A tale of two messiahs

I like to collect examples of the media attributing to their favorite literary or public figures quotes that actually come from somewhere else. A few months ago, the New York Times wrote something about the death of Paris bookseller George Whitman:

He welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,” was one, quoting Yeats. Next to a wishing well at the center of the store, a sign said: “Give what you can, take what you need. George.” By his own estimate, he lodged some 40,000 people.

The Associated Press as published by NPR.com had it as:

Shakespeare and Company was also a haven for every author or would-be writer passing through the City of Light.

For them, Whitman reserved a welcome that turned Yeats’ famous verse — “Be not inhospitable to strangers / Lest they be angels in disguise” — into deed: He took in aspiring writers as boarders in exchange for a helping hand in the store.

Unless William Butler Yeats wrote Hebrews, which I'm pretty sure he did not, this is not quite the right attribution. Hebrews 13:2 (KJV):

2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

The Washington Post today has a good one. In a story about Steve Jobs’ successor taking a more prominent public role, we're told:

[Apple chief executive Tim] Cook also skillfully fielded questions on bringing jobs back to the United States (Will they come back? He “hopes so.”) and said he wanted to work more with Facebook (“stay tuned”). He told the audience that Apple’s recent philanthropic work would go even further; quoting John F. Kennedy, Cook said, “ ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ ”

Close. Very close. But try Jesus in Luke 12:48.

Image via Yotomak.

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