“He Which Is Filthy, Let Him Be Filthy Still”

“The principal function of Biblical exegesis”, wrote Dobson in jaunty mood one morning, “is for me to look with disdain upon the minnows who have trod these paths before me.”

It’s hard to know whether the pamphleteer was being deliberately muddle-headed with his image of walking minnows, but as I said, he was in a jaunty mood, and at such times his prose could be perplexing. There is no doubt, however, about the sincerity of his view that he had an unrivalled grasp of the Bible. He did not write all that much about the holy book, but he never lost an opportunity to pour scorn on scholars of the past such as Theodore of Mopsuestia, Ludolph of Saxony, Pelagius, Tirinus of Antwerp, Manuel Sa, indeed more scholars than you could shake a stick at, were you minded so to do. Dobson, incidentally, was perhaps over-fond of shaking a stick at people or things of which he disapproved, and attached an infant’s rattle to one of his sticks the better to make his point. His point was not always clear, either to him or to the object of his stick-shaking, and eventually he was able to suppress this aspect of his behaviour by attending a long course of therapy in a mountainous sanatorium where the air was pure, the porridge was plain, and the calisthenics were invigorating.

The finest of Dobson’s exercises in Biblical scholarship is his pamphlet The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse… Or Were They? (out of print). The title is a tad puzzling, but not for long, for in the very first sentence Dobson states his case. “I avow,” he wrote “that there were no horsemen of the Apocalypse, nor, if there had been, were they four in number.” In the sixty pages that follow, he argued that a combination of mistranslation, forgery, and carelessness had altered the original text, so that “four” was correctly “two”, and “horsemen” was properly Englished as “cows”, or possibly “bees”.

Challenged by the local papal nuncio after publication as to how two cows or two bees could symbolise famine, war, pestilence and death, Dobson countered with a theological sally, probably the greatest of his sallies, theological or otherwise. Sadly, there is no record of what he said, for Marigold Chew’s recently-purchased Boswellite tape recorder was out of order, having been placed too close to the toaster that morning, and consequently smothered in a particularly toothsome marmalade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.