“”History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.
 Views of history
How history is viewed by and large depends on who needs to tell the story, and what their goal is. Ironically, history itself is almost always less about the past, than it is about the present. Most "history" that has ever been told to anyone carries an agenda. That is, someone chooses the particular story they choose, with the particular interpretation on it, to explain something about their particular view of their world, right now.
How the past plays out, and therefor the story they tell of it, has been perceived differently by people in different times and cultures. For instance, ancient societies such as the Babylonians and the Hellenic Greeks tended to think of history as a circle: as time progressed, events would repeat themselves, although under different circumstances each time.
By contrast, medieval and renaissance scholars and chroniclers viewed history as a progression through a sequence of different ages, starting with the creation of the world and ending with the Second Coming of Christ and the judgment of mankind. It was usually believed that there were seven such ages.
Modern academics tend to look at the past and the study of it less as a specific series of events that have unfolded and need to cataloged, with some true sense that the "truth" of what happened in these events can be uncovered, but rather as a way to understand the players in any given event, and the various views about the events. They have recognized that since what is being studied is often written records, a scholar must take into account that the writer had biases and an agenda, and that the scholar himself has biases and agendas. Modern historians understand that by and large, history is a creation.
 Written by the victor
“”History is written by the victors.
It's often said of history that it is written by the "winners," for they who are in power control the media. If a society, culture, or uprising is unsuccessful, it may be wiped from the past, often lost forever; if found, it is only after a very determined or very lucky person finds a scant evidence to map out an alternative view of history.
This view is also applied not just to literal victors, but to dominant aspects of society. As most history has been conveyed through literature, people too poor to be educated, or who work too hard to have time to write, cannot tell their stories. The stories of the working class and various minorities have been frequently discounted as "unimportant" or "irrelevant" to the "greater" history; yet "greater" is a matter of perspective.
Historical facts often aren't. The score of the hockey game was Avalanche 3, Bruins 0. Foresberg scored a goal at 3:09. But what is as important, yet fully debatable in any and all contexts "Did the Avs win because they played harder, or did the Bruins, lose?" Perspective, attitudes, assumptions, culture, and differences from source group to "discovery" group can all affect what is understood as the "history" of an event.
 Academic history
The study of history as an academic field dates to the 19th century, when historians begin to adopt a small measure of the scientific methods for studying source materials. They also adopted a new objectivist ideal of history that broke with earlier approaches. The new role of the historian was to show history "as it actually happened", and not to pass judgment or impose his own views on the sources. Key figures in this development were the German historians Leopold von Ranke and Theodor Mommsen. A different Anglo-Saxon historical tradition evolved independently, largely empirical but with wide variations. With the benefit of retrospect, one can look at the supposedly 'objective' 19th century histories of J.R. Seely (A propagandist of Empire) or W.E.H. Lecky (an Irish unionist and opponent of mass democracy) and see very clearly a rich variety of bias. British historiography was for almost a century dominated by The Whig Interpretation of History, which regards history as a chronicle of perpetual progress. Macauly was the greatest proponent of this school. It still has some adherents, though it has been a long time since it has had any meaningful influence on British historiography.
In the early 20th century, the French Annales School, which among others numbered the historians Lucien Febvre, Fernand Braudel and Marc Bloch, was notable by introducing social scientific methods and turning away from the traditional focus on political and diplomatic history.
In recent years, the traditional academic approach to history has come under attack from the post-modernist school, inspired by theories from literary and cultural studies. In most cases these attacks have been deflected, due to the resurgence of a traditionalist school led in Britain by G.R. Elton and in the USA by the colourful J.H. Hexter. Postmodernism's ultimate contribution to historiography was to instill a greater skepticism of historical certainty and force historians to confront the inherent weaknesses of the source material from which they based their analyses. In a broader sense, postmodernism proved unworkable as it implicitly condemns any value judgements. The obscuritan nature of this sophistry is wonderfully dissected by Richard J.Evans in his In Defence of History.
 Academic history and the Bible
Christian apologetics frequently makes extraordinary claims and try to say that history proves Jesus was God. People who have not studied New Testament and Old Testament history at degree level are unlikely to know enough to assess claims and counter claims from Christians and their opponents. (Those who have studied the relevant history at degree level tend to agree with their professors and lecturers.)
One effective counter argument against all Christian apologists is simply to point out if the evidence were as strong as some Christians claim the consensus among academic historians would be for Christianity. In reality there is no such consensus, academic historians have a wide variety of different faiths and some have no faith. Therefore those who can assess the evidence are not universally convinced through Christian apologetics.
 See also
- Evans, Richard J.: In Defence of History (London, 1997)
- Iggers, Georg I.: Historiography in the Twentieth Century. From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Hannover, 1997)
- Jenkins, Keith: Re-Thinking History (London, 1991)
- ↑ The Devil's Dictionary. Castle Books, NY, 1967