Christian and Secular Remembering

David Cairns

The article, an abbreviated form of the Centenary Lecture, 1976, suggests that developments in secular historiography have brought the discipline closer to remembering encountered in biblical thought. A key text is Max Thurian’s ‘The Eucharistic Memorial’. Secular views of history are surveyed, including those of Ranke and Acton; we see the past in the light which the present throws upon it and seek to learn the lessons which it has to teach our time. In the biblical understanding, memory is indissolubly connected with a whole structure of thought and experience which give to it new possibilities and functions, and this is captured in the concept of ‘memorial’, a cultic act performed not only before humanity but before God, in which the future is laid hold of as in a manner present. The differences between the two approaches are that in the biblical reading it is not man who chooses, but God; that it is not an encounter with what is now over but a living being; that it is oriented to the future.

Volume 07, Number 01 May 1977, p2
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