You’ve probably been seeing this making the rounds in the news.
A lost Syriac manuscript that depicts Jesus and Mary Magdalene?
In a word:
Robert Cargill sums it all up as good as I could myself here. Read his review, and then you honestly won’t have to read the book. In fact, just read the following paragraph. It sums it up perfectly:
The text in question is neither “lost” nor a “gospel”, and the allegorical reading of the Syriac version of Joseph and Aseneth is little more than a wishful hope that it would be so, employing little more than name substitution and a desire to prove The DaVinci Code true. Absolutely no scholar will take this book seriously. It will not change Christianity. It will not change biblical scholarship. It’s just Simcha doing what he does best: direct-to-the-public pseudoscholarship just in time for Christmas.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you make an Internet meme and others find it useful as an illustration there is this sense of pride. “I did that. It was used properly. My work here is done.” 🙂
So Aaron Adair has a talk he gave back in April up on YouTube where he tackles the issue of ancient aliens and UFOs where he did just that — what you see above — in the opening, with my meme. It’s a fun talk. Check it out. 🙂
Remember though, one must be diligent at all times!
I fear that I must own up to this little piece of satire as it is my own casual observation that birthed it. 🙂
Critical commentary on this particular instance will follow at some later date, but for plenty of prior discussion, please feel free to browse my blog archives.
UPDATE Oct 14: Quite conveniently, Christian Brady over at Targuman posted an interesting entry about satire. As I employ quite a bit of satire on my blog here as an illustrative tool (…and I admit enjoyable) I feel it’s a good read given recent postings. 🙂
I also believe that there is an important line to draw between satire, and simple mockery or ridicule. The former acts as a statement of criticism often showing where something may be improved, where the latter two on their own may simply be malicious.
It’s the difference between criticizing someone with a bit of humor to illustrate one’s point vs. a bully at a playground making fun of another kid because it makes them feel good. Satire’s purpose is to fuel conversation where simple mockery or ridicule’s purpose is to squelch it.
I generally make satirical memes as a means to illustrate problems and stimulate further the debate about things that happen in the academic world. In the age of Facebook and other social media — riding upon the very same mechanism that spreads pictures of LOL-cats at lightning speed — there are fewer methods that move as quickly to prompt discussion as visual vignettes that point out poignant problems in an entertaining manner. 🙂
Food for thought.
UPDATE Dec 29: HT to Antonio Kuilan on Facebook:
Neil DeGrasse Tyson‘s watermelon bid (which is larger and more threatening). Since he’s an actual Astrophysicist, however, he might know what he’s talking about. 😉
If anyone has any further “academic watermelon memes,” I will be happy to post them here.
UPDATE Jan 7 2014: The first watermelon of the year, that has upped the ante.
Pat Robertson seems to be doing… something to his invisible watermelon. I’m honestly not sure what to say.