How-To History: Fact, Fiction, and the Art of the Past

Friday, 01 Sep 2017

“Historical method begins with a basic question: Why is a certain thing happening in a certain way in a given context?”
In AD 336, a report was circulated that the Egyptian bishop Arsenius had been killed and Athanasius was to blame. The schismatic Meletian party could even produce the corpse’s severed hand as proof. The evidence was persuasive enough that Emperor Constantine was prevailed upon to press a murder charge against the theologian. Fortunately, it turned out that the bishop in question was alive and well (hand and all) and in hiding. Call it fake news, fourth-century style. Since the Fall, humans have struggled to discern between truth and falsehood. Besides reminding us that scandal and sensationalism have ...

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