When you arrive in Santiago de Compostela with the spirit and body of a pilgrim, you visit the tomb of the Apostle and embrace the back of his figure in the dressing room on the main altar, after entering the cathedral by his Holy Door in that magical atmosphere which floats like a haze between the square of La Quintana and that of Obradoiro, between that of Platerías and that of Azabacherías, does not leave one to wonder if indeed the remains of the Apostle Santiago el Mayor will be preserved there with traditional veneration through the ages.
If one heeds the legend as briefly is told in the pamphlets and tourist guides, esoteric books, literary essays, novels rediscovering hidden truths, or radio or television programs that meet at night Best scenario, all elements directed to the consumerist and curious mentality of the fleeting visitor, or of the listener not demanding and avid of flashy novelties, the doubt is more than inevitable: the legend tells us that the body of Santiago arrived in Galicia in one Stone boat that floated on the waters, where the holy body rested, crossing, through supernatural forces, the Mediterranean and Atlantic waters that separated Palestine from Galicia.
From the most elementary logic, the approach is an impossibility that renders the Jacobean legend in its entirety unfeasible, reduced to a pious tradition lacking any historical foundation, or to an unscientific account that does not deserve investigation or is worthy of study, or to the trajectory of A myth that obeys political, military, ecclesiastical, cultural or doctrinal interests. The evangelizing options of James the Greater in Hispania and the location of his sepulcher in Galicia are relegated to merely ecclesiastical initiatives that intentionally hide a pagan precedent. In this way, tendencies are found that are easily diffused in a permissive and uncritical environment towards initiatory and esoteric approaches, avidly for sensationalist novelties supposedly hidden throughout history by tendentious doctrinal interests, in a land well subsumed by the anthropological reinterpretations of the New It was, with the anti-clerical tendencies of a society increasingly dominated by the culture of science and well-being, generating a totum revolutum where it is difficult to defend the legitimate options of the old Jacobean Tradition.
But then, that colossal cathedral that impresses to see from the Plaza del Obradoiro, that admirable Portico of Glory, that prodigious phenomenon of pilgrimage for centuries, that millenary cult to the Apostle Santiago, is only the fruit of a tradition supported in a legend that Perhaps it could be inspired by good faith, naivety, equivocation, opportunism, convenience, imagination, fantasy, fanaticism or lies ?. The contradiction is so great that it is necessary to approach the Tradition with an unprejudiced and multidisciplinary purpose to see if it contains indications or criteria of verisimilitude, or if on the contrary it is a well-worn falsehood in the course of History.
This is the purpose of this work, to analyze with rigor the possible plausibility criteria of the Jacobean Tradition, which will not be easy because of the chronological amplitude and the epistemological arc that it encompasses, besides that this analysis is going against the current in times that See the Camino de Santiago more as an attractive scenario of experiences than as an ideological result of an unprecedented sociocultural phenomenon of its own origin: the medieval discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Santiago. Today this is of little interest, and there are hypotheses that invent preexisting origins and disrupt the historical principles of the Jacobean pilgrimage by inventing other so-called roots that detract from the original root of the Camino de Santiago. That is why defending the Jacobean tradition today is also a way of defending the origin of the Way of Saint James, because the Way is a route of pilgrimage and is cultural and ideological content of the cause that originates, both aspects, channel and content , Which deserve to be taken care of, since they define their geographical, historical and cultural identity.
A quotation which reflects the way in which we tend to value the Jacobean Tradition today was expressed by Don Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) in the newspaper article on Santiago de Compostela that he wrote in Salamanca in 1912, collected in a selection of articles That make up a landscape and poetic vision of Spain with unquestionable literary quality: “Andanzas and Spanish visions”. Don Miguel considers the fruit of the naive faith to believe that there is the body of the Apostle Santiago, he sees Compostela as a result of the millennial pilgrimage that influenced much in the cultural and political conformation of Europe and Spain, he knows about the possibility of Priscillian, Supposed heir and reformer of the Celtic legate, who is actually buried there and affirms that “a modern man, with a critical spirit, can not admit, however Catholic, that the body of Santiago el Mayor is in Compostela. What body, then, is the one venerated there and how and why did the cult begin?. This is today a widespread view of the Jacobean Tradition, to reduce it to an ancient pious tradition without foundation, to open ears to supposed Celtic legacies, to sow doubts about the true occupation of the compostela tomb, and to indulge in Priscillian what is denied to Santiago. It is not right to open a question, and without an approach to the study of its content, opting for an option and closing doors to another. The Jacobean Tradition is not the blind fruit of a faith, but an old cultural legacy whose origin is not ecclesiastical but popular, nor is it a doctrinal principle that defines the degree of catholicity of a Catholic. The bells of criticism of the Tradition which had been heard by the admired and admirable Don Miguel had just been echoed by a man from the Catholic Church, Monsignor Louis Duchesne, as a clear expression that whether or not to admit the Jacobean Tradition was never a doctrinal requirement Of the Catholic faith, within which we will see the emergence of the most tenacious Jacobite detractors.
Another quotation that defines the position of historical science in the face of the Jacobean Tradition is dealt with by Don Claudio Sánchez Albornoz (1893-1984), stating that “it is unlikely that during the years immediately following the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, extremely difficult years for His Disciples; One of the most authoritative apostles to abandon the primitive jerosimilitano nucleus and to think nothing less than crossing the Mediterranean and moving to the extreme lands of the world: Hispania”. We will see that there are solid arguments to propose the contrary that Don Claudio suggests and it could be said that History tends to adopt an aprioristic position when it elevates to sentence what is but a difficult opinion both to demonstrate and to refute. If Medieval History is full of gaps, Old History is even more so, and it does not seem right to make statements with personal opinions or subjective or abstract evaluations, but rather to consider all the data and indications that come together in the case of Santiago. Even Don Claudio himself says: “… nothing guarantees the authenticity of the magical Translatio of the apostolic corpse to Galicia, but nothing obliges to deny it, because in history many events have occurred, not less illogical and implausible than that …”. So that Don Claudio seems not to be defined at all, and he opens a slit that History does not have definitive criteria to close and that invites us to leave open the possibilities of Tradition, that deserve an evaluation unprejudiced and multidisciplinary. This is not the usual position of historical science, whose usual options range from omitting it, to considering it a Christianization of a pagan antecedent, to rejecting it as an unjustified product of a fervent desire, and even to judge antiscientific simply to deal with the subject.
Another different position, but also leading to the disrepute of the Tradition, are the esoteric, initiatory or rediscovering theories of the Jacobean pilgrimage as usurpers of a supposedly previous or different reality, where the legend of the Apostle James is nothing more than the excuse to hide and lead to a historical, ideological or virtual scenario, completely different and alien to the Jacobean. For some the Jacobean conceals a pre-Christian pagan antecedent, where the Celtic precedent is proposed as true historical root of the question. For others the true truth lies in legendary and mysterious realms, where the tomb of the Apostle is often considered a very secondary or even fictitious subject, as a cover for a process of moral initiation to arrive at truths only suitable for the elect. Others say that Santiago is only a myth in the shadow of which symbols and signs are hidden that must be interpreted, and whose message links with the Game of the Goose, the ritual and secret world of the Templars, the enigmas of the builders and stonecutters , The mystery of the Grail, and a true end of the Way which, of course, is not Compostela, but the Finisterre Sea, where formerly a supposed ancestral road ended worshiping the afterlife with rites usurped by the Christian religion. To many others, in short, the whole of the Jacobean world is nothing more than a farce or historical montage for the benefit of military and ecclesiastical interests, where the only thing they find interesting is the fabulous cultural and artistic production that has been Along the Camino de Santiago, omitting all the generatrix value to the only engine that generated this phenomenon without precedent: the Jacobean Tradition.
Between these two marked tendencies, erudite and scientific one, esoteric and parapsychological, the other, there is a very narrow margin of credibility to the old Tradition that limits the possible analysis of the same and the attention that both worlds can lend. On the one hand the world of intellectual thought of historical science does not give any facility to the legitimate options of Tradition, which only leave the resource of faith, considering it an unreal proposal. On the other hand the speculative and enigmatic tendencies dazzle an audience eager for novelties, receptive to the most speculative, attractive and innovative proposals, closed to what they understand as conventional, especially if it has ecclesiastical ties. In fact, the most interesting and valuable works of the Jacobean Tradition sleep on the shelves from the general oblivion of the academic world and the esoteric sphere, to even continue to remain in the re-editions of the books of history, Jacobian hypotheses that have been proven wrong, and Books and novels and radio and television programs that magnify the most unrealistic illusions and omit any indication or criterion reasonably favorable to the Tradition are still being published and published.
Between these two generic options so pronounced, the Way of Saint James becomes the stage where today’s pilgrim is uncomfortable talking about faith or religious motivation or apostolic roots, and for many walkers the Tradition is unknown or its value is secondary or null. What we are looking for today is a renewal experience, a disconnection with everyday life, a contact with nature, a framework that makes us the protagonist of our steps, a personal experience where what matters least is the historical background, the engine of everything The fabulous process that is the Way of Saint James: the Jacobean Tradition. “What matters is the experience of the road”, beautiful phrase of ambiguous reading that turns the Way into a good in itself. “The door opens to all” is the message of a well-known medieval poem that should not be understood as “everything serves”, but as “we all have access”. Today, that the Way is open to many interests, all motives are respectable, but not forgetting that the Way to Compostela is the cultural expression of the Christian identity of Europe, the root of which is the Jacobean Tradition. The consequence is that, from many aspects, the Way of Santiago is more the focus of tourists and curious than of pilgrims, and even source of exploitation of companies and tour operators that turn the Jacobean route into market or theme park. The deterioration of the Camino is being so serious that the Galician Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago (AGACS) in a press conference convened in Santiago on 18-12-2010 and denouncing the situation and with the adhesion of a multitude of Jacobean associations , Requested UNESCO to include the Camino de Santiago on the List of World Heritage in Danger, as it happens with some monuments in the third world.
Faced with the secularization and exploitation of the Camino de Santiago, and facing the narrow margin of credibility that remains between scholars and speculators, I propose to study the Jacobean Tradition as genuine content of the Way, which gives it its most authentic meaning, to see what are its Criteria of historical verisimilitude and its values in the 21st century.
After this initial approach and although each section of this blog can be consulted independently, for those who prefer a more methodical presentation I propose the following order in the vision of the themes that this work proposes and that will be progressively edited:
1.- Initial approach.
2.- Origin of the Way of Santiago.
3.- Between the History and the Legend.
4.- Two traditions in one.
5.- Criteria of Global Likelihood.
6.- Likelihood criteria in the Scriptures.
7.- Verisimilitude of the Hispanic destination.
8.- Criteria that justify “forgetting”.
9.- The Discovery of the Sepulcher.
10.- The contribution of archeology.
11.- Evolution of the tomb and beginning of the local worship.
12.- Criteria for Integrity and continuity of the temple and the remains preserved in it.
13.- Theories anti-jacobeas.
14.- The C14 test.
15.- Final conclusion.