As I left, the poet [Ezra Pound] asked me: "Young man, do you intend to spend your entire life in journalism?" I replied that I did. "Well, then," Pound told me, "in that case, I have a piece of advice for you. Above all, avoid too much accuracy."Tis easy, at times to be irritated by the appearance of yet another alternative biblical theory prompted by the historical-critical method, the latest (for me at least) is that the beloved disciple was Lazarus and not John. But after reading this link, I'm more sanguine about it since the biblical text itself leaves the identity vague.
As I related that advice to colleagues, they said it validated Pound's insanity. He could have meant the truth would get me in the kind of trouble he had faced. But I thought he was saying I should not let a plethora of little facts get in the way of the greater truth.
- Robert D. Novak, The Prince of Darkness
The knee-jerk tendency is to see Jesus Seminar-ish motivations in picking at Scriptures, motivations that might include less a desire for facts than a desire to disprove Scripture in one specific case so as to count it as suspect in its entirety. In this (irrational) rationalist age, Scripture is expected to bear the signs of its Divinity incontestably, thus obviating the need for faith.
I think the "traditions" (small 't') handed down - such as Mary Magdalene being a prostitute and that John was the beloved disciple - to the extent they are later seen as false - weaken the reputation of the Catholic Church since the Church and tradition are entwined in the public mind. It's a very small step to pooh-pooh the Immaculate Conception after pooh-poohing something else commonly held. It's no wonder we're facing a headwind.
On the other hand, it's also to our advantage. The gnostic gospels create doubt in people's minds as to what belongs in the bible, but that can also foster faith in the Church given her role in shaping the canon. They may eventually quote St. Peter: "Oh Lord, to whom shall we go?"