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Witnesses to a World CrisisHistorians and Histories of the Middle East in the Seventh Century$
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James Howard-Johnston

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208593.001.0001

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Historians of the Middle East in the Seventh Century

Historians of the Middle East in the Seventh Century

(p.419) 13 Historians of the Middle East in the Seventh Century
Witnesses to a World Crisis

James Howard‐Johnston

Oxford University Press

Some general features of Christian historical writing dating from the seventh and later centuries are picked out, above all the turning away from history as a branch of literature and a more resolute pursuit of truth. The role of historian contracted to that of editor of antecedent material, much of it documentary in character. A growing interest in higher affairs (supernatural interventions in human history and God's providential plan for mankind) opened channels for a two‐way flow between history and hagiography. Islamic historical writing is shown to have developed out of religious scholarship (hence a concern, shared by Christians, to calibrate time from Creation) and to have incorporated much individual eyewitness material (all too often transmuted in transmission). Finally only one serious gap is found in the coverage of the sources—the secular history of Byzantium in a period of acute peril which lasted a quarter of a century (642–69).

Keywords:   Christian, history, God, Islamic, editor, documentary, hagiography, Creation, eyewitness, Byzantium

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