At the same time various details (as comparison with the Book of Kings shows) are relatively old and, on a priori grounds, it is extremely unlikely that the unhistorical elements are necessarily due to deliberate imagination or perversion rather than to the development of earlier traditions.
It would be erroneous to confuse the extant sources with the historical material which might or must have been accessible, or to assume that the antiquity of the elements of history proves or presupposes the antiquity of the records themselves, or even to deny the presence of some historical kernel merely on account of unhistorical elements or the late dress in which the events are now clothed.
The failure to apprehend historical method has often led to the fallacious argument that the trustworthiness of individual features justifies our accepting the whole, or that the elimination of unhistorical elements will leave an historical residuum.
Here and frequently elsewhere in biblical history it is necessary to allow that a genuine historical tradition may be clothed in an unhistorical dress, but since many diverse motives are often concentrated upon one narrative (e.g.
The scene of the graceful though unhistorical romance of Einhard and Emma, the daughter of Charlemagne, is laid here.
From this standpoint it is obviously unhistorical to deny that England had a very important part in the cosmopolitan movement toward doctrinal change.
C. Fox-Davies's Armorial Families (Edinburgh, 1895, and subsequent editions) represents an unhistorical attempt to create the idea of a noblesse in the United Kingdom.
As he was a historian before he became a bishop, so it was his historical sense which determined his general attitude as a bishop. It was this, together with a certain native taste for ecclesiastical pomp, which made him - while condemning the unhistorical extravagances of the ultraritualists - himself a ritualist.
Neither of these methods could do much for the historical understanding of the phenomena of prophecy as a whole, and the more liberal students of the Old Testament were long blinded by the moralizing unhistorical rationalism which succeeded the old orthodoxy.