Issues in modern scholarship

The same questions raise their heads over and over:

https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/fragments-found-book-story-merlin-0011418

One question, for example, is just how this rag got to be an authority on ancient mysteries:

According to the Daily Mail “cutting-edge analysis and infrared techniques will be used to try to read the ancient prose”.

There needs to be a comma after Mail.  Apart from that:

The Birmingham Mail reports that Michael Richardson, from the University of Bristol’s special collections library was examining some volumes published in the 1500s that were written by Jean Gerson (1363- 1429), a noted theologian and Church reformer. Richardson, as he opened one of the volumes, saw something curious. He found seven fragments of a handwritten manuscript that had been bound into the book.

Immediate questions include how long the UofB Humanities Dept has been going for, when the text came into its possession, why no one had read the text before and noticed the fragments?

On the latter question, the answer, I’d suggest, is that they weren’t there when countless scholars before her were reading them.

Obviously I have no direct proof and am not going to start flinging accusations about this ‘academic’ but I am going to make reference to our current times, about university funding, about Bristol itself, about academia itself today … and about ethics in general.

Apart from that, was there anything else which raised red flags?  Well yes:

A lucky discovery in a rare book has the potential to transform our knowledge

The find is an astounding one and it is already changing our understanding

The librarian promptly contacted Dr. Leah Tether, who is a leading figure in the International Arthurian Society, a group dedicated to the research of the legends, history, and literature on King Arthur. Dr. Tether immediately compiled a team of specialists to investigate the fragments and they were amazed at what they discovered. The Irish Examiner reports that the “seven pieces are thought to come from the Old French sequence of texts known as the Vulgate Cycle or Lancelot-Grail Cycle, dating back to the 13th century”.

Another report:

https://epigram.org.uk/2019/01/31/middle-ages-merlin-manuscript-found-in-bristol-university-library/

3 comments for “Issues in modern scholarship

  1. dearieme
    June 12, 2020 at 14:51

    Pah! What you want – and will very likely never get – is some accounts from the Dark Ages rather than High Medieval times.

    The best argument I ever heard for his existence was that there was a period when Dark Ages kings in different parts of Britain named sons Arthur. That implies that stories about him were well known at the time, which allows the possibility that there’s some truth in them.

    If you want to see piles of drivel written about famous men long after their death, typically to fill in unknown bits of their biographies, just look at the rubbish written about Jesus and Mahomet.

    The probability of Arthur having existed I’d put distinctly higher than the probability of Moses having ever existed but lower than Jesus.

  2. June 12, 2020 at 15:50

    There being multiple Arthurs about in royalty even now.

    • dearieme
      June 12, 2020 at 23:28

      Not “even now” if you imply continuity. Rather, starting again after the publication of the medieval romances.

      A short lived peak of Arthurs is pretty suggestive. Talking of short lived peaks, you could say the same thing about Marilyns.

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