The Past as Destiny

  • J. H. Plumb


The past in relation to human destiny is a vast and complex subject. Religion by its very nature is inextricably involved with the past regarded as destiny. In all early societies for which we have records, there were immortal gods whose relations with men in the past naturally threw light on their attitudes in the present. With self-confidence that no experience could daunt, priests interpreted the earlier behaviour of the gods in order to predict the fate of individual men in the future. Heaven, hell, rebirth or oblivion, each religion possessed a built-in pattern of destiny, some complex, some simple, some capable of change and variety, others immutable for century after century. Yet for many of these religions the past was a huge catalogue of examples which were rarely involved in the historical process as such. I shall say very little about these religions, except for Christianity, which required a much more historical commitment than any other religion.


Fourth Century Ancient World Theological Past Romantic Historian Movement Confidence 
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Copyright information

© J. H. Plumb 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Plumb
    • 1
  1. 1.Christ’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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