Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Does "Graceless" Mean Historically-Accurate?

For my write-up today on Miracle in the Early Christian World, I'll quote what Howard Clark Kee says in a footnote on page 193:

"The most recently published romance, which is partially preserved in a papyrus copy (P. Colon inv. 3328), is edited by Albert Henrichs (Die Phoinikika des Lollianos, Fragmente eines neues griechischen Romans, Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 1972).  Heinrichs shows that the author wants to claim that his work was written by Lollianos, a rhetorician in the reign of Hadrian, but that the work actually dates from the last third of the second century.  Written in a 'graceless' style (p. 25), the romance resembles the apocryphal gospels and Acts (p. 52), though its mythological base is in the Dionysius-Zagreus cult, said to be of Phoenician origin, and its cultic practices include child sacrifice and anthropophagy."

The reason that this passage stood out to me is that Christian apologists have argued that the Gospels are historically-accurate----and that includes their miracles----because they are written in a straightforward, low-key style, in contrast with more extravagant works.  For many of these apologists, the Gospels have a "just the facts, maam" style because their authors are simply communicating what happened.  But, in the passage above, Kee refers to a writing that is written in a "graceless" style, and yet it contains mythology and also probably was not written when it says it was.  I'm not suggesting that the Gospels are mythological, but what I am questioning is whether a low-key, "graceless" style makes a document historically-accurate.

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