Monday, 24 June 2013

Who are we talking about?

This is a famous person in history, a name we all recognise.

"We know amazingly little about the man who spread everywhere. Even basic facts are obscure."

Filling in his biography "is a noble but necessarily futile endeavour."

Even a "necessarily limited and fastidious approach to the historical record has the danger of slipping into the realm of fiction..."

"dubious legends sprang up about him."

The answer is Shakespeare.

Stephen Marche, author of the recent book How Shakespeare Changed Everything, is the source of the quotes. It's a great read even if, like me, you're no great devotee of Shakespeare's work.

Is this the man?
Here is a man who both shaped the English language and left a paper trail that will endure to the end of time, and yet we know next to nothing about him. Even the things we do think we know - details of his marriage to Anne Hathaway (or was it Anne Whately?) - are not as certain as they might seem. Nor is his most famous portrait, known as the Flower portrait, necessarily an accurate representation. In short, the man is a mystery.

Which is a preamble to the question I want to pose in the penultimate part of the Progressive Christianity series. How come the enthusiasts in this camp know so much about Jesus, a man who lived long before Shakespeare and never, so far as we know, wrote down a single word? With what degree of certainty can they find in him the embodiment of all those wonderful, progressive, inclusive values which we all want to promote in our own age?

To that mystery we turn shortly.


  1. I suppose we will not be debating whether or not he actually existed....

  2. I reckon I never gave much thought as to whether William Shakespeare existed or not. There is the possibility that Shakespeare is a pseudonym but, for sure, somebody wrote the works under that name. Well, you know, since the words of Shakespeare could not have written themselves...

  3. My vote (as always) is that he was really Roger Bacon.

    1. Doug, just for my own information I looked up Roger Bacon. It seems he lived 3-4 centuries prior to William Shakespeare. Perhaps you meant Francis Bacon?

  4. Your question is somewhat like asking whether Jesus was a Calvinist or an Arminian. The answer, of course, is that it depends on if you are a Calvinist or an Arminian. How did Calvin know enough about Jesus to determine that Jesus was a Calvinist (by implication). Progressives and other brands can find what they want in the Bible. That is the issue with the Bible. Like Christ said, "Wisdom is justified of all her children." Nevertheless, a core message finds its way through to the reader.

    I am dismayed that so little is known of so many historical figures - even those who had profound impacts on civilization. This confirms the ahistoricity of mankind.

    -- Neo

    1. Did you know...
      Subsequent gospels used 1st gospel as source making them historical frauds
      It follows, therefore, that the first gospel is also an historical fraud

      Not a problem for Progressive Christians as they have no need of an historical Jesus:
      - rather, they can draw its unique syncretic blend of Greek and Jewish wisdom.

      Christianity must continue to evolve in post-enlightenment/post-scientific age.