Development of the Idea of History in Antiquity

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An extensive scholarly literature, written in the past century holds that in ancient Greek and Roman thought history is understood as circular and repetitive - a consequence of their anti-temporal metaphysics - in contrast with Judaeo-Christian thought, which sees history as linear and unique - a consequence of their messianic and hence radically temporal theology. Gerald Press presents a more general view - that the Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian cultures were fundamentally alien and opposed cultural forces ...
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Overview


An extensive scholarly literature, written in the past century holds that in ancient Greek and Roman thought history is understood as circular and repetitive - a consequence of their anti-temporal metaphysics - in contrast with Judaeo-Christian thought, which sees history as linear and unique - a consequence of their messianic and hence radically temporal theology. Gerald Press presents a more general view - that the Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian cultures were fundamentally alien and opposed cultural forces and that, therefore, Christianity's victory over paganism included the replacement or supersession of one intellectual world by another - and then shows that, contrary to this view, there was substantial continuity between "pagan" and Christian ideas of history in antiquity, rather than a striking opposition between cyclic and linear patterns. He finds that the foundation of the Christian view of history as goal-directed lies in the rhetorical rather than the theological motives of early Christian writers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This carefully written book is a valuable synoptic study for further research on the idea of history in antiquity." Review of Metaphysics
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Gerald A. Press is professor of philosophy at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York and the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
I Introduction 3
II History as Inquiry in the Hellenic Age 23
III History as a Literary Genre: The Hellenistic Age 35
IV The Early Roman Empire: History as Story and the Rhetorical Use of History by the Early Christians 61
V The Distinction between Sacred and Profane History in Late Antiquity 89
VI Conclusion: The Development of the Idea of History and the Cultural Ferment of Late Antiquity 121
App Bibliography of Works on the Accepted View of the Idea of History in Antiquity 147
Index Locorum 151
Index Indicum 165
Index of Names and Subjects 175
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