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'We cannot know what happened in history'

Amy Orr-Ewing is a theology graduate of Christ Church, Oxford and King's College, London. She is Training Director of the Zacharias Trust, an organisation that seeks to explain the good news about Jesus to sceptical thinkers. She has written 'Why trust the Bible?' and 'But is it real?'

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How can you present the Bible as true?
Is history knowable at all?
    History is a matter of subjective opinion.
    The quest for historical truth should not be embarked upon at all – it is a fruitless, even impossible exercise.

How do we have access to history?
    Mid 1800s history is an exact science, facts can be presented objectively.  Von Ranke: “the historian must present the past as it actually happened.”
    By 1920s ideal of historical objectivity under fire – interpretation is the key.
    By 1960s and post modernism – complete historical relativism.

Pragmatic Hermeneutics
    We have access to history via converging lines of evidence.
    Written evidence
    Eye witness testimony
    Archaeological remains
    Inferential evidence

New Testament History
    Written accounts by non-Christian sources
    Eye-witness testimony
    Inscriptions, paintings
    The empty tomb, archaeology
    Inferential evidence – the transformed disciples
Luke’s intentions: 'Therefore since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.'  Luke 1:3-4

© Amy Orr-Ewing 2004
This talk was originally given at the European Leadership Forum 2004 and is used with permission.