Probably the most interesting part of Holy Blood Holy Grail from my point of view is the introduction to the 1996 edition.
It covers the reaction of the first book published in 1982.
Particularly the interview that the authors gave to Barry Norman on the Omnibus programme with historian Marina Warner
and the then Bishop of Birmingham Hugh Montfiore.
Here's one quote from the book:
"We found ourselves subjected to a veritable blitz. Broad generalities and pedantic trivialities were launched at us like a Luftwaffe of flies. we could have swatted most of them. We did in fact swat a great many. But it takes only a moment for a voice, arrogating the resonance of authority, to stigmatise the book - to label it irresponsible, implausible, poorly researched or simply bad. It takes rather longer to refute such charges. One must do so point by point, citing specific examples. One must also become embroiled in minutiae and academic quibbles that do not make for good television"
Montfiore was a complete prat. At one point Barry Norman asked him whether such books are completely dangerous. In other words he fed him a line
. "Absolutely" replied the Bishop who had already admitted that he's only read the last two chapters. He declared the Holy Blood Holy Grail as a "Shameless exploitation of sex and sensationalism."
Yes we are talking about the book Holy Blood Holy Grail. I must have had that bit ripped out of my copy. Even Marina Warner was embarrassed by this. At this point the editor intervened and concocted a microphone failure or something and the scene had to be redone. Montfiore was given another chance to redeem himself from his sudden attack of foot in mouth
disease. When it was redone and asked if the book was dangerous he then said: Not at all and that he was confident that Christianity would prove sufficiently robust to to withstand the challenge. Clearly a loaded interview was being conducted here. Montifiore then cited 79 errors in the book (bearing in mind that he had already admitted that he had only read the last two chapters.) It transpired that the Bishop )or his secretary) had indeed found four genuine errors. One was that they had said that Palestine in the Jesus era was divided into two provinces, the truth is that it was one province and two tetrarchies. They had called Jesus' image as a carpenter in Luke's Gospel when in fact it is from Mark's Gospel. They had put Julius Africanus in the third century rather than the first (this error was blamed on a proof reader) . They had put Ephesus in Greece when it was in fact in Asia Minor. All of these errors have been corrected in the 2005 edition.
It turns out though that the other 75 errors were not errors at all but merely points of faith and a complete misunderstanding on the part of Montfiore due to the fact that he hadn't read the previous chapters. However the press reported that Montfiore had found 79 errors in the book and the pet historian expert
Marina Warner wrote a scathing attack (still it out-sold her books). We haven't seen many Hollywood blockbusters starring Tom Hanks made on the strength of her writings. So the book wasn't criticised on ESTABLISHED facts but criticised on ESTABLISHMENT facts.
I learned a great deal from this introduction and oh boy how the same attitudes as Montifiore's prevail on here.
Montifiore converted suddenly from Judaism to Catholicism whilst at Rugby school. He was the great great nephew of Sir Moses Montifiore.
Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, Kt (24 October 1784 - 28 July 1885) was one of the most famous British Jews of the 19th century. Montefiore was a financier, banker, philanthropist and Sheriff of London. He donated large sums of money to promote industry, education and health amongst the Jewish community in Palestine, including the founding of Mishkenot Sha'ananim in 1860, the first settlement of the New Yishuv. As President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, his correspondence with the British consul in Damascus Charles Henry Churchill in 1841-42 is seen as pivotal to the development of Proto-Zionism.
He was related through marriage to the Rothschild family.
Marina Warner was divorced because of her lesbian activities.