Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Treasuries in Full: Malory's Arthurian Manuscript

A detail from Le Morte Darthur, with 'Galahad' and 'Sankgreall' shown in red ink.
BL Add. MS 59678, 357v. © The British Library Board.

On the website of the British Library one may find sample pages from the manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory's stories about King Arthur, known as the Winchester Manuscript, later printed by William Caxton as Le Morte Darthur.
Malory's work had been known only through William Caxton's printed edition of 1485 for nearly 500 years. However in 1934 a librarian at Winchester College, Walter Oakeshott, discovered this manuscript in a safe in the Warden's bedroom.

The manuscript was written by
two professional scribes working together, some time during the years 1470 to 1483. The most striking feature of the manuscript is its extensive use of red ink. Most of the proper nouns, some place-names and common nouns are written in red, as well as marginalia, Lombardic Capitals, some Explicits and Incipits, and some scribal corrections. Textual variants between the manuscript and Caxton's edition suggest that these two texts derived from a common original. That means that the Winchester Manuscript cannot have been used as the sole basis for Caxton's book.

Clues on the pages of the Winchester Manuscript, however, do suggest that it was kept in Caxton's workshop some time in the years 1480 to 1483, when Caxton was preparing his Le Morte Darthur. Pages fresh from his press were laid on the manuscript and the wet ink accidentally transferred reversed images of
Caxton's type faces. This suggests that Caxton used the Winchester Manuscript together with another, now lost, manuscript.

In the colophon to his edition William Caxton says that this is the end of 'this noble and joyous book entitled Le Morte Darthur', and since then Le Morte Darthur has been used as the title of
the whole book. Malory, however, called his work 'the whole book of King Arthur and his noble Knights of the Round Table'.

How Winchester College acquired the manuscript is not known. It was purchased by the British Library from the Warden and Fellows of the College on 26 March 1976.

SOURCE: "Who Was Thomas Mallory?" British Library (Retrieved 30 Dec 2008).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Laurence Gardner's Bloodline Theory

Gardner [1996: 236] proposes three children for Jesus and Mary Magdalene: Damaris (Tamar), b. AD 33 (in a later edition [2000: 174] she is married to St. Paul); Jesus II The Justus (Gais/Géso), b. AD 37; and Joseph The Rama-Theo (Josephes), b. AD 44. He also claims that Joseph of Arimathea is none other than Jesus' brother, St. James the Just. He appears to base this information on the controversial work of Dr. Barbara Thiering and her pesher technique of interpreting the scriptures.

Gardner shows no descendants for Tamar, and a son (Galains or Alain who died without issue) for Jesus II. The only line that continues is through Joseph, the younger son. His descendants become the Fisher Kings depicted in the chart below.

Chart 1. Derived from Bloodline of the Holy Grail. Image © 2008, Bloodline: The Evidence.

Of interest is that in L'Estoire del Saint Graal, the first part of the Lancelot-Graal cycle, the character Bron (who here is married to Joseph of Arimathea's sister) has the following line of descendants: Joshua-Aminadap-Carcelois-Manuel, etc.

Chart 2. House of Lancelot and the Fisher King. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of Timeless Myths.

The Fisher Kings in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival are Titurel-Frimutel-Anfortas.

Chart 3. House of Parzival. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of Timeless Myths.

Note the similarity in the names. It appears that to create a line of descent from Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Gardner grafted together two separate lines of Fisher Kings from two medieval fictional Grail stories onto Thiering's theory.

It is interesting that Gardner says this information is available publicly. In a lecture (Yelm, WA, 30 April 1997) he is quoted as saying:

It was never any secret when my book came out [Bloodline of the Holy Grail], for the majority of these people, that Jesus was married and that Jesus had heirs, because it was written as such in very many family archives, not necessarily just private but in the open domain. The published papers of Mary, Queen of Scots talk about it at length. The papers of James II of England, who was wasn't deposed until 1688, talk of it at length. [Nexus 5/2 (February-March 1998).]

A more specific citation than "published papers of Mary, Queen of Scots" would have made it easier to corroborate these claims.

SOURCES: Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail: The Hidden Lineage of Jesus Revealed (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books, 1996). Illustrated edition (NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 2000).

Genealogy: Houses of the Grail Keeper and the Grail Hero," Timeless Myths (Retrieved 23 Dec 2008).

Articles worth finding

David H. Kelley, "Review of Holy Blood, Holy Grail," The Genealogist 3 (1982), 249-263.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Da Vinci Code Links

The Da Vinci Code: Holy Grail

According to The Da Vinci Code, the secret of the Holy Grail can be defined as follows:
  • It is not the chalice from Jesus’ Last Supper, but rather Mary Magdalene herself, who carried Jesus’ bloodline.

  • Grail relics are in actuality all of the documents lending credence to the bloodline, as well as the actual bones of Mary Magdalene.

  • These relics were hidden by the Priory of Sion in a secret crypt beneath the Rosslyn Chapel.

  • The Church covered up the truth about the Grail, and the Jesus bloodline for 2,000 years, mainly out of a fear that the power of the sacred feminine would challenge the supremacy of Simon Peter as an apostle.

  • Mary Magdalene was of royal descent (through the Jewish House of Benjamin) and was the wife of Jesus, of the House of David, and was not a prostitute, as the Church had asserted. She was pregnant during the Crucifixion, and afterwards fled to Gaul, where she was sheltered by the Jews of Marseille. She gave birth to a daughter named Sarah. The bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene became the Merovingian dynasty of France. According to Teabing,

    [I]t was not Mary Magdalene's royal blood that concerned the Church so much as it was her consorting with Christ, who also had royal blood…the Book of Matthew tells us that Jesus was of the House of David. A descendant of King Solomon–King of the Jews. By marrying into the powerful House of Benjamin, Jesus fused two royal bloodlines, creating a potent political union with the potential of making a legitimate claim to the throne and restoring the line of kings as it was under Solomon.
  • The existence of this bloodline was the secret contained in the documents discovered by the Crusaders after they conquered Jerusalem in 1099. The Priory of Sion and the Knights Templar were organized to keep this secret.
Indeed, Brown’s supposed conspiracy theory actually follows the same one adhered to by followers of esotericism, which also affirms that Mary was actually Jesus’ wife, with whom he had children. Whether or not Jesus died on the cross is not certain, they say, but it is true that Mary Magdalene fled for France, fearing persecution by the Romans. There, her children – legal heirs to the House of Judah – became Kings in France and Briton.

The Holy Grail, the esoteric doctrine affirms, is also comprised of documents and gospels that reveal Jesus and Mary’s union and offspring, and were suppressed by the Church after the Council of Nicea. More specifically, the misogynist Church sought to suppress Mary’s image, and spent centuries scandalizing and demonizing her until she was normalized as the prostitute and sinner espoused today. Fortunately, however, certain documents were recovered, and later re-discovered by the Knights Templar, who have since kept them hidden.

SOURCE: "The Da Vinci Code: Holy Grail," Jesus Family Tomb (Retrieved 22 December 2008).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Why We're All Jesus' Children

Go back a few millenniums, and we've all got the same ancestors.

On Monday Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, testified in a London courtroom to defend himself against the charge that he stole from an earlier book the idea that Jesus has a secret line of descendants who are alive today. But no matter how the court case turns out, both books are confused. If anyone living today is descended from Jesus, so are most of us on the planet.

That absurd-sounding statement is an inevitable consequence of the strange and marvelous workings of human ancestry. In the recent past, each of us is descended from a small fraction of the people who were then alive. We're descended from our parents one generation ago, our grandparents two generations ago, our great-grandparents three generations ago, and so on. We tend to think that the same exclusivity holds for the more distant past—that a European-American, for example, is descended from a few clusters of people who lived in Europe many centuries ago, or that an African-American has ancestors from just a handful of African villages.

But that presumption is wrong. Imagine that you could identify all of your great-great-great-great- … grandparents 20 generations back—from about the time Columbus stepped ashore in the New World. (You would never be able to, of course, because no paper records connect you to virtually any of those people, but pretend that God handed you a perfect genealogical record.) Assuming typical human mating patterns, your direct ancestors 20 generations ago consisted of somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 different people. Taking the lower figure, perhaps 480,000 of the ancestors of the average African-American were living in Africa in the year 1492, and approximately 120,000 were living in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. For the average European-American, more than a half-million ancestors were living in Europe, with the rest scattered through Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Now think about your direct ancestors living 40 generations in the past, in about the year A.D. 1000. The size of that group is harder to estimate. But as two co-authors and I explained in Nature in 2004, that group included many millions of people. Forty generations ago, almost everyone living today had ancestors in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and many present-day Asians, Europeans, and Africans had ancestors in the Americas because of the continual exchange of mates across the Bering Strait.

It gets even stranger. Say you go back 120 generations, to about the year 1000 B.C. According to the results presented in our Nature paper, your ancestors then included everyone in the world who has descendants living today. And if you compared a list of your ancestors with a list of anyone else's ancestors, the names on the two lists would be identical.

This is a very bizarre result (the math behind it is solid, though—here's a brief, semitechnical explanation of our findings). It means that you and I are descended from all of the Africans, Australians, Native Americans, and Europeans who were alive three millenniums ago and still have descendants living today. That's also why so many people living today could be descended from Jesus. If Jesus had children (a big if, of course) and if those children had children so that Jesus' lineage survived, then Jesus is today the ancestor of almost everyone living on Earth. True, Jesus lived two rather than three millenniums ago, but a person's descendants spread quickly from well-connected parts of the world like the Middle East.

Keep these observations in mind the next time you read about people being linked to famous ancestors. Newsweek recently gushed that "one in five males in northwest Ireland may be a descendant of a legendary fifth-century warlord." In fact, virtually everyone with any European ancestry is descended from that man. One-fifth of Irish males may be descended from him in a direct male line—that is, through their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on. That's what genetic tests can measure. But almost everyone else in Europe, and many people living elsewhere in the world, is descended from him through genealogical lines that include women. And of course, we're just as much descended from our mother's parents and from our father's mother as from our father's father.

In addition to Jesus and the warlord, we're also all descended from Julius Caesar, from Nefertiti, from Confucius, from the Seven Daughters of Eve, and from any other historical figure who left behind lines of descendants and lived earlier than a few thousand years ago. Genetic tests can't prove this, partly because current tests look at just a small fraction of our DNA. But if we're descended from someone, we have at least a chance—even if it's a very small chance—of having their DNA in our cells.

Geneticists like to point out that people don't get their DNA in equal proportions from our shared ancestors. From many of them, we have inherited no DNA. One genetic test can tell you how much DNA you might have inherited overall from your ancestors in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. But, as John Hawks points out elsewhere in Slate, the results are very approximate. And do people really care how much DNA they got from various regions, or are they more interested in the genealogical question of where their ancestors lived? The answer to that question is "virtually everywhere."

A handful of uncertainties could push back to some degree the times I've mentioned. Maybe we all had the same ancestors four or five millenniums ago rather than three millenniums ago. But that uncertainty doesn't change the basic conclusion, which is that all human beings are tied up in dense webs of genealogical connections.

The risk of today's genetic genealogy tests is that they tend to divide people into groups, whereas the real message that emerges from genealogy is one of connections. For centuries, scientists have tried to sort people into biological categories. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they pounced on the idea of race and used it to formulate hypotheses about human differences that had disastrous social consequences. In the 20th century, scientists began to explore the greater complexities of our biological histories, which are impossible to capture in a word as simple-minded as "race." If genetic genealogy tests explored and explained these complexities, I'd have no problem with them. But most of today's tests hark back to the bad old days of racial science.

People may like to think that they're descended from some ancient group while other people are not. But human ancestry doesn't work that way, since we all share the same ancestors just a few millenniums ago. As that idea becomes more widely accepted, arguments over who's descended from Jesus won't result in lawsuits. And maybe, just maybe, people will have one less reason to feel animosity toward other branches of the human family.

In 1999, Joseph Chang, a professor of statistics at Yale University, published a paper in Advances in Applied Probability showing that the most recent common genealogical ancestor in a randomly mating population of size n lived log2 n generations ago, where log2 n is the number of times you have to multiply 2 by itself to equal n. (Thus, log2 n of 1 million is about 20, since 2 to the 20th power is 1,048,576.) I read Chang's paper while I was writing my book, Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins, and he and I began working to extend his result to more realistic human populations where mates are not chosen at random.

About that time, I also was reading about small-worlds graphs, which is a branch of mathematics that flourished in the 1990s. In a small-worlds graph, subgraphs consisting of random connections among a cluster of points (random marriages within a population form such a subgraph) are connected to each other by occasional links. It doesn't take many of those occasional links for the entire collection of subgraphs to start behaving like one big randomly connected graph.

I realized that human ancestry could be modeled as a small-worlds graph. Even with very small rates of migration between populations that are separated geographically or socially, the entire population would behave in ways comparable to a randomly connected graph. Thus, ancestry for the population as a whole might conform roughly to Chang's observation about randomly mating populations. That conclusion gave me enough confidence to publish in my book some of the observations I've made in this article.

Meanwhile, Douglas Rohde, a computer scientist who was then at MIT and now works at Google, heard about the research that Chang and I were doing. He built an amazing computer simulation of the world's interlinked populations going back 20,000 years, which produced results comparable to those of Chang's theoreticical approach. The three of us worked together on the results published in the Nature paper.

Computer scientist Mark Humphrys anticipated some of our work on human ancestry in his fascinating "royal descents of famous people" Web site, which I wrote about in the May 2002 Atlantic. Douglas Rohde has summarized his work on human ancestry in an unpublished paper posted at his old MIT Web site. The esteemed geneticist Susumu Ohno also wrote about human ancestry in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I used Ohno's paper to conclude that each of us had between 600,000 and 1 million distinct ancestors 20 generations ago.

Steve Olson's book Mapping Human History: Genes, Race, and Our Common Origins was nominated for the National Book Award in 2002.

SOURCE: Steve Olsen, "Why We're All Jesus' Children," Slate (15 Mar 2006).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jesus' Family Tree

A recreation of Jesus' family tree based on references from the New Testament
and the ancient historians Josephus and Eusebius. Courtesy of Frontline.

SOURCE: "Jesus' Family Tree," Frontline (Apr 1998). Reproduced by Frontline with permission from Jesus and His World by John J Rousseau and Rami Arav, © Augsberg Fortress 1995.

Royal Lines from Zarah and Pharez Judah

This simplified chart essentially agrees with the Genealogy of Queen Elizabeth II chart. The main differences are: (1) this chart includes Prince Philip's ancestors; (2) it includes a descent from Levi through Aaron and Simon the Just for Joseph of Arimathea; and (3) it shows a descent from Zedekiah for the Virgin Mary's husband, Joseph.

SOURCE: "Royal Lines from Zarah and Pharez Judah," (1937). http://www.angelfire.com/alt2/antichrist/royalgene.html. Retrieved 12 Dec 2008.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Royal House of Britain, An Enduring Dynasty

The chart, "Genealogy of Queen Elizabeth II," is in part based on the work of Rev. W. H. M. Milner who wrote a book entitled, The Royal House of Britain, An Enduring Dynasty. The following charts come from pp. 21-22 of this book.

SOURCE: "Source Documents," Israelite.info (Retrieved 28 Dec 2008).

Genealogy of Queen Elizabeth II

The Genealogy of Queen Elizabeth II," (1938). http://www.angelfire.com/alt2/antichrist/royalgene.html. Retrieved (12 Dec 2008).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kilmore Church stained-glass window

Image courtesy of "Adam en Eva," Die Boervolk van SA (10-10-2008).

The picture above is a detail from a stained-glass window at Kilmore Church, Dervaig, Isle of Mull, Scotland. It is by Stephen Adam who died in 1910, long before Holy Blood, Holy Grail appeared in 1982.

The image shows Jesus and a pregnant Mary of Bethany holding right hands, a widely recognized symbol known as "hand-fasting," which essentially is synonymous with betrothal.

We know it is Mary of Bethany, because of the quote: "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her," (Luke 10: 42) that appears near the bottom of the image.

Click for a larger image of the entire window. Courtesy of Madeleine: A Destiny Begun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Catholic Encyclopedia: The Holy Grail

The online Catholic Encyclopedia has a very informative article on the Holy Grail from which I quote the following excerpt:

The meaning of the word has also been variously explained. The generally accepted meaning is that is given by the Cistercian chronicler Helinandus (d. about 1230), who, under the date of about 717, mentions of a vision, shown to a hermit concerning the dish used by Our Lord at the Last Supper, and about which the hermit then wrote a Latin book called "Gradale." "Now in French," so Helinandus informs us, "Gradalis or Gradale means a dish (scutella), wide and somewhat deep, in which costly viands are wont to be served to the rich in degrees (gradatim), one morsel after another in different rows. In popular speech it is also called "greal" because it is pleasant (grata) and acceptable to him eating therein" etc. The medieval Latin word "gradale" because in Old French "graal," or "greal," or "greel," whence the English "grail." Others derive the word from "garalis" or from "cratalis" (crater, a mixing bowl). It certainly means a dish, the derivation from "grata" in the latter part of the passage cited above or from "agréer" (to please) in the French romances is secondary. The explanation of "San greal" as "sang real" (kingly blood) was not current until the later Middle Ages. [Emphasis added.] Other etymologies that have been advanced may be passed over as obsolete.
SOURCE: Arthur F.J. Remy, "The Holy Grail," The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909). http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06719a.htm. Retrieved 23 December 2008.