Citizen Kane and Personal Magnetism

Does Citizen Kane (1941) contain an instance of the magnetic speaking style?

Last night, introducing my wife to Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941) — perhaps not the best, but surely the most brilliant, film ever made — I was startled to see that Kane contained a political speech.  For some reason, I had forgotten about this moment, which appears near the middle of the film during Kane’s ill-fated run for Governor of California.  While the film was made in the 1940s, Kane’s life was loosely based on that of the media mogul William Randolph Hearst, who ran for Governor of New York in 1906.  So this appears to be Wells’ recreation of what a political speech would have sounded like during the age of charisma. Continue reading “Citizen Kane and Personal Magnetism”

“The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and the Value of Provenance

A new investigation into a controversial artifact highlights the importance of historical provenance research.

Last week, The Atlantic‘s Ariel Sabar published an exposé of “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” a business-card-sized papyrus that purports to demonstrate Jesus’ marital status.  The Gospel has been among the most controversial of recent discoveries since Harvard historian Karen King declared it to be authentic in a widely-publicized 2012 press conference near the Vatican.  King’s team carbon-dated the Gospel’s papyrus fibers, analyzed the composition of the ink, and analyzed its Coptic composition, finding each to be authentic.  What King did not do, surprisingly for a historian, was to examine the historical provenance of the document: its chain of custody dating back millennia.  Sabar’s article does this, and it demonstrates convincingly — and King now concedes — that the Gospel is almost certainly a forgery. Continue reading ““The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” and the Value of Provenance”