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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.]

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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


8 kommentarer

  1. 16 april, 2012 den 06:58

    Thanks for the hard work, Roger. I doubt Tselikas spent this much time writing it as you did responding to it. He certainly did not read Smith’s book (which is odd for someone determining Smith’s state of mind). But then again Tselikas was likely just trying to find some way to justify his patron’s (the Jerusalem Patriarchate) deliberate withholding of the document. Thank you again for spending the time to do this.


  2. 16 april, 2012 den 08:09

    I guess Smith’s work was much harder than mine, but you’re right in that Tselikas probably never read Smith.


  3. 16 april, 2012 den 10:12

    No. It’s not a guess. I complained about it through a mutual friend. His response was that he read the Nea Sion article. He never read the book.


  4. Den andre BB said,

    20 april, 2012 den 01:19

    ”You cannot blame Clement for incorrect grammar in the things he quoted.”

    – If one claims that one person (Smith) wrote the entire letter, with the Secret Gospel, why not? And why would Clement repeat bad grammar?


  5. 20 april, 2012 den 07:19

    In the same way as I am repeating bad grammar when I am quoting Tselikas.

    Gillad av 1 person

  6. 21 april, 2012 den 05:49

    The question comes down to whether the anomalies in the manuscript point to anything other than transmission errors.


  7. Den andre BB said,

    21 april, 2012 den 08:42

    I can’t see how pleonasms etc. could support a forgery case.


  8. 22 april, 2012 den 00:21

    What are they left with? Maybe someone from the hoaxers can hire a psychic to obtain a ‘confession’ from Morton Smith.



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