Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes

Over the past few weeks, I've dusted off my old copy of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and have been reading them in the order of their publication. (For those who understand such things, I'm only mid-way through the "Adventures" at the moment.) I've taken a certain mischeiveous enjoyment out of catching errors in Doyle's text and pointing them out to my wife.

Here are some examples:
  • Was Watson's war wound in his shoulder (A Study in Scarlet: the first Holmes story) or in his leg (The Sign of Four: the second)?
  • Watson gets married at the end of The Sign of Four, which apparently takes place in July, 1888 (by inferrence from three separate references), yet stops by after his marriage in March, 1888 (!) to check in on Holmes in the very next story (A Scandal in Bohemia).
  • How is it that Watson's wife is visiting her mother (The Five Orange Pips) when we know that her mother has been dead for years (The Sign of Four)?
  • And why does Watson's wife refer to him as "James" in The Man with the Twisted Lip, when Watson's name is very clearly spelled out as "John H. Watson" in A Study in Scarlet and elsewhere?
Being a seminary graduate who rather enjoys studying the Bible, I cannot help but look at such textual issues with much the same eye as I look at textual issues in the Bible. Apparently, I'm not the only person to have made a connection. I stumbled upon this sermon earlier today, and rather than type the whole thing out, would suggest you just check the link. I won't claim to agree with this preacher on every point, but he definitely says much which is worthy of thought and discussion.

(Incidentally, a possible answer to the James/John question is posed therein.)

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