I heard recently of the discovery, in Boston, of a time capsule originally that had been buried in the Massachusetts Statehouse in 1795 by Paul Revere and Sam Adams.¹ The capsule was unearthed during building repairs in 1855, then re-buried. Let these two dates represent one end of our first broad historical perspective. This is actually cool history — and made real in a unique way since Paul Revere’s great-great-great-great-great grandson was on hand to comment! Onward. . . .
Several years ago, the city of Newark, Delaware had a silly sign posted, claiming to be a “city rich in history — past and present.” For all I know, the sign is still there on Elkton Rd. — a monument to someone’s lack of lucidity. I can’t find an internet trace of this sign now, although apparently an emeritus professor’s editor didn’t get it, either: historical implications are always with us, but history is past.
Some history, though, is more in the past than other history!
Growing up in Delaware (the state on the East Coast, not the town in Ohio or near the river valley in Kansas), I sometimes came into contact with 200-, 300-, and almost-400-years-past history. Old Swedes Church in New Castle is but one of the ties to history that dates to the middle 1600s and before. The James River settlement, Valley Forge, and the first capital of our nation in Billy Penn’s Philadelphia, were drive-to-able destinations. So were New York City and Plymouth, Mass. Let 1620, then, somewhat arbitrarily, stand at the older end of our first broad historical perspective.
While living in Kansas and Colorado, I realized that the sense of what was “old” there was a bit different. In Greeley, CO, “old” was about 200 years younger than “old” on the East Coast. It’s a matter of perspective . . . which brings me to the second historical perspective.
Some years ago, I had opportunity to visit Israel and am superlatively grateful for having had that experience. In the course of tours, I took these photographs:
Yeah, I know these are not the greatest pictures. (They were taken with a real camera, before the days of digicams, and were produced as slides, then later digitized by snapping pics of projections on the wall . . . not losing much quality, actually!) But they are from a completely other era. Moreoever, the mosaic and the wall pics are several centuries apart.
The guide, realizing that most of us in the group were there because of specifically Christian interests from roughly 2,000 years ago, enjoyed telling us that the wall was really “ancient” history. 700-something BCE and 30-someting CE, then, represent the endpoints of this other historical perspective.
It’s almost funny — comparing what is considered old:
|1885 in Greeley, Colo.||1774 in southeastern Penn.|
|1620 in Plymouth, Mass.||33 (or so) CE in Jerusalem|
|700+ BCE in Jerusalem|
In sum: the Boston and Jerusalem archaeological finds show two (or more) chronologically distinct historical perspectives. Recognition of the elapsing of time can shed light on important truths and facts.
¹ The governor, not the beer