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Historiography is "the writing of history", or otherwise-preserving of historical facts to the generations in hence of the eyewitnesses of the events.

In the bulk of cases, this writing, or preserving, of a future knowledge of past events is based on such things as "the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods."[1]

But this bulk of cases is made so partly by the fact that most documentations of history are created by those individuals who, by inspiration of some kind of journalistic desire, set out to gather the facts from eyewitnesses and other sources. In other words, both most preserved narratives of, and most narratives purporting to be, accurate of the pasts they respectively claim to represent are constructed by persons who were not eyewitnesses of the events. In short, the bulk of historiography is a kind of secular academic exercise of carefully, in many cases painstakingly, confirming the sources.

The implication of this bulk is that some historiography is that by eyewitnesses of the events represented in the preserved forms. And, contrary to secular critics and other skeptics, some of the most promising candidate instances of historiographic forms for this core minority of historiography are those accounts comprising the book of Genesis.

Historian David Hackett Fischer's principles of sound historiography

In 1970, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian David Hackett Fischer published the insightful book Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought.[2]

Concerning Fischer's book the article General Historiography indicates:

In only approximately 300 pages, Fischer surveys an immense amount of background historical literature to point out a comprehensive variety of analytical errors that many, if not most, historians commit. Fischer points out specific examples of faulty or sloppy reasoning in the work of even the most prominent historians, making it a useful book for beginning students of history. While this book presumably did not make Fischer popular with many of his peers, it should be noted that his contributions as a historian have not been limited simply to criticizing the work of others; since 1976, he has published a number of well-received books on other historical topics."[3]

Historian David Hackett Fischer's 7 habits of sound historiography

Historian David Hackett Fischer's 7 rules for historians[4]:

(1) The burden of proof for a historical claim is always upon the one making the assertion.

(2) Historical evidence must be an answer to the question asked and not to any other question.

(3) "An historian must not merely provide good evidence, but the best evidence. And the best evidence, all other things being equal, is the evidence which is most nearly immediate to the event itself."

(4) Evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is no evidence at all. In other words, Fischer is saying that an absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

(5) The meaning of any historical evidence is dependent upon the context from which it is obtained from.

(6) "An empirical statement must not be more precise than its evidence warrants."

(7) "All inferences from historical evidence are probabilistic."

Fischer's 6 principles of question framing for historical investigations

Other resources related to David Hackett Fischer's principles of sound historiography

On the Core Historiography of Genesis and the Pentateuch

William Propp (UC San Diego Department of History), claims that the account of the Exodus shows no sign of authentication, and that the readers are being expected to take the account as that by an 'omniscient observer'. [1]

But Propp, in effect, assumes that a merely secular historiography is the original and universal default form of historiography. Though this assumption is justified for secular, or otherwise religiously disharmonious, societies, it is inconsistent with the natures of innocence, concern for preservation of historically crucial facts, and a ‘choir’ to which to pass on knowledge of those facts.

In other words, core historiography does not necessarily begin as a secular authorship to an audience that values skeptical reservation of judgment of authenticity; and may in fact begin with a core audience that, regardless of exact degree of assent by a wider set of associates, are as intent to have the knowledge preserved as the eye-witness author(s) is/are intent to.

So, despite its own necessary pragmatic standards, secular historiography in any culture may well be founded on a non-secular original set of direct accounts of some original events. And such original accounts easily could lack most or all anti-skeptic details, such as exact authorship, and such as the fact-and-form of other prior sources used.

See also

External links


  1. Historiography - Merriam-Webster dictionary
  2. Fischer, David Hackett, Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought (New York: Harper Collins, 1970)
  3. General Historiography
  4. Josh McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict, page 674, 1999, Mark MCGarry, Texas Type and Book Works, Dallas, TX, ISBN 0-7852-4219-8)