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Re: [mythsoc] Joseph Pearce on Tolkien

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  • Larry Swain
    On Sat, 09 Apr 2011 13:03 -0700, David Bratman wrote: ... Festival of the Incarnation. Historically, the date is quite important
    Message 1 of 53 , Apr 9, 2011
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      On Sat, 09 Apr 2011 13:03 -0700, "David Bratman"
      <dbratman@...> wrote:




      "Larry Swain" <[3]theswain@...> wrote:
      >> The festival in Latin, btw, is called Festum Incarnationis,
      Festival of the Incarnation. Historically, the date is quite important
      indeed, and in comparison to Christmas as to importance, that would
      greatly
      depend on the period one is speaking of since that has changed and
      shifted over the centuries.<<

      >Fair enough, but what would it have been to Tolkien?<

      I can't give a definitive answer, but I think we can make some probable
      conclusions.

      I think this a two part question. The first part is "what would it have
      been for Tolkien the person?" I don't know when in England the
      Annunciation ceased to be a day of obligation, in France and US, late
      19th century (1890s if memory serves). Tolkien's guardian was fairly
      old school, so even if no longer officially a day, the day continued to
      hold some importance. This was reinforced by the cultural importance
      yet in the early 20th century of "Lady Day", the end of the first
      quarter when rents and payments were due, and of some importance to
      schools and universities. So in Tolkien's youth it can probably be
      said that the feast was still of significance relatively unchanged from
      an earlier generation.

      The other part of the question would be what would it have been to
      Tolkien the scholar:
      In that position, there can be no question that Tolkien knew and
      understood the importance of Annuciation: after all, he dealt for a
      large part of his career with medieval literature of a religious nature
      (Katherine Group, Exodus, Pearl, Cynewulf, Bede, calendars and
      martyrologies to name a few). Further, I think that given the changing
      nature of Galadriel in Tolkien's writings over the years, pointing more
      and more toward a type of Mary (and even taking some imagery from the
      Pearl to apply to Lothlorien) and even Tolkien's own acknowledgement
      that much of Galadriel's character is indebted to Mary, and remember
      Mary's iconic moment is the Annunciation. Others have done a good job
      of outlining the importance of Marian imagery in LoTR, especially as
      applied to Galadriel. So as scholar and author, it would seem that the
      day of Annunciaiton, the central Marian moment, was of some significant
      importance indeed.

      Bratman wrote:
      >>And it'd be perfectly possible for Pearce to make any points he
      >> wants about
      >> the importance of March 25th as a date without throwing in
      this
      >> stuff about
      >> the Annunciation being more important than Christmas. In an
      >> allegory of
      >> Frodo's trek as the Via Dolorosa, the only relevance of the
      >> Annunciation is
      >> its tie to the traditional belief that it was _also_ the date
      of
      >> the
      >> Crucifixion. (Which has to be approached in this roundabout
      way
      >> since,
      >> while the date to celebrate the Annunciation is fixed, the
      >> Crucifixion is of
      >> course commemorated as a movable feast and not on a specific
      >> date.)

      I replied:
      > Nonetheless, at least since the third century, March 25 was the
      >accepted date of the crucifixion. The reason that Good Friday as
      >commemoration of the crucifixion is moveable is because of Passover and the
      >lunar calendar, calculating the date of Easter in reference to
      >Passover, predates the commemoration of March 25 by a couple of
      >centuries.

      Bratman retorts:
      >>I'm not at all sure what you think you're correcting here with
      your "Nonetheless," as I did specifically cite "the traditional belief
      that [March 25] was also the date of the Crucifixion," which is
      exactly what you've gone to the trouble of pointing out. I specified
      that it's the
      _commemoration_ of the Crucifixion which moves,..."

      Which of course isn't the entirety of what you said. As quoted above
      you claimed that the "only relevance of the Annunciation is its tie to
      the traditional belief that it was _also_ the day of the Crucifixion"
      AND "which has to be approached in this roundabout way since..."). Both
      claims are in need of correcting. Regardless of the moveable feast of
      Good Friday, March 25 was also commemorated for all the reasons already
      stated, and was done so quite early; there is nothing roundabout about
      it. I would also challenge the notion that March 25 in LoTR has no
      significance in terms of the Annunciation other than the connection to
      the crucifixion without endorsing the "Via Dolorosa" notion....well, I
      would endorse that notion, but not as allegory, but rather as typology.
      But that's another story.

      Bratman continues:
      >>... and I did say "of course"
      about that, in an apparently futile attempt to assure readers
      that yes, I know about Easter and the lunar calendar.<<

      Prior to winding your foundation garments into uncomfortable shapes that
      only a contortionist might envy, you might take a breath and then read
      the whole of what you wrote and what I said. In terms of the former,
      you noted only that you knew it was a moveable date, not the why and
      wherefore. The two pieces of knowledge are not the same thing; further
      you gave no indication that you are aware of the reasons behind the
      March 25 date and why the moveable feast prevails rather than a
      commemoration on a single, same day every year. No insult or slight was
      intended; but I have no idea how much of the historical development of
      Christian liturgy, important dates, and medieval theology you've looked
      into. Based on your comments on Pearce and to Carl, I'd have to say
      that at best, you're getting your information second hand from a
      non-scholarly source (at least on these questions) and have little to no
      direct knowledge or research. If that assessment turns out to be in
      error, I apologize. If it turns out to be true, a) I doubt I'll receive
      an apology and b) why not take my comments as they were intended, as
      helpful and informative.

      Larry Swain


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    • Darrell A. Martin
      Jason: I think your objection to Pearce, in that he did not mention Tolkien s disavowal of something he (Pearce) stated as a fact, is on target. My own focus
      Message 53 of 53 , Apr 12, 2011
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        Jason:

        I think your objection to Pearce, in that he did not mention Tolkien's
        disavowal of something he (Pearce) stated as a fact, is on target. My
        own focus -- which is why I early on changed the Subject line to remove
        Pearce -- was on whether or not Tolkien's disavowal was definitive.

        Darrell
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