Still More Dreadful Dilettantism from Discovery

Oh boy… this headline takes the prize for most rambunctiously unsupported historically – JESUS’ GREAT GRANDMOTHER IDENTIFIED.

What? When? Where? How? (Why?????)

The great grandmother of Jesus was a woman named Ismeria, according to Florentine medieval manuscripts analyzed by a historian. The legend of St. Ismeria, presented in the current Journal of Medieval History, sheds light on both the Biblical Virgin Mary’s family and also on religious and cultural values of 14th-century Florence. “I don’t think any other woman is mentioned” as Mary’s grandmother in the Bible, Catherine Lawless, author of the paper, told Discovery News. “Mary’s patrilineal lineage is the only one given.”

Florentines… that explains it…

Anyway, WHAT? What rubbish. Oh Catherine, what are you doing? What possible historical use can be made of a medieval manuscript concerning the reconstruction of the life of the ‘Historical Mary’ (copyright, Jim West)?

“Mary herself is mentioned very little in the Bible,” added Lawless, a lecturer in history at the University of Limerick. “The huge Marian cult that has evolved over centuries has very few scriptural sources.”

Oh Catherine, please stick to history and leave the Bible alone. You’re bereft of knowledge concerning it. The Gospels have a lot to say about Mary (plenty anyway!). And her mother is never mentioned in its pages, much less granny or great granny or anyone else.

“According to the legend, Ismeria is the daughter of Nabon of the people of Judea, and of the tribe of King David,” wrote Lawless. She married “Santo Liseo,” who is described as “a patriarch of the people of God.” The legend continues that the couple had a daughter named Anne who married Joachim. After 12 years, Liseo died. Relatives then left Ismeria penniless. “I’m pretty sure one is supposed to believe that it was either her dead husband’s relatives or, less likely, her natal family,” Lawless said. “The family of the Virgin Mary would not have been cast in such a light.” Ismeria then goes to a hospital where she finds refuge. She is said to perform a miracle, filling a shell with fish to feed all of the hospital’s patients. After this miracle she prays to be taken away from the “vainglory of this world.” After God called her to “Paradise,” a rector at the hospital informed the Virgin Mary and Jesus of her passing. They departed for the hospital with the 12 Apostles, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Cleophas. There they paid honor to St. Ismeria.

So now legend is fodder for historical reconstruction? Have historians lost their minds? Is this the present state of the discipline? Please someone say no.

Discovery has become as disappointing as is humanly possible. Now they’re just pushing nonsense under the guise of scholarship.  (Via Antonio who, through no fault of his own, will be the bearer of the news that one day makes my head explode, literally).

6 thoughts on “Still More Dreadful Dilettantism from Discovery

  1. […] Check out the post if you need a laugh/cry. Oh boy… this headline takes the prize for most rambunctiously unsupported historically – JESUS’ GREAT GRANDMOTHER IDENTIFIED. What? When? Where? How? (Why?????) The great grandmother of Jesus was a woman named Ismeria, according to Florentine medieval manuscripts analyzed by a historian. The legend of St. Ismeria, presented in the current Journal of Medieval History, sheds light on both the Biblical Virgin Mary’s family and also on religious an … Read More […]

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  2. Richard Bartholomew 10 Dec 2010 at 7:03 am

    I think the hack has sensationalised what the academic said. Here’s the article abstract – it includes:

    …Unlike more well-known versions of the Holy Kinship of Christ, where Ismeria is described as the sister of St Anne and grandmother of St John the Baptist, in this legend she is instead firmly described as St Anne’s mother and thus the grandmother of the Virgin and the great-grandmother of Christ… The way in which these legends lay side by side with such contradictory material suggests a fluidity in the way holy narratives were accepted.

    Also, Google Books brings up several results for “MS Panciatichiano 40”, so that’s not news either.

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  3. […] (H/T Robert Cargill and Jim West) […]

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  4. Mark Thomson 10 Dec 2010 at 11:42 am

    Your criticism of Dr Lawless is misplaced. She has explicitly rejected Discovery’s characterization of her research.

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    • Jim 10 Dec 2010 at 12:11 pm

      fair enough. to an extent. one can’t help being misquoted if one has no control. but one can insist that one gets to see the final product before one grants permission or participates. and the arch villain is discovery anyway- for their misleading article.

      in sum- perhaps one and all will learn to be a bit less trusting of mass media.

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  5. […] West (Zwinglious Redivivus) and Robert Cargill (XKV8R) are quick to call to account the dilettantes who think they have […]

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