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The View from the East End (42)

By Inspector Hopkins

July 2, 2006
 

The Canon versus the Bible

 by Inspector Hopkins

After becoming involved long enough in Sherlockiana, the newcomer is bound to notice, and to wonder about, the similarities between the Canon and the Bible, aka “The Good Book”, or the Scriptures.

Think about it for a moment . . . and compare. 

The Scriptures consist of some 60-70 books all bound together and cross-referenced to each other. They have been studied, and examined, and discussed, and written about since they were published many centuries ago.

The Canon consists of 60 stories all bound together and cross-referenced to each other. They have also been studied, and examined, and discussed, and written about since they were published one century ago.

We quote Scripture a lot.  We also quote the Canon a lot.  Both books are about “Good” versus “Evil”.  Both books champion good, and despise evil. Both books have a higher purpose. They each look to the inner qualities of humanity, and urge us to do good things. They are arranged in a roughly chronological sequence. They both have other similarities.

We meet each week in church, and listen to, or examine, some aspect of the Bible whether or not we actively participate with, or just listen to, the Minister, Priest, or Rabbi when they give their sermons.

We get together at Scion Society meetings, and actively participate with, or just listen to, the moderator, president, “Gasogene”, “Head Mastiff”, or whatever, as they give their papers or thoughts regarding something Sherlockian.  When it comes down to “Church” versus “Scion” there is even more of a similarity. 

With the advent of Leslie Klingers’s “New Annotated Sherlock Holmes” works, a direct comparison was made between the Canon and the Bible because some of Klinger’s books came with gold edges on the pages. Even the word “Canon” is Scriptural!  What then, are we to make of these comparisons?  

Well, both works are considered “Sacred”.  Think of all the references to the “Sacred Writings” of Dr. Watson, for example. “Sacred” means “revered”, and there is hardly a Sherlockian out there worth his or her salt who would not agree with that idea.  (And speaking of “salt”, where did that idea originate from?  Why, the Bible of course!   In those days, salt was considered essential for survival, used for preservation of food and meat, could be used as currency, etc.)

We analyze, and think through, and analyze, and compare, and think through, and discuss, and analyze each and every single phrase in both the Canon and the Bible. Why do we do that, ladies and gentlemen? 

Well, my answer is that there is a “hunger and a thirst” out there for Truth and Reality; i.e. for clarification all that is real and believable, for things both seen and unseen.  We need to know what is real, and what is believable, and we hunger and thirst after that because we base our lives and conduct upon these ideas. 

The Canon and the Bible can both give us glimpses at this answer. The truths of honesty and decency, fair play, and manners (even manners to strangers who cross our paths from time to time) are there. The realities of mercy, justice, compassion and forgiveness are staple concepts heavily interwoven throughout both these works.

Whether Christian or non-Christian, agnostic or atheist, we all face the same issues, and most of us desire the triumph of good over evil. But no matter how much we read, study, and analyze the Bible and the Canon, I know of only one single indisputable truth:

There will never be complete agreement on interpreting either of them.

Until next time, I am as always,

Yours faithfully,
STANLEY HOPKINS