Agamemnon Tselikas’ Grammatical and Syntactic Comments Explored

An examination of Agamemnon Tselikas’


Agamemnon Tselikas, the Greek palaeographer contracted by Biblical Archaeology Review to examine the handwriting of Clement’s Letter to Theodoros, came to the conclusion that the letter is a forgery and “that the forger can not be [any] other person than Morton Smith or some other person under his orders.”

The reasons he gives for this are a combination of several arguments, of which I in this article will shed some light on one. Tselikas says in his summary that he …

“… noticed several grammatical errors in the text which we can divide into two categories: Those which are due to the ‘author’ and those which are due to the copyist. The first category concerns syntactic and meaning errors, which St. Clement would not be possible to make. The second category concerns the wrong dictation of some words. This phenomenon is frequent in the Byzantine and post Byzantine manuscripts and we can not give particular importance. However, if the scribe generally appears as an experienced and very careful, some of these mistakes show that he had not sufficient knowledge of the language.”

Tselikas accordingly divides his observations into two categories, those due to the author and those due to the copyist. The errors that might be due to the copyist are of minor importance and will not be dealt with in this survey, but the errors that might be due to the author (Clement) are of outmost importance. Tselikas claims that these are errors of syntax and grammar of a kind that Clement could not possibly make, and this study will investigate this issue.

The errors he thinks are due to the author are those he has listed under the numbers: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 28.

The errors he thinks are due to the copyist are those he has listed under the numbers: 3, 4, 5, 14, 15a, 16, 17, 18, 19, 25 and 27.

Number 26 is not included in any of these two lists, so I have just in case included it among errors due to the author, not knowing what Tselikas had in mind. There is no number 15a in Tselikas’ list, but a number 5a, which then probably is what Tselikas meant. This, anyway, is an error he thinks is due to the copyist.

I will primarily let scholars more knowledgeable in Greek than I am present their opinion. Since Morton Smith already made a thorough investigation of the language and presented this in his 1973 book Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, I will in most cases simply quote Smith.

Tselikas’ original remarks are set in red and bold text. They are from section B Grammatical and Syntactic Comments of his divided report. All the quotations from Smith follow upon the name Smith in bold and the page number(s) in Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark from where the quotations are made. Smith’s numerals “refer to the Stählin edition of Clement by volume, page, and, if a third number is given, line.” (CA, 7)

Smith also included summaries and quotations from remarks made upon the text by other scholars consulted by him. The shortenings A.W. stands for Albert Wifstrand, Professor of Greek in Lund, Sweden and a Classical philologist; A.D.N. for Arthur Darby Nock, Professor of the History of Religion in Harvard, USA; B.E. for Benedict Einarson, Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago, USA; W.M.C. for William Musgrave Calder III, a Classical philologist from Columbia University in New York, USA; C.M. for Claude Mondésert, a Jesuit at Fourvière, Lyon, France and a specialist on Clement of Alexandria; C.F.D.M for Charles Francis Digby Moule, Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, U.K.; J.R. for John Reumann, Professor of the New Testament and Greek at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, USA; P.B. for Pierre Benoit, theologian, exegete, Koine Greek translator and Director of the École Biblique in Jerusalem, and; C.H.R. for Colin H. Roberts, Lecturer in Classics and Papyrology at St John’s College at the University of Oxford, U.K.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Tselikas writes:

1. v. 3-4. Οὗτοιἁμαρτιῶν: The only verb that we can suppose is εἰσὶ after the word γάρ. The absence of the verb here is not probationary.

Theodoros I.3-4 (my emphasis)

οὗτοι γὰρ οἱ προφητευθέντες ἀστέρες πλανῆται· οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς στενῆς τῶν ἐντολῶν ὁ δοῦ εἰς ἀπέρατον ἄβυσσον πλανώμενοι τῶν σαρκικῶν καὶ ἐνσωμάτων ἁμαρτιῶν·

Smith’s translation

For these are the “wandering stars” referred to in the prophecy, who wander from the narrow road of the commandments into a boundless abyss of the carnal and bodily sins.

Smith 8:

οὗτοι γὰρ.  II.195.10, οὗτοι, φασίν, εἰσὶν οἱ ἐκ γενετῆς εὐνοῦχοι (initial, as in the letter); II.178.14 οὗτοι γὰρ οἱ (initial).

Tselikas claims that the verb εἰσί (εἶμι: to be or to go) should be present. However, it is allowed in Greek, as well as in English, to omit the copula, and no other expert who has examined the text has remarked on this. Besides, a word like “εἰσὶ” could easily have been lost at any point in the transcription process, and does not need to be an error due to the author.

Smith also refers to Stählin II.178.14, where οὗτοι γὰρ οἱ occurs as initial. I do not have access to book II. Nevertheless, this seems to be from Stromateis 23, which reads:

Οὗτοι γὰρ οἱ ἀνταγωνισταὶ παχεῖς καὶ Ὀλυμπικοὶ σφηκῶν ὡς εἰπεῖν εἰσι δριμύτεροι, καὶ μάλιστα ἡ ἡδονή, οὐ μόνον μεθ´ ἡμέραν, ἀλλὰ καὶ νύκτωρ ἐν αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἐνυπνίοις μετὰ γοητείας δελεαστικῶς ἐπιβουλεύουσα καὶ δάκνουσα.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

2. v. 7. ἐλευθέρους: It must be nominative and not accusative case (ἐλεύθεροι) in order to agree with the participle καυχώμενοι, because the subject is the same person.

Theodoros I.6-7

καὶ καυχώμενοι ἐλευθέρους εἶναι· δοῦλοι γεγόνασιν ἀνδραποδώδων

Smith’s translation

and, boasting that they are free, they have become slaves of servile desires.

Smith 12:

ἐλευθέρους.  I.269.31, etc. [the accusative in this construction is frequent in Greek of this period; see Radermacher, 181 and Schmid, II.57; III.81; IV.83,620. ἑαυτούς may be supplied. A.D.N. Nevertheless, the construction in this letter is difficult. The parallels in Radermacher and Schmid have for the most part expressed subjects of the infinitives and are not so hard as this instance, where the nominative participle is immediately followed by the accusative. Similarly Thucydides, I.12.1 and IV.84.2, where predicate adjectives of the infinitive are put into the accusative, are easier than that of this letter. If the text here is right, I can understand it only as influenced by ἑαυτούς of the preceding line. A.W.] Cf. Apoc. 3.9: τῶν λεγόντων ἑαυτοὺς Ἰουδαίους εἶναι. In the preceding phrase, the writer had been thinking of Apoc. 2.24. [If the text is corrupt, a possible emendation would be ἐλευθεροῦσθαι. C.H.R.] The content of the letter here is paralleled in II.216.24, where gnostic libertines are described as λεγόντων ἐλευθερίαν τὴν ὑπὸ ἡδονῆς δουλείαν.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

6. v. 19. Μάρκος: pleonasm.

Theodoros I.18–19

τοῦ δὲ Πέτρου μαρτυρήσαντος· παρῆλθεν εἰς Ἀλεξάνδρειαν ὁ Μάρκος.

Smith’s translation

But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over toAlexandria,

Tselikas must accordingly interpret “ὁ” as a relative pronoun, i.e. “ὁ Μάρκος” = “him Mark”. But why could this not simply be a “definite article”, i.e. “ὁ Μάρκος” = “the Mark”? Personal names in Greek are often given with a definite article, and ὁ is the singular and the masculine gender.  Daniel Wallace writes:

By the nature of the case, a proper name is definite without the article. If we read Παῦλος we do not think of translating it “a Paul.” Further, “the use of the art. w. personal names is varied; as a general rule the presence of the art. w. a personal name indicates that the pers. is known; the absence of the art. simply names him. . . . This rule, however, is subject to considerable modification. . . . “ … The difficulty with the article with proper names is twofold: (1) English usage does not correspond to it, and (2) we still cannot achieve “explanatory adequacy” with reference to the use of the article with proper names–that is we are unable to articulate clear and consistent principle as to why the article is used in a given instance. (For example, although sometimes it is due to anaphora, there are too many exceptions to make this a major principle.) What we can say, however, is that a proper name, with or without the article, is definitive. (Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics, p. 245–246)

One of the reasons for using the definite article is stated in Funk’s Grammar at 711.4:

When the individualizing article determines a “subject” previously introduced into the discussion, its use is known as anaphoric (anaphora: reference back [to something under discussion]).

Accordingly, since Mark is the object of this passage and was introduced in I.15, the mention of Mark again in I.19 is a reference back to I.15 and should therefore have the definite article ὁ.

The definite article ὁ in front of the name Markos can be found in for instance Cassius Dio, Roman History, 72.5.3:

“ὅτι ὁ Μάρκος ἐλάλει πρός τινα τῇ Λατίνων φωνῇ,

“Once when Marcus was talking to someone in Latin”

and in Polybius, Universal History, 8.5:

ἓως ὁ Μάρκος δυσθετούμενος ἠναγκάσθη λάθρᾳ νυκτὸς ἒτι ποιήσασθαι τὴν παραγωγήν.

In the end Marcellus [Markos] was reduced in despair to bringing up his ships secretly under cover of darkness.

Even Eusebius of Caesarea uses the same definite article before Markos in Quaestiones evangelicae ad Marinum, 3, 00034:

τὸν δὲ τῆς τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἐπιφανείας, τὸν πρωῒ, ὃν ἔγραψεν ὁ Μάρκος εἰπὼν ὃ καὶ μετὰ διαστολῆς ἀναγνωστέον «ἀναστὰς δέ·»

… and that of the Saviour’s appearance, “early in the morning”, as written by Mark in words to be read as including a pause: “Having risen again”.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

7. v. 19. τα ταυτου: In τα the accent is missed and in ταυ the soft spirit, ie. He ought write τὰ ταὐτου. But the more probationary was to write τὰ ἑαυτοῦ.

Tselikas transcribes this as τα ταυτοῦ while Smith transcribes it as ταταυτου.

Theodoros I.19–20

καὶ ταταυτοῦ καὶ τὰ τοῦ Πέτρου ὑπομνήματα

Smith’s translation

bringing both his own notes and those of Peter,

Smith’s transcription is supported by the fact that two rows above on line 17 there is another instance of τατα (in the word χρησιμωτάτας) which looks the same and, although the two syllables of τα are written as separate units (χρησιμω τά τας), they obviously are part of the same word.

Smith 27:

καί . . . τ᾿ . . . καί.  [If one reads καὶ τά τ᾿ ατοῦ καὶ τὰ τοῦ Πέτρου, which I find preferable to τὰ ἑαυτοῦ, the καί . . . καί cannot mean ”both … and,” because a τέ cannot be combined with a καί in this manner, but the last καί must be connected with the τέ and the first καί is connected closely with κομίζων and stands for ”also.” He carried with himself also his own and Peter’s hypomnemata. A.W.]

Smith 28:

τὰ αὑτοῦ.  MS, ταταυτοῦ. [A.D.N. would read τά τ᾿ ατοῦ, on the supposition that the copyist did not understand the letters he found in his MS and so reproduced them en bloc.] This would suggest that he may have had before him a MS without accents and breathings. [But had that been the case, there would have been many more instances of omitted accents and of false divisions. I suspect that an ancestor had τὰ αὑτοῦ, which became ταυτοῦ. This can represent either τὰ αὑτοῦ or τοῦ αὐτοῦ. To show that it represented τὰ αὑτοῦ someone superscribed τὰ―hence ταταυτοῦ. καὶ τά τ᾿ ατοῦ καί is odd Greek; I should expect καὶ τὰ ατοῦ or (omitting καί) τά τε αὑτοῦ. B.E.] Stählin, I.XXXVIf, remarks on the frequency with which his manuscript used ατοῦ, etc., after articles, in place of the reflexive forms, and omitted the coronis in crasis. However, I think the error here must be given an explanation which will accord with the amazing correctness of the rest of the MS. I should suppose, therefore, that the writer found a folio of an uncial MS with few or no explanatory signs or word divisions. Therefore he studied it carefully, correcting the spelling, marking the divisions, adding accents, breathings, and the like. Along with his other changes he indicated by a superscribed τά, as B.E. suggests, that ΤΑΥΤΟΥ, which stood in his text, was to be understood as τὰ αὑτοῦ. Then he copied his corrected text into his book. He was pressed for time when he copied, and therefore made a number of minor mistakes, of which ταταυτοῦ was one.

There is accordingly no reason to presuppose that Clement made an error, as this just as easily could be an error made in the transcription.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

8. v. 24. ἐπιθεὶς: More probationary was to write προσθείς.

Theodore I.24 (my emphasis)

ἀλλὰ ταῖς προγεγραμμέναις πράξεσιν ἐπιθεὶς καὶ ἄλλας

Smith’s translation (my emphasis)

but to the stories already written he added yet others

Smith 39:

ἐπιθείς.  The same form is used, as here, of literary addition, with the dative and accusative, II.305.6. [However, in II.305.6 the ἐπιθείς occurs as part of the set phrase ἐπιθεῖναι τὸν κολοφῶνα. Apart from this phrase, ἐπιθεῖναί τι τοῖς προγεγραμμένοις is not very common in Clement’s time; the ordinary would be προσθεῖναι; but cf. Apoc. 22.18. A.W.]

And Revelation 22:18 reads in GNT Morph (my emphases):

μαρτυρῶ ἐγὼ παντὶ τῷ ἀκούοντι τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου ἐάν τις ἐπιθῇ ἐπ’ αὐτά ἐπιθήσει ὁ θεὸς ἐπ’ αὐτὸν τὰς πληγὰς τὰς γεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. (NIV)

The word ἐπιθείς was then unusual, however not non-existent, since it was used in for instance the Book of Revelation. And we should be aware of the fact that there of course were many more words and expressions in use than what are attested in the preserved literature.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

9. v. 25. μυσταγωγήσειν: The dependance of the infinitive is unclear. If it depends from the verb προσεπήγαγε, then it must be a participle of the purpose and not infinitive, ie. μυσταγωγήσων Μάρκος, which agree to the sense of the phrase. If it depends from ἠπίστατο, then the subject is τὴν ἐξήγησιν, that is fully not probationary.

Theodoros I.24–26 (my emphases)

ἔτι προσεπήγαγε λόγιά τινα ὧν ἠπίστατο τὴν ἐξήγησιν μυσταγωγήσειν τὸυς ἀκροατὰς εἰς τὸ ἄδυτον τῆς ἐπτάκις κεκαλυμμένης ἀληθείας· οὕτως οὖν τὰς εἰς τὸ ἄδυτον τῆς ἐπτάκις κεκαλυμμένης ἀληθείας·

Smith’s translation: (my emphases)

moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of truth hidden by seven veils.

Smith 40:

μυσταγωγήσειν.  Also in III.161.18 where, as here, it refers to advanced instruction evidently effected by “exegesis” of “the Lord’s sayings.” Again, with the same sense, in II.320.7, where the mystery imagery is further developed with emphasis on the ᾄρρητα. Gnostic teachers are described as μυσταγωγοί in III.75.7. That Clement conceived of documents, especially the books of Scripture, and their interpretation as means of gnostic initiation is shown by Völker, 354ff. The method which the letter ascribes to Mark is that followed in the earliest period of rabbinic mystical speculation but already being abandoned in the time of Clement. Scholem writes, Gnosticism 31: “Tannaïtic tradition has it that a pupil who is found worthy to begin a study of mystical lore is given . . . only . . . ‘beginnings of chapters,’ whose function is only to point to the subject matter to be dealt with and leaves to the student the task of proving his understanding.” For this Scholem finds evidence in the Talmud Yerushalmi (hereinafter J.) Hagigah II.1(77a), and he concludes that texts giving full accounts of secret doctrine are post-Tannaïtic (third century or later) “even though much of the material itself may belong to the Tannaïtic period—which, of course, was, at the same time, the flowering season of Gnosticism.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

10. v. 27. προπαρεσκεύασεν: It is not clear what is the object of the verb, his Gospel or himself before his death?

Theodoros I.26–27

οὕτως οὖν προπαρεσκεύασεν· οὐ φθονερῶς οὐδ’ ἀπροφυλάκτως

Smith’s translation

Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautionously, in my opinion,

προπαρεσκεύασεν = prepare beforehand

Smith 41:

Προπαρεσκεύασεν.  II.422.17. Since LSJ s.v. reports the absolute use only of the middle forms of the verb, some object (“the text”? “matters”?) is probably to be understood here. [An object is similarly understood in Aristotle, Historia animalium 613a4. Cf. the use with ὅπως and a verb in the future, Plato, Gorgias 503a, 510d. A.D.N.]

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

11. v. 30-32. Τῶν δὲ μιαρῶνὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν: The whole phrase has wrong syntax. It must be: Ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν μιαρῶν δαιμόνων ὄλεθρον τῷ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένει πάντοτε μηχανώντων Καρποκράτης διδαχθείς.

Theodoros II.2–4

τῶν δὲ μιαρῶν δαιμόνων ὄλεθρον τῷ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένει πάντοτε μηχανώντων· ὁ Καρποκράτης· ὑπ’ αὐτῶν διδαχθεὶς·

Smith’s translation

But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them …

Tselikas accordingly wants the sentence to begin with “Ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν” instead of “τῶν δὲ” and the “ὑπ’ αὐτῶν” (by them) at the end to be removed.

Smith 45:

τῶν . . . μηχανώντων.  Initial genitive absolute indicating cause or prior condition (“since”), I.90.2f. Genitive absolutes are rare in Clement, but occasionally he uses a number in quick succession, e.g. II.212.29–213.4 (5 in 8 lines). They appear in his narrative style, as here, in III.188.3 and 12ff.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

12. v. 31. μηχανώντων: The grammatical form of active voice of the verb was never in use. Only once we find the verb μηχανῶ. The usual and probationary is μηχανωμένων.

Theodoros II.2–4

τῶν δὲ μιαρῶν δαιμόνων ὄλεθρον τῷ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένει πάντοτε μηχανώντων· ὁ Καρποκράτης· ὑπ’ αὐτῶν διδαχθεὶς·

Smith’s translation

But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them …

Smith 45–46:

μχηανώντων. [sic! μηχανώντων] Clement uses the middle in I.261.25, with dative (ἡμῖν understood) and accusative, as here. The active appears only in poetry, ἀτάσθαλα μηχανόωντας (Odyssey XVIII.143), which was echoed by Apollonius Rhodius, III.583, and of which the phrasing of the letter may be reminiscent. [Cf. the echo of Sophocles, below, II.14–15; the active of μηχανάω appears also in Sophocles, Inachus 21 (SP III.24) and Ajax 1037. On the latter passage Kamerbeek, Ajax, remarks, “It would seem that the rare active use here raises the verb above the all-too-human sphere . . . Note also the sinister associations of ambush and guile inherent in the verb μηχανᾶν.” The uses of the passive in Sophocles, Trachiniae 586 and elsewhere, also imply the existence of an active. W.M.C.] Clement frequently quoted and paraphrased Homer (IV.41f, four columns of references, including a quotation of Odyssey XVIII.130 in II.202.7), and his prose contains many words described in LSJ as primarily poetical and appearing in prose only in the work of “late” writers, that is writers of about Clement’s time. Besides these words, Clement uses in prose a considerable number of words cited in LSJ only from poetry. Of these latter, inspection of Stählin’s index from ααμ alone has yielded ἀεικίζω, 1.40.6; ἀθυρόγλωσσος, I.253.13, etc.; ἀλετρίβανος, I.155.20; and ἀμβρόσιος, I.197.1. Therefore this use of a poetical form is not atypical of Clements’ [sic!] style. [On this point I am particularly happy to record the agreement of C.M., who has had so much experience in edition and translation of Clement’s Greek.]

That the “grammatical form of active voice of the verb was never in use”, as Tselikas claims, must accordingly be seen as an exaggeration, as it was used in poetry. Furthermore, Clement often used words primarily poetical and in his prose a considerable number of words from poetry.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

13. v. 32. ἀπατηλοῖς: It must be corrected in ἀπατηλαῖς.

Theodoros II.4

ὑπ’ αὐτῶν διδαχθεὶς· καὶ ἀπατηλοῖς τέχναις χρησάμενος

Smith’s translation

instructed by them and using deceitful arts

Smith 47:

ἀπατηλοῖς τέχναις.  1.47.28, ἀπατηλὸν τέχνην, of art used to make images. Here too the adjective is of the second declension. In the letter it probably refers to magical practices [though A.D.N. thinks this reference not certain]. Clement uses it with this reference in 1.4.23, etc. The Carpocratians were widely accused of magical practices, Irenaeus (Harvey, 1.20.2 = Stieren 1.25.3); Hippolytus, Philosophumena VII.32; Epiphanius, Panarion XXVII.3; etc. Clement in his recognized works does not mention the accusation, but he had no occasion to do so.

Even if this is an error, there is no reason why it could not be an error that occurred in any of the subsequent transcriptions we must presume have been done from the original autograph. After all, the “dispute” is simply about one letter – an alpha or an omicron. I cannot possibly see why this need to be an “error” made by the author (Clement?)

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

15. v. 34. ἀπόγραφον: This word with the meaning of a copy of book and not of the imitation of a text is very modern. The correct word must be ἀντίγραφον.

Theodoros II.5–6

οὕτω πρεσβύτερόν τινα τῆς ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ ἐκκλησίας κατεδούλωσεν ὥστε παρ’ αὐτοῦ ἐκόμισεν ἀπόγραφον τοῦ μυστικοῦ εὐαγγελίου·

Smith’s translation

… so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the secret Gospel

Smith 49:

ἀπόγραφον.  Not in Clement—who has, however, ἀπογράφεσθαι, meaning “to copy,” II.471.7. ἀπόγραφον meaning “copy” or “imitation” is used by Cicero, Ad Atticum XII.52 end (overlooked by Oksala, 158); ἀπόγραφος with the same meaning appears in Dionysius Hal., Usener-Raderm., Isaeus 11. In Diogenes Laertius, VI.84, ἀπόγραφος is taken by R. Hicks, in the Loeb translation, to mean “an imitator” [but more likely it means “a copy”—B.E.]. ἀπόγραφον is, in the preserved literature, a rare word; one can hardly believe that an imitator would have chosen it instead of the common ἀντίγραφον. [But the rarity of ἀπόγραφον is no argument against Clement’s possible use of it. A great many words which must have been common in ancient everyday usage are extremely rare in the preserved literature; see the numerous examples in the vocabulary of Krauss, Lehnwörter. A.D.N. Moreover, ἀπόγραφον (-ος) has a contemptuous sense not found in ἀντίγραφον. Thus in Cicero, Diogenes, and perhaps Dionysius ἀπόγραφον is dyslogistic. B.E. With this opinion, however, A.D.N. disagrees, contending thatCicero was only “apologizing whimsically for his philosophical works,” and that “when you speak of a man as being a copy, you imply inferiority; it is not so with a book.”] But the usage in this letter seems to support the opinion of B.E.

Accordingly, the word ἀπόγραφον was used in this time in this sense, and was in this context a more suitable option than the more common ἀντίγραφον, which lacks the contemptuous sense that ἀπόγραφον has. As Smith puts it: “one can hardly believe that an imitator would have chosen” ἀπόγραφον “instead of the common ἀντίγραφον” – unless, of course, one presupposes that the genius of Smith “the forger” allowed him to foresee this argument: he chose this awkward word, so that he could later defend its use in his published analysis of Secret Mark.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

20. v. 38-40: οὐδὲ προτείνουσιν … εὐαγγέλιον: The syntax is very dense. Προτείνουσιν as dative of person referent to εἰκτέον and ἀρνητέον suppose to be ἡμῖν. But the words προτείνουσιν αὐτοῖς have the position of dative referent to συγχωρητέον, and so an infitive is missing (for ex. λέγειν, διατείνεσθαι), from which must depend the phrase εἶναι τοῦ Μάρκου τὸ μυστικὸν εὐαγγέλιον. The sense is: It is not permited to those who suggest the lies to sustain that this is the secret gospel of Marc.

Theodoros II.10–12

τούτοις οὖν· καθὼς καὶ προείρηκα· οὐδέποτε εἰκτέον. οὐδὲ προτείνουσιν αὐτοῖς τὰ κατεψευσμένα συγχωρητέον τοῦ Μάρκου εἶναι τὸ μυστικὸν εὐαγγέλιον, ἀλλὰ καὶ μεθ’ ὅρκου ἀρνητέον.

Smith’s translation

“To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath.”

Scott G. Brown, on the other hand, prefers the translation (he has adapted from C. Mondésert’s translation given by Smith in CA, 52: “c’est là l’ ‘Evangile mystique’ de Marc”):

“To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that it is Mark’s mystic Gospel, but should even deny it on oath.” (Scott G. Brown, Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery, Wilfrid Laurier, 2005, p. xx)

Smith translates the sentence such that one should not concede that the Secret Gospel is written by Mark, while Brown translates is such that one should not concede that the Carpocratian Gospel is the same Gospel as the Mystic Gospel and written by Mark. Apart from the fact that Brown’s translation better corresponds with the inward sense of the letter, it also seems to better correspond with the Greek. Tselikas makes a similar interpretation as Brown by translating, that to those who suggest the lies (i.e. the Carpocratian mutilated version of the Gospel) should not be conceded [permitted] that this Gospel is by Mark.

Since this seem to be the best translation of the text and since the text then also makes perfect sense, I cannot see what it is that Tselikas reacts against and why Clement could not have written it.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

21. v. 41. ἀληθῆ: More correctly must be τἀληθῆ.

Theodoros II.12–13

οὐ γὰρ ἅπασι πάντα ἀληθῆ λεκτέον.

Smith’s translation

For, ”Not all true things are to be said to all men.”

Smith 54–55:

οὐ γάρ . . . λεκτέον.  This saying appeared in Philo, Questions . . . on Genesis IV.67, from which it was quoted by Procopius in his commentary on Genesis in the form οὐ πάντα ἀληθῆ λεκτέον ἅπασιν. Philo’s text, according to the preserved Armenian translation, went on to elaborate the principle and to teach (in IV.69) that “the wise man requires a versatile art from which he may profit in imitating those mockers who say one thing and do another in order to save whom they can” (my italics). This text strikingly parallels Paul’s claim in I Cor. 9.22, “I became all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” Since influence of Philo on Paul or of Paul on Philo is almost out of the question, it would seem likely that these two passages derive from a single source. The common-sense idea behind them had long been familiar in ancient philosophy. Diogenes Laertius, VIII.15, quotes from Aristoxenus, as a saying of certain Pythagoreans, μὴ εἶναι πρὸς πάντας πάντα ῥητά; for further examples see Reumann, Οἰκονομία. From philosophy and common sense alike it was taken over by early Christianity, where the example of the Apostles—and especially that of Paul—is often cited to justify the use of deception for good ends (Bauer, Rechtgläubigkeit, 41f; cf. above, on μέθ᾿ ὅρκου). Clement, as remarked above, shared this early Christian belief, which he summed up with the words τῷ μὴ πάντων εἶναι τν ἀλήθειαν (II.497.16) and understood as a principle even of divine revelation; cf. Sibylline Oracles XII(X).290f, τὸ δ᾿ οὐχ ἅμα πάντες ἴσασιν. οὐ γὰρ πάντων πάντα. Clement was deeply indebted to Philo (IV.47ff, 7 columns of citations—more than any other non-Christian author except Plato, who has 10). Both his similarity to Philo and his borrowing from him have resulted in considerable confusion in medieval MSS, where many passages now found only in Philo are attributed to Clement (III.LXXI–LXXXII). Among these are at least two from Questions . . . on Genesis (III.LXXIV, no. 511.15; LXXX, no. 339). Moreover, Clement himself appropriated without acknowledgment two considerable sections of Questions . . . on Genesis (II.474.1–20; 474.23–475.11). Therefore this saying may have come into the letter from Philo; cf. Reumann’s note on τἀληθῆ above, on I.10. On the other hand, it may have been a popular proverb (though it does not appear in the Corpus paroemiographorum). For further parallels to the idea see Nock, review of Goodenough V–VI, 527ff and, for the relation of Paul to Philo, Chadwick, St. Paul and Philo. On 297f Chadwick discusses the question of veracity; he has an additional parallel to the present passage (Cherubim 15).

And this is the passage to which Smith refers regarding Reumann’s note on τἀληθῆ in I.10.

Smith 14:

τἀληθῆ.  II.517.14; III.162.11, with crasis; II.465.14; III.66.5, without crasis; these irregularities in the use of crasis are probably scribal, but Stählin notes them also in the other MSS of Clement, IV.223 s.v. ἀλλά. Ἀληθῆ without the article, as a substantive, III.39.14, where Clement explains that the true Christian will sometimes lie, as might a doctor, for therapeutic purposes—a principle he justifies by appeal to the example of St. Paul (Acts 16.3; I Cor. 9.19f). [Cf. Philo, Questions . . . on Genesis IV.204. J.R.] It is characteristic of Clement to talk most of truth when recommending falsity.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

22. v. 44. ἔχοντος ἀρθήσεται: The passage must be completed as follows: τοῦ δὲ μὴ ἔχοντος καὶ ἔχει ἀρθήσεται.

Accordingly not:      τοῦ δὲ μὴ ἔχοντος ἀρθήσεται·

But instead:            τοῦ δὲ μὴ ἔχοντος καὶ ὃ ἔχει ἀρθήσεται.

Matt 25:29 reads:   τοῦ δὲ μὴ ἔχοντος καὶ ὃ ἔχει ἀρθήσεται ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ

This is accordingly a quote from the Gospel of Matthew, however shorter than what is found in the preserved gospel. Even if this would be an error (which, as Smith explains, it hardly can be said to be) one would not suspect a forger to make such a mistake as to make an incorrect quotation from a gospel.

Smith 57:

τοῦ . . . ἀρθήσεται.  Mt 25.29 ||Luk 19.26. The text is considerably shorter than that now found in the Gospels. This might be the result of deliberate abbreviation. However, Clement’s text of this verse probably differed in much the same way from that preserved. He quotes the first half twice (II.10.21 and III.41.7), both times in the form τῷ ἔχοντιπροστεθήσεται, which differs from the preserved forms of the first half as the text of the letter does from those of the second. Moreover, Clement’s text and that of the letter, put together, yield a simple, epigrammatic, rythmically [sic!] balanced version of the verse; the Matthaean and Lucan forms are unbalanced and cluttered. This does not prove the simple form the original form. [Simplicity is often the result of revision—A.D.N.] But it strongly suggests that the letter, since it contains the second half of the simple form, comes from Clement, in whose works we find the (parallel) first half of the simple form. (II.100.1ff and 263.25, which Stählin took as references to this passage, are probably from an extracanonical logion, combined in 263.25 with Mt. 6.33 || Lk. 12.31. The tradition of the saying is extremely complex; see Lindeskog, Logiastudien.)

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

23. v. 44. μωρὸς ἐν σκότει πορευέσθω: Cf. ἄφρων ἐν σκότει πορεύεται (Ecclesiastes 2, 14, 2).

Theodoros II.16

καὶ ὁ μωρὸς ἐν σκότει πορευέσθω

Smith’s translation

and, ”Let the fool walk in darkness.”

Smith 58:

μωρός . . . πορευέσθω.  Ecclesiastes 2.14. Clement quotes Eccles. in II.37.3ff (1.16ff) and 8f (7.12), and in II.385.18ff (1.2), each time in texts almost identical with LXX. The text in the letter differs from LXX by substituting μωρός for ἄφρων (as did the above quotation from Prov. 26.5) and πορευέσθω for πορεύεται. The Hebrew text has holek (πορεύεται) and no variants are noted, so this latter difference may be interpretive. [It may also have been motivated at least in part by stylistic considerations. The imperative is more vigorous Greek. A writer with atticizing traits, like Clement, would prefer it. Similarly, De sublimitate IX.9 has γενέσθω φῶς . . . γενέσθω γῆ, where LXX has γενηθήτω. W.M.C.] Clement’s willingness to alter scriptual [sic!] quotations to suit his purposes is noted by Kutter, 22; Tollington, II.178; and others. [It may well have been subconscious, since he quoted from memory. A.D.N.] His use of an OT quotation, as here, to follow and clinch a NT one, is found in II.131.20–29 (the “NT” one is from Barnabas) ;135.23–31; 141.22–24; etc.

This is accordingly also a quotation, although not exactly the same as the text of Ecclesiastes 2.14 in Septuaginta.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

24. v. 47. ἠρωτημένα: More appropriate would be πρός τά ἠρωτημένα or τοῖς ἐρωτηθεῖσιν.

Theodoros II.19–20 with my addition of τῶν.

σοὶ τοίνυν οὐκ ὀκνήσω τὰ ἠρωτημένα ἀποκρίνασθαι· δι’ αὐτῶν [τῶν] τοῦ εὐαγγελίου λέξεων τὰ κατεψευσμένα ἐλέγχων

Smith’s translation

To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel.

Smith 61:

τ ρωτημένα.  Clement uses the verb often (Stählin does not index it fully) and has the perfect middle passive in III.163.32. The perfect participle meaning, as here, “the questions which have been asked” is found in Plato, Laws 662e.

Smith 61:

<τῶν>.  Possibly omitted by the copyist through homoioteleuton; cf. II. 495.4. [A.W. thinks its insertion necessary, especially if one thinks the letter written by Clement. B.E. also suggests it. A.D.N. disagrees.]

Homeoteleuton (Greek: μοιοτέλευτον) means that the endings of (two) following words are repeated. In this case we could presume that the word αὐτῶν was followed by τῶν. The scribe then lost sight of the two repeating τῶνs and lost the second one. If the model was written in majuscules, than the text could have looked similar to this: ΑΠΟΚΡΙΝΑΣΘΑΙΔΙΑΥΤΩΝΤΩΝΤΟΥΕΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΟΥ. The scribe would then have missed the ΤΩΝΤΩΝ and only copied one ΤΩΝ in αὐτῶν, and left out the following τῶν.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

26. v. 61. ἐπέταξεν αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς: An infinitive as object of ἐπέταξεν is missing, eg. ἐλθεῖν.

Theodoros III.6–7

καὶ μεθ’ ἡμέρας ἓξ ἐπέταξεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς

Smith’s translation

And after six days Jesus told him what to do

If Tselikas intended this to be included among the things Clement could not have written, it should be noticed that this is supposed to be a quotation from Secret Mark. You cannot blame Clement for incorrect grammar in the things he quoted.

Smith 115:

ἐπέταξεν.  The verb: 4 in Mk., never in Mt., 4 in Lk. (1 Markan) + 1 in D. The person commanded is always in the dative. The form ἐπέταξεν occurs twice in Mk. and in the D variant to Lk. (8.55). ἐπέταξεν Ἰησοῦς αὐτοῖς is found in Dit. to Mk. 6.39 (where other witnesses lack Ἰησοῦς). These parallels demonstrate merely that the word was used normally by Mk. and Luk. The peculiarity here is the failure to specify the content of Jesus’ command; that is understood from the context, as in Mk. 1.27; Lk. 4.36; 8 25. [C.F.D.M., however, remarks that ἐπέταξεν αὐτῷ without direct object is odd, and the parallels adduced here are not quite similar for in all of them the content of the verb is perfectly clear. Moreover, why did the young man have to come to Jesus and stay with him, if Jesus was at his house?] The direct object may have been part of the secret oral teaching. It will be argued later that the young man came to Jesus to receive baptism conceived as a magically efficacious rite. If so, he had to come to Jesus becauses [sic!] Jesus had to prepare (purify? exorcise?) the area and the materials for the rite. The story suggests a large house, perhaps a villa. The young man was rich. Jesus and his followers may have been given a wing for themselves.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

28. v. 69. αὐτὸν: pleonasm

Theodoros III.14–15

καὶ ἦσαν ἐκεῖ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τοῦ νεανίσκου ὃν ἠγάπα αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς

Smith’s translation with my insertion of “him”

And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved [him] and his mother and Salome were there

This is also part of that which Clement quoted from the so-called Secret or Mystic Gospel of Mark, and accordingly the language in this passage is nothing Clement can be held responsible for. You cannot accuse Clement (or even a forger?) for using bad grammar in quotations from the Gospels. And this is a passage which Tselikas definitely includes among the mistakes he thinks Clement never could have made.

This pleonasm is also typical of “Mark”. The sentence verbatim reads “whom Jesus loved him”. This type of construction, with the interposed “him”, is foreign to standard Greek, but not only typical for Semitic languages, also in most cases necessary, and reveals that the original author of this text (Mark?) probably had a Semitic language as his native language.

Smith 120:

Further evidence that the longer text did not get its formula from Jn. appears in the pleonastic αὐτὸν, to which the uses in Jn. afford no parallel, and which a writer familiar with Greek would hardly have added; it is probably a Semitism—cf. ἧς . . . αὐτῆς in II.23, above, and the note there. [P.B. would distinguish the examples of this construction in the longer text and in Mt., where he thinks them Semitisms, from those in canonical Mk., where he thinks them emphatic, and would find in this distinction evidence that the letter’s Gospel is not by Mark.] The distinction seems to me so fine as to be subjective; it escaped Moule, Idiom-Book 176, and Blass-Debrunner-Funk no. 297.

The part in the letter which Smith refers to is this:

Theodoros II. 23–24

καὶ ἔρχονται εἰς βηθανίαν καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ μία γυνὴ ἧς ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτῆς ἀπέθανεν

Smith’s translation with my insertion of “her”

And a certain woman whose [her] brother had died was there

Smith 100:

ἧς . . . αὐτῆς.  Redundant αὐτός following ὅς in the oblique cases is found twice in Mk., once in Mt., and twice in Lk. (one Markan), always in the genitive. ἧς . . . αὐτῆς appears only in Mk. 7.25. The same construction appears again in III.15, below, in the accusative. It is probably a Semitism rather than a sign of literary dependence; there are 10 instances, in all three oblique cases, in Apoc. (These figures do not include the peculiar readings of codex Bezae; Yoder’s concordance has not indicated the peculiar usages of αὐτός.) Both the instances in the longer text, and all those in canonical Mk., have in common a trait which Doudna was not able to find in the papyri, “namely, the fact that the redundant possessive pronoun follows its noun immediately” (Greek, 38).

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

To sum it up, almost every example presented by Tselikas as proof that Clement could not have written this text has already been examined and explained by Smith. On top of that, Tselikas also presents examples which are quotations made by Clement and accordingly not anything that can be used as arguments against Clement as the author. Further, some errors in the text are obviously more easily explained as errors in the transcription process than errors made by the original author. As far as I can tell, not a single one of these passages can exclude Clement as the author of the letter.

Roger Viklund, April 15, 2012

Craig Evans’ take on Secret Mark critically examined: Part Four

Craig Evans’ take on Secret Mark critically examined:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three 
Part Four

Craig A. Evans

In three consecutive blog-posts, I have dealt with the argument Craig Evans considers to be the strongest in showing that Morton Smith forged the Clement letter. According to Evans, Morton Smith showed before he found the Clement letter interest in certain themes which are found in the letter. I find Evans’ assertiveness to be unsupported.

There are however many other arguments presented by Evans which he believes lend strength to the forgery hypothesis. Some have been so thoroughly refuted before, that I leave them aside for the time being. But Evans makes at least a few points regarding Stephen Carlson and the handwriting issue which I cannot resist to comment upon.

Let me quote a lengthy passage from Evans’ paper under the headline “Disputed Science”:

The debate over handwriting analysis requires a few comments. In his 2005 publication Stephen Carlson, assisted by a professional handwriting expert, concluded that Morton Smith penned the three pages of Greek text found at the back of the seventeenth-century edition of the letters of Ignatius. Other scholars have challenged these findings. Dismissing Carlson’s analysis, Hershel Shanks asked two Greek-speaking handwriting experts to compare samples of Smith’s Greek with the Greek of the Mar Saba find. One expert concluded that Smith did not write the Clementine letter. The other expert concluded that he did. The former submitted a written report, which Shanks has posted on the Biblical Archaeology Society web page. The latter expert has not yet submitted a written report. The appeal to native Greek-speakers has not resolved the controversy.

Although Carlson does not regard himself as a handwriting expert per se, his expertise in evaluating documents, as well as procuring assistance and expert advice, should not be quickly dismissed (as I think Shanks has done). Novum Testamentum, a highly respected international journal devoted to the critical study of the New Testament, recently published an article, in which Carlson’s conclusion that “Archaic Mark” (Greek NT ms 2427 = Chicago ms 972) is a modern forgery has been vindicated. This manuscript, written on what at one time was believed to be 14th century parchment, deceived the likes of Edgar Goodspeed, Ernest Cadman Colwell, Kirsopp Lake, and Kurt and Barbara Aland, scholars well versed in ancient Greek manuscripts and hands. “Archaic Mark,” under the number 2427, appears in the list of miniscules in the two standard critical editions of the Greek New Testament. In these editions it is dated to the 14th century, evidently on the basis of the presumed age of the parchment, as well as the paleography. Carlson, however, concluded that although the parchment is old, perhaps dating to the 14th or 15th century, the handwriting is modern and the forger, who imitated 14th century Greek penmanship remarkably well, used Philipp Buttmann’s 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament as his base text. As reported in the recent issue of Novum Testamentum, scientific testing has confirmed Carlson’s conclusion. The ink was found to contain a chemical that was not in use prior to 1874 and Carbon 14 has dated the parchment to the 16th century. It is now believed that the manuscript was produced in the early 20th century. Once again handwriting analysis was at best uncertain. Internal considerations, including evidence of anachronism, pointed to forgery. Scientific testing provided confirmation.

The essential arguments made by Evans in this attempt to rescue Carlson’s handwriting analysis are:

1)      Stephen Carlson concluded based on the handwriting that Morton Smith penned the Clement letter.

2)      He was assisted in his conclusion by a professional handwriting expert.

3)      Carlson’s analysis should not so easily be dismissed since Carlson managed to correctly claim that the so-called Archaic Mark is a modern forgery.

4)      By comparing samples of Smith’s Greek with the Greek of the Mar Saba find, two Greek-speaking handwriting experts came to opposite conclusions. One expert concluded that Smith did write the letter and the other that he did not.

But Evans is ill-informed. It has for a long time now been known that the “evidence” Carlson relied upon when suggesting that the letters were drawn rather than written and that all kinds of signs of forgery could be seen in the document, like tremors and ink blobs, all were due to the poor images he used. When these printed images in Morton Smith’s book were heavily magnified, they gave rise to optical illusions which misled Carlson into believing that the scribe’s hand shook because of slow writing. Se my articles Tremors, or Just an Optical Illusion? and Reclaiming Clement’s Letter to Theodoros. Besides, Carlson was at the time a patent attorney with no experience or training in the field of questioned document examination.

Evans also tries to strengthen Carlson’s conclusion by saying that he was assisted in his conclusion by a professional handwriting expert. This was for sure what Carlson said himself, but later it turned out that he had misled everybody by withholding vital information regarding this professional handwriting expert by the name of Julie C. Edison. Already in April 2010 Scott G. Brown and Allan J. Pantuck consulted Edison and she gave an entirely different description of her contribution. Brown and Pantuck presented their results in the article Stephen Carlson’s Questionable Questioned Document Examination, and they summarize their findings as such:

The people who read Edison’s letter on the internet [published by Carlson] would have been far less impressed had they known that Carlson’s consultant is unable to read Greek, that she met with him for only a few hours, that they looked exclusively at halftone reproductions of Smith’s photographs, that she disavows having expressed an opinion on the manuscript’s authenticity, and that her positive comments were prefaced by the “most important” observation that the absence of “known standards” in Carlson’s analysis violates one of the “fundamentals” of forgery detection. Clearly he hoped that this letter would discourage concerns about the objectivity, validity, and competence of his handwriting analysis, but now that we know the omitted contents and the manner in which he suppressed them, he has ultimately made us more dubious about these things than ever.

It is not hard to imagine that a handwriting analysis by a properly qualified questioned document examiner would look very different from what we see in The Gospel Hoax.

Could Evans really be unaware of this? He is after all acting as an expert on Secret Mark and that Edison did not support Carlson’s assertion has been known for one and a half year now. Or could it be that Evans is careless with the facts in the same way as he was in Fabricating Jesus, where he wrote that not only did Edison assist Carlson in analyzing the “color” photographs, but “experts [emphasize mine] in the science of the detection of forgeries [were given] the opportunity to analyze the handwriting of the document and compare it with samples of the handwriting of the late Professor Smith?”[1]

Evans made the same kind of statement in Lee Strobel’s book The Case for the real Jesus:

Carlson, a well-regarded patent attorney and amateur biblical scholar, thoroughly investigated the case, bringing in handwriting experts, and writing The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark in 2005.

“What’s your opinion about the authenticity of the letter?” I asked.

Evans’s answer was dramatic: “I think the clues really lead to the conclusion that the letter is a hoax and that Smith is almost certainly the hoaxer.” – – –

When experts examined the magnified photos of the text, they could see what they call ‘forger’s tremor,’ where the text isn’t really written, but instead it’s being drawn by a forger in an attempt to deceive. There are shaky lines, pen-lifts in the middle of strokes—all kinds of indications that this was forged. (Se my article: One Thousand and One Untruths: How Reliable Is the Account of Secret Mark by Lee Strobel and Craig Evans?)

Once again there were according to Evans experts involved, when in fact at that time no expert at all had evaluated the handwriting; not even the one Carlson said had validated his results.

Evans is trying to support his view that the letter is a forgery by referring to distinguished scholars who also believe that the letter is a forgery. He for example says that the “Harvard alumnus and distinguished scholar of Gnosticism Birger Pearson stated that he now believes the Clementine letter to be a hoax”. Pearson expressed his view on this issue in 2008 in “The Secret Gospel of Mark: A 20th Century Forgery,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 4 (2008), article 6, pp. 1–14.

But in 2009, after reading my articles on Carlson’s flawed methods for examining the handwriting, Pearson wrote the following:

“I read the Viklund pieces with considerable interest. It is curious that Carlson didn’t avail himself of the color photos. Anyway, I agree with Viklund when he says that the only way we can finally know whether Smith forged the letter is to find the actual manuscript, and subject the ink to scientific analysis.” Published by Stephan Huller at Birger Pearson Says It Best – ”It is curious that Carlson didn’t avail himself of the color photos”)

Also this Evans seems to be unaware of. Be that as it may, Evans is not taking into account the fact that Carlson based his study on inferior images which misled him (Carlson has not made any official comments on the issue of the handwriting since I published my articles; he has consequently chosen not to reply to the criticism) and that Edison was neither qualified to provide an opinion on this text, nor did she do that.

Point 3, that Carlson’s analysis should not so easily be dismissed since he correctly managed to claim that the so-called Archaic Mark is a modern forgery, is in itself a remarkable attempt to save Carlson’s so-called handwriting analysis. Actually, the issue of Archaic Mark has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of Carlson’s analysis of the handwriting of the Clement letter. Stephen Carlson may be an intelligent person, a brilliant scholar who has made brilliant discoveries. Still, he was wrong in his handwriting evaluation since he based it on erroneous photographs (i.e. printed images) and he misled everybody by presenting Edison’s letter cropped so that it appeared as if she supported his analysis. It does not matter if he is right on the issue of Archaic Mark or even if Secret Mark is a forgery. His conclusions are still flawed since they are based on incorrect observations – no matter how vigorously Evans is defending him and telling us not to dismiss his handwriting analysis so easily.

Evans is correct in saying that the two Greek-speaking handwriting experts came to the opposite conclusions when it came to deciding if Smith had written the text or not. Yet he says that one of the experts, i.e. Agamemnon Tselikas, “has not yet submitted a written report”. This Tselikas did in May this year and the paper by Evans was presented at the Toronto conference a month earlier.

It is though not entirely correct that they came to different conclusions by comparing samples of Smith’s Greek with the Greek of the Mar Saba find. Venetia Anastasopoulou did compare the writing of the Clement letter to a number of examples of Smith’s Greek handwriting, and she came to the conclusion that based on the presented material, Morton Smith most probably did not write the Clement letter. Agamemnon Tselikas did not make such a thorough evaluation by comparing the handwriting, but mainly evaluated the writing in itself. He could not find anyone from Mar Saba with that particular hand and based on how some of the letters were drawn he did not think that it was written by a Greek-speaking monk. He therefore suggested that the letter is a forgery, and for other reasons (which to me seem quite obscure) he concluded that the most likely forger was Smith. When it came to the issue of Smith’s handwriting, Tselikas only made this conclusion:

A comparison of the handwriting of the Greek letters of Morton Smith with the handwriting of Clement’s letter can not give significant evidence that Morton Smith is the scribe, and this because as imitation, certainly the scribe of the letter would not use the own personal style. Nevertheless, some factors point to Morton Smith.

Tselikas then presents six comparative examples which are far from identical. Although I of course cannot challenge Tselikas’ expertise, I do find his conclusions to be quite extraordinary. He is saying that you cannot get any significant evidence by comparing the handwriting of the Clement letter with that of Morton Smith since an impersonator would not write in his own personal style. But is not this what a questioned document examiner to a certain degree of probability is supposed to decide by comparing an allegedly forged text to that of other handwriting samples?

Evans summarizes this issue by writing:

Where does this leave us with regard to Smith’s Mar Saba find? With uncertain and conflicting handwriting analysis. Carlson and two handwriting experts, one English-speaking and one Greek-speaking, think Smith wrote the document in question. Another Greek-speaking handwriting expert thinks he did not. Which conclusion is correct?

But the fact is that there has only been one handwriting analysis done in which Smith’s own handwriting has been thoroughly compared to that of the letter, and that analysis showed it to be highly unlikely that Smith could have written the text. Carlson’s analysis should be entirely dismissed because he is not a trained expert and besides made his analysis on distorted images. Edison should also be dismissed, since she is not qualified to evaluate Greek text and did not even analyze the text. Tselikas’ judgment is of course valid. But when it comes to deciding if Smith could have written the Clement letter in his own hand, also Tselikas fails to make (or refrains from making) any serious contribution since he has not presented an in depth analysis based on a comparison between the Clement letter and Smith’s Greek writing.

Roger Viklund, 2011-09-15

[1] Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity, (2006), p. 95.

Smith did not photograph the manuscripts which Tselikas believes Smith used as a model for both imitating the Greek handwriting and learning how to make ink

Allan J. Pantuck

Allan J. Pantuck

Now Allan J. Pantuck’s Response to Agamemnon Tselikas on Morton Smith and the Manuscripts from Cephalonia has been published at Biblical Archaeology Review. Pantuck summarizes the arguments made by Agamemnon Tselikas in his Handwriting Analysis Report as such:

“Dr. Tselikas believes that although the handwriting of the Clement letter is consistent with that of the 18th-century it does not match the handwriting of any other scribe at the Mar Saba monastery, and he believes that the letter is a forged imitation of 18th century Greek script made by Smith using four 18th-century manuscripts from the Thematon monastery of the Greek island of Cephalonia as a model for the handwriting. According to Tselikas, the handwriting of these four Cephalonia manuscripts which Smith had seen and catalogued while visiting Greece in 1951, is similar to the hand of Clement letter. At the very least, here lies a theory which can be tested against known facts.

Pantuck continues:

“A fundamental question at the heart of Tselikas’ hypothesis is whether Smith photographed the Cephalonia manuscripts in order to later study and develop the necessary fluency to copy the scribal hand in order to forge the Clement letter.”

But although Smith took more than 5,000 photographs of manuscripts in Greece during his travels in 1951 and 1952, he did not photograph any of the four manuscripts on which Tselikas builds his case. Pantuck gives three reasons to why we can be sure of this.

1)      They are not among those manuscripts that are marked as being photographed in Smith’s publication Notes on collections of manuscripts in Greece.

2)      They are not listed in the Brown University library catalogue list. Smith deposited in that library the photographs and the negatives from his 1951/52-tour.

3)       They are not listed in Smith’s own catalogue list, which apart from containing the information in the Brown University-list, also lists the photographs and negatives that Smith were to send back to Greece after he had studied them.

Smith accordingly did not take any photographs of the manuscripts which Tselikas thinks form the basis for Smith’s handwriting imitation when forging the Clement letter:

“We can also assume that Morton Smith between his first and second trip to the monastery, wrote the text under the model of the manuscripts of Themata monastery, but also of other which he had seen and had photographed during his visit to Greece.” (Agamemnon Tselikas, D. TEXTOLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS)

It could be said, although Pantuck never mentions this, that Tselikas also suggested that Smith would have learned how to make 18th century ink by copying two recipes found in two of those manuscripts:

Interesting note: In the last leaves of the manuscript 3 are found two recipes and ink manufacturing written by an other contemporary of the scribe hand. (Agamemnon Tselikas, The manuscripts of the Monastery of Themata in Cefalonia).

Images of these two pages were also published:

“The first page containing the recipe of the preparation of ink in the manuscript 3 of Themata manuscript”

“The second page containing the recipe of the preparation of ink in the manuscript 3 of Themata manuscript” (Anexe 2. Recipe of Ink)

But if Smith did not photograph these manuscripts, he of course nor had access to the ink recipes.

Pantuck then goes on to say “that the handwriting of the four Cephalonia manuscripts itself does not actually appear to be particularly similar to the handwriting of the Clement letter.” This was one thing that immediately struck me when I first heard of Tselikas’ theory long before he published it. The writing was not particularly similar to the handwriting of MS65 where the Clement letter is found. Since then and through the efforts of Stephan Huller I have seen much Greek 18th century handwriting which for certain more resembles the handwriting of the Clement letter than the Cephalonia manuscripts handwriting does. Pantuck presents a few examples and summarizes this by saying:

“With even such a limited comparison, it is clear that these are four different hands and that the handwriting in the Cephalonia manuscripts is not even as similar to the Clement letter as the completely unrelated handwriting from Zagora”

Agamemnon Tselikas

Maybe it was due to the fact that Pantuck dared to question Tselikas’ expertise on the handwriting that Tselikas felt offended. I do not know. But he anyway responded to Hershel Shanks:

“I read the article you sent me about the criticism made by Dr. Alan Pantuck of my report on the manuscript of Clement. I have only one remark: that Dr. Pantuck restricts his criticism only to one section, while not taking into account either the textological observations or the facts on the presence of the Ignatius edition in the library of Mar Saba. I respect the opinion of anybody, but I do not proceed to such personal criticism. Anyone who has a critical ability must have his opinion itself without any influence. I’ve written previously to you that without any bias I did my research on this topic. I spent much of my precious time for many days and many dozen of hours, here in Athens and in Jerusalem, to contribute my scientific experience and means in order to enlighten the issue. The resulting comments and opinion I exposed in my report. Of course some agree or disagree. But most certainly I have no interest in the opinion of those who, without scientific basis and method, write several non-existent and fantastic things in their blogs. To me these are parasites of real and true science.” (Agamemnon Tselikas: Response to Allan J. Pantuck)

I must say that I am amazed at Tselikas’ reaction. This reaction must be due to the fact that Pantuck wonders why Tselikas suggests that Smith would have imitated the handwriting found in those manuscripts, when in fact they are not particularly similar to the handwriting of the Clement letter? Since they are precisely the four manuscripts on which Tselikas himself published in 1982, “Tselikas’ theory of imitation appears to be dictated by the desire to connect the Clement letter to manuscripts that Smith is known to have seen.” To build one’s “opinions of historical possibility” is according to Pantuck not a correct scientific method. Instead we should rely on “verified historical evidence”.

That Pantuck was “not taking into account either the textological observations or the facts on the presence of the Ignatius edition in the library of Mar Saba”, does of course not reduce the strength of his criticism founded on facts regarding one or two of Tselikas’ major arguments. That is the way real and true science work. You focus on a particular subject and then investigate that subject. As it now turns out, we can be fairly certain that Smith did not have access to photographs of the very manuscripts Tselikas argue form the basis for Smith’s imitation of Greek handwriting and it is also obvious that there is no particular manuscript we know of which has served as a model for imitation.

Roger Viklund, 2011-08-20

Finally there might be a way to confirm whether or not “To Theodoros” is genuine

And so Agamemnon Tselikas has finally published his Handwriting Analysis Report at BAR. As was previously known he thinks that the letter is a forgery and that Morton Smith forged it. His arguments for this were also mostly known before, although he now presents them more in detail. I probably will return to the report more in detail later on, but for the moment I will concentrate on the issue which might be more important than the rest of Tselikas’ arguments combined. For Tselikas has found some scribbles in the book where Clement’s letter to Theodoros originally was penned down, and he thinks that this is the same hand that wrote the Clement letter.

Isaac Vossius’ 1646 edition of the Epistolae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris, remained in the library after the pages had been removed from it. On page 11 Tselikas found some scribbles where the pen and the quality of the ink obviously were tested. I will take the liberty of using the image published by Tselikas.

Tselikas publishes one letter pi from To Theodoros (reproduced to the right) and says that it “is impressive the similarity of the letter π with that of the manuscript” and that it “must be written by the same hand and ink.” Tselikas does not say from where he has taken his example, however it is taken from the word πρῶτον at 1.20.

At first I got excited. What if this hand from page 11 in Vossius’ book actually is the same as the one who penned down the Clement letter and as Tselikas thinks also used the same ink? Then we could do a test on the ink and although we do not have the actually letter, we still might find out if the text was written in the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th century.

However, having studied the images more closely, I am far from certain that Tselikas judgment is correct. Of course I cannot challenge his expertise in this field, but the basis for his conclusion seems rather meager. Below I reproduce the 10 pis found in the first 10 lines of Clement’s letter to Theodoros, and which have the same loop at the top as the letter reproduced by Tselikas has.

Since the example presented by Tselikas mostly look like scribbles, there is no easy way to find parallels. I suppose three of the four letter-like creations to the right of page 11 could be compared to the pis in Clement’s letter to Theodoros; and I reproduce them below, with the contrast slightly enhanced.

Although one might say that they look a bit similar, I would say that it is an exaggeration to claim that the similarity “is impressive” and that “it must be written by the same hand and ink.”

And then there also seems to be an alpha, I guess. This however could not so readily be said to resemble the alphas in To Theodoros. There are of course a lot of alphas, but I have been unable to spot a single one which look like this alpha. Below I give some examples.

The alpha (if it is an alpha) to the left from page 11 is, if not round, rather as long as it is tall, while the alphas in To Theodoros almost always are elongated. There are of course a vast number of alphas in the letter and although I checked it in its entirety, I might of course have missed a few. Still the examples above are very representative and the alphas which most closely resemble the alpha at page 11 are the ones in the image below.

These are the second alpha of the word μωρανθῆναι at 1.15 and the alphas from the words μία at 2.23, ἵνα at 3.5, οἰκίαν at 3.6 and νεανίσκου at 3.15. Besides that they still look more elongated, they also lack the vertical pin sticking up above the circle as it does on the alpha at page 11. So even though there might be some fairly close parallels, these parallels would still be exceptions.

The rest of the scribbles are difficult to compare. There are a few B’s (two of them reproduced to the right), but they have no correspondence in To Theodoros.

I would say that a statement by Tselikas that this text is written by the same scribe who penned the Letter to Theodoros of course is possible (and perhaps even probable), but the basis for his judgment seems to be poor and ambiguous. I am afraid that even if we could test the ink and it would give us a fairly secure result, we still cannot know if Clement’s letter to Theodoros was written at the same time by the same scribe; unless there is some other information unknown to me.

Roger Viklund, 2011-05-21

What does it take to change the opinion among the forgery advocators?

When Stephen Carlson published his book The Gospel Hoax in 2005, it was said to be the ”Smoking Gun”, which not only would prove that Clement’s letter to Theodoros, containing excerpts from an otherwise unknown longer version of the Gospel of Mark was a forgery, but also that Morton Smith was the forger. Since then we have come a long way and most, if not every single, argument presented by Carlson has been refuted. In his Apocryphicity blog, Tony Burke gives his Reflections on the Secret Mark Symposium, part 2, and then writes the following regarding Charles Hedrick’s speech:

“Hedrick also dismisses Stephen Carlson’s arguments as “less-than-circumstantial evidence”—indeed, very little of Carlson’s evidence, which has been effectively countered by Scott Brown, Allan Pantuck, and Roger Viklund, was discussed during the day, and it seems to have been abandoned even by those who argue against the text’s authenticity.”

The thing that strikes me the most is the fact that Carlson’s arguments, which were the arguments said to beyond any reasonable doubt prove that the letter was a forgery, now has “has been effectively countered”, and that to an extent that “it seems to have been abandoned even by those who argue against the text’s authenticity”. Yet, there is still no change in the opinion among the forgery advocators. Although all the previous arguments which were considered to be the strongest have been refuted and abandoned, they have just been replaced with new arguments, or to be more precise, with some of the same arguments rehashed.  It seems like the hub around which everything turns is that the letter is a forgery and that Smith forged it. Every single clue leading in this direction, no matter how small a spot of, is used in order to show that Smith forged the text. And when those arguments are demolished one by one, they are just replaced by yet other weak proposals that Smith forged it anyway.

Burke tells us about Charles Hedrick’s paper:

“As part of his paper, Hedrick discusses the statement on the text issued by paleographer Agamemnon Tselikas and some reflections on an interview Hedrick conducted with Tselikas. What is striking about Tselikas’ comments is that they seem at variance with even the evidence he cites—i.e., the text was written in an 18th-century Greek hand, which could not be executed by Smith himself, yet Smith is identified as the forger, having brought the manuscript from another monastery during his travels in Greece as a secret agent working for the US and/or Britain (!).”

This is also a striking example of the same method. The “text was written in an 18th-century Greek hand, which could not be executed by Smith himself, yet Smith is identified as the forger.” I mean, Anastasopoulou’s verdict strongly suggest that Smith could not have written the text himself. This was apparently further strengthened by Allan Pantuck on the conference. In Report on Secret Gospel of Mark Symposium Pt 3, Ryan Wettlaufer summarizes Allan Pantuck’s speech, where …

“he wanted to show how Smith’s life would have left him ill-equipped to create a forgery like sm. For example, Pantuck showed several personal letters wherein Smith lamented his poor Greek skills. He confirmed this with personal writings of other scholars who commented on Smith’s poor Greek skills. These poor skills, Pantuck argued, mean that Smith could not have had the ability to compose a fake letter of Clement.”

Under normal circumstances, one would think that this would lead to at least some consideration among the forgery proponents. But not really. Instead some seem to say that if Smith did not write the text in his own hand he must have had a collaborator – because, as you know, he still must have been the forger. This is how Burke summarizes the present opinion based on Anastasopoulou’s report:

“Her conclusions seem to be universally accepted; no-one at the symposium seems to claim now that Smith personally wrote the text. Even Tselikas agrees with this assessment, believing that Smith had someone from another monastery write it for him.”

But then, who would have composed the text? If Smith did not have the ability to write in a fluid Greek 18th century style, which Anastasopoulou has convincingly shown, and if Smith had such “poor Greek skills”, which both Smith and his colleagues according to Pantuck confirmed – who then composed the letter? Smith not only had insufficient training for writing in this elaborated hand, his skills were not good enough in order to compose the Greek text. It is a huge difference between being able to fairly good read a language and to be able to compose a letter imitating the style of an ancient writer who had Greek as his native language. If Smith would have had a collaborator then this person not only would have had to be excellently skilled in writing this difficult 18th century Greek handwriting, he (or she) would also have had to compose the actual text of Clement (and of Mark). If your skills in Greek are poor, then it is almost a superhuman task to imitate a letter of Clement. I am sure it is no problem for anyone with English as their native language to realize that I do not have English as my native language. So we then end up with a collaborator of Smith who not only wrote the actual text but also must have composed the letter. And if so, what need is there for Smith at all?

And if it is not a modern forgery, then at least it should be an ancient forgery, some argue. Hedrick’s reply to this was interesting. He referred to the endings later made (but not that much later) to the Gospel of Mark (16:9–20), and said that they …

“are not particularly ‘Markan’ in style, so perhaps ‘Mark later emended his own text—just as Clement said!’”

I was also pleased to notice that Burke makes the same objection as I do on Craig Evans’ dishonesty when presenting the material. Burke says the following about Evans’ presentation:

“He writes that in the gospel ‘Jesus teaches a naked young man’ (but the youth is not naked) and later ‘Jesus in the nude instructs a young convert’ (nor is Jesus nude). Such flustering over a ‘gay Jesus’ is reminiscent of the controversy over Tinky-winky, the gay Teletubbie, and the unsavoury relationship between Spongebob and Patrick. These all seem to reflect the anxieties of the viewer/reader and have little basis in reality. Evans also notes along the way some other dubious arguments for forgery: the presence of mildew and mold spots on the manuscript (all we have are photographs; the nature of these “spots” cannot be determined), the forger’s tremor (which is not apparent in the better photographs), and Carlson’s report from a professional handwriting expert (which has been shown to have been edited to strengthen his position).”

I consider Evans to be very ill-informed on this subject, and he actually does not work as a scholar in this area as he is presenting outright falsehoods and also continues to put forward arguments that already have been shown to be faulty. I cannot see how he by now could be ignorant of this, and the only conclusion that can be made from this is that he is using the arguments for apologetic reasons only.

Burke tells us that he “had no firm view about Secret Mark’s authenticity” when he went to the symposium:

“Now that the symposium has concluded, I am convinced Smith did not create the text; rather, he found it at Mar Saba exactly as he claimed.”

He also reports on the audience’s opinion:

“By the end of the morning, the argument for forgery seemed to be convincing many of the audience members at the symposium. The coincidences that were unsettling Evans were unsettling others also. But the afternoon session included a paper that swung opinion toward authenticity, and convinced me once and for all that Smith did not, indeed could not, have forged the text.”

Roger Viklund, 2011-04-15

Now it’s finally official

The Greek palaeographer Agamemnon Tselikas, who was contracted by Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) to evaluate the Letter of Clement to Theodoros (the Mar Saba letter), has now finally sent his report to BAR. This Stephan Huller reports on his blog and the credits for making this happen should be given to Stephan.

Since Stephan Huller now also has published the interview of Agamemnon Tselikas conducted by Charles Hedrick earlier this year, I of course no longer see any reason for keeping this a secret. Huller asked Tselikas if he would consider to be interviewed by Hedrick on his position on the Mar Saba letter. Hedrick took notes of what more could be considered a lecture. As soon as I get some time off, I intend to make some comments upon the things said in the interview. In due time we will get Tselikas’ view on this issue in his own words, when his report is published by BAR.

Roger Viklund, 2010-12-24

Anastasopoulous undersökning av Morton Smiths förmåga att förfalska Hemliga Markus

Återigen vänder jag mig till det brev (Klemens’ brev till Theodoros) som uppges vara skrivet av Klemens av Alexandria ca år 200 och vari två passager ur ett tidigare okänt “hemligt” Markusevangelium citeras. Som bekant fann Morton Smith en avskrift av detta brev i munkklostret Mar Saba utanför Jerusalem år 1958. Och trots att flera har sett avskriften av brevet, är boksidorna innehållande detta brev till dags dato ännu inte undersökta, och till råga på allt dessutom förvunna. Redan från början har där funnits en misstanke om att brevet är förfalskat och den som framför allt har misstänkliggjorts är brevets upptäckare, Morton Smith. För en genomlysning av problematiken kring och konsekvensen av fyndet, se min artikel: Den symboliskt utformade förlagan till Markusevangeliet – populärt benämnd Hemliga Markusevangeliet.

Jag tänkte denna gång sammanfatta den rapport som Venetia Anastasopoulou från Aten i Grekland på uppdrag av Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR), offentliggjorde i april 2010 och som i sin helhet finns att läsa här.

Venetia Anastasopoulou är ”Questioned Document Examiner”, vilket på svenska lättast kan beskrivas med att hon arbetar med jämförande handskriftsanalys. I klartext betyder det att hon arbetar med att jämföra olika handstilar för att kunna avgöra om en handstil är förfalskad eller ej och/eller om en viss person kan tänkas ha skrivit en viss text. Enligt Biblical Archaeology Review är Anastasopoulou en ledande handskriftsexpert som ofta uppträder som expertvittne i grekiska rättssalar. Hon är medlem av “National Association of Document Examiners, U.S.A.” och “International Graphology Association, U.K.” Hon har en examen i “Forensic Sciences” från universitetet i Lancashire (U.K.) och ett avgångsbetyg i handskriftsanalys från ”International Graphology Association, U.K.” Dessutom har hon god kännedom om äldre grekiska handskrifter.

Biblical Archaeology Review kontrakterade faktiskt två experter inom något skilda områden för att göra var sin expertanalys. Detta är något som märkligt nog ingen tidigare har gjort. Medan Anastasopoulou levererade sin rapport till utsatt datum har den andra experten, Agamemnon Tselikas, trots upprepade påtryckningar ännu 5 månader efter utsatt tid inte levererat sin rapport.

Agamemnon Tselikas

Agamemnon Tselikas

Agamemnon Tselikas, är en framstående filolog och därtill en framstående paleograf. Han är alltså expert på att undersöka handskrifter vad gäller stil och uttryck och med hjälp att skribenters sätt att skriva också kunna datera texter. Han är främst expert på grekisk skrift och grekiska handskrifter. Hans meritförteckning finns att läsa här. Hans expertis ligger alltså inte i första hand i att kunna avgöra om en viss person kunnat förfalska en viss text genom att härma en annan persons handstil. Däremot är han expert på att avgöra om texten i sig visar spår på att inte vara skriven av exempelvis en grekisktalande på 1700-talet. Han har helt enkelt god kännedom om gamla handskrifter och gamla grekiska handstilar.

Venetia Anastasopoulou ansåg att Smith inte hade förfalskat Klemens’ brev till Theodoros, medan Agamemnon Tselikas tror att Smith gjorde det. Eftersom Tselikas inte har inkommit med någon rapport, är allt vi har BARs chefredaktör Hershel Shanks redogörelse av de telefonsamtal han har haft med Tselikas.

Hershel Shanks

Hershel Shanks

Hershel Shanks skriver att såvitt han förstått av de samtal han haft med Tselikas, har Tselikas undersökt andra handskrifter från Mar Saba och inte funnit någon med samma handstil som den i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros. Av detta har han dragit slutsatsen att ingen munk på Mar Saba har skrivit Klemens’ brev till Theodoros. Däremot har han hittat en handskrift i ett annat kloster som han tror är skrivet av den munk vars handstil Morton Smith försökt imitera. Enligt Shanks ska Tselikas ha fått reda på att Smith besökt också det klostret i sin jakt på gamla handskrifter.

Det är naturligtvis svårt att dra några långtgående slutsatser av detta, med tanke på att inga detaljer finns tillgängliga. Samtidigt kan man undra varför Tselikas, i stället för att anta att han har identifierat den munk som skrev Klemens’ brev till Theodoros, drog slutsatsen att Smith har härmat denna munks handstil? Att munken höll till i ett annat kloster hindrar ju inte att han kan ha skrivit in Klemens’ brev till Theodoros i en gammal bok; han kan ha varit också på Mar Saba eller så kan boken ha förflyttats till Mar Saba. I vilket fall är alla sådana spekulationer utan någon substans och vi får avvakta till dess att Tselikas publicerar sina rön, ifall han alls gör det.

Man bör också ha i åtanke att vare sig Anastasopoulou eller Tselikas har haft tillgång till själva handskriften, utan endast fotografier av densamma.

Över till Anastasopoulous rapport
Hon börjar med att undersöka själva handstilen i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros. Brevet är skrivet på tre tidigare tomma sidor i en bok från år 1646. Hon säger att all text är skriven med samma bläck och att inga tillägg är gjorda till texten.

Texten är på grekiska och flera bokstäver har särdrag i form av förkortningar och sammandragningar av den sort som var typiska för religiösa och politiska texter från 1700-talet. Anastasopoulou säger att detta sätt att skriva var ovanligt och det var endast ett litet fåtal som behärskade tekniken. I ett kloster fanns som regel endast några få som kunde skriva på detta sätt. Det var de som ansvarade för att kopiera de heliga texterna och för den officiella korrespondensen. Inom varje kloster försökte man ha en egen stil som skulle kunna kännas igen som klostrets egen.

Anastasopoulou har till sitt förfogande haft uppförstorade fotografier av de tre sidorna. Hon har också haft tillgång till texter av Morton Smith; närmare bestämt 27 texter från 10 olika dokument, böcker, eller tillfällen (de texter som gått att få fram) där han skriver på grekiska.  Texterna är daterade till 1958, 1959, 1961, 1973 och senare och till efter 1984. Därutöver finns odaterade anteckningar i hans egen bok från 1951 samt annat han skrivit och som inte gått att datera. Man kan säga att Anastasopoulou har haft exempel på Smiths sätt att skriva grekiska från tiden före 1958 (då texten till Klemens’ brev till Theodoros blev känd), från 1958 och de närmaste åren därefter och sedan exempel ända fram till slutet av 1980-talet, strax före hans död 1991. Exempelmaterialet sträcker sig således över minst tre årtionden.

Anastasopoulou anser att det material hon fått till sitt förfogande är tillräckligt såväl i mängd som i kvalitet för att det ska gå att nå en slutsats om huruvida Morton Smith förfalskat Klemens’ brev till Theodoros eller ej.

Anastasopoulou konstaterar att på alla tre sidor finns korrigeringar av felskrivningar, vilket inte är att betrakta som tecken på en förfalskning. Hon säger att handstilen är konstnärlig och av god kvalitet. Och trots att det är en mycket svårlärd handstil som kräver mycket övning för att tillägna sig, är texten skriven spontant med en utmärkt rytm. Bokstäverna är kurviga och texten flytande medan de grammatiska reglerna ändå följs. Rörelserna tyder på att den som skrev detta var van att skriva på detta sätt. Dessutom – och detta är viktigt – säger hon att texten är omedvetet skriven. Det betyder rimligen att den som skrev denna text inte tänkte på hur han formade bokstäverna utan detta sköttes automatiskt av undermedvetenheten:

”The hand, which wrote the three pages of the disputed document, it was common to use peculiar forms, connections, pen lifts, ornaments etc. with ease and spontaneity.”

Hon noterar också att bokstäverna har vissa små variationer, vilket är normalt och inom gränsen för de naturliga variationerna.

Därefter tittar hon på brevets utformning i förhållande till de regler som var brukliga när det gäller konstnärlig (kalligrafisk) skrift. Hon noterar att inget i dokumentet avviker från det man kan förvänta sig. Det gäller avstånd mellan rader, bokstävernas storlek och förhållande till varandra, användande av stor och liten bokstav, bokstävernas lutning. Dessa regler var rätt utstuderade och synes mig vara svåra att imitera om man själv inte var en framstående expert på dessa skrivsystem.

Anastasopoulou säger att skriften är formbar, mjuk och flexibel med en mycket god rytm Trycket med pennan varierar. Det är en tydlig skrift, trots förkortningarna och sammandragningarna. Raderna är relativt raka och texten är snabbt skriven. Hon noterar att trots att bokstäverna skrivs samman skrivs vissa bokstäver separat, något hon inte invänder mot. Jag noterade detsamma, att vissa bokstäver alltid särskrevs, i samband med Stephen C. Carlsons påstående att detta skulle vara ett misstag och tecken på förfalskning (se t.ex 3.1 The line connecting the epsilon and the kappa in ἐκ i min artikel Reclaiming Clement’s Letter to Theodoros – An Examination of Carlson’s Handwriting Analysis). Anastasopoulou håller uppenbarligen inte med Carlson i denna fråga (heller). Accenterna är också rätt använda och Anastasopoulou berömmer dispositionen vad gäller sidomarginalerna och deras avstånd till sidans kanter. I min översättning skriver hon:

”Slutsats: Hela skriften ger uttryck för frihet, spontanitet och konstnärligt kunnande. Den visar också prov på en skicklig kalligrafi av en välutbildad och tränad skribent som använder språket effektivt för att uttrycka sina tankar.” (s. 13)

Därefter övergår hon till att undersöka Morton Smiths sätt att skriva. Hon noterar genast att där finns en uppenbar skillnad mellan hans sätt att skriva på sitt modersmål engelska och på grekiska. Hans engelska är skriven spontant och otvunget med en mycket god rytm.

Morton Smith använder förkortningar enbart när han skriver engelska. När han skriver på sitt modersmål är bokstäverna förenklade, lediga med en fulländad rytm och texten är inte alltid fullt läsbar. Motsatsen gäller när han skriver grekiska. De grekiska bokstäverna är runda, tydliga, skrivna med omsorg och alltid läsbara. Den engelska texten är snabbt skriven medan den grekiska är skriven i låg eller medelsnabb hastighet.

I den engelska texten kopplar Smith som regel samman bokstäverna, medan de grekiska bokstäverna som regel är skrivna var för sig.

I sin sammanfattning skriver Anastasopoulou att det finns en uppenbar skillnad mellan hur Smith skrev på engelska och hur han skrev på grekiska. På engelska skriver han flytande, binder samman bokstäverna med både enskilda särdrag och förkortningar. På grekiska däremot skriver han bokstav för bokstav och långsammare utan någon lätthet och med få variationer. Hans skrivande på grekiska är att likna vid en skolelevs (a school student). Anastasopoulou konstaterar att han inte är tillräckligt van att skriva grekiska för att kunna skriva obehindrat och kunna uttrycka sina föreställningar.

Efter att först ha undersökt handstilen i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros och därefter den hos Morton Smith, gör hon en bokstav-för-bokstavs-jämförelse mellan de båda. Jag kan här inte återge denna jämförelse, men kan konstatera att hon på punkt efter punkt, bokstav för bokstav, visar att Morton Smith och den som skrev Klemens’ brev till Theodoros formade de grekiska bokstäverna på olika sätt. Hon visar också att Smith skrev hela ord på ett markant avvikande sätt jämfört med hur samma ord är utformade i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros.

Anastasopoulou beskriver hur man, när man först lär sig skriva, lär sig att kopiera bokstäverna en efter en. Men i och med att man blir trygg med språket börjar man lägga till och ta bort och utveckla en egen stil. Den som skrev Klemens’ brev till Theodoros skrev mjukt utan avbrott, fritt och med en konstnärlig förmåga. Skribenten var utbildad och hade långvarig träning, vilket gjorde det möjligt för honom att skriva bokstäverna och orden automatiskt och med lätthet. Skribenten kan därmed fokusera helt på sina tankar och hur han skulle formulera sig, medan texten bara uppkom helt av sig själv.

Vad gäller Smiths förmåga att skriva grekiska är den att likna vid en som lärt sig det i skolan genom att skriva i en välskrivningsbok bokstav för bokstav utan att koppla bokstäverna samman. Motsatsen gäller när han skriver på engelska. Då är texten flytande, bokstäverna sammanbundna och små, nedtecknade i hög hastighet. Smiths förmåga att skriva engelska är fullt utvecklad medan motsatsen gäller för hans förmåga att skriva grekiska.

Anastasopoulou skriver att Morton Smith möjligen skulle ha kunnat imitera en outvecklad och opersonlig skrift i en välskrivningsbok, men att det är osannolikt att han skulle kunna imitera något skrivet med en hög grad av rytm.

I sitt slutomdöme sätter Anastasopoulou upp ramarna för sin slutsats. Förutsättningen för hennes slutsats är det material som har tillhandahållits henne. Och utifrån detta material är det hennes professionella omdöme som tränad forensisk dokument- och handskriftsundersökare att Morton Smith inte förfalskat Klemens’ brev till Theodoros.

Hennes bedömning är att det är högst sannolikt att skiften i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros och Morton Smiths handskrift inte är desamma.

”Det är därför mycket sannolikt att Morton Smith inte kan ha imiterat ’Hemliga Markus’-dokumentet.”
“Therefore it is highly probable that Morton Smith could not have simulated the document of ‘Secret Mark’.”

Roger Viklund, 2010-09-02