Censorship of A Brief Description of the Whole World

A Brief Description of the Whole World

A Brief Description of the Whole World

Former Archbishop of Canterbury censored as his views may offend Jews and Muslims.

George Abbot (1562-1633), born in Guildford, Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the translators of the King James Bible, was a prolific writer.

One of his works A Brief Description of the Whole World, the Master of Abbot’s Hospital in Guildford has recently edited. It is published by Guildford-based Goldenford, 400 years after it was first published.

On a recent tour of Abbot’s Hospital I almost picked up a copy but glad now I did not. I learnt today that it had been heavily censored by the publshers, anything that they did not like they censored.

Two examples

– Muhammad was born of a whore
– Jews are Christ-killers

The first because they thought they might receive a fatwa, the second because the publishers are Jews and they saw the comment as anti-Semitic.

When I flipped through A Brief Description of the Whole World I saw nothing to indicate it had been censored.

You do not censor a historical document!

No doubt some of the history was not correct, nor the geography, nor the natural history. Do you censor that too? Do you redraw the maps? Of course not.

What you do, is explain the context, provide footnotes. If you are not prepared to do the academic legwork, then do not publish!

When Pope Urban II launched the First Crusade he called Muslims an accursed race. He said a race absolutely alien to God has invaded the land of Christians. Knights sought salvation through slaughter. When they entered the Holy Church in the newly liberated Jerusalem they entered dripping with blood of slaughtered Muslims to seek thanks from God.

Christianity A History: The Crusades

Although it is not something I have encountered personally, until at least the 1950s Jews were called Christ-killers. Maybe in some quarters they still are. It was not until 1965 that the Vatican issued a statement that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus. But this was due to a distorted reading of the Gospels, the letters of St Paul, reading them outside of their historical context.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

This taking out of context, then condemning what you do not like or showing prejudice, is exactly what Goldenford are doing with a historical document, but worse, not only are they failing to understand the historical context they are then compounding their ignorance by applying the censor’s pen. Ignorance piled on ignorance. Not that this is new, it has happened through the ages.

Where do we end? Do we edit out the sexual bits in Shakespeare, do we cover up Greek Statues? Do we remove all the acts of atrocity and genocide from the Torah and Old Testament?

There are issues when dealing with historical documents. Do we, for example, render The Canterbury Tales as is, or do we try to render in modern English, both approaches have pitfalls, but what we do not do is censor because it may offend our or others sensibilities as that is to render the document worthless.

To do justice to what George Abbot has written, to leave a legacy for others to read, we publish in full, we then explain the historical context, the views of the time, only then do we understand, but what we do not do is censor what we do not like as that is to distort history, to bastardise what has been written, historical vandalism.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, history was continually being rewritten: He who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future.

Censorship of A Brief Description of the Whole World is to be discussed at a meeting at Abbot’s Hospital, possibly sometime March 2012.

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3 Responses to “Censorship of A Brief Description of the Whole World”

  1. keithpp Says:

    That some may be offended by the views of a former Archbishop of Canterbury is not in itself sufficient grounds for censorship as if we do we then get a false picture of the man and the times in which he lived.

    I find offensive the way Muslim countries treat women. Behaviour that is contrary to the Koran which gave women rights in a society in which they had no rights.

    Women rendered invisible because the sight of them may offend men.

    Women in Saudi Arabia lashed should they drive a car on their own. A sick report has said if allowed to drive they will lose their virginity (thus devalued as the property of men), will lead to an increase in prostitution and homosexuality.

    Saudi report claims women who drive will have pre-marital sex
    ‘End of virginity’ if women drive, Saudi cleric warns
    Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban

    Rape victims in Afghanistan are thrown into prison, then forced to marry their rapist. An EU report on the plight of women in Afghanistan has been blocked from publication.

    Jailed Afghan rape victim freed with no pre-conditions
    EU censors own film on Afghan women prisoners

    The situation is little different in Pakistan.

    In the UK families arrange for their 12 and 13 year old daughters to be raped. Schools turn a blind eye when girls are absent from school then a few months later return pregnant, their education and lives ruined. In the last year at least 2,823 so-called honour attacks have been recorded by police. Honour attacks are punishments on people, usually women, for acts deemed to have brought shame on their family. These attacks can include acid attacks, abduction, mutilations, beatings and in worst cases, murder.

    New forced marriage law comes into effect in Scotland
    ‘Honour’ attack numbers revealed by UK police forces

    I find offensive the way Jews treat Palestinians as non-people, reduce God to an estate agent.

    Ethnic cleansing and apartheid is practised in illegally occupied Palestine to cleanse the land of Palestinians.

    Israeli Apartheid by Ben White
    Israeli Apartheid – A talk by Ben White
    The story of Palestine

    I find offensive Christian fundamentalists with their hate-filled rants and perversion of Holy Scripture.

    Love Wins

  2. David G Says:

    I purchased this new edition and was saddened to see that it had been censored. Apparently, political correctness is thriving in the Uk; I thought it was only here in the US. From a truth-in-advertising standpoint, this should have been disclosed. Now to try and find an original….

  3. keithpp Says:

    I agree, it is appalling At a guess when you purchased you was not aware it had been bastardised, rendering it worthless.

    Please create a stink with both the editor and publisher. Write a letter to the Surrey Advertiser warning others. I do not know where you got it from but I suggest you get your money back as what you have bought is totally worthless as a historic document.

    I also wonder was the editor up to the job, as no one worth their salt with a reputation to lose would have done this.

    The only original that I am ware of is in the archives of the Library of the Guildford Institute.

    A private library

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