instrument for the fulfilling of his purpose, God promised Abraham to make the Jews numerous and give them land in return for their obedience and faithfulness. Joined to this was the Deuteronomist account of the pre-covenant period. God's creation of the world; Adam and Eve's loss of paradisiacal existence, leading to human life in its present form; and another overreaching deed, the building of the Tower of Babel toward heaven, with the subsequent sudden appearance of many languages and nations. In the world of the covenant, the Jews attempted to fulfill their demanding mission. Thus, in the kingdom period (David and Solomon), they had to translate that mission into actions that satisfied both God's will and the needs of state policies. When as a people possessing free will they often failed, prophets recalled them intermittently to their great purpose. Then, in the time of the Babylonian exile, with no Jewish state left, the eschatological aspect of the Jewish faith (the concern with the last things) was stressed, leading to the apocalyptic views of late Jewish history (the prophet Daniel).

It was important for the fate of the Jews that an authoritative version of this whole sacred history was conveyed by the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament), a compilation of many sources that had undergone redactions by skilled compilers (such as the Deuteronomist, Yahvist, and Chronicler) until it was put into canonical form in 100 ce. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce, Jewish historical writing became insubstantial except for Josephus's The Jewish War (7579 ce) and Jewish Antiquities (93? ce). Jewish thought in the Diaspora (the state of being scattered) became ahistorical. The Jewish state, whose fate had offered the possibility of tracing God's will and acts in time, had disappeared. Now Jewish jurisprudence, philosophy, and Qabbalah were perceived as surer guides to pious wisdom than history. But the unique Jewish sense of history, with its totally sacral concept of time, became decisive for Western civilization in its Christian interpretation.

Christian traditional historiography

Christian historiography also had as its basis a historical record, the biblical account (in the Old and New Testaments) of the entrance of God himself into history. Such a rupture in continuous human time at first retarded the formation of a Christian historiography, as some Christians (the chiliasts), expecting the imminent second coming of Christ, denied a historical future, while other Christians (the Marcionites), emphasizing the newness and uniqueness of Christ's first coming, rejected the Old Testament and thereby denied a meaningful past. As time went on, however, Christians accepted history as the process of universal redemption through the gradual education of mankind. Time was the space in which God worked his purpose, and the end would come when "time was fulfilled." Into that process fitted Paul's reinterpretation of Jewish Christianity in the direction of a universal Christianity and the formulation of a positive view of the Roman Empire. Rejection of the empire had come easily because of Rome's pagan mythology and religion and her persecution of Christians. The positive view of Rome pointed to a divine purpose in the Augustan empire, as its peace, order, and communications network facilitated Christian missionary work. When in 313 Christianity became tolerated and then later the favored faith, its linkage to the empire (and subsequently to other secular states) brought about a flourishing traditional historiography, one that sacralized history, wished to encompass all nations and times, and shared certain forms.

The unity of all nations and times found its grand expression in chronology. In his chronological tables Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263339) compiled lists of rulers and events from many ancient cultures and synchronized them with the dominant Judeo-Christian line. While his chronology prevailed in the medieval period, discrepancies in the figuring of world erasthe counting of all dates from creation, Adam, or Abraham onarose early because scholars used different versions of the Old Testament, a work devoid of dates (years elapsed from Adam to Christ ranged from 3952 to 5500). By the late sixteenth century at least fifty different world eras were known, a fact that prepared the way for linking faith and chronology through the presently used scheme of reckoning history from the incarnation, which preserves the sacred nature of time without insisting on the substantial unity of the past.

In early Christian historiography the world's duration was often given as six thousand years (six days of creation times one thousand, since "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years," 2 Pt. 3:8). Each millennium formed a world age (aetas mundi ), demarcated by prominent biblical figures or events, such as Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, the building of the Temple, the restoration of the Temple, and, always, Christ. The scheme of world ages, used by Origen, Augustine, Isidore of Seville, Bedewith or without the one-thousand-year spansbecame a favored periodization scheme for world chronicles. It found a rival in the Christian adaptation of a Jewish apocalyptic vision: Nebuchadrezzar's dream about a statue and its eventual destruction by a boulder, interpreted by the prophet Daniel (2:3241) as the successive appearance in history of four empires, followed by God's kingdom. Such a transfer of power from empire to empire (translatio imperii ), known to ancient writers, was used by Paulus Orosius (fl. 414417) in his Histories against the Pagans. He stipulated a sequence of Babylonian, Macedonian, Carthaginian, and Roman empires; the latter, blessed by Christ's life and work and being the instrument of the universal mission, would endure to the Last Judgment. Augustine (354430) mentioned various age schemes but suggested a detachment of Christian views of history from all such rigid and earth-bound schemes in favor of a dynamic perspective: history is seen as the battlefield of the forces fueled by the love of God (City of God) and those propelled by the love of self and the world (City of the Earth). No entities or persons in this world belonged wholly to one or the other of the two communities; all of them were of a mixed state, with the separation and the victory of the good only occurring at the Judgment. Augustine's dynamic view found few adherents in medieval historiography with its usually close attachment to secular institutions. When, after 1100, cultural change accelerated in the West, some new periodization schemes followed the trinitarian pattern: the old one of "prior to the law," "under the law," and "under God's glory" or the new one after the Trinity properperiods of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In each case the most recent period was seen as the one most "advanced" and also closest to the end (Adam reborn). Joachim of Fiore (c. 11301202) spoke of the age of the Holy Spirit as the final one of universal brotherhood, with monks as the spiritual leaders, while Hugh of Saint-Victor (d. 1142) perceived a gradual development from natural law to written law to the time of grace, a development marked by progress from a primitive understanding of ritual and sacraments to an ever fuller sacramental union with God through Christ.

In traditional Christian historiography divine providence worked through portents, miracles, the never-ending cycle of sin and punishment, and the divinely instituted church. Histories of the church began with Eusebius's Church History, which with its continuations was compiled into the widely used Historia Tripartita (sixth century). But as long as the church was integrated into the total life, ecclesiastical histories reached far beyond the confines of the institution proper. In the histories of the integration of new peoples into Latin Christendom (Germans, Slavs, Danes, Normans), and of Byzantium's mission to the Slavs and the peoples of the Near East, the church appeared clearly as God's means of accomplishing the universal mission. The church also was central in the histories of the Crusades, those attempts to regain the Holy Land for the Christian world, although the later Crusades already reflect the ascendancy of political and economic motives over the zeal for sacred endeavors.

The Christian view of the past was put forth in a number of often ill-defined genres. The biographies of emperors and kings, as well as the gesta ("deeds"), which dealt with a whole series of officeholders (abbots and bishops), gave much praise to individuals. That offense to Christian humility was justified by the inspiration the works offered for proper Christian behavior. The most prevalent genres, however, were the annals and chronicles, often difficult to distinguish from each other. Both fit well the Christian image of time rushing toward its fulfillment (the word chronicle derives from chronikos, "belonging to time"). Particularly the world chronicle, reaching from creation to the contemporary period and divided according to world ages, represented traditional Christian thinking about history at its best. It therefore was a sign of trouble when, from 1100 on, more and more world chronicles dropped the sacred story (at least up to the incarnation) and could no longer master the ever-increasing data by the usual schemes of world ages and four empires. By the fourteenth century the traditional world chronicle also was losing its nourishing base with the decline of monasticism. When its once clearly perceived structure of the human story collapsed, the world chronicle became encyclopedic and, while it was still a source of inspiration (particularly for Franciscan preachers), it conveyed more in the way of information than of a sense of the grand sacred developmenta signal for severe problems to come.

Islamic traditional historiography

Islamic historiography had its firm anchor in the life and teachings of Muammad (570624 ce). The earlier tribal society left its historiographical traces through the epic Battle Days of the Arabs (reports on events and persons) and the genealogical records. But Islamic historiography used also the Old Testament narrative to account for the period before Muammad, seen as a time of numerous corruptions of faith reversed at certain points by prophets, each of whom pronounced a new sharīʿah (law) and founded a new community of the faithful: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the final one, Muammad, who had to establish true Islam against the most recent falsifications of faith by the followers of Moses and Jesus.

Muammad's bringing of the Qurʾān constituted the center of human history, when God had communicated his will to the human race for all time. Thus, the full meaning of history was ascertainable from the sīrah, a biography of the Prophet. Of historical material it included the Old Testament account to Ishmael (strong on genealogies), the events in Arabia before Muammad (legends and genealogy of Muammad), and the life's work of Muammad (with many maghāzī, that is, histories of the expeditions, their leaders, purposes, and major participants). Traces of pre-Islamic elements, such as a fondness for the inclusion of poetry and narrative reports and a love for biography, appear in the sacred literature of Islam. The reliability of accounts was ascertained by isnād, a critical method parallel to that used in Islamic theology and law for inclusion of records into the adīth (tradition in the specific sense of verified tradition). It concentrates on establishing an unbroken series of trustworthy transmitters and not on the verification of content. Thus, Islamic traditional historiography could not corrode the sacred core as it was linked to it in method and content.

The task of traditional historians was facilitated by the unity of the Islamic community in the caliphal state with its combined secular and religious authority. With the empire as its given scope, the time flow as its organizing principle, its chronology firmly anchored in the Hijrah (Muammad's emigration from Mecca to Medina, 622 ce), and with room for narrative, the annalistic chronicle became the prevalent genre of traditional historiography, reaching its highpoint in al-abarī's chronicle, the first comprehensive account of Islamic history, reaching to about 915.

While in al-abarī's history the united empire served as an integrating factor, it was that empire, with its diverse peoples and cultures (of particular impact were Iraq, Syria, and Persia), that gradually made Islamic historiography broader but less homogeneous. The continuing contacts with the outside world and the internal political disintegration also strengthened the centrifugal influences in Islamic historiography. Universal histories slowly became less the conquering story of Islam, starting from the sacred core, and more the story of various cultures, such as in the Murūj al-dhahab (Meadows of gold) by al-abarī's contemporary al-Masʿūdī (d. 956?). In these histories, although they retained many elements of traditional historiography, the central principle of unity was often a philosophical idea, unconnected with the religious tradition and the unified Islamic state. The spreading doubt and uncertainty provoked a conscious traditionalism that caused a reemphasis of traditional ways in historiography but also a deemphasis of history in favor of theology and religious law, which were perceived as more stabilizing. Historians, for their part, tried to gain a broader theoretical basis for Islamic historiography. After 1000 ce, as traditional Islamic historiography was being challenged by the increasing rationalism and skepticism emanating from the study of Greek philosophy and science, histories quite often began with introductory remarks on the theory of history that went well beyond the range of questioning permitted by isnād.

The resilient non-Western traditional historiographies

In comparison with biblically based historiographies, particularly the Christian one, other historiographies were considerably more stable. They did not reject their mythological and religious heritage, largely because their historiographical truth-finding process never assigned a truly corrective or intrepretive critical role to reason. Indian historical writing did not draw a sharp line between fact and legend. Chinese (and with it Japanese) methodology expected from reason a careful refinement of the records of the past but not a reinterpretation of the past. Chinese scholars considered a record true if the sources agreed or a documented contradiction was absent (not, as in the West, if multiple independent confirmation were obtained), a standard that assured a high degree of accuracy with a minimal corrosion of tradition. This standard served historians well who strove for the consensus of an ongoing tradition and saw history as the succession of separate, identifiable, and observed events subject to no abstract concept of wholeness and with no structure of a philosophical nature. In Greek and Roman historiographies any radical challenge to tradition was checked by history's divorce from philosophy, its tie to rhetoric, and its role as public servant. Challenges to Islamic traditional historiography were more serious. After 1000, under the influence of ancient Greek philosophy and science, attempts were made to reformulate history's purpose and to construct histories of interconnected phenomena at a distance from sacred tradition. The highpoint of these attempts came with the Kitāb al-ʿibar (History) by Ibn Khaldūn (13321406), which relies on human reflection, not traditional authority, searches universal history for timeless patterns in human conduct as the core to a theory of culture, and aims not at constructing a theoretical image of reality but at assisting in the realization of an ideal society in given circumstances. The Kitāb al-ʿibar stood between traditionalism and rationalism, as would much of Islamic historiography from then on.

The Age of Anthropocentric Historiography

Between the 1300s and the 1700s Christian traditional historiography disintegrated slowly but relentlessly and to a degree unprecedented in other cultures. In their quest for authentic texts, Renaissance humanists developed a sophisticated text criticism that stripped layers of later "deposits" from the original texts, beginning the diminution of the aura of ancientness that so far had given weight to tradition and preparing for the view that texts are not the manifestation of universal wisdom but merely the reflection of thought in a particular culture at a given point. Eventually, and with radical consequences, even the Bible would become the object of such critical analysis. Humanist histories also shifted their focus to the world of states and secular individuals, where the religious dimension was secondary.

In the Reformation, Protestants obliterated parts of traditional history when they rejected centuries of ecclesiastical development as periods of religious corruption. In the bitter struggle over the true tradition, Protestants affirmed a new historical continuity by linking the present directly with the (ideal) apostolic church, while Catholics defended the continuous tradition. The geographical discoveries created a global world whose great variety of people had to be integrated into traditional universal history. At stake were the unitary origin of humankind in Adam and the central position of Jewish history in the course of world history. Thus, according to the Jesuit José de Acosta (late sixteenth century), the American Indians were linked to biblical origins by a migration across the Bering Sea. More audaciously, the seventeenth-century pre-Adamite theory of Isaac de la Peyrere separated the general (pre-Adamite) creation of all people from the subsequent story of the Jewish people beginning with Adam, a view unacceptable to Christians because it left most people without a link to Adam and biblical history.

These challenges further eroded the already weakened traditional universal history. Although that history was much cultivated at the new Protestant universities, its specifically Christian features receded gradually into ecclesiastical history. From the late sixteenth century, schemes appeared that separated human history from sacred history. The latter increasingly became ecclesiastical history and lost ground steadily to the human history that concentrated on the world's immanent concerns. In turn, human history soon experienced difficulties in structuring its accounts similar to those difficulties Christian historians had encountered when dealing with the period after Christ, a period (the sixth world age) that lacked easily identifiable biblical "markers." The new world historians, having abandoned the sacred structures although still accepting the biblical story for the early period, experimented with various structures that gave order and unity to their accounts. Finally, in the 1690s, Christopher Cellarius suggested the still popular division into ancient, medieval, and modern periods, which in effect expelled the Christian story from its central place. The sturdily traditional Roman Catholic historiography never experienced these problems because it yielded the place of honor to systematic theology and its less mutable categories and lessons.

Finally, traditional historiography was drawn into the seventeenth-century battles over epistemological questions. Francis Bacon's empiricism appreciated history as the memory of data for observation. But advocates of the new sciences, along with René Descartes (15961650), downgraded historiography for not being able to deliver uncontestable general truths. They found history trivial because it did not deduce its insights from a few a priori principles. In response, the erudite historians avoided interpretations and restricted their work to establishing an unassailable record of the past through a rigorous criticism of ancient texts and documents. Churchmen, particularly the Jesuit Bollandists and Benedictine Maurists, did pioneering in order to ward off a wholesale rejection of traditional history; indeed, the Maurist Jean Mabillon wrote the De re diplomatica (1681), which remained the handbook for historical studies for two centuries.

Adaptation and change of traditional Christian historiography

From the 1400s to the late 1800s, Western historiography saw attempts to reconcile the traditional Christian view of history with developments that favored a secular vision of history. They included the cyclical interpretation of history, the appreciation of ages and cultures on their own merit (historicism), a simple updating of tradition, stipulations of a unitary process including God and the world, and, finally, development of a historical science that still left room for the Christian interpretation of history.

God and the organic pattern

The cyclical model of organic life, particularly its decadence phase, had been part of the classical tradition and recently had been revived as an interpretive view to replace the traditional Christian interpretation of history. Then, in the early 1700s, Giambattista Vico, who accepted biblical history up to the Flood, put forth a systematic cyclical view of history for the time afterward, when human society was formed through the rituals of burial and worship, and the regulation of sex. Divine providence prescribed for history a pattern of corso and recorso ("cycle" and "recurrent cycle"). Each cycle had three successive stagesthe eras of gods, heroes, and menand was characterized by its own type of life, thought, language, and arts. The last stage, although most advanced, was not superior to the others, because in a paradoxical development the more humane a society became the more subject it became to decay, making the high point of humaneness the beginning of a new barbarism as well. Also using the organic model, Johann Gottfried von Herder (17441803) stressed God's special care for the Volk, an organic unity of people with its own language, arts, thought, and literature. History told the stories of Völker, none superior to the other because all were equidistant from God, although Herder eventually dropped the mere sequence of nations for a hazy developmental themethe increase of Humanität (a refined civility). Herder stood at the beginning of historicism when he endowed each historical phenomenon with its own value, thus refusing to measure the value of historical ages on the scale of progress. The affirmation of the Christian tradition, including divine providence, saved early historicism from the radical relativism inherent in the assertion that each historical phenomenon must be appreciated on its own terms. In the nineteenth century, that historicism pervaded the historical science of the Lutheran Leopold von Ranke (17951886). But after 1850, all religious affirmations were removed from historicism, laying bare its inherent relativism and skepticism toward all schemes of meaning beyond the affirmation of the uniqueness of each phenomenon; this in turn initiated in the 1880s a fervent search for historical truth and meaning.

Progress, a radical challenge

The eighteenth century brought a revolution in the interpretation of universal history as the theme of historical progress triumphed over the traditional scheme of Christian universal history. In the previous century, the latter had found its last prominent advocates in Sir Walter Raleigh (15541618) and Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (16271704). Now, as interpreted by a philosophy (as opposed to a theology) of history, world history became the story of humankind's emancipation through the progressive ascendancy of reason. At first suppressed by ignorance and superstition, rationality increased under the pressure of human unhappiness until by the eighteenth century it reached maturity in some Western nations, a pattern that was expected to be repeated universally. Christian faith and its views on history were seen as manifestations of an earlier, less developed stage and was valued only for the church's preservation of learning. The meaning of history was entirely immanent, anthropocentric, and entirely determined by the imagined perfect future, a total reversal of the Christian view of the meaning of history as transcendent, God-centered, and dependent on the sacred past. History was no longer the working out of God's will leading to the transcendent kingdom of God but the demonstration of progress, with all ages being stepping stones toward the perfect future agea secular kingdom of God (although some proponents of the progress view, such as Voltaire, were skeptical of the idea of universal perfection).

This radical challenge to the traditional Christian view of world history called forth Christian responses along the lines of either rejection or adaptation; the challenge was felt most intensely in the German-speaking world, where, in the early nineteenth century, the historical approach in the search for truth became supreme. There, romantic and idealist adaptations to the progress view were based on a fundamental reinterpretation of God's relationship with the world. In the eighteenth century, under the influence of rationalism, God, still perceived as a person, was seen to govern a human history in which human beings could, through the education of their reason (one akin to God's reason), improve the world materially as they simultaneously enhanced themselves spiritually. History was God's education of mankind to an ever fuller comprehension of God (a progress entailing even the overcoming of some biblical concepts that could be considered outdated) until the spiritual, rational, and historical worlds would be identical. In the nineteenth-century idealist and romantic concepts of history, God no longer governed the world from "outside" but rather was immanent in it as Urgrund (primal, eternal cause) or as a dynamic spiritual principle. God and the world formed a dynamic whole. The kingdom of God referred simply to the spiritual perfection in and of this world, making all of history Heilsgeschichte ("history of salvation"). Thus, in the philosophy of history of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (17701831), the complex relationship of creator and creation in time was transformed into the self-realization of the all-encompassing Idea (pure thought), a process reflected in the increasing identity between the universal and the particular and the potential and the actual. The process was driven by the dialectical struggle of the existing against its inherent negation and directed toward the creation of the new. In a grand unitary process, the cosmos including God was in motion toward its goalnot happiness or rationality but the fully realized Idea (complete actualization and freedom).

Idealist adaptations of the Christian theology of history reduced the meaning of many traditional elements: the biblical story became relevant for its own time only; the transcendent kingdom of God was transformed to the end stage of the immanent world process; the Christian faith was now only one (although superior) explication of the universal religious truth, with Jesus being one (although special) explicator. History changed from a dramatic struggle between the forces of light and darkness into a dialectically evolving sequence of stages of ever-greater spirituality. In a few cases this mode of thought even affected Roman Catholicism. In the 1830s, Johann Adam Möhler stipulated the reconcilability of tradition with progress as Christians helped the seeds of faith mature by constantly overcoming the time-bound manners of understanding faith and tradition.

Tradition and historical science

The drive toward a historiography, not based on traditional authority but on rigorous documentation through critically verified sources begun by erudite historiography, owing a great debt to classical philology, and enhanced by the eighteenth-century Göttingen professors of historical, legal, and political studies, finally produced nineteenth-century German historical science. However, its leading figure, Leopold von Ranke, still considered history God's work, accomplished through the "ideas" as guiding forces and intelligible to historians through an intuitive process (Ahnen ). But the Rankean compromise collapsed, because the new methodology demanded the abandonment of all transcendent elements and because historicism could see in the Christian tradition no more than one of many traditions. Christian scholars who eventually applied text criticism to the Bible in the hope of securing faith through a text properly verified and congenial to modern minds in effect brought about a rapid diminution of the biblical core of traditional historiography. Typical was the attempt to reestablish the authority of the Christian faith in a modern manner through a critically verified biography of Jesus that would reveal what Jesus actually said, did, and taught (see the nineteenth-century "natural" histories of the "prophet" Jesus or Ernest Renan's popular biography of Jesus). Yet, this endeavor failed, because in only a few instances could the Christ of dogmas, miracles, and prophecies be penetrated and make visible the historical Jesusa problem of great consequence for subsequent attempts to reconcile history and faith.

Religion and a radically anthropocentric historiography

Beginning in the 1880s two developments marked the history writing on various continents. Historical science in its secular and tradition-eroding form exerted its impact on the remaining traditional historiographies of the world, while in the West a not-yet-concluded internal struggle began to gain a firm critically verified basis for historical truth, including a new secular interpretation of history. For their part, Christians continued to reconstruct the traditional Christian view of history.

Impact on traditional historiographies

Strains appeared in traditional historiographies even before the impact of the Western critical theory of history. It proved increasingly difficult to integrate the many and varied phenomena of the changing world into a tradition developed from a sacred core. The strains showed first in methodology, the endeavor charged with devising ways to find and affirm truth. Prior to 1900, some Chinese scholars had attempted to make historical methodology (mainly text analysis) more accessible to rational arguments without weakening the tradition so essential for social stability, continuity, and dynastic legitimacy. Then, when Western intrusions ended the isolation of China and the revolution of 1911 overthrew the monarchy, Chinese historiography's continuity and stability were shattered, too. Chinese historians began their search for a new sense of continuity by stressing those genres of traditional historiography most akin to the modern spirit (histories of scholarship, institutions, statecraft); by adapting the old methodology to the Western model, which meant going beyond text criticism and partially accepting the modern Western worldview; by dethroning the classical tradition, such as turning Confucius from a sage for all ages into a "forward"-looking reformer for his own period only; by fusing Western liberalism and its view of progress to the traditional sequence of Chaos, Peace, and Harmony, identifying the last with democracy; and, finally, by adopting a version of Marxist historical materialism, totally hostile to traditional views of the past.

Japanese traditional historiography knew no rationalist undercurrent, although a critical attitude toward past records was not absent as the work of Motoori Norinaga (17301801) showed. Yet he analyzed the language and the ideas of ancient Japanese texts not in the interest of a rationalist ideal but in accord with the Shintō restoration of the Tokugawa period that attempted to cleanse these texts of all Chinese and Buddhist accretions. After the opening toward the West in 1868, the Japanese were first convinced that minor adjustments in their traditional views on history would suffice. At the College of Historiography a record collection began in 1877 as a basis for the ongoing Dainippon hennenshi (Chronological history of Japan), a work written after the Chinese pattern. But during the following decades Japanese historians came to know German historical theory and English historical monographs; this led to the founding in 1889 of the Historical Society of Japan, which was dedicated to the Western historiographical model. Yet both the Chinese and the Western historiographical models soon found resistance in a new Japanese traditionalismnationalism. In 1895 Dainippon hennenshi was abandoned because of its Chinese character, and while many Japanese works in the Western manner appeared, pro-imperial traditionalist historiography received increasing support.

Islamic historiography has experienced the coexistence of traditional and Western critical historiography, so common to many modern societies. Attempts to fuse Western historiography with the traditional concepts of Islam coexist with calls from fundamentalists for a return to a strictly traditional historiography. Relative to Islam, however, only Indian historiography has preserved more of its traditional historiography. Traditional chronicles were written in the state of Maratha well into the twentieth century. The absence of a true methodological tradition aiming at the "certain fact" denied Western influence a logical point of entry. Western historical science had to create a separate body of historiographical works.

Christian historiography and the triumph and crisis of historical science

By the 1880s, history perceived as a science had triumphed in Western historiography. Modest success had come to the "natural science" school of historiography that had started in the 1830s with Auguste Comte's three-stage interpretation of history as first theological, then metaphysical, and finally positive. This last, the fulfillment of all of history, recognized no absolutes and essences, only laws governing relationships between phenomena. But no such positive historical laws have been found. German historical science, the attempt to unite history and science without destroying history's autonomy, had become prevalent. It was just as destructive of traditional historiography, because by rejecting the traditional views and interpretations of history it converted pre-nineteenth-century works into mere pools of source materials. In turn, from the 1880s on, the triumphant scientific history was forced to embark on a search for a new logic of historical inquiry, safely distant from religion or metaphysics, but able to forestall the anarchy of opinions that in the absence of a body of traditional truth threatened the very endeavor of history. Since the 1930s that search has accelerated: neo-idealists advocated the process of mental reconstruction of the past (R. G. Collingwood); admirers of the creativeness of life saw historical truth as everchanging with life (Benedetto Croce); neo-positivists looked for laws covering large numbers of phenomena (Carl Hempel); analytical philosophers found the structure of history in the language structure of historical works; and finally there have been scholars who saw in a consistent, densely reasoned, and well-documented narrative the proper basis for histori-ography.

With much of the Christian historiographical tradition rejected and historical science more certain of its ability to reconstruct the factual past than of its ability to interpret that past, grand ideologies filled the void: liberalism with its faith in inevitable progress; Marxism with its interpretation of history as the story of the dialectical overcoming of all exploitative societies in favor of the socialist/communist society; and fascism with a militantly nationalist interpretation of the past, linked to a romantic notion of the concentration of the "national soul" in a leader. They all in their own ways neutralized religion and other elements of traditional historiography. Those concerned with Christian historiography found the competition fierce and to many of them accommodation to modernity seemed more promising than its rejection.

Enamored by the spirit of progress through the sciences and the Enlightenment, the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (18811955) formulated a Christian view of history full of hope closely akin to the modern "religion of the earth." As a biologist he spoke of salvation as the evolution of consciousness to higher and higher levels approaching Christ's perfect consciousness. A modern social reformist spirit shaped the American turn-of-the-century Social Gospel movement, and, since the 1960s, Hegel's and Marx's visions of an immanent kingdom of God on earth have reverberated in liberation theology, with its call to Christians to make common cause with the poor and oppressed of the developing nations. Here the end of time is not only defined as the ultimate union of human beings with God but also as the communion of human beings with each other. It is not clear whether the process is an ongoing one (ever-new identifications with ever-new poor and oppressed) or a state of perfection following a onetime liberation.

Rejecting all easy adaptations to secular philosophies of history, Reinhold Niebuhr's Faith and History (1949) put forth a Christian view of history that took into account the achievements and the horrors of the twentieth century, a period whose widespread ignorance of biblical tradition contrasted with the affirmation of the "goodness" of human nature and a belief in progress. Niebuhr demonstrated the irony in history of the best human intentions turning to ill effects and pointed to the greater realism of the Christian historical interpretation, which praises human genius but also is aware of evil, the limitations of the rational mastery of the world, and the futility of a life of immanence. History, in which the sacred and profane could never be fully united, is creative but not redemptive.

In this period of fundamental changes, Christian scholars continued to try to reestablish the authority of the Christian tradition by making its core impervious to modern criticism. For many Protestant scholars this meant reducing the biblical component to a small historically, scientifically, or existentially validated core. Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich held the intrusion of eternity (God) into time (human history) to a minimum. For Bultmann the only historical event of sacred character was the Easter event; all other biblical stories were myths (human images of otherworldly phenomena). The kerygma, the challenge to faith in Christ, emanated from an understanding of the Easter event and led to timelessly recurring decisions to faith. There was neither a base nor a need for a Christian interpretation of history. Tillich, who doubted that any religious statement could be more than symbolic (that is, could directly depict divine reality), acknowledged the role of the historical Jesus as demonstrating human existence without worldly distortions and calling all people to a "new being." But since much of human activity reflected to various degrees an "ultimate concern" with the "ground of being," he considered all cultural history to be sacred or religious history.

Other scholars found the price of such a harmonizing with the modern spiritthe abandonment of much of the biblical story as the basis of historiographytoo high to pay. Among these scholars were the Protestant fundamentalists, who restored biblically based prophetic history to the center of Christian historical accounts. In the Augustinian and Kierkegaardian vein, Karl Barth (18861968) sharply separated time and eternity, insisting that only in biblical times did God reveal himself and not in the course of history, progress, or culture. Christian faith and wisdom rise from the decision individuals make when confronted, in the biblical record, with the story of Christ, and not from the study of the history of cultures and societies. For Barth, history, even ecclesiastical history, is therefore no more than an auxiliary tool of theology.

Large-scale attempts to write the history of cultures from a Roman Catholic viewpoint have been made (Christopher H. Dawson, Martin C. d'Arcy). But since the 1960s such attempts have focused on Roman Catholic Church history, one of the last bastions of traditional Christian historiography. While Protestant historiographical arguments have focused on how much of the Bible could be used in a scientific age as a foundation for interpreting history, Roman Catholic arguments now concentrated on the unique sacred role of the Catholic Church in history. In the 1950s, the traditional view still prevailed that the church, like Christ, represented a unique presence of eternity in time (Jean Daniélou, Henri-Irénée Marrou, Hubert Jedin). At its core, all interpretation of history was explication of doctrine. Then, Vatican II deemphasized the conception of the church as the corpus mysticum (mystical body of Christ) in favor of the church conceived as the people of God through time. Some Catholic scholars took this change to mean that the dependence of historical interpretation on theology could now be broken. They attempted to turn church history into a sociological study of an institution or an analysis of the changing behavior of believers in time. With the abandonment of all claims for a special status of the church in history, its history would become one special history among many.


The near future should see the beginnings of a solution to the dilemma in historical interpretation, now global in scope. For centuries the ancient myths and then the great religions had created and supported the schemes for explaining and organizing history and, with it, meaning. Also, traditional historical interpretations were part and parcel of the traditional social and political order; thus their diminution in strength meant more than just the fading of some opinions. Their challenger, modern Western historical science, too, is an integral part of a larger wholethe scientific-technological Western culture the achievements of which have radically increased the human potential for good and evil and which for the first time has linked all human societies into an interdependent network. As part of the new "religion of the earth," historical science rejects all sense of mystery and demands that interpretations of history use forces, patterns, and aims immanent to this world. Thus there is the suspension of moral judgment in historical methodology, an endeavor of great sophistication that has not only expunged superficial or false interpretations but also the ascertaining of meaning in history. None of the new models or narratives, brilliant as they are, has as yet been able to match the public role of traditional history. On the other hand, various attempts to continue the traditional historiographies in a manner acceptable to scientific historiography have had only temporary success. In this crisis the age-old link between religion and history writing is at stake. Religion is threatened with becoming irrelevant to interpreting history, doomed to an ahistorical, recurrent reliving of the sacred past by individuals, while the writing of history, supported by a sophisticated methodology, remains a technical endeavor given to the reconstruction of aspects of the past. In such a situation neither religion nor history is able to master the reconciliation of the past, present, and future that in centuries past has enabled them, in conjunction with each other, to serve a public purpose and give meaning to the flow of life.

See Also

Ages of the World; Chronology; Cosmogony; Cosmology; Enlightenment, The; Evolution, article on Evolutionism; Myth, article on Myth and History; Sacred Time; Tradition.


Two useful books on the phenomenon of time are The Philosophy of Time: A Collection of Essays, edited by Richard M. Gale (Garden City, N.Y., 1967), which focuses on interpretations of time, and Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield's The Discovery of Time (1965; Chicago, 1982), which narrates the Western revolution in the view of time since the Middle Ages. There is a great deal of literature on the interpretations of history within the West; less material is available for other cultures. The most comprehensive and up-to-date account of Western historical interpretations is my Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern (Chicago, 1983). It includes a most useful thirty-five-page bibliography. More information on specific periods can be found in Harvey H. Guthrie's God and History in the Old Testament (Greenwich, Conn., 1960); L. G. Patterson's God and History in Early Christian Thought (New York, 1967); Beryl Smalley's reliable Historians in the Middle Ages (London, 1974); Alan Richardson's History: Sacred and Profane (Philadelphia, 1964), a fine treatment, although occasionally difficult for the general reader; and God, History, and Historians: An Anthology of Modern Christian Views of History, edited by C. T. McIntire (New York, 1977). There is a dearth of readings in non-Western historical interpretations. Most useful, although a bit awkward for the person looking for a general survey, are the published papers of the 19561958 conferences at the School for Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. The following volumes are eminently readable and offer general introductions to scholarly debates: Historians of India, Pakistan, and Ceylon, edited by Cyril Henry Philips (London, 1961); Historians of China and Japan, edited by W. G. Beasley and E. G. Pulleyblank (London, 1961); and Historians of the Middle East, edited by Bernard Lewis and P. M. Holt (London, 1962). Information on Islamic historiography can also be found in Franz Rosenthal's A History of Muslim Historiography, 2d ed. (Leiden, 1968), a useful survey of the genres of traditional Islamic history (includes some translated texts); Muhsin Mahdi's Ibn Khaldūn's Philosophy of History (Chicago, 1969), which also deals with the cultural context of later Islamic historiography; Abdallah Laroui's The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual: Traditionalism or Historicism? (Berkeley, 1976); and Yvonne Haddad's Contemporary Islam and the Challenge of History (Albany, 1982). The last two works cited offer insights into the current struggle for a renewed and appropriate Islamic view of history. For traditional Indian historical views, Anthony K. Warder's An Introduction to Indian Historiography (Bombay, 1972) offers a good section on the Vedic core together with regional summaries. For the period of westernization, Historians and Historiography in Modern India, edited by Siba Pada Sen (Calcutta, 1974), gives sketches of historians and their works. Access to Chinese and Japanese interpretations is most limited for the general reader. Charles Sidney Gardner's Chinese Traditional Historiography (1938; reprint with corrections, Cambridge, Mass., 1961) is still useful, particularly for the understanding of Chinese methodology. Also useful is George Macklin Wilson's article "Time and History in Japan," American Historical Review 85 (June 1980): 557571.

New Sources

Ankersmit, F. R. History and Tropology: The Rise and Fall of Metaphor. Berkeley, 1994.

Breisach, Ernst. Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern. Chicago, 1994.

Clark, Stuart. The Annales School. New York, 1999.

Fulbrook, Mary. Historical Theory. New York, 2002.

Gossman, Lionel. Between History and Literature. Cambridge, U.K., 1990.

Kelley, Donald R. Fortunes of History: Historical Inquiry from Herder to Huizinga. New Haven, Conn, 2003.

Marincola, John. Greek Historians. New York, 2001.

Munslow, Alan. Deconstructing History. New York, 1997.

Poster, Mark. Cultural History and Postmodernity: Disciplinary Readings and Challenges. New York, 1997.

Smith, Bonnie G. The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice. Cambridge, U.K., 1998.

Ernst Breisach (1987)

Revised Bibliography

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Historiography: An Overview

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Historiography: An Overview