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What is the purpose of studying history? How do we reflect on contemporary life from a historical perspective and can such reflection help us better understand ourselves, the world around us, and the God we worship and serve? In this introductory textbook, accomplished historian John Fea shows why Christians should study history, how faith is brought to bear on our understWhat is the purpose of studying history? How do we reflect on contemporary life from a historical perspective and can such reflection help us better understand ourselves, the world around us, and the God we worship and serve? In this introductory textbook, accomplished historian John Fea shows why Christians should study history, how faith is brought to bear on our understanding of the past, and how studying the past can help us more effectively love God and others. Deep historical thinking can relieve us of our narcissism; cultivate humility, hospitality, and love; and transform our lives more fully into the image of Jesus Christ....

Title : Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past
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ISBN : 9780801039652
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 182 Pages
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Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past Reviews

  • Liz
    2019-04-27 06:34

    John Fea has a passion for history and for his Christian beliefs. Fea clearly explains why he believes that people should study history and how Christians can use their faith in their study of it. Fea believes that Christians should use the "Image of God" doctrine and other Christian teachings to help them study past peoples and events on their own terms. Fea does not believe that Christian historians, or any historians, should judge the people and events of the past. Instead, historians should treat their sojourns into the past as if they were strangers in a foreign country. Everyone deserves to be studied within the context of the place, time, and ideologies of their present.Fea makes a strong case for why academic historians should occasionally leave the 'Ivory Tower' to help the non-academic public appreciate history and learn to think historically. Fea argues that historical thinking and appreciation will better our civil society.As a historian with a secular worldview, I found Fea's chapters on how Christians should and should not use their faith to study the past fascinating and helpful. I also enjoyed reading this book; Fea's passion for the study of history permeates his writing, which makes this book an enjoyable as well as interesting read. A must read for anyone who studies history, wants to study history, or loves history.

  • Scott
    2019-05-10 01:37

    This is a great introductory text for someone who is curious about history and why they should consider studying it for themselves. I loved studying History in college and have often thought that my experience has helped me in my vocation. Fea's book confirmed my thought and gave some concrete examples as to how Christian's can study history well. Proper study of history is exercising love toward those actors in the past with whom we may not agree. I will be encouraging this book to people who ask me dismissively, "You studied History? What are you going to do with that? Be a high school teacher?"

  • Jimmy
    2019-05-14 03:49

    NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Baker Academic and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.This is a helpful work arguing for the importance of studying history. It is written by John Fea who is a professor that specializes in early American history. Although the book is written by a Christian for a Christian audience, non-Christians can benefit from reading this book. The author’s passion in the book is contagious. Hopefully if you have not thought about why history is important this book will ignite an interest. In this review I will cover the strengths of the book follow by some constructive criticism. While I do have some lengthy criticism of the book I hope that it would not be misconstrued that I did not enjoy the book nor do I want anyone to get the impression that its weakness outweigh its strength. Even where I disagree with Fea, it nevertheless helped clarified my own thoughts concerning a Christian philosophy of history.STRENGTHSThe beginning of the book distinguished between the past and history something that people can easily confuse as being synonymous. History is the study of the past. Fea also talks about the “five Cs” of history: It is the study of the past that takes into account (1) change over time, (2) context, (3) causality, (4) contingency and (5) complexity. The author acknowledges how some people can think of history as being boring but he also observed the ironic popularity of history; for instance the New York Times’ best seller lists often include “narrative historical” works and also how a significant factor for the tourism industry is generated by people’s interests in the past. I appreciated the book’s reasons for why one should study history. The author noted that history should inspire and warn us. Yet he also acknowledge the danger of “Presentism,” when one assume “unwarranted continuities between the past” (Location 596). The past is a different time than today as the author likes to point out. I was particularly struck with the point that history should humble us when we look into the past and that the study of history makes us more compassionate and slower to jump to premature conclusion concerning those who are different than us.Readers will also appreciate the chapter on what you can do as a history major outside the immediate field of being a historian and being a teacher of history. As a pastor I also appreciate the epilogue on history and the church.WEAKNESSThere is a full chapter devoted to the discussion of whether or not God’s providence should be invoked in discussing history. I believe the book has some unresolved tensions about the role of providence in history. He does not find the discussion of providence to be helpful for the historian. One example given is that appealing to providence does not “help us better understand what happened” with Washington crossing the East river in 1776. I submit that while we cannot scrutinize fully and certainly the Divine purpose of Washington crossing the river in 1176, nevertheless the doctrine of providence ensure that the event was not “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing,” to borrow a line from MacBeth. Elsewhere Fea gives us examples of how poor history has been committed by those who have written providential history in the past. In most instances I agree with his examples but I don’t think it rule out categorically that one can never see the providence of God in historical instances. I believe the doctrine of providence is important since it is what makes history intelligible and significant though we can admit much of God’s way is a mystery.Another example of his objection towards invoking providence in studying history is his stance against the claim “that the Reformation was an example of God’s providential intervention in the affairs of humankind” since this would “suggest that God was not overseeing human history before he had to ‘intervene at Wittenberg in October 1517” (Location 1294ff). But this argument does not follow, since believing that the Reformation was an act of God’s providence does not necessitate that God’s providence was not operating before 1517. We can see instances in Scripture where God’s providence is clearly identified and yet we see God working leading up to His “intervention” even though His involvement with human affairs might not be what we expect. Think of the Egyptian exodus, the Babylonian captivity, the Incarnation, etc.More problematic is the book’s tension with history and ethics. The author is critical of the relationship of history and ethics such as using history to draw moral lessons. Nor should history condemn the past. Yet throughout the book he constantly presupposes how history ought to teach us moral lessons. How can one look to history for inspiration and warning without realizing that moral categories are involved? The author stated in the book that history “reminds us of the inherent weakness in the human condition” such as “slavery, violence, scientific backwardness, injustice, genocide, racism, and other dark episodes” (Location 1027ff.) which presupposes moral judgment are being made when one engages in historical studies.This discussion about providence and ethics touches on a larger discussion of the role of faith and history. It is interesting to note that he sees providence as a tool of the theologian but not that of the historian (Location 1143ff.). This presupposes a dichotomy of history/theology that makes the author’s project difficult if he wishes to present a Christian perspective of history. Such an endeavor itself is a theological/religious act, being involved with one’s faith and relation to God, etc. Moreover, where do we draw the line between what a historian can and cannot use from the Bible? The author is silent on a clear methodology. This leads to the following tension: On the one hand providence is not a legitimate tool for the historian but on the other hand “it is very difficult to understand historical figures like Nero, Caligula, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Pol Pot without a robust understanding of sin” (Location 1481ff.). We need a robust understanding of sin in evaluating wicked men like Hitler but then on other hand Fea thinks the doctrine of providence in the Bible shouldn’t be used. Yet even his statement that the Bible’s doctrine of sin is helpful for the historian goes against what he also wants us to believe that “history demands we set aside our moral condemnation about a person, idea, or event from the past in order to understand it” (Location 1874ff.). Of course we don’t want a knee jerk condemnation done prematurely without a full understanding of the historical contexts of such men but at the same time we should make some kind of moral evaluation and have our theology of sin inform us what’s going on to enrich our historical reflection. Contrary to certain claims made throughout the book, history should acknowledge wicked past actions as wicked. It is also strange to see Fea say that because mankind is made in the image of God this must mean “there are no villains in history” (Location 1393ff.). This train of thought does not matches up to the way the Bible present historical narratives since the very Bible that teaches us that we are made in the image of God also gives account of those who were enemies of God and God’s people.I was genuinely surprise at Fea quoting Wineburg and Walter McDougall approvingly when they advance a view of history that makes history accomplish things only God can bring about (around Location 2017ff.). Wineburg and McDougall call history “the religion of the modern curriculum” that “must do the work of theology” such that it would humble us and leave us with a sense of awe and worship directed towards the past; history here for all intent and purpose has taken the role of God. It is idolatrous. Space does not permit me to develop a full critique but this is where the role of theology, philosophy and apologetics intersect with history. It is interesting that the author wishes to protect the field of history from encroachment from theology but does not notice the encroachment of history in the sphere of theology. Theology tells us that any idol that is above God will disappoint us and does not please Him. This of course would be against the grain of a Christian desire to pursue history. Philosophically, if we could borrow the insight of the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, to make any sphere absolute in the place of religion will end up having rational problem under scrutiny because it is reductionistic while the sphere itself can be further reduced as being dependent upon other spheres thus indicating how it really can’t be the fountain head for everything else. In terms of Reformed apologetics we can make the observation that even Wineburg and Walter has to borrow capitals outside of history itself in order to talk about things like humility as a virtue (which is from the sphere of ethics and religion). Again space does not permit us to develop this point but a Reformed apologist would further argue that to even talk about history as a source of inducing awe (which is appropriate so long as it does not take the place of God or become itself a secularized “religion” or “theology”) presupposes the Christian worldview. Again to get to the point at hand it is a shame that in encouraging a Christian perspective of history the author does not notice the idolatrous language his sources use to describe history.I would say in summary that the author is weak in theology. We see this weakness in some of the problems noted earlier but it is also evident in how Fea assumes certain individuals to be Christians in the book. Though the book’s argues creatively of how history can serve Christians and the church, there is no discussion about the field of historical theology. I think it is reasonable to expect at least a passing remark about the role of historical theology for the life of the believer. He also attacks the “belief that human history has already been ‘scripted’ by God” inevitably “teaches us that this world is not as important as the next one, so we do not need to invest in it with any degree of seriousness” (Location 2033ff.). But such a conclusion that does not logically follow. As a minor point the book argues persuasively that history should make us more conscious of understanding others who are different than us and that has implication for how we relate to others whom we disagree today. Fea laments on the culture war and how much it is driven by ignorance but one can’t help but to notice his own misrepresentation of the Tea party movement when he writes “The Tea Party movement and other libertarians have convinced millions of Americans that they have to answer to no authority but themselves” (Location 1811ff.). CONCLUSIONAgain, all this does not take away from the fact that I enjoyed this book. I give this book a five out of five for stimulating one to think as a Christian concerning the subject of history.

  • Jason Park
    2019-05-18 03:46

    I first read John Fea's book "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?" in college after it was recommended by my professor (who is also cited in this book), Beth Barton Schweiger. I bought it, and it changed my intellectual life.This book had a similar effect on me. As a world history teacher, I have been looking for a good, semi-concise answer to the inevitable "why are we learning this stuff?" question, and I think I came away from this book with some ideas for a much better presentation of that answer that I will share on the first day of school each year.However, my favorite parts of this book were the most unexpected parts, where Fea explained how the study of history can complement and deepen Christian faith. These were musings that I had never considered but make complete sense to me now. Chapter 3 (on providence in history) all the way through Chapter 7 (on the way history can transform lives) had me glued to the book because of the way he connected my foremost passion (my Christian faith) to one of my other passions in life (the study of history). Fea is probably more politically liberal than me (although, as any good historian, you can never tell his political beliefs for sure), but this doesn't matter because I believe he is truly one of the greatest minds in evangelical Christianity. highly recommend this book for any Christian who is interested in the study of history on any level.

  • George P.
    2019-05-07 02:47

     John Fea, Why Study History? Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013). Paperback / KindleWhy study history?John Fea sets out to answer this question in his eponymous new book, which is subtitled, “reflecting on the importance of the past.” Fea is associate professor of American history and chair of the history department at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. An evangelical Christian teaching at an evangelical college, he has written or edited several books, including Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction[1], The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America, and Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation. He blogs regularly at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.Fea pitches his book primarily to college students interested in the study of history as a major, but also to history teachers and history buffs. I fall into the last category. And as a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this book, for several reasons.First, it helped me understand what good historians do. In chapter 1, Fea outlines the task of a historian with five Cs: (1) “chronicle change over time,” (2) “study the past in context,” (3) pay attention to “causality” and (4) “contingency,” and remember that “the past is complex.” If this is what historians do, then history is an inherently “revisionist” project, though not a relativist one. We can know the past, but we must admit that our current understandings may be inadequate to it.Second, Fea helped me navigate the various reasons why people study history. Chapter 2 outlines and critiques some of those reasons: for inspiration, to escape the pressures of modernity, to form a personal or social identity, for role models, to advance certain political positions. Chapter 3 identifies a basic problem with all these reasons in the words of L. P. Hartley: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” When we forget the strangeness of the past, we distort it for present purposes. For Christians, especially in America, one of those distortions is a providential reading of American history that all too often exaggerates our nation’s goodness and downplays its sins. Chapter 4 provides a sympathetic critique of such readings.The critique of providential readings of history does not mean that Christian historians have no theological resources to bring to bear on their vocation. Chapter 5 shows how the imago dei, the reality of sin, the Incarnation, and moral reflection all should influence how Christian historians do their craft. “The human experience is a drama with many ethical twists and turns,” Fea writes, “but the historian is not always in the business of using his or her voice to preach.”Fourth, Chapters 6 and 7 showed me how historians—and history-minded citizens—can positively influence civil society. There is an inherent tension between the desire to present the past without ideological blinkers and the desire for history to influence civil society. The way Fea resolves this tension is not by proposing this or that account of history but by emphasizing the virtues of historical consciousness. Studying the past in all its foreignness, seeking to understand it on its own terms and in its own context, draws students of history outside of themselves and their ideological commitments. It is, in other words, a powerful tonic for narcissism.Finally, in chapter 8, Fea shows history students what they can do with their major. I was not a history major in college, and this chapter had the least relevance to me. Nonetheless, in an era when the financial bottom line plays an often decisive role on what college students choose to major in, and when the humanities especially are taking a lot of hits, it’s nice to see someone present anecdotal evidence for the fact that you can study history and still get a good job.In an appendix, Fea outlines a proposal for the creation of a “Center for American History and a Civil Society.” If I had some money, I’d definitely invest it in this project. Fea’s vision of how Christians (and others) should study the past and work for a more civil society is one that resonates with me.P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page. [1] I reviewed Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? here and interviewed Prof. Fea here.

  • Johnny
    2019-05-17 04:03

    An excellent read and a thoughtful discussion of why the study of history is important for betterment of both democracy and a Christian life

  • Andrew Alkema
    2019-04-26 01:55

    This book changed my view on the value of studying history. We've all heard the 'learn history to not repeat mistakes' line, but this book takes it far deeper. It's an excellent read for anyone, Christian or not. Highly recommend.

  • Dr. Trent
    2019-04-24 07:01

    This review, by Dr. Nicholson, has been provided courtesy of Desert Bible Institute ( Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past, by John Fea, is a useful and insightful book into how the fields of history and theology intermingle. The book, written primarily for History students, explores the ideas of how history can, and is, looked at through the lens of theology. It also does the opposite by trying to help the reader appreciate theology by looking at it as a historian does. The book gives many tools for thinking about history and theology in these ways, and it accomplishes this in an interesting and purposeful way. Perhaps one of the most useful areas of this book for theologians comes early on when Fea gets to reader to think about the many ways people encounter the past today. It is amazing to think of all that has come before us, and how any subtle shift in those events could have radically changed our current situation. The book doesn’t get sci-fi or metaphysical at this point, but instead directs the readers’ attention to how every event in the past interacts with each other to form the world that we are currently living in. When we give ourselves time to think about this, the idea is awe-inspiring.Too often we thrust our current values or perceptions as correct in regards to history. Fea points out to us that too often the facts that we have assumed are true can radically change when new details or information comes out. It is our responsibility, therefore, to enter the past for the purpose of making sense of people, places, and values that are different than our own. Our idea therefore that history is fixed or stagnate is woefully misplaced. As a Christian, one of the ideas that I found interesting in this book was issue of providence. If God does have a plan for us, then it seems likely that there must be some pattern to it in history. Fea examines many of the major works and schools of thought on this issue. This concept makes history have a whole new influence in the discussion of theology when we stop to think that if God has a master plan and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) then we should be able to discern, to a greater or lesser degree, how He has affected history. It is clear that Fea supports a Christian perspective of history and states that historians should have “an adequate theological and biblical understanding.” He brings to light such issues as the difficulty of understanding historical figures such as Nero and Adolf Hitler without a definitive understanding of the concept of sin. On the other hand, he warns us if historians are to write ethically about what happened in history, “they should do so with caution so that preaching does not trump historical interpretation.” Additionally, he berates self-professed historians that use Sunday school proof-texting or moral platitudes as their basis for historical analysis.In all, this was a very insightful book with a clear direction and purpose. There are spots in the book where the lengthy explanations, though useful to a student of history, could be a bit dry for the lay-reader. It should be considered; however, that this book was intended for History students and not pastors and theologians. Nonetheless, anyone taking the Bible and biblical history serious will find many useful tools in the textbook. Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.Desert Bible Institute, PresidentDr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at book for this review was provided free of charge by Baker Academic through This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI,, or the publisher.

  • Steve
    2019-05-04 06:34

    What is history? Why bother studying it? John Fea has written this accessible and jargon-free book to address these questions. He helpfully focuses on “the pursuit of history as a vocation” (ix).His aim is to provide a primer on the study of the past. Its intended audience is “Christian college students who are studying history” (ix), but it would be a shame if those were the only ones who read it.Fea writes with wisdom and insight and provides a helpful introduction of history undergraduates and for those who would like to study history. Fea is a Professor of American history at Messiah College, he is also the author of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, and so it is inevitable that his illustrations draw from that country. This has the down-side of making it less accessible for those who study non-American history. Particularly helpful was the discussion on providence and history. How are we to interpret history from a Christian perspective? Can we have a God-perspective on history? Some would claim to, Fea is more sceptical. God obviously intervenes in history, but can the historian be true to her calling and interpret events as God interventions? Fea believes in providence (p 67) but contra Steven Keillor, is sceptical about providential history. He looks at one contemporary popular providential history book, that of The Light and the Glory by Marshall and Manuel. These authors write a Christian history focused on the sovereignty of God (p 74). Fea maintains that “An appeal to providence in a historical narrative like that of the East River fog of 1776 fails to help us better understand what happened on that day, and one of the historian’s primary tasks is to aid our understanding of the past” (p 78). My concern is that this could lead to the historian practicing methodological naturalism but on the other hand the danger is that providence can become what is beneficial to the one describing it. (p 81) Fea is right though when he states that we need to approach history with a “sense of God’s transcendent mystery, a health does of humility, and a hope that one day soon, but not now, we will all understand the Almighty’s plan for the nations" (p 81). Again to quote Fea: “historians are not in the business of studying God; they are in the business of studying humans” (p 85).Providence, may not then be a useful tool for the historian but there are others that Fea reveals; these include: the idea that humans are created in the image of God; the reality of human sin; an incarnational approach to the past; the role of moral reflection in historical work. There is a good emphasis on the need for the historian not to preach or moralise.As Fea states “the Christian church is in need of a history lesson”. He obviously has a passion for history, and this passion comes through. He also has a very high regard for history for him history is: “a discipline …the art of reconstructing the past .. the exciting task of interpretation” (p 3); “more about competing perceptions of the past event or life than it is about nailing down a definitive account of a specific event of life” (p 16); “a discipline that requires interpretation, imagination, and even literary or artistic style” (p 29); “the glue that holds communities and nations together” (p 37); “like being swallowed up in an immense ocean or field and losing oneself in its midst” (p 60); “essential for producing the kind of informed citizen, with the necessary virtues and skills, needed for our society to thrive” (p 116). “Doing history is not unlike the kind of ‘disciplines’ we employ in our spiritual lives—disciplines that take the focus off of us and put it on God or others (p 132). History has the power to civilise us and to transform. Sometimes I think he overstates the case, but nevertheless he makes some excellent points.The final chapter takes a look at what those with history degrees are doing now (adapted from here). History degrees obviously prepares people for a wide range of vocations. The epilogue is a heart-felt appeal for “historians who are willing to go into churches and listen to people” to the benefit of the historian and the church. To this end, in an appendix, he makes an appeal for a “Center for American history and a civil society”. I hope it comes to fruition.This book will help all budding historians be better historians.

  • Eric Wurm
    2019-05-18 09:49

    This book addresses two questions. The first is the question on the cover, "Why Study History"? The second is what the study of history means for Christians. It is written by a history professor of a Christian college. As to the first question, the answer is rather obvious: history should be studied to ascertain as much as possible from the evidence what happened in the past. When answering this question, Fea does so with intellectual integrity. Is America a "Christian nation"? The answer is far more complicated than either side on that debate would likely admit. The author goes to great lengths to make the reader understand that history should be examined using evidence and from an objective point of view. On that aspect, the author does his profession justice. The author further goes on to explain that the work of historians is to describe the past, not to judge it from a moral perspective. Historians do their best to describe what happened, not whether or not it is right or wrong. Morality is not within the purview of the historian. Here I feel that the author does an excellent job making this case. On the second question, the author talks about what history means to Christians and also what the profession of historian means to Christianity. My assumption was that he would delve not only into the history of Christianity, but its veracity from a historical perspective. This he does not do. Fea goes on in the latter chapters to discuss how Christianity and the study of history are mingled. In the entire book, there is not one reason given why a person should be a Christian. It is apparently written for Christians, and I can't imagine why it would be interesting to anyone who isn't a Christian and a history student or a potential history student. If you're a Christian interested in the study of history, you might find some of the advice in the book valuable. If you don't fall into both categories, I can't see where this book would be of much use. Those whose main interest is the study of history should find other works. Those with an interest in the history of Christianity and its veracity will not find relevant information here. I believe this work was targeted at a very narrow audience. This should be considered by potential readers. Disclaimer: This book was provided free of charge by the publisher/author for the purposes of review through Goodreads "First Reads" program.

  • James Korsmo
    2019-04-23 03:37

    In this introduction to the study of history, Fea gives a really clear outline of why the study of history is so important as a discipline and as a practice. The book seems aimed particularly at students embarking on the study of history, but its appeal will be far beyond that. Fea argues that the study of history can impart virtues that have broad application. In confronting the otherness of history, we learn to break outside our own context and perspective and appreciate the complexity of life, both in other times and in our own. We also learn to truly listen to others, instead of simply hearing what we expect to hear.Fea's introduction is intentionally from a Christian perspective, and he reflects both on how Christianity does (or does not) influence the study of history, but also on what the study of history can bring to the church. Much like Mark Noll, he calls for robust Christian engagement in scholarship and equally robust engagement with scholarship in the church. On the topic of providential history, he asserts that it is an "unhelpful category" for the study of history, cautioning that history shouldn't become a subcategory of theology. But he also grants that it is possible, as long as it is done with a humble "perhaps," lest God break in and say, "Well, actually, no." Fea also expresses hope that the study of history could be an important tool in moving past the culture wars and ascerbic political climate in the United States today. In learning to listen, in learning to see ourselves as part of a larger story, and learning to question our own views and assumptions instead of sealing ourselves off from any doubt or debate, a way forward could be opened: not a way to easy agreement but a route to real and genuine argument (instead of simply shouting down opponents) that could actually lead to changed minds and a transformed future. Fea's book is very readable, and is full of both hope and wisdom. Recommended. (I work for the company that publishes this book, but I did not work on this book, and my review expresses views that are strictly my own.)

  • Roger Leonhardt
    2019-05-03 01:49

    I remember the first time I read that Martin Luther, the great reformer, hid nuns in herring barrels to sneak them out of a monastery and find them husbands. That was the day I feel in love with the study of history.Over the years, Church history has become a passion. Needless to say, when I saw this book offered for review, it was a no-brainer.In this short book, John Fea gives us the reasons everyone should read and study history. He has taken his introductory lecture as a professor and edited it into a very readable book. I am sure that lecture has created many history majors.In the book, he shows the connections and non-connections that history has for the present day. We have all heard the quote that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. According to Fea, This is only half of the story. History can be used to learn lessons that benefit the future and it can also be abused.At first glance, we would think most Americans believe history is boring and unimportant. Fea shows that America is almost obsessed with History. We play games with a historical setting, read historical novels, biographies, and television shows. History is anything but boring.When you read, "Why Study History?" you will come away ready to read some good books and maybe take a few classes. John Fea has written a good book to spark an interest in history. Whether you are a student or layperson, you will come away inspired and excited about history.I enjoyed this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.I received this book, free of charge, from Baker Academic and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Blaine Welgraven
    2019-05-03 02:41

    "For the narcissist sees the world--both the past and the present--in his own image. Mature historical understanding teaches us to do the opposite: to go beyond our own image, to go beyond our brief life, and to go beyond the fleeting moment in human history into which we have been born...Of the subjects in the secular curriculum, it is the best at teaching those virtues once reserved for curriculum, it is the best at teaching those virtues once reserved for theology--humility in the face of our limited ability to know, and awe in the face of the expanse of history."--Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking.A highly accessible, yet highly intellectual work by Fea. Drawing from classic historians, historiographical traditions and contemporary examples, Fea successfully highlights the need for true historicism within the Christian culture, all the while elucidating such delicate issues as Providence and the historian, progressive views of history versus classic historicism, and the role (or lack thereof) for moral and ethical judgments within the historical writer's work. Highly valuable to the amateur reader as well as a refreshing review for the young historian.

  • Stephen Bauer
    2019-05-04 09:57

    Besides articulating the purpose and value of studying history, the author describes the method of historians, including what historians do not do, for example, distinguishing between doing history and being a social activist or moralizing. The book is written from a Christian perspective,and the author has several chapters on how Christian beliefs can inform and enhance the study of history. The author makes the case that because of the Incarnation, the study of history should be even more important for a Christian. The author stresses that the goal of the historian is to understand, from the viewpoint of the participants. Historians need to now the differences between facts and interpretation, between evidence and narrative. I appreciate the author's statement that a historian comes to see the amount of evil that human kinds has committed. Since reading this book, I find that I now read history with a sharper, more critical understanding. The author specializes in Early American history and is head of the history department at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. Incidentally, the author blogs at:

  • Robert D. Cornwall
    2019-05-14 08:48

    John Fea has written a primer for Christian college students and others interested in the study of history that should prove to be a great help to many. He seeks to answer the question posed by the title in several ways -- from the theological (how is God involved?) to the practical (can one get a job with a history degree?). One of the key points he seeks to make is that the church, if it is to be healthy needs to understand history. Therefore, he writes to those who teach and lead in the church, encouraging them to take up the task.The book is brief, concise, and readable. As one trained in history I didn't learn much that was new, and John made it clear that he wasn't writing for the professional historian. That said, I did find this to be a worthy read that even the the professional -- especially in the Christian world -- historian would benefit from reading. We are beholden to John for offering us this primer!

  • Alicia Joy
    2019-04-22 03:47

    This book hardly answered the question of why we should study history. There was absolutely no mention of how history helps us interpret current events by putting them in context. He spent the vast majority of the book discussing Christianity in some form, and this could not have been discerned from the cover! Wasted $10 bucks on this. I should have done more research before purchasing.

  • Tyson Guthrie
    2019-05-10 03:42

    I really want to give Fea four stars, but I have this nagging sense that his historicism limited his enterprise. For Fea, the past is so foreign that the only benefit of history is the doing of history. This is a good book, even a recommended one, just not a great one.

  • Isaac
    2019-05-10 02:49

    A useful introductory discussion on the Christian philosophy of history. I didn't agree with everything Fea had to say, but everything he had to say was thought provoking and useful. Still waiting for the magisterial treatment on historiography, not sure who will write it though.

  • Caleb
    2019-05-20 05:01

    A MUST READ for Christian historians or those who teach history with a religious angle. Fea's insightful book articulates things I've been trying to think, say, and do for years, and it has challenged me in both my pedagogy and my historiography.

  • James King
    2019-04-26 02:49

    Highly recommended for anyone interested in the study of history or the humanities.

  • Ivan
    2019-05-04 08:43

    This is a well-researched and even-handed introduction to doing history.

  • Bill
    2019-05-07 09:43

    A fantastic introduction to the study of history, full of all the right warnings and encouragements, and a thoughtful reflection on history as a Christian discipline. Very readable. Quite US-centric.

  • Tom Mackie
    2019-05-16 02:59

    Just about the best study of how a Christian scholar should approach history as a means to study humanity. Very useful references to other works on how to approach looking at the past.