Remembrance and the Past
Remembrance and the Past
Gary Novak and Louis Midgley
And I exhort you to remember these things. . . .
This essay was drafted in 1984 after a chance
reading of a book review2
that called our attention to Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi’s account of the role of memory in
Jewish identity.3 He contrasted
the ancient passion for remembering God’s mighty acts, as well as the dire
consequences of turning away from the covenants that had framed Jewish identity,
with the recent withering, under the impact of modernity, of the traditional
and often quite lachrymose Jewish understanding of their past. What has replaced
this older understanding of the past is a flowering of Jewish historiography.
This new Jewish history is primarily produced under the standards of Enlightenment
skepticism of divine things. It manifests a mere curiosity about the variety
and details of Jewish culture and has assisted the subsequent decline in authentic
religiosity. We believe that the tale told by Yerushalmi provides a caution
for Latter-day Saints as we attempt as best we can to tell our own story.
In addition, Yerushalmi’s attention to the role of remembrance in the faith
of ancient Israel has alerted us to the identical dynamic in the Book of Mormon,
where covenants and their renewals, as well as faith itself, are bound up
with remembrance of the mighty redeeming acts of God and hence also with the
hope for a future beyond the present wilderness in which we now sojourn here
below. In this essay we examine the relationship Yerushalmi sets out between
the distinctive Jewish history and Jewish memory. How has Jewish memory and
identity been formed and preserved and eventually transformed? We believe
that memory of a portion of the past is crucial to being the covenant
people. We strive to uncover parallels between ancient Israel and the latter-day
“New Israel.” We believe there are crucial lessons for Latter-day
Saints in the Jewish experience with the past.
According to Yosef Yerushalmi, it has been difficult to reconstruct
more than a basic outline of Jewish history from the destruction of the Second
Temple in AD 70 to about 1700, and especially in the talmudic period.4
Why? From the end of the Jewish canon until recently, there
were virtually no Jewish historians and virtually no historiography. The identity
of the Jews did not depend upon “ordinary history,” but upon a literature
that evoked the mighty acts of God and the sufferings of rebellious Israel,
which served as reminders of the mercy of God, who remembers the covenant
people in their troubles if they will only remember him and forsake their
sins. Hence, without historians, Jews still managed to retain an identity
by relying primarily upon biblical accounts.
“The Jews . . . have the reputation of being at once the most
historically oriented of peoples and as possessing the longest and most tenacious
of memories.”5 Their sacred texts have something
to do with their persistence as a people. Those who once thought of themselves
as covenant people did not approach the past with mere curiosity, but with
profound passion; they placed God at the center of their story. In their record
of encounters by seers and prophets with divine things, the biblical texts
describe the mighty acts of God and tell of covenants made by man with God.
They also render with striking candor the sinful rebellion and subsequent
bondage of the covenant people.
“It was ancient Israel that first assigned a decisive significance
to history and thus forged a new world-view whose essential premises were
eventually appropriated by Christianity and Islam as well.”6
“If Herodotus was the father of history, the fathers of
meaning in history were the Jews.”7
Yerushalmi has shown that “although Judaism
throughout the ages was absorbed with the meaning of history, historiography
itself played at best an ancillary role among the Jews, and often no role
at all; and, concomitantly, that while memory of the past was always a central
component of Jewish experience, the historian was not its primary
Yerushalmi shows that remembrance of the crucial
words and deeds of the past, including especially the mighty acts of God,
and the repentance that sometimes followed disobedience to the covenants formed
the substance of the Jewish memory. God had promised to remember Israel, and
Israel was commanded to keep in remembrance certain things. To forget these
things was to cease to be the covenant people. But the demand that Israel
remember “has little to do with curiosity about the past. Israel is told
only that it must be a kingdom of priests and a holy people; nowhere is it
suggested that it become a nation of historians,” as we now tend to understand
history. Why? “Memory is, by its nature, selective, and the demand that
Israel remember is no exception.”9
Jewish memory was thus regulated by a principle of selection
that “is unique unto itself.” It is God’s mighty acts in history
and man’s responses to these that must be placed and kept in
Remembrance is meant to teach and warn Israel and not to inflate
individual reputations or national pride, for the people of God need to know
how they came to be chosen; how they have strayed, both collectively and individually,
from the correct path; and how they might once again regain favor with God
by turning to him and away from their sins and thereby showing the fruits
of repentance. Israel must plead with God for forgiveness because she has
never managed to offer to God an offering in righteousness. Memory is the
key to keeping the commandments. Yerushalmi shows how this memory did not
flow from a history done out of curiosity (that is a modern thing) but from
a history that preserved the crucial story of God’s dealings with his covenant
people and the subsequent halting responses, the substance of which is a dialectic
of obedience and rebellion, of liberation and bondage, of prosperity and suffering,
of human agents in rebellion against the divine will.11
The Vessels of Remembrance
“No more dramatic evidence is needed for the dominant place
of history in ancient Israel,” according to Yerushalmi,
than the overriding fact that even God is known only insofar as he reveals himself
“historically.” Sent to bring the tidings of deliverance to the
Hebrew slaves, Moses does not come in the name of the Creator of Heaven and
Earth, but of the “God of the fathers,” that is to say, as the God
of history: “Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: The
Lord the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has appeared
to me and said: I have surely remembered you . . .” (Exod. 3:16). When
God introduces himself directly to the entire people at Sinai, nothing is
heard of his essence or attributes, but only: “I the Lord am your God
who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, the house of bondage” (Exod.
20:2). That is sufficient. For here as elsewhere, ancient Israel knows what
God is from what he has done in history. And if that is so, then memory has
become crucial to its faith and, ultimately, to its very
God’s mighty acts, including special revelations
and the covenant founding of the people of God, are portrayed in the
Bible as actual events. If the hopes and expectations of further deliverance
still involve a real future for the faithful, it follows that for Israel the
remembrance of those events is crucial to the existence of the covenant people
When Abraham, Moses, or Enoch is understood as having been instructed
by heavenly messengers, such ought to be remembered. To forget the then and
there of divine disclosure is to lose contact with God here and now. The result
of such a forgetting is to follow some alien tradition into darkness and the
captivity of sin. A primary vehicle for remembering the prophetic words and
covenants, in addition to the biblical text, was ritual–ritual supported
by recitals buttressed by narratives that chronicle the making of those covenants
and also provide accounts of certain elements of God’s dealings with Israel
and the resulting dialectic of obedient response and willful rebellion. The
passion of remembering those things was felt by ancient Israel. The biblical
history is thus the fruit of the prophetically enjoined effort to remember
the words and deeds that form the tragic yet hopeful dialectic between Israel
The writing of such narratives ceased with the passing of the prophetic
gifts. Henceforth Jews might preserve memories of covenants and an earlier
apocalyptic, recite the grim but awesome and yet hopeful story of covenants
and prophetic special revelations, at times take comfort in apocalyptic visions,
long for the vindication of the covenant people and even be induced to follow
various messianic figures. But more than anything, they were busy recounting
the story of Israel’s sinful forgetting and repentant remembering. There were,
of course, commentaries on the sacred texts and also commentaries on those
commentaries. Until transformed by the charms of modernity, Jews would mostly
ignore the doing of history, especially as it is now commonly understood;
they engaged instead in the careful study of the sacred texts, and the preservation
of traditions. The inventiveness of the learned was turned to invoking the
past already set out in the sacred texts and interpreted in the commentaries
of the faithful. The result was a literature of power and haunting
Since the rabbis had in the sacred texts the key to the meaning of
history, and having no prophetic gifts with which to initiate further extensions
of the historical substance of these texts, they had no need for historiography.
That does not mean that they did not see divine providence at work, for they
did, but under the patterns, categories, and explanations already set down.
For the rabbis the Bible was not only a repository of past history, but a revealed
pattern of the whole of history, and they had learned their scriptures well.
They knew that history has a purpose, the establishment of the kingdom of
God on earth, and that the Jewish people had a central role to play in the
process. They were convinced that the covenant between God and Israel was
eternal, though the Jews had often rebelled and suffered the consequences.
Above all, they had learned from the Bible that the true pulse of history
often beat beneath its manifest surfaces, an invisible history that was more
real than what the world, deceived by the more strident outward rhythms of
power, could recognize.14
Jewish History and the Acids of Modernity
Before modernity began to unravel Jewish historical memory and piety,
the identity of the covenant people depended upon the memory of divine promises
and yielded the dialectic of obedience and rebellion that was the substance
of sacred history. For generations the accounts of covenants with Abraham
and Moses filled the hearts and minds of the faithful. This changed radically
when Jews suddenly confronted the modern world with its own curiosity about
the past and compulsion to explain the past in secular or naturalistic terms.
Modernity challenged the historical orientation of the Jews in part by questioning
the biblical accounts. The new history excluded the divine from human history
or rendered the religious past ordinary and harmless by reducing the divine
to a universal human response to the terrors of nature and the distempers
of human affairs. On the other hand, accommodations to modernity have resulted
in a remarkable blossoming of Jewish historical studies. And these have been
done by learned and inventive scholars. By secular standards, this new Jewish
historiography is done as well as any other history.
Some have questioned whether this new historiography,
whatever its charms and accomplishments, has been good for the Jewish
faith15 or even unambiguously good for the Jewish community.
These complaints do not come from kooks on the fringes. Those reflecting on
the consequences of the new Jewish history express dismay at the disintegration
of Jewish memory and identity. The new Jewish history has vastly multiplied,
thinned, and flattened Jewish memory; it has also weakened Jewish identity
by changing the traditional categories and understandings. The new history
is not written from the horizon provided by the canon and supporting literature,
nor does it employ the traditional vocabulary or selection principles; it
is written from a perspective in which Jews are “paralyzed by the need
to appear apologetic before the non-Jewish world. Apologetics demanded that
Judaism be portrayed as a familiar rather than foreign
belief.”16 Jewish historians
have sought to place Judaism within the general development of religion.
Jewish historiography, with the rise of the Wissenschaft des Judentums
(scientific investigation of Judaism), “confidently pushes her way to the very center and brazenly
demands her due. For the first time it is not history that must prove its
utility to Judaism, but Judaism that must prove its validity to history, by
revealing and justifying itself historically.”17
“Modern Jewish historiography began precipitously out
of that assimilation from without and collapse from within which characterized
the sudden emergence of Jews out of the ghetto. It originated, not as scholarly
curiosity, but as ideology, one of a gamut of responses to the crisis of Jewish
emancipation and the struggle to attain it.”18
Yerushalmi has also striven to understand himself “as a Jewish
historian, not within the objective context of the global scholarly enterprise,
but within the inner framework of Jewish history itself. With the former I
have no particular problems–that is, none that are not shared by historians
in other fields. Given that it is important to consume most of one’s waking
hours in the study of the past, Jewish historical scholarship is as significant
as any other and its achievements are manifest. From the perspective of Jewish
history, however, it is different.”19
Although Jews have been absorbed with finding meaning in history,
and therefore the “memory of the past was always a central component
of Jewish experience, the historian was not its primary custodian.”20
And in the nineteenth century, when the Jewish
past became the arena of the assimilated historian, it was no longer transmitted
as the core of the faith. Jewish historians used the categories drawn from
the secular culture. Everything was disputed as well as discovered by the
historian. The new Jewish history introduced contention into the life of the
community. The historian, under the impact of modernity, did not act as conduit
for memory or bearer of tradition, but became an active agent with respect
to the past–constantly discovering something novel, striving for the
unexpected, challenging, interesting, or entertaining. As secularized Jews
turned to history, anxious to escape into the respectability of gentile culture,
eager for political emancipation and full access to the glories of the larger
society, they were freed to invent or to adopt gentile categories of historical
explanation–they no longer invoked those already set down in the sacred
texts. The traditional understandings and standards of interpretation were
replaced by those brought to the study of Jewish things from outside, from
the gentile world. Secular history became an avenue for Jews to enter a seemingly
glamorous gentile world.
Modern Jewish historiography was thus grounded on assumptions that
run counter to the substance of Jewish faith. And the proliferation of this
new Jewish history transformed the substance of faith.
There is an inherent tension in modern Jewish historiography even though most often
it is not felt on the surface nor even acknowledged. To the degree that this
historiography is indeed “modern” and demands to be taken seriously,
it must at least functionally repudiate premises that were basic to all Jewish
conceptions of history in the past. In effect, it must stand in sharp opposition
to its own subject matter, not on this or that detail, but concerning the
vital core: the belief that divine providence is not only an ultimate but
an active causal factor in Jewish history, and the related belief in the uniqueness
of Jewish history itself.21
It is a “conscious denial, or at least the pragmatic evasion,
of these two cardinal assumptions that constitutes the essence of the secularization
of Jewish history on which modern Jewish historiography is
The roots of this secularization date from 1670 with the appearance
of Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise, the first open attack on biblical faith from
within the Jewish community.23 But it was in the nineteenth century
that this process reached its peak. Judaism came to be understood as merely
part of the larger development of “religion,” like all other manifestations
of human piety and communal devotion, or as merely another exemplar of human
folly and illusion. Two of the most sophisticated and powerful rejections
of “religion,” those of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, came from assimilated
Jews bent on settling accounts with their own seemingly “primitive”
past. When “religion” was not understood as delusion or illusion,
it was understood on the assumption that all peoples share some “sentiments”
that are the essence of religion. It was also believed that these sentiments
are undergoing a process of unfolding over time. When the acids of modernity
did not yield rejection of the faith, as was the case with Marx and Freud,
they ate away at the foundations. “If the secularization of Jewish history
is a break with the past, the historicizing of Judaism itself has been an
equally significant departure. It could hardly be otherwise. Western man’s
discovery of history is not a mere interest in the past . . . , but a new
awareness, a perception of a fluid temporal dimension from which nothing is
If every expression of piety is but a manifestation of some larger
inclusive entity called “religion,” then all are somehow on a rough
parity and no one is simply true in the way that is understood from within
the categories of faith. Even when there were protests against the relativizing
historicism that engulfed every faith within a so-called religious development,
such protests have gone unheeded.25
When confronted by modernity Jews began to long for “assimilation”
into gentile culture. Prior to that encounter, Jewish identity was challenged
more by apostasy than by cultural assimilation. But in the nineteenth century,
as Jews desired a place within the intellectual and political community of
Western Europe, the Jewish identity was eroded by assimilation. Complaints
about the decay of Jewish memory are but manifestations of a larger pattern
of concern over attrition through assimilatory processes.
The Mormon Side of the Analogy
A consideration of these concerns provides
lessons for those Latter-day Saints who currently yearn for a science of Mormon
things and have embraced what some call “New Mormon History,” which
promises, much like secularized Jewish history, to liberate them from parochial
things–especially from what is considered naïveté about Mormon origins–and
thereby to allow a more secure identity in the larger development of American
religion and culture. In 1974 Robert Flanders claimed that “a significantly
different understanding of the Latter-day Saint past has begun to emerge.”
This “New Mormon History,” from this perspective, is a new departure,
not a mere refinement of older understandings. “In sum, the New Mormon
History is a modern history, informed by modern trends of thought, not only
in history, but in other humanistic and scientific disciplines as well, including
philosophy, social psychology, economics, and religious studies.” The
concern of this new history is not the truth claims of the faith, but centers
on “the significance of the Mormon experience” and the place of
that experience in the larger web of American culture and religious
development.26 The New History provides a comfortable
place for cultural Mormonism within the imagined fabric of the development
of American religion because it is unconcerned with the truth, coherence,
or internal logic of the faith as such. Flanders was once interested in discovering
just how the Mormon past fit “satisfactorily into the main stream of
American history where it belongs and where it can be better
What are the assumptions at work in this so-called New History? The
expression New Mormon History was first defended as a description of a history that flows from the urge
“to discover Mormon history as a legitimate rather than an aberrant phenomenon
in American culture. As a result . . . , a kind of new middle ground has been
created between those with and those without LDS faith assumptions, with the
accompanying possibility of communication between them that does not have
to struggle with the a priori of the legitimacy of the faith
assumptions.”28 This seems to match nicely with our Jewish example. The label
New Mormon History may sometimes, of course, have
been appropriated with a different program in mind; some might merely wish
to do history more accurately or more comprehensively or in closer conformity
with the categories of the scriptures. But the label was promoted by Flanders
to identify radical shifts in the understanding of Mormon origins. New
Mormon History, for Flanders, provided “a new location where ‘marginal’
Latter-day Saints, who hold some faith assumptions but reject others, or who
are attached to Mormon societies or social networks but not to the religion
per se, can share in the dialogue about the significance of the Mormon
One issue concerns the political position of both Jewish and Mormon
apologetics. What is at stake is the persistence of faith with its distinctive
form of memory or historical consciousness that maintains identity over time.
Yerushalmi’s concern “is not historical writing per se . . . , but the relation of
Jews to their own past, and the place of the historian within that
relationship.”30 Can we learn from the concerns
being expressed by Jewish scholars over the burgeoning Jewish historiography?
“Only in the modern era do we really find, for the first time,”
according to Yerushalmi, “a Jewish historiography divorced from Jewish
collective memory and, in crucial respects, thoroughly at odds with
it.”31 The destruction of historical
memory is not, however, merely a problem facing Jews. Others see their traditions,
ways, and memories in disarray. “There are many within Jewry today who
deplore the widespread decay of Jewish memory even while, perhaps symptomatically,
sharing no real consensus as to its original or ideal content. Who, then,
can be expected to step into the breach, if not the historian? Is it not both
his chosen and appointed task to restore the past to us
all?”32 But why should the secularized historian, whose
ideology is the source of the problem, become the healer when the memory “never
depended on historians in the first place”? Jewish memory and faith cannot
be healed until or unless the “group itself finds healing, unless its
wholeness is restored or rejuvenated.”33 Such a restoration would constitute
the grounds for a worthy community, a Zion called out of Babylon. Historians,
under thrall to modernity, are thus at best pathologists rather than physicians,
and they are among the least adequate caretakers of sacred things, though
they may be good morticians.
Religious history done in naturalistic terms
and intended to please secular tastes stands directly in the way of the life
of the memories shared by believers that constitute the ground for a community
of faith and a people of God. What the professional historian does, both by
inclination and training, is create a whole new set of memories that tends
to replace the old ones that have been rejected for various reasons; historians
do not merely busy themselves telling the old story and filling in the details
or telling the story more accurately–such would be unobjectionable.
Jewish historians, with a good conscience, are busy whittling away at sacred
things; the product is their New History.
In its quest for understanding it brings to the fore texts,
events, processes, that never really became part of Jewish group memory even
when it was at its most vigorous. With unprecedented energy it continually
re-creates an ever more detailed past whose shapes and textures memory does
not recognize. But that is not all. The historian does not simply come in
to replenish the gaps of memory. He constantly challenges even those memories
that have survived intact. Moreover, in common with historians in all fields
of inquiry, he seeks ultimately to recover a total past–in this case
the entire Jewish past–even if he is directly concerned with only a
segment of it. No subject is potentially unworthy of his interest, no document,
no artifact, beneath his attention.34
In a faith grounded in history there is bound to be much selecting,
winnowing, sorting, and condensing. But that is true of all attempts to do
history. Not everything is memorable. Not all the things that happen to have
been left around for the historian to locate as grist for his mill are significant
from the perspective of the norms of the faith. And even more importantly,
not every possible way of telling the story of the past is consistent with
faith in God’s mighty acts. Thus the flux of interpretations and explanations
that secularized historians necessarily generate may dissolve the content
of faith. Sometimes this has been done inadvertently; sometimes it is intentional.
If we can compare high things with low things, we might see some parallels
between Spinoza’s powerful mockery of the Bible and the recent attacks on
the Book of Mormon coming from the margins of the Mormon
community35 and delineating the bold versions of the New Mormon History.
According to Yerushalmi, historians question,
dispute, and evaluate from grounds that reject the possibility of faith. Still
there are some Jews who remain within what he calls the “enchanted circle
of tradition” and who have not been entirely secularized nor had the
substance of their faith wrenched away from them by debunking and relativizing
historians. Those charmed believers see certain elements of the past as still
somehow directly before them in a kind of eternal contemporaneity. They do
not concern themselves with how or whether it all took place, but only with
its immediate emotional impact for them; nor do they always see their Jewish
past as a clue to their own future. They remain blind to the contents and
consequences of the debates of the historians about the Jewish past. It is
an anti-historical attitude that seeks the promises accompanying the covenants
without the historical component, thereby betraying the profoundly historical
orientation of prophetic piety. Are there such attitudes within the community
of Saints? If the acids of modernity dissolve the historical foundations of
faith, then only a thoughtless stupor, a vague sentiment, or perhaps mystical
flight remains open to the one who wishes to grasp some fragment of faith.
It may be beyond the scope of modern historical consciousness to decide which
“history” among various alternative accounts is superior; it is
not, however, beyond the scope of prophetic faith.
The Saints Confront Modernity
Through their professional standing, historians in the Latter-day
Saint cultural setting seem to have gained a measure of control over the past.
As this extends to the doing of Mormon history, it suggests that historians
will have a crucial and perhaps even decisive role in either enlarging or
shrinking the memory of the Saints and thus forming and transforming their
identity. But those involved in writing Mormon history have given little attention
to the question of the historian’s role as caretaker or guardian of the identity
of the Saints.
Our survey on the results of the explosion of Jewish historical works
since 1700 yields the conclusion that this new historical scholarship has
had profoundly corrosive effects on Jewish memory and identity, and it suggests
that a faith with broad and deep links to history, such as the faith of the
Latter-day Saints, may also confront some of the same difficulties if its
history is done by historians armed with secular ideologies and eager for
acceptance by the larger culture. Leonard J. Arrington once claimed that most
historians believe that “Mormon life is fair game for detached examination
and clarification. They believe that the details of Mormon history and culture
can be studied in human or naturalistic terms–indeed, must be so studied–and
without thus rejecting the divinity of the Church’s origin and
work.”36 No clear indication has been given of exactly what
might constitute “human or naturalistic terms,” other than hints
that such would involve detached historians doing “objective” history.
Unfortunately, there has been no effort made to show how the faith might survive
a treatment of its historical roots done in “naturalistic terms.”
There has been virtually no public discussion of the possibility that a history
of Mormon things, especially as it deals with the historical foundations of
faith, if done in these terms, may profoundly transform the faith. Since the
history that forms the basis and even much of the content of the faith has
been exposed to constant contention from the beginning, the Saints are more
or less armed to defend themselves from onslaughts from without; but their
trusting attitude to those who seemingly speak with authority makes them more
vulnerable to a revisionism from within.
It has been assumed that historians will be honest truth seekers
and that professional norms will somehow prevent the penetration of distorting
ideologies into their work. But it is forgotten that historians, themselves
situated historically, have been indoctrinated, often unknowingly, in the
ideologies of a secularized world. As they go about interpreting texts and
explaining things using secular categories, they introduce background assumptions
that are different from the assumptions that form the core of the faith. Our
concern is with these assumptions, and especially with the common assumption
that the history of the Saints must be done in “naturalistic terms.”
Such an approach would mean that any possibility of divine things, as understood
from within the faith, be jettisoned by the historian as she tells her story.
Historians have not reflected deeply, if one can judge from the literature,
on the fundamental assumptions at work in their doing of history. They may
not even be aware of them. In addition, they may be at one time working with
one set of assumptions and at another time working with a radically different
set or mixture of background assumptions. Our interest is in the potentially
corrosive effect of those secular assumptions–of modernity–on
the memory and identity of the Latter-day Saints.
The analogy between Mormon and Jewish memory seems to provide some
useful lessons. The transformation of memory that is traced by some distinguished
Jewish scholars to the new Jewish historiography presents a spectacle that
is worth thoughtful attention. Have Latter-day Saint historians addressed
the issues raised by Yerushalmi? It would seem that the destruction of Jewish
memory and communal identity can offer vital lessons for those who do Mormon
history and are genuinely concerned with the welfare of the covenant people.
In our present cultural setting, historians,
professionally trained or otherwise, either within or without the community
of Saints, are not likely to disappear, and interest in or controversy over
the Latter-day Saint past is not likely to subside. Hence it is crucial for
the Saints to have their own history told from within or, as a bare minimum,
not told from outside the categories, assumptions, and norms of the faith.
Though it is part of the current secular mythology
that prophetic faith has much to fear from honest history and hence cannot
possibly confront its own history, it seems that, keeping in mind the Jewish
analogy, nothing is more likely to produce a deterioration of faith than an
inauthentic, not to mention incompetent, telling of the story of that faith.
This may be done either through mindless inadvertence or with some intention
of reconstructing the faith by manipulating or controlling the past with explanatory
frameworks or interpretative schema that begin with the assumption that the
faith is simply not true, which would seem to involve a form of the fallacy
of begging the question.
The primary intellectual encounter between Judaism and modern culture has lain
precisely in a mutual preoccupation with the historicity of things. As a result
there is not a field of Jewish learning today which, to the degree that it
is modern, is not “historical,” and only insofar as they are historically
oriented have the disciplines of Jewish scholarship impinged upon cognate
fields of general scholarship, a process now constantly
The end result is that “for the first time history, not a sacred
text, becomes the arbiter of Judaism.”38
In our cultural setting it is commonly assumed that professional
historians should control the interpretation of the past since they are believed
to have at their command powerful tools to penetrate to the truth in ways
not previously possible. To the degree that Latter-day Saint historians have
published well-received histories of their religion, they have begun to have
a crucial and perhaps even decisive role in enlarging, shrinking, or preserving
the communal memory of the Saints and thus in forming and transforming their
identity. This has been recognized by Leonard Arrington. In addressing the
question of the historian’s role as guardian of Mormon identity, he asked:
“Are we authentic Latter-day Saints (i.e., real Mormons) unless we receive
messages from our collective past?”39
The answer seems to be that we would not be real Saints unless
we received authentic messages from the past that constitute our individual
and communal memory. To this point, at least, we seem to have a statement
about the links between history and the identity of the Saints that is close
to some of Yerushalmi’s views on Jewish memory and history.
What of the possibility that the work of historians may sometimes
threaten faith with a corrupting secularization, or that incompetently or
thoughtlessly done history may yield a fundamental reconstruction of that
faith? This would seem to be a special danger when the historian goes about
reinterpreting and explaining the crucial generative events with secular categories
and in “naturalistic terms.” Sometimes these transformations are
subtle and go unnoticed; at other times they are more open. Be that as it
may, there has been virtually no response by prominent Latter-day Saint historians
to the recent spate of essays by certain cultural Mormons attacking the foundations
of the faith, including especially the Book of Mormon. Are we to assume that
historians, even those deeply troubled by a divided loyalty, are the proper
caretakers of the Latter-day Saint past? “And who but the historian is
prepared to relay authentic messages from the past? Our individual and collective
authenticity as Latter-day Saints depends on the historians telling the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about our
But can we ever be certain that the truth has been told about the
past? Are the accounts provided by historians anything more than conjectures,
models, or theories that, as such, cannot ever get to the truth or objective
reality of the past? As Latter-day Saint historians become familiar with the
literature on the philosophy of science and hermeneutics, they realize that
the dream of an objective account of the past, of a presuppositionless history,
is a chimera resting on questionable assumptions.
Historians are frequently in thrall to various notions about the
possibility of an “objective history.” This view contrasts with
the opinion of Thomas Alexander, an apologist for the New History who claims
that no accounts of the past are objective but are always necessarily tentative
and that “historians are not working with general
laws.”41 And he seems confident that his fellow historians involved
in revisionist history fully understand and accept such agnostic views on
these matters. Be that as it may, if he is correct about the impossibility
of an objective history, what exactly would constitute the “whole truth”
about the Mormon past and form the substance of the authentic messages from
the past that would make us “real Mormons”? Would the work of historians
doing the New History with explanations borrowed from the social sciences
provide such a thing? Would a history done in “human or naturalistic
terms” necessarily have advantages over a history done from within the
categories and assumptions of the faith? This agnosticism about historical
objectivity would seem to have demolished the New History’s pretenses to having
occupied some higher ground upon which to assess the past.
In light of Yerushalmi’s arguments, is it obvious
that historians, especially those who do history in “naturalistic terms,”
are the ones best fitted to know and transmit the truth about the sacred past?
Can the story of God’s mighty acts be appropriately told in naturalistic terms?
If secularized historians are to function as the guardians of sacred
history, then processes analogous to those that fueled the transformation
of Jewish historical memory are likely to have profound consequences for the
future of the restored gospel. Virtually nothing has appeared in print that
considers the impact of modernity on Latter-day Saint historiography or the
role of the ideological indoctrination that goes on in graduate schools and
in the professional settings where historians operate. Nor has there been
a serious consideration of the effects these things have on the doing of Mormon
history. Rather, the assumption seems to have been that the truth about the
Mormon past, including the messages that contain the crucial norms and categories
by which we define ourselves as Saints, depends upon the understanding of
the past provided by historians. Yet if the historian is unable to tell the
truth about the past–the crucial past from which, according to Arrington,
the Saints must somehow acquire their identity–then the ground for that
understanding of the past is, as Leo Strauss would say, merely “a figment
of the imagination of the historian.”42
Those troubled by doubts or misgivings about the truth of the restored
gospel have often turned to history and to the textual sources that provide
access to the past. But they have done so not for an understanding of God’s
mighty acts, nor for a pattern with which to build Zion, nor for a map with
which to begin fleeing Babylon, but for arguments with which to reconstruct
the substance of the faith. The New History is not celebrated for its literary
grace or greater accuracy, nor for its deep understanding of the dialectic
between God and man, nor for its contributions in building the kingdom. It
is sometimes applauded because it seems to promise to place control of the
past in the hands of those who wish to alter the content of faith or because
it allows the history of the Saints to be done in “naturalistic terms”
or with fashionable explanations borrowed from the social sciences.
Some historians, deeply troubled by their own doubts about the historical
foundations of the faith, have recently opined that exactly nothing that concerns
faith depends in any crucial or decisive way upon what can be learned from
the past or upon any statement about what may have taken place in the past.
And, at times, lengthy autobiographical descriptions have been offered of
exactly how and when they came to hold such views. In these remarkable addresses
there is boasting about the liberating power of secularized accounts of the
Mormon past and a celebration of the scholarly detachment of historians bent
on debunking the understanding of the Saints. But these addresses merely contain
a flow of opinions with no reasons given to justify them.
Why should we assume that the stories told by historians are more
than the work of the imagination? Are not these accounts essentially inventions
controlled largely by uncritically accepted assumptions? Well, we have certain
primary texts, those traces of the past. They provide some control, do they
But in all reflections on experience, including historical accounts
and even our own individual stories, there is interpretation and a work of
construction and imagination. This is true especially when the work of the
historian is grounded on a passionate struggle with texts. It would seem impossible
for one to have any experience that is not itself coupled with interpretation,
and every casual or serious reflection on our experiences will involve additional
interpretations of those experiences. Even (or especially) when we memorialize
some incident in our lives, we interpret and explain; we do not merely report
in some detached, mechanical manner. The report itself is necessarily an interpretation
and perhaps explanation. Hence there is no such thing as an “objective
historian,” and “objective” history is merely the understanding
of the past that we have objectified through writing. The object is what the
historian produces and not the past about which some things are written–the
past is always our understanding of it and not an object before our eyes.
The only things that we can have before our eyes are the texts that memorialize
the understandings of the past. Through these we have access to the words
and deeds of the past. These we believe are worth our attention, and some
are even worthy of remembrance. Every understanding of the past is thus some
particular point of view. But which one is, to use Arrington’s striking expression,
the “whole truth”?
Which historical account yields an understanding
of “events as they actually happened”? Obviously that depends upon
what one means by “truth.” And it also depends upon exactly what
one will allow within the realm of possibilities and hence upon the background
assumptions or frameworks one brings to the task of understanding the past.
These possibilities, influenced by our preunderstandings and by our language,
affect our categories of interpretation and explanation.
But we are now being told that our history simply cannot be done
any longer on the basis of assumptions that include the possibility that God
acts in history or that messengers could visit prophets. One striking bit
of such dogmatism has it that “you don’t get books from angels and translate
them by miracles; it is just that simple.”43
Sterling McMurrin opines that “the church shouldn’t tie religious faith to its history.”
He also complains that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “has
concealed much of its history from its people.”44
These opinions appear to be a way of saying that the understanding
of Mormon origins held by the faithful rests on a different framework of assumptions
than McMurrin’s naturalistic understanding of those events. He begins with
positivist assumptions, including a dogmatic rejection of the possibility
that heavenly messengers may visit with prophets, and then begs the question
from that point on. The faithful will at least grant the possibility that
God has acted and see where it takes them. When the faithful tell the story
of the people of God, McMurrin sees that as a clear indication of a suppression
of the truth and as a failure to face the truth about unseemly elements in
the past. Something becomes “unseemly” when it does not fit easily
within the dogmas of his positivist (or naturalistic) ideology.
We also have the case of an author complaining that some fellow writer
of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community
of Christ) has made a dreadful mistake because “he . . . seems to uncritically
assume that alleged contact with supernatural beings actually occurred, a
faith assumption which the historian–lacking methods of verification–cannot
make.”45 That statement
implies that historians cannot be believers and that believers cannot be historians.
There is a confusion here between the role of assumptions when one seeks to
test statements (assuming that verification is possible) and the actual testing
of those statements. An assumption is exactly what is not verified. Hence,
when the historian begins to tell stories, the assumptions upon which the
plot is fashioned will not have been verified; that is exactly why they are
When we write history we are, whether we realize it or not, interpreting
and explaining texts. And it seems unlikely that one can provide a presuppositionless
interpretation of a text or a presuppositionless account of the past. What
this means, among other things, is that all historians must operate with something
like what our Community of Christ friends like to call “faith assumptions.”
Likewise, every explanation will be in terms of some tentative theory resting
again on assumptions. The mistake, and it is common among those involved in
the New History, is an uncritical acceptance of a crude version of old war-horse
positivism. And it is one that should not be forthcoming among those familiar
with the recent literature on the philosophy of science or on hermeneutics.
But it is one that some historians who are often not concerned with such things
are wont to make. In addition, while historians are pleased to look in on
the presumably naïve views held by people in the past, they find much less
pleasure in having a careful scrutiny made of their own assumptions.
The naïve understanding of the past that commonly carries the name
positivism among historians assumes that
the historian has directly before him an objective reality called “the
past,” or some finite segment of it, and that it is possible–if
one is detached, objective, neutral, not evaluative, not emotionally involved–to
come up with some neutral-observation sentences that simply yield what is
the “whole truth” about the past. With these neutral-observation
statements (or historical “facts”), one can verify one’s theories
about the past that were drawn from those observations. Hence one can produce
objective accounts of the past and tell the story of “what really did
happen.” In this view, the only limitations on the historian in providing
the “whole truth” about the past are (1) the failure to achieve
detachment and (2) the absence of “evidence,” that is, the textual
sources of history. With such assumptions, the historian eventually tells,
whether he wants to or not, a story of Mormon origins that leaves out (that
is, explains away) the story of the visits of heavenly messengers with prophets
and the mighty acts of God. We are admonished that we cannot properly tell
the story of Mormon things, especially the crucial story of Mormon origins,
with the assumption that God revealed anything, that messengers from another
world visited with prophets, and so forth, because none of those things fit
within the objective, that is, verifiable, world of natural
History cannot really harm faith, James Clayton claims, because it
and “fundamental religious beliefs . . . seldom meet.” It is, however,
evident that prophetic faith necessarily involves links between faith and
history. For example, statements about the revelation of the Torah to Moses
or that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ involve faith in history. Clayton
simply ignores such considerations. He holds, instead, that the “historian
cannot prove historically that any of these beliefs are true and certainly
cannot apply these beliefs to his or her scholarly research because there
is no historically acceptable evidence of God, divine intervention, or life
after death. Historians have no way to discern the hand of God or to measure
the validity of inspiration,” and so on.47
He would, of course, be correct if he had in mind a historian whose explanatory framework rested
on positivist assumptions. Such a historian could not discern the hand of
God in history, and such an explanatory framework might provide an excuse
for not applying even the historian’s own deepest faith to history. Clayton’s
historian would exclude God’s mighty acts from history. Such a historian could
treat in “naturalistic terms” beliefs about divine things, but only
on the assumption that they are sentiments that are simply unfounded. Clayton
strives to reduce faith to irrational sentiments. Since the very “wellsprings
of religion” are merely “mystical experiences,” the historian,
he concludes, cannot “corrupt them,” nor can he confirm or disconfirm
them. This curious argument rests upon various dogmatic assumptions about
history and faith that are employed rhetorically to reduce the content of
faith to socially conditioned sentiments. History in such an ideology is believed
to rest on proven truths.
The resulting accounts of the faith of the believer are not the “whole
truth” that the historian has been able, with his own interpretive and
explanatory framework, to verify; they are simply a figment of the imagination
of the historian who insisted on letting his positivist assumptions dictate
precisely what the truth about the past can or cannot be.
This view of what constitutes “truth” in history is a
notion of simple correspondence between the “facts” about the past
and our statements about the past. This view is common among those who assume
that the task of the historian is verification of statements about the past
with evidences that have a standing apart from the understandings, biases,
temperament, disposition, or framework of the historian. Believers, according
to this objectivist point of view, simply invent things because their beliefs
corrupt their understanding by introducing biases and prejudices. Latter-day
Saint historians, in this scenario, must detach themselves from their own
beliefs and suspend faith in order to allow the truth about the past to be
spoken to them by the facts of history. The goal is objectivity. Those who
hold this view, recognizing certain but not all of its more obvious defects,
begin by granting that, of course, as a practical matter such complete objectivity
is impossible, but they maintain it is still an admirable ideal and one that
their own professional training fits them to approximate rather closely or
at least better than those still corrupted by “faith
assumptions.”48 In this naïve or unreflective
view of the standing of the historian, the truth about the past consists of
demonstrable assertions, and prophetic claims are either untestable or demonstrably
false; hence we are thus forbidden to begin with the assumption that special
divine revelations might have taken place. Without that possibility, the story
of Latter-day Saint origins is not the one that fills the hearts and minds
of the Saints; it becomes merely a story of human folly.
It should be evident that historical accounts resting upon positivist
assumptions concerning the structure of the world will not be inherently or
obviously superior to those resting on assumptions that have been glibly labeled
and thereby denigrated as “faith assumptions.” The reason is that
the positivist assumptions of historians are themselves problematic, if not
incoherent. Both sets of assumptions rest, ultimately, on a choice that is
a matter of faith. The truth of any matter, therefore, depends upon the assumptions
one adopts. The more adequate conception of truth therefore becomes a crucial,
even decisive, question.
What we have of the past are textual sources. These are merely the
traces of words and deeds that are already interpretations and explanations.
Should we presume to substitute some fashionable new understandings for the
old ones? Are the new versions obviously superior to the old ones merely because
they are new? When dealing with textual accounts of prophetic revelations,
including visits with heavenly messengers, must we begin with the assumption
that such simply did not take place and then proceed with our own explanation
of what happened? Of course, we cannot but make such substitutions of our
own understandings when we provide explanations, but we should be fully aware
of our presumption in so doing and the risks in such a procedure. To make
such a substitution involves the assumption that our own framework, including
our background assumptions of what can and cannot be the case, our own understanding
of the world, is necessarily superior on the decisive issues to that contained
within the texts we wish to explain and understand. That might be the case,
but unless we are certain that it is, we must move with extreme caution. And
caution should be the special mark of one who turns to the texts that have
a bearing on the faith of his or her own community.
Naïve notions of historical method have fallen on hard times in the
literature in which such things are now being discussed precisely because
of an increased awareness of the crucial importance of frameworks, assumptions,
and informal and formal preunderstandings in our attempts to get at the past.
There simply is no truth about the past that is independent of our own historically
situated understanding of things. What understanding of truth does this involve?
Truth and Remembrance
One might hear in the Greek word for truth, aletheia, a somewhat different notion
of what constitutes the truth about the past than is common in our culture,
but one that is perhaps consistent with the prophetic demand for remembrance
of a past in which the mighty acts of God mingle with the welter of human
acts. Truth in this sense is identified with that which ought not to be forgotten,
that which is memorable, that which is worthy of being memorialized and hence
At the end of the Republic, Plato has Socrates give an account of some souls who, having made
certain choices, now find it necessary to come out from “under Necessity’s
throne” and thereby find themselves in a strange place. It is a dry,
hot realm, the “plain of Lethe,” which was, we are told, “barren
of trees and all that naturally grows on earth.” As darkness approached,
in that stifling heat they found it necessary to drink at least in some measure
from the river called Lethe. Those who lacked the virtue of “prudence
drank more than the measure,” and as they did so they “forgot everything”
and eventually lapsed into a deep sleep. When they awoke, they found they
had been carried away to a strange land they could not recognize. Presumably,
to have drunk just the right measure of forgetfulness, but not an excess,
or to have somehow been prevented from drinking at all, would have allowed
the recovery of sight in the light of the day. What all this means in the
context of that dialogue is difficult to say, but it may help illustrate something
like what we are suggesting with remembrance and truth.50
Even a sip of “Lethe” makes one lethargic. We hear in the word
Lethe a faint reference to the river of forgetfulness surrounding Hades;
what ought to be forgotten slips into that river.
Stories are necessarily controlled by plots, either explicitly or
implicitly. Historians must employ some selection principles to fashion the
plots that control their narratives. The truth, when understood as the memorable,
is that which is worthy of being remembered and hence that which moves to
virtuous deeds. What has been memorialized from the past? Certainly not everything.
What is truly memorable? What ought to be remembered from the past? Everything?
No one could hold that view, and especially not the believer, for he wants
God to forget some things and may even long to himself, just as we should
Remembering everything is simply impossible because not everything
has been recorded or memorialized, and what has been written down is never
some neutral description of what happened but is already an interpretation
controlled by various assumptions including our own hopes and desires. Even
as we invoke the memory of things past, we reinterpret them for our present
situation and in the light of our current understanding. Should Latter-day
Saints now substitute the conjectures of highly secularized historians whose
controlling assumptions do not permit the mighty acts of God in history? Should
these push aside the original interpretations of the record keepers, assuming
we can interpret them reasonably correctly? Would that be the proper way of
preserving or enlarging the memory and hence preserving the identity of the
Saints? Or would doing this lead to a radical transformation in the meaning
of the message? These are important questions. We cannot avoid taking a position
on them. Perhaps the analogy between Jewish and Latter-day Saint memory and
the role of history in preserving an identity grounded in memory will assist
us in arriving at faith grounded in affirming answers.
In an effort to preserve and enlarge the memory of the Saints, we
should strive to draw upon categories found in the sacred texts rather than
borrow our controlling assumptions from other sources. History written from
within the circle of faith would not make the faithful into paper heroes,
nor would it overlook their proclivities for their own kind of “works
of darkness.” The story of Mormon things should be told in such a way
that the Saints are reminded that the axis ultimately runs between man and
God and not between Gentiles and faultless Saints.
1. See Alma 37:8;
compare 3 Nephi 29:3; Moroni 4:3; 5:2; Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79.
2. David Singer, “Testimony,”
review of Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory, by Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi,
Commentary 76/1 (1983): 72-75.
3. See Yosef H. Yerushalmi,
Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory
(Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982). This volume was translated
into a number of languages and then issued as a paperback (Schocken Books,
1989) with a new preface and postscript by the author and also a foreword
by Harold Bloom.
4. Between 1706
and 1711 Jacques Basnage, a French Huguenot who lived in Holland, produced
a seven-volume history of the Jews, a story that had virtually ceased to be
told after the time of Josephus. Expanded to fifteen volumes between 1716
and 1721, Basnage’s history provided the foundation for later Jewish historical
work. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 81.
5. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, xxxiii.
6. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 8.
7. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 8.
8. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, xxxiii.
9. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 10.
10. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 11.
11. Yerushalmi examines
the passages in which remembrance is commanded in the name of the Lord. Forms
of the verb zakhar turn up in the “[Hebrew]
Bible no less than one hundred and sixty-nine times, usually with either Israel
or God as the subject, for memory is incumbent upon both.” Yerushalmi,
Zakhor, 5 (see p. 119 n. 1 for
references to other relevant studies). The admonition to remember turns up
227 times in the Book of Mormon and an additional 62 times in the Doctrine
12. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 9.
13. Yerushalmi illustrates the power and beauty of
various devices that invoke memory and erase the distance between the past
and present. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 29, 43.
14. David Singer, “Testimony,”
Commentary 76/1 (July 1983): 74.
15. David Biale,
Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History, 2nd
ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 2-8.
16. Biale, Gershom Scholem, 3.
17. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 84.
18. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 85. “The overweening desire of partially
acculturated Jews to enter the German bourgeoisie motivated in them an apologetic
stance that sapped Judaism of any authenticity.” Biale, Gershom Scholem, 3.
19. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, xiii-xiv.
20. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, xiv.
21. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 89.
22. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 89.
23. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 89; compare Leo Strauss, Spinoza’s Critique of Religion
(New York: Schoken, 1965).
24. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 91.
25. Leopold Zunz,
in his Wissenschaft des Judentums, tried
to convince Germans of “the true value of the Jewish experience”
(from Chaim Potok, Wanderings:
Chaim Potok’s History of the Jews [New York: Fawcett Crest, 1980],
493). What fueled this scholarly undertaking was “the allure of this
brimming bourgeois culture, then at its zenith– . . . it was all too
dazzling; and their own Jewish learning was too shallow.” Potok, Wanderings,
492-93. And all this sort of thing was done
“through rigorous objective criticism and modern methods of research.”
Potok, Wanderings, 492.
26. Robert B. Flanders, “Some Reflections on the New
Mormon History,” Dialogue 9/1 (1974): 34, 35, 40.
27. Robert B. Flanders,
“Writing on the Mormon Past,” Dialogue 1/3 (1966): 47.
28. Flanders, “Some Reflections on the New Mormon History,” 40.
29. Flanders, “Some Reflections on the New Mormon History,” 40.
30. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 6.
31. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 93.
32. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 93.
33. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 94.
34. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 93-94.
35. William D. Russell, “A Further Inquiry into the
Historicity of the Book of Mormon,” Sunstone 7/5 (1982): 20-27;
William D. Russell, “History and the Mormon Scriptures,” Journal of Mormon History
10 (1983): 53-63; George D. Smith, “Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon,”
Free Inquiry 4/1 (1983/84): 20-31; “The
History of Mormonism and Church Authorities: An Interview with Sterling M.
McMurrin,” Free Inquiry 4/1 (1983/84): 32-34.
36. Leonard J. Arrington, “Scholarly Studies of Mormonism
in the Twentieth Century,” Dialogue 1/1 (1966): 28.
37. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 85-86.
38. Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 86.
39. Leonard J. Arrington, “The Search for Truth and Meaning
in Mormon History,” Dialogue 3/2 (1968): 65.
40. Arrington, “Search for Truth and Meaning,” 65.
41. Thomas G. Alexander, “An Approach to the Mormon Past,”
review of Mormonism and the American Experience, by Klaus J. Hansen, Dialogue 16/4 (1983): 148.
42. Leo Strauss, “How to Study Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise,”
in Persecution and the Art of Writing (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), 143.
43. McMurrin, “History of Mormonism and Church Authorities,” 34.
44. McMurrin, “History of Mormonism and Church Authorities,” 32.
45. William D. Russell, “Swarming Progeny of the Restoration,”
review of Divergent Paths of the Restoration: A History of the Latter Day Saint Movement,
by Steven L. Shields, Dialogue 16/4 (1983): 160.
46. See, for example, James L. Clayton, “Does History Undermine Faith?”
Sunstone, March-April, 1982, 37-38.
47. Clayton, “Does History Undermine Faith?” 37-38.
48. Hence the approach to history often begins with the disclaimer that
“full objectivity is an impossibility,” which is followed by a however
and then a soft version of the argument. See, for example, McMurrin, “History
of Mormonism and Church Authorities,” 33.
49. See the following essays and discussion by Martin Heidegger,
Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York:
Harper & Row, 1962), 261-66; Heidegger, “Plato’s Doctrine of
Truth,” in Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology,
ed. William Barrett and Henry D. Aiken (New York: Random House, 1962), 3:251-70;
Heidegger, “Aletheia (Heraclitus, Fragment B 16),” in Early
Greek Thinking, trans. David F. Krell and Frank A. Capuzzi (New
York: Harper & Row, 1975), 102-23; Heidegger, Nietzsche:
Volume 1: The Will to Power as Art, trans. David F. Krell (New
York: Harper & Row, 1979), 171-87; and also Paul Friedländer, “Aletheia:
A discussion with Martin Heidegger,” in Plato: An Introduction, trans.
Hans Meyerhoff, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 221-29. Compare H.
D. Rankin, “‘Α–ΛΗΘΕΙΑ
in Plato,” Glotta 41 (l963): 51-54; John Sallis, Phenomenology and the
Return to Beginnings (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1973), 97-106.
50. For the language quoted, see The Republic of Plato, trans.
Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1968), 303.