One of the books that has been on my list for quite a while has been Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship by Christopher Morley. Normally, this pleasant volume would have been a nice Sherlockian treat along with my other summer reading. But it so happened that I read this book right after I had just finished reading about the Q Source document. I will leave it to Wikipedia to define:
The Q source (also Q document, Q Gospel, or Q from German: Quelle, meaning "source") is a hypothetical written collection of primarily Jesus' sayings (logia). Q is part of the common material found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. According to this hypothesis, this material was drawn from the early Church's Oral Tradition.
That led me to re-reading some information on the Gnostic gospels, or biblical texts that are not part of the New Testament. There is quite a bit of discussion on how true these texts are to the Christian beliefs, and their veracity is debated by biblical scholars.
Now, how did this affect my Sherlockian pleasure reading? Well, as I was reading Morley's book, I was still thinking about some of the points in the biblical scholarship, and then Morley mentioned Holmes' cases beyond the recorded Canon written by Dr. Watson.
And then I realized: Sherlockiana has its own Q Source and Gnostic texts.
The biblical Q is a supposed document that has been lost to time, but its influence reverberates throughout history. And the Sherlockian Q? Well, let's look at the very first story. We first meet Sherlock Holmes on page 3 of A Study in Scarlet. Page 2 introduces us to Dr. Watson. And what's on page 1?
Being a reprint from the reminiscences of
John H. Watson, M.D.,
late of the Army Medical Department
That's right, STUD, the starting point of the whole Sherlockian Canon is only a small part of a larger text. I propose that The Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D. is our Sherlockian Q text. Who knows what tales are in that long lost tome? I bet we'd find out a little more about his "experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents" along with some other points of interest.
And what of our own Gnostic texts, those stories that scholars argue over their inclusion into the Canon? Some may say the Sherlockian Gnosticism should be Watson's mentioned but never chronicled cases or even clever pastiches by other authors.
But, I offer that our Sherlockian totem knowledge should be treated as such.
- Watson's middle name as Hamish
- Holmes' birthday
- Sherlock's older brother Sherrinford
These are all stories and theories that are out there but outside of our written Canon. Just like the Gospel of Mary of the Acts of John, these are informational points about our main man, but does everyone subscribe to them? No.
As Christopher Morley famously said about our little hobby: "Never has so much been written by so many for so few." Maybe we have a new branch of Sherlockian study right here. Sherlockian Gnosticism. If we can steal the term "Canon" why not other religious terms?