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March 1, 2006 11:47 PM   Subscribe

THE SAINTLY SINNER. “Maudlin,” a derivative of Magdalene, in the English language, with the meaning of “mawkishly lachrymose.”
posted by semmi (10 comments total)

 
I read this New Yorker article by Joan Acocella a while ago (via Arts & Letters Daily) and found it solid and with heresies, but I dunno how suitable it is as a single-link post to the blue. Maybe if you had some link to Maynard James Keenan (however juvenile)? Or to the AskMe about sinning all possible sins? Dunno.
posted by cgc373 at 2:36 AM on March 2, 2006


Oh. On preview, I see you have a posting history somewhat more . . . intimidating than my peremptory "advice" was meant to address. As always, feel free to ignore me. (I mostly commented 'cause nobody else was commenting, having just finished reading this and this, and feeling a horror of vacuum.)
posted by cgc373 at 2:44 AM on March 2, 2006


It's nice that the New Yorker has the intellectual confidence to run a piece on New Testament scholarship. (Would that have happened under Tina Brown's editorship? I doubt it.) But I do wish Joan Acocella had actually interviewed some of the scholars mentioned in the article, and let them talk her through the issues, instead of just reading their books and forming her own impressions.

Several passages in the article really made my hackles rise:

Since the nineteen-seventies, there has been a true paradigm shift in Biblical scholarship. Before, people thought that Christianity was a truth .. [but now] a number of young scholars came to regard early Christianity entirely differently -- as a process, a vast, centuries-long argument among competing sects, during which certain choices were made ..

The young Bible scholars should have all our support, and we should agree with them that the energetic, far-seeing Magdalene of the Gnostic texts is good evidence that the Church should ordain women.

I'm very sympathetic to these arguments (though personally I don't see why something can't be both a 'truth' and a 'process' -- modern science, for example); but I find the tone of these passages extremely annoying. What's all this about 'our support' and 'we should'? Speak for yourself, lady! It's the way she takes the reader's attitude for granted -- that complacent assumption that 'of course all intelligent people will agree with me' -- that I find so irritating.
posted by verstegan at 4:12 AM on March 2, 2006


Apologies for veering into off-topic territory - why is it that no one ever bothers to point out that Holy Blood, Holy Grail is based entirely on forgeries made by an eccentric friendly society set up by Pierre Plantard "de St-Clair" in the 1950s? (Obviously it's all bibble anyway, but it's known to be bibble based on taking a scam/hoax/joke with Oulipan/Surrealist tendencies at face value.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:38 AM on March 2, 2006


Holy Blood, Holy Grail is based entirely on forgeries made by an eccentric friendly society set up by Pierre Plantard "de St-Clair" in the 1950s?

Because that stuff wasn't original either. The Holy Blood, Holy Grail stuff has been floating around since the Renaisance. It's what conspiracy theorists used to talk about before UFOs.
posted by unreason at 6:29 AM on March 2, 2006


I thought it was an interesting article, actually. Well worth reading.
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on March 2, 2006


Will everybody shut up about Mary Magdalene already? We know nothing about her. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. She's just a few scanty lines. She goes to the the tomb, finds him gone -- then the story abruptly ends. You can stare at these tiny scraps text as long as you want, but no new meaning is going to come jumping out. Mary Magdalene is an enigma -- but we don't even know enough about her to make her an even intersting enigma. Stop already.
posted by Faze at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2006


...instead of just reading their books and forming her own impressions.

verstegan: That's what book critics do.

Faze: If only you were more of an enigma.
posted by semmi at 10:06 AM on March 2, 2006


You can stare at these tiny scraps text as long as you want, but no new meaning is going to come jumping out.

Sometimes I want to say that about New Testament scholarship in general. Every generation of scholars has gotta say something new about the same few texts in order to get published and get tenure.

On the other hand, you could say the same thing about English scholars and Shakespeare. And in both cases, there are good scholars with genuinely new and worthwhile insights.

But as far as Mary Magdalene goes, at this point she's like King Arthur -- maybe a historical person, but most of what people want to talk about now is the centuries of folklore that's grown up about this person.
posted by straight at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2006


unreason said 'The Holy Blood, Holy Grail stuff has been floating around since the Renaisance. It's what conspiracy theorists used to talk about before UFOs.'

Oh, for sure, I just meant that Holy Blood is an ultra-silly conspiracy theory because it's based almost entirely on stuff we know to have been made up for a bit of a laugh in the '50s. Just an extra layer of spuriousness, of course, but strange that folk don't take the opportunity to poke fun at Holy Blood, and by extension the Da Vinci Code, which, you know, a lot of people believe to be a true story.
posted by jack_mo at 2:51 AM on March 3, 2006


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