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The Father of History Speaks to Luke

The Greek author Herodotus is commonly considered the father of historiography (or history writing). Recently, I’ve been sampling some of the writing of the old Greek. It’s hard slogging to read The Histories in their entirety, but in selected samples, they’re quite delightful. Consider this little nugget of stuffiness:

Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world. This fancy had strange consequences. There was in his bodyguard a man whom he specially favoured, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs of greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to him he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters went on for a while.

Clearly Herodotus’ brand of history was not that of the stuffier historians writing today. It looked considerably more like the more personable style proffered by the most historically oriented (and most Greek) of the evangelists, Luke. Like most of the biblical writers, Luke received little status as an historian by the historians of today, yet his style and tone greatly resemble that of this Greek who is widely seen as the father of history writing.

I mention this not to make some huge statement about Herodotus or about Luke, neither of whom can I claim to know well enough to hold myself up as a scholar of their work. Instead, I would use this observation to caution us against judging works of antiquity by the standards of today.

Posted in Classical Literature.

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