As usual, it is Stephen Huller who caught my attention, this time regarding Edward R Smith’s book “The Temple Sleep of the Rich Young Ruler: How Lazarus Became the Evangelist John” from last year. Edward Smith is defending the authenticity of the Secret Gospel of Mark and is step by step refuting both Jeffery’s book and Carlson’s. He is however paying little attention to the handwriting analysis done by Carlson. Another issue did however arouse my interest. Edward Smith is quoting “Roy Kotansky, a scholar who knew and worked closely with Smith on transcription projects:” I suppose this quotation could be seen as a little too extensive, but anyway this is what he says:
I am a scholar of magic, and though I did my Ph.D. on magic at Chicago (1988) under Dieter Betz, I asked Morton Smith, a longtime colleague and friend, to be my principal reader, outside of Chicago. My work, on the magical lamellae, has long since been published in a Cologne papyrological series. As a managing editor of Betz’s Greek Magical Papyri In Translation, years ago, I also read and critiqued, all of the contributors’ translations, including those of Morton Smith. What strikes me most about the issue of forgery of SM, is not that Morton would have done this at all (he wouldn’t have, of course), but rather that he COULD NOT have done it: his Greek, though very good, was not that of a true papyrologist (or philologist): his translations of the big sections of PGM XIII did not always appreciate the subtleties and nuances of the text’s idioms, I believe, and he seemed very appreciative of my corrections, at that time. He certainly could not have produced either the Greek cursive script of the Mar Saba ms., nor its grammatical text, as we have it. There are few up to this sort of task…. He would never forge, nor could he. I was with him once at the Getty Museum examining magical gemstones in the collection in the ’80s, and many times I had to gently correct his misreadings of rather obvious readings. Morton was not a palaeographer/epigraphist, nor a papyrologist. I don’t think that he read these kinds of Greek texts very well.
Once again we have someone well versed in the Greek language, who knew Morton Smith, and who testifies that his knowledge in Greek was not good enough for him to be able to compose Clement’s letter to Theodoros.
On top of this, Edwards refers to one occasion where he witnessed a discovery made by Scott Brown, when he at the JTC was examining the annotations that Smith had made in C. H. Dodd’s book Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel. On page 249 Dodd writes the following:
Among these topographical notes there are three which refer to the work of John the Baptist:
(a) 1. 28, ταῦτα ἐν Βηθανίᾳ ἐγένετο πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου ὅπου ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης βαπτίζων. This is taken up in (b) x. 40, ἀπῆλθεν πάλιν πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου εἰς τὸν τόπον ὅπου ἦν Ἰωάννης τὸ πρῶτον βαπτίζων. (c), iii. 23, ἦν δὲ καὶ ὁ Ἰωάννης βαπτίζων ἐν Αἰνὼν ἐγγὺς τοῦ Σαλείμ, ὅτι ὕδατα πολλὰ ἦν ἐκεῖ. Taking x. 40 to be a mere back-reference to i. 28, we have two distinct statements regarding the scene of the Baptist’s activity at two separate periods of his life.
Dodd is accordingly quoting three passages in the Gospel of John in Greek; i.e John 1:28: “This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” This he says is taken up in John 10:40 which is a mere back-reference to 1:28: “Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days.” Finally Dodd quotes John 3:23: “Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water”. Aenon is then located West of the Jordan in Judea.
Smith came then to realize something, as he opposite of the reference to 10:40 (x. 40), which Dodd claimed to be a mere back-reference to 1:28, and that we have two distinct statements regarding the scene of the Baptist’s activity, wrote the following in the margin:
“This is Bethany. So the journey back was from Bethany to Bethany?! Some mix up here.”
As Edward Smith writes, “this comment shows us the moment when Smith first realized that there were two places called Bethany involved in the raising of Lazarus.” And as C. H. Dodd’s book was first published in 1963, Morton Smith could not have made this discovery earlier than 1963, five years after his discovery of Clement’s letter to Theodoros.
Roger Viklund, 2012-02-26