The daring of a worthwhile Bishop

Clicking Links can be the new Plucking Strings.
Sometimes revelation, sometimes music.

Below is a long snippet. I hope it’s not too laborious, because there’s fun here, delightful pondering and provocative thinking, if merely for the wonder.


Daring to gazeOne of the things about having used computers for a long time is that your records go back a long way. In particular, because I have been using Ecco, on and off, for nearly fifteen years now, I have some very strange conversations archived in it, which turn up whenever I sort through the contacts list to remove dead people.

Hugh Montefiore is dead now — he was once the Bishop of Birmingham; and so is Enoch Powell, who was, in chronological order, successful as a scholar, soldier, politican, and villain.

But I cannot really remove either while snippets like this are still in my contact book: it is from a phone conversation with Montefiore on 16 August 1994. Powell had just published a book urging that the first gospel to be written was that of Matthew (he appended his own translation) and that it had been produced in Rome in about 100AD and in its original form contained no crucifixion. Powell was an excellent Greek scholar but these ideas are generally regarded as lunatic.

This is what Montefiore told me.

[Powell] told me when we talked after Hartlebury Castle that he had been pondering this for a long time. I have always regarded him as having the sweet reasonableness of the insane ever since I got him to speak at Great St Mary’s, when he was health minister, and he said he would only speak on the Athanasian Creed, and he produced a very calvinistic sermon, saying of course God expects considerable wastage. From the minister of health, it was rather rum.

As for the idea that Jesus was never crucified by the Romans, but stoned by the Jews for blasphemy, and never buried nor resurrected because his body was devoured by animals, the bishop said this:

I don’t actually think that it can be called a heresy, really; just an inaccurate speculation. According to Christian doctrine, he died at the hands of sinners, and even with the best will in the world, you couldn’t call a gerbil a sinner.

That is the sort of bishop with whom conversation is worthwhile.