OT: Parables (was: Re: Merlin (with spoilers) talent and not using it)

Robyn Starkey rohina at shaw.ca
Thu Jun 5 18:56:13 EDT 2003

>I am not an historian or a philosopher, but it seems to me that the confusion
>between truth and fact sprung up in the Church in the Middle Ages, when a 
>lot of
>classical Greek ideas were flooding in from the Arab world via Spain.  In the
>21st century we should be able to see now that there are more (and better) 
>of communicating a truth than by relating facts; and that a truth told by
>parable is no less valid than one told by facts.

Speaking as a literary historian of the middle ages, I have to say this is 
kind of a backwards view. In the middle ages, producers of texts did not 
make the kinds of distinctions that we do now between fiction and 
non-fiction. They didn't have a confusion between truth and fact because 
there wasn't a distinction made between them as far as literature (and 
related areas) were concerned. So actually, people in the middle ages had 
what you have defined as a 20th century attitude - that it was quite 
possible to know that a story (like the legend of the barnacle goose, for 
example) wasn't literally true, but to understand that it still had meaning.

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