Mark Goodacre has two posts up that are relevant to oral tradition and the historical study of Jesus. One is about a quotation attributed to the Dalai Lama on the internet but which is spurious. Here’s the image that sums the matter up:
A while back I had wanted to share this quote, which is widely attributed to Stephen Hawking, but ultimately decided not to because I was unable to trace it to an actual source:
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
What can we learn from the proliferation of spurious internet quotations attributed to famous people? Perhaps something encouraging, since those that diverge from the authentic voice of the individual in question tend to get spotted and challenged, while those that persist tend to be ones that are in keeping with the sort of thing that the person might be expected to actually say. And so, if looking at internet “quotations” challenges the notion that we can get the ipsissima verba of Jesus, it also leaves the hope that the ississima vox might not be completely lost to us.
The image below is my favorite response to the proliferation of spurious quotations on the internet:
Now I also wonder whether the proliferation of spurious internet quotations proves that the concept of “Matthew Accuracy” is wrong.