[Geoffrey Reiter] ”˜Downton Abbey’ and the Weight of History

..What exactly is history but the accounts, reminiscences, and stories of human beings? Any sweeping historiography that reads historical processes in a way that diminishes the men and women who lived them””who, indeed, caused them””must be rejected as inadequate. Downton Abbey succeeds by reminding us of the human face of the past.

Perhaps no work is more heavily invested in making sense of history than the Bible itself. We understand our own sacred Scripture as historiographical in nature””the biblical writers do indeed give us inspired accounts of historical events, often including an interpretive matrix through which to read them. The Bible tells one grand, cosmic, redemptive Story. It also tells countless individual strands of narrative, the “Bible stories” so many of us may have learned as kids in Sunday school. But even for the Christian reader, who acknowledges that Scripture is historical in nature, we can be tempted to remove the human element from our reading. We can see God’s providential work as simply a grand powerful force, his truth as a set of doctrinal regulations, his people as characters with no more dimension than Hamlet or Harry Potter. But these were real events that happened to real people, who spoke and ate and breathed and did all the things we do. God might have chosen to view history, in a sense, abstractly, supervening all events and processes from his throne in heaven. Yet, in the person of the Son, he chose to enter it and, in so doing, to consecrate it..

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture