What is it about suppressing an idea that seems to draw attention to it? I’m not sure, but when a text goes from being suppressed to being championed, it perhaps suggests that the ideas it contains are all the more important.
Two cases in point:
First is the well-known story of the woman taken in adultery. As Metzger puts an analysis of the textual evidence, “The evidence for the non-Johannine origin of the pericope of the adulteress is overwhelming.” The idea of Augustine’s that the story contained too radical a doctrine and originally suppressed, only to later be included in the Fourth Gospel may be consider a bit far-fetched, but it also may be true. It’s not hard to imagine that forgiveness so complete and so immediate was seen either as a threat to the moral order and therefore had to be suppressed (so Augustine) or on the other hand was simply too foreign a concept to be included as canon initially (my favorite). But of course now it is one of the best known stories that so many of us (me included) cherish dearly.
The exclusion and inclusion of the King Follett Discourse in the History of the Church constitutes one of the most interesting episodes in the history of Church publishing. B.H. Roberts, editor of the six-volume work, decided to include the King Follett Discourse in Volume6 of the ﬁrst edition. Apparently, at the last minute, it was removed. An examination of the ﬁrst edition of Volume 6 (1912) provides conclusive evidence that the King Follett Discourse was indeed removed as the book was ready to be bound, as pages 302–317 are missing. In the second edition of Volume 6 (1950), pages 302–317 are reinserted, and they contain the King Follett Discourse.We do not know exactly why the sermon was removed or who ordered its removal, but available evidence indicates that some of the Brethren had become suspicious of the King Follett Discourse, maintaining that all of its doctrines might not be authentic, and expressing some concern over the accuracy of the text.
(From Cannon, BYU Studies 18, no. 2(1978))
I find it fascinating that these two texts (John’s, Joseph’s) have now become defining for communities that appear to have at one time or another suppressed them.
I can’t help but wonder — is there a modern equivalent? Of course, plenty of heretical ideas have been appropriately ignored, suppressed, or discarded. So certainly suppression alone is hardly evidence of merit. Nevertheless, it seems worth pondering: what doctrines are the powers-that-be trying to suppress today that will end up being beloved?