What makes a work timeless?

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Chris Belmonte | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Mar 13 2019 8:00 AM

Is there any sort of itemized list of what makes a work "timeless"? I realize the more general it is, the easier it is to accomplish. I think Mere Christianity will be read by Christians 400 years from now, just like Shakespeare has been read for 400 years, and will almost certainly be read another 400 years into the future. (Assuming we make it that far!)

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Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 14 2019 7:25 AM

Hi Chris:

Interesting question, a work considered timeless: what makes it so?

Not being an expert, I would think more of the recipients (audience) of the work, as they are the ones that will give the verdict.

If someone is an indoctrinated product of a particular sect, most likely what the founder / leaders write will be considered timeless.

Then there is those that consciously want to be in Jesus Christ's side: they would search the Scriptures to see what is the correct way to come to judgment as of the timelessness of a work:

Jesus asked to a man that wanted to know about things of God: "what do you read, how do you interpret Scriptures?" [rough paraphrase].

Note that Jesus did not ask: what did Gamaliel say?, what is the doctrine of the Saduccees?, what is the commentary of the Pharisees?

So taking the whole counsel of God as base, we can come to some conjectures:

1) we are to be like noble synagogue Bereans, searching the Scriptures to see if things are so... should not contradict what is written.

2) we are to pray and fast when looking for the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand His intended message for the believer (The Holy Spirit has His own context that transcends ethnicity, historical-cultural background, language, etc.), thus He is the one that can correctly interpret for us, given our different historical context.

3) It is our undelegable responsibility to search all and retain what is good. We are to hold on only to that which jibes with the thrusts of the Bible, and that conforms to the nature and character of God.

4) we must understand that the only fully orthodox Being in the Universe is God Himself. Everybody else has a poor contextual understanding of His reality.  So we must work out to the best conjecture given the scant evidence we have, and be constantly reassessing our constructs to modify them as new evidence. or better understanding of available evidence allows for better insight.

There are standards for checking the theological constructs that are suggested for acceptance:

If people individually were to apply the tests in the criteria to the suggested constructs given by different "authorities", most would realize that they fall short, and are non complying.

I think that then many of the false teaching would crumble and less problems would be had with false doctrine and false teachers.

Works that align well with the whole counsel of God, His nature and character, and that fulfill the criteria (including common sense), then would correctly be considered "timeless" in my view.

Hope this helps.

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Doc B | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 14 2019 8:25 AM

Chris Belmonte:
what makes a work "timeless"?

My first response was, "It doesn't own a watch." But then I realized that wasn't helpful.

It think a practical answer (which is a circular one, but still practical) is, if it is read generations into the future, it is 'timeless.'

As for the particulars that cause something to be read for generations, well, those are a little harder to pin down. I can only generalize in the time I'm willing to spend on it...in general, a work which addresses a concern or issue that will cross generations is more likely to become a classic than a work that addresses a secular (as in 'saeculum'...where we are *now*) issue. On top of that, it has to be well-written, has to be fairly widely used, and has to gain the respect of readers. So, focus, prose, generalizability, and acceptance would be some of the keys, IMO.

There are *much* better descriptions of all this out there for digestion. You get what you pay for, and my response was free. Geeked

My thanks to the various MVPs. Without them Logos would have died early. They were the only real help available.

Faithlife Corp. owes the MVPs free resources for life.

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Fred Chapman | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 14 2019 8:46 AM

When the adjective timeless is used in this fashion it is subjective. One person's "timeless" might be another person's "old and obsolete".

To one person my 2006 Buick might be a "nice" car. To someone who drives a new Rolls Royce my Buick would probably not be considered nice. However, at least for the foreseeable future, my 2006 Buick is timeless.Wink

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 14 2019 12:18 PM

Fredc:

When the adjective timeless is used in this fashion it is subjective. One person's "timeless" might be another person's "old and obsolete".

To one person my 2006 Buick might be a "nice" car. To someone who drives a new Rolls Royce my Buick would probably not be considered nice. However, at least for the foreseeable future, my 2006 Buick is timeless.Wink

I'd think MM was timeless (for me). It's badly dated. Probably incomplete. Maybe even misleading at times. But it's like the Eveready bunny ... fun reading, not too in-depth and seems to be often right.


Posts 769
JRS | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Mar 14 2019 1:58 PM

Hamilton Ramos:

There are standards for checking the theological constructs that are suggested for acceptance:

FWIW:

"To summarize, the criteria which result from a clarification of the most general theoretical project are consistency (freedom from contradiction within the interpretive scheme), coherence (internal relatedness of the statements within the interpretive scheme), comprehensiveness (applicability of the interpretive scheme to all experience), and congruity (appropriateness of the interpretive scheme to the experiences it covers)."

Epistemology: The Justification of Belief by David L. Wolfe, Contours of Christian Philosophy series, C. Stephens Evans (series editor), c. 1982 by Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, p. 55

Changing channels ... :

W/r to the OP's question, I never (well, maybe very, very rarely) buy the first or even the second printing of a book.  Everybody has a book for sale these days and very few of them are still in print after five years.  Call me in a decade or two and, if it is still in print, I might consider buying.

Changing channels yet again ... :

Once the OP's question about 'timeless works' is satisfactorily answered, I'd like to know what qualifies a person as a "scholar"?  Seems to me that is a term that has become virtually meaningless through overuse - kind of like 'evangelical'.  Got a book to sell, or going to speak at a conference?  Congratulations!  You are now a "scholar".  Problem is, if everyone is a "scholar", is anyone a scholar?

How blessed is the one whom Thou dost choose, and bring near to Thee(Psa 65:4a)

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