"I don’t think any other woman is mentioned"

Quote of the Day for Saturday, December 11th, 2010:

Catherine Lawless, lecturer in the history of art at the University of Limerick, discussing her paper relating the legends around St. Ismeria, supposed maternal great-grandmother of Jesus, in a recent Discovery News piece:

“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.”

Perhaps I’m guilty here of shooting fish in a barrel, but I’d think anyone publishing papers on the lineage of Jesus Christ – even art historians – would at least take the trouble of the five minutes required to check the claims of the New Testament concerning  the matter, and not be reduced to offering guesses. To be fair, I suppose if you have no idea where the New Testament claims concerning the matter are, it may take you more than five minutes to scan the entire collection looking for the evidence. Still, that effort hardly seems more trouble than it’s worth for someone who’s actually publishing.

Call me silly, but it seems to me that if you don’t have a working knowledge of the primary source for a subject you’re publishing on, you’re likely not much of an historian – or any other kind of scholar. Nonetheless, according to the article, George Ferzoco, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, commented that the new paper analyzing the legend is “brilliant”. Wow. I have to wonder how many other fields of study would not only tolerate such shameless ignorance, but find a way to call it “brilliant.”

For what it’s worth, Ms. Lawless, your blind guess is correct: no other woman is mentioned in the Bible as being Mary’s grandmother – in fact, even her mother is not mentioned. However, her father is not mentioned in Scripture, either, so I’m not sure where you come up with your assertion in the following sentence that  her “patrilineal lineage” is given in Scripture. But why split hairs over things like facts when there are brilliant claims to be made – and published? Oy!