En 1700-talshandskrift: Utövandet av kontroll av den skrivna texten i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros. Del 1

”En 1700-talshandskrift: Utövandet av kontroll av den skrivna texten i Klemens’ brev till Theodoros”. Del 1: Smith som manuskriptjägare

”An Eighteenth-Century Manuscript: Control of the Scribal Hand in Clement’s Letter to Theodore”. Part 1: Smith as a Manuscript Hunter

apocrypha

Jag har iordningställt en kopia av Timo Paananens och min artikel från i våras, och låter publicera den här: ”An Eighteenth-Century Manuscript: Control of the Scribal Hand in Clement’s Letter to Theodore”, ursprungligen publicerad i Apocrypha, International Journal of Apocryphal Literatures 26 (2015), 261–297.

For those who are comfortable in reading English, you should of course read the article. Otherwise there is also my summary in English of the article: Paananen & Viklund, “An Eighteenth-Century Manuscript”

Men för dem som hellre vill ha den tillrättalagda versionen på svenska, gör jag här i en serie inlägg en genomgång och sammanfattning av artikeln på just svenska. De som eftersöker beläggen i form av källor, hänvisas till artikeln. Jag inleder med en relativt ordagrann översättning av artikelns inledande sammanfattning, det som på engelska kallas abstract och som är begränsat till ett visst antal tecken:

Denna artikel avhandlar Morton Smiths roll som självutnämnd manuskriptjägare i samband med hans upptäckt av det enda kända exemplaret av Klemens’ brev till Theodoros, och bedömer kritiskt de förefintliga studierna av brevets handskrivna text. Vi hävdar att Stephen C. Carlsons analys är felaktig för att den är utförd på bilder som är förvanskade, att Agamemnon Tselikas’ studie har ett antal problem till följd av det olämpliga i att tillämpa normala paleografiska metoder vid ett fall av misstänkt bedrägeri, och att Venetia Anastasopoulou har gjort en välgrundad analys när hon argumenterar för att Smith inte kunde ha imiterat den svåra sjuttonhundratalshandstilen – ett kvalitativt utlåtande som stärks av vår kvantitativa studie av frånvaron av tecken på kontroll. Vi kommer till slutsatsen att den handskrivna texten är omöjlig att särskilja från äkta handskriven sjuttonhundratalstext.

Morton Smith (1915–1991) tog tre uppsättningar foton av Klemens’ brev till Theodoros, och lämnade kvar handskriften i tornbiblioteket i klostret Mar Saba. Han kunde inte gärna ta med sig dokumentet eftersom det tillhörde det grekisk-ortodoxa patriarkatet.

smith65

Isaac Vossius’ första utgåva från 1646 av de erkänt äkta verken av Ignatios på grekiska och i översättning till latin. Pärmen saknas och på den första bevarade sidan har Morton Smith märkt boken ”Smith 65”.

Detta är viktigt att påpeka eftersom det utan omsvep genomborrar den ihållande myt som säger att Smith var oärlig när han presenterade sin upptäckt för sina kolleger. Flera menar att Smith borde ha sett till att dokumentet fanns lätt tillgängligt för andra forskare så att de kunde kontrollera det. Till följd av bland annat detta har det antytts att Smith själv skulle ha förfalskat brevet och dessa anklagelser har med tiden blivit än mer uttalade. Anklagelserna har lett till att helt vanliga åtgärder som Smith vidtog i samband med sitt sökande efter tidigare okända eller odokumenterade handskrifter använts som bevis för att han förfalskat brevet. Så låter exempelvis Craig Evans påstå att det faktum att Smith skrev ”Smith 65” på bokens framsida, tyder på att det var hans egen bok – trots att det är en normal metod att märka alla böcker som man katalogiserar med namn och nummer som svarar mot den lista man upprättar. I andra fall kan det faktum att Smith efter att ha upptäckt handskriften blev så upprymd att han kände det som om han svävade på moln, av Peter Jeffery vara en grund för att ifrågasätta hans ärlighet, eller av Donald Capps tas till intäkt för att Smith led av en personlighetsstörning. Agamemnon Tselikas har framfört anklagelser mot Smith för att i stället för att verkligen ha varit intresserad av böckerna i klosterbiblioteken utifrån deras historiska värde, ha verkat som hemlig agent för Storbritannien eller USA. Och vidare har främst Stephen Carlson menat att Smith var så förslagen att han inte bara förfalskade handskriften utan också medvetet dolde kryptiska anspelningar i texten på att han själv hade skrivit den.

smi22

En annan bok från Mar Saba som Smith katalogiserat som ”Smith 22”.

Vi har i denna artikel försökt sätta in Smith i ett historiskt sammanhang vi anser vara mer sannolikt och påvisa att hans agerade är såväl rimligt som i överensstämmelse med det sätt på vilket andra manuskriptjägare agerade vid samma tid. Äldre manuskriptjägare såg det som sin skyldighet att inte bara dokumentera sina fynd utan också att ta dem med sig till hemlandet, antingen genom att stjäla handskrifterna, men oftare genom att köpa dem för en billig penning. Men i och med kamerans tillkomst övergick man från att förvärva handskrifterna till att fotografera dem, lista dem i kataloger, och lämna kvar dem med ”förvissning” om att deras rättmätiga ägare också skulle kunna bevara dem.

morton_smith_1989

Morton Smith 1989, två år före sin död.

Smith var en typisk manuskriptjägare av sin tid. Han företog flera långa resor till många bibliotek – privata, offentliga och sådana i kloster. Åren 1951 och 1952 lyckades han hitta, katalogisera och fotografera alla betydande handskrifter i Västeuropa av Isidoros av Pelusium. Och av alla tusentals handskrifter som han fotat och katalogiserat, är det endast en handskrift där det har ställts krav på att han utöver sina fotografier också skulle tillhandahålla själva originalet. Som om han skulle ha kunnat göra detta utan att stjäla skriften!

Vi menar att orsakerna till detta ovanliga krav i huvudsak är två. Dels att Klemensbrevet innehöll citat ur en dittills okänd längre utgåva av Markusevangeliet vilket väckte intresse inte bara bland en liten grupp Klemensforskare utan hos alla som intresserade sig för kristendomens uppkomst. Dels att Smiths egen uttolkning av det ”hemliga” Markusevangeliet som en indikation på att Jesus var en magiker som invigde sina lärjungar i mysterieriter i vilka Jesu ande tog kontroll över dem och där de genom hallucinatoriska inslag upplevde att Jesus steg till himlen, väckte känslor hos många nytestamentliga forskare. Och inte blev det bättre av att Smith vid ett tillfälle var i sina böcker om Hemliga Markusevangeliet föreslog att symbolismen i denna rit kan ha innefattat även fysisk förening mellan Jesus och lärjungarna. Forskarnas reaktioner varierade från skepsis till upprördhet.

Vi menar dock att Smiths uttolkning av brevet och brevet i sig är två skilda saker och att dessa båda alltför ofta blandas samman. Likaså anser vi att Smiths förlitan på att patriarkatet skulle kunna bevara brevet var befogad. År 1976 åkte Guy G. Stroumsa och tre andra forskare till Mar Saba och hittade boken tillsynes på den hylla där Smith hade lämnat den 18 år tidigare. De tog med sig den till patriarkatets bibliotek i Jerusalem i syfte att göra en vetenskaplig undersökning av skriften, något som aldrig blev av då man från patriarkatets sida inte tillät att man tog boken till den israeliska polisen för att genomföra de nödvändiga testerna. Efter detta försökte flera forskare att få undersöka brevet. När Thomas Talley försökte få tillgång till texten på 80-talet nekades han med motiveringen att den höll på att restaureras. Per Beskow kom till Jerusalem 1984 med tillåtelsen från patriarken att undersöka texten men nekades på plats med hänvisning till att sidorna var besprutad med insektsgift. Men ett år tidigare hade faktiskt Quentin Quesnell haft tillgång till texten genom att han under några timmar per dag under en veckas tid tilläts att på plats undersöka den. Märkligt nog upplyste han inte forskarvärlden om den saken trots att han var den förste att öppet anklaga Smith för att inte ha sett till att andra kunde undersöka originalet och också den förste att antyda att Smith förfalskat brevet. Quesnells besök i biblioteket blev inte känt förrän långt senare och först när Quesnell tillfrågades på gamla dar. Någon gång efter 1983, då Quesnell undersökte brevet och 1992, när Hedrick och Olympiou inte kunde finna det, måste det ha försvunnit, och sedan dess har det trots ett antal försök att lokalisera det varit försvunnet.

Men vi menar att Smith knappast kan hållas ansvarig för att brevet har försvunnit. Han fann det, fotograferade det, beskrev var och hur han hittade det och var det fanns. Och att fotografera handskrifterna och lämna kvar dem var just det som kännetecknade den nya sortens manuskriptjägare i motsats till deras äldre mer skrupelfria företrädare. Vidare brukar en förfalskare normalt gör sitt yttersta för att förhindra andra att kunna undersöka förfalskningen på nära håll. Vi menar med utgångspunkt från denna genomgång att Smith inte på något sätt fruktade en sådan undersökning av Klemensbrevet. Tvärtom talade han om exakt var det fanns och upplyste också sina kolleger när han senare fick veta att det hade förflyttats till Jerusalem. Dessutom var Smith främst upptagen med frågan om Klemens stilistiskt hade kunnat skriva brevet och för att avgöra den frågan behövde han inget original.

Om någon skall anklagas för att handskriften med brevet har försvunnit är det inte Smith, utan det grekisk-ortodoxa patriarkatet. Frånsett att brevet försvann medan de hade det i sin ägo och därmed ansvaret för dess säkerhet, har de dessutom vid åtminstone två tillfällen (Stroumsa och Quesnell) vägrat låta brevet genomgå vetenskapliga tester och dessutom vid ytterligare tillfällen förvägrat forskare att ens se det. Att i detta läge, som exempelvis Craig Evans gjort, anklaga Smith för att inte ha ansträngt sig för att få brevet undersökt, anser vi vara en position svår att upprätthålla. Det kan mycket väl vara så att Smith har försökt både att få tillgång till brevet och att få det undersökt, men att hans begäran i likhet med nästan alla andras har avvisats.

Roger Viklund, 2016-10-15

Annonser

Biografi över Morton Smith

Jag har skrivit en Wikipedia-artikel om Morton Smith, kontroversiell upptäckare av Klemensbrevet innehållande utdrag ur Hemliga Markusevangeliet. För något år sedan skrev jag en helt ny artikel om Hemliga Markusevangeliet på Wikipedia emedan den då existerande var undermålig. Den tidigare artikeln om Morton Smith var mycket kort och lätt tendentiös och jag bestämde mig därför att göra ett försök att åstadkomma en mer fullständig och mer balanserad artikel. Jag förmodar att jag, eftersom jag (åtminstone i skrivande stund) har skrivit alltsammans i artikeln, också har rätten att publicera densamma på min blogg.

Förhoppningsvis kan artikeln förbättras ytterligare. Vi får dock hoppas att den får vara skonad från redigeringskrig iscensatt av religiösa motiv.

MORTON SMITH

Robert Morton Smith, född 28 maj 1915, död 11 juli 1991,[1] var professor i antikens historia vid Columbia University i staden New York.[2]

Smith var en framstående kännare av antikens historia med inriktning på judendomen, kristendomen och mysteriekulter.[3] Han är måhända dock mest känd för att ha påträffat ett brev i munkklostret Mar Saba i Israel 1958. Brevet, som uppges vara skrivet av Klemens av Alexandria, innehåller två utdrag ur det så kallade Hemliga Markusevangeliet.

Biografi

Morton Smith föddes i Philadelfia, Pennsylvania i USA, den 28 maj 1915. År 1936 tog han kandidatexamen (B.A.) med engelska som huvudämne vid Harvard University i Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hans fortsatta studier bedrevs vid Harvard Divinity School (del av Harvard University) där han studerade Nya testamentet, judendomen och grekisk-romersk religion och avlade en teologie kandidatexamen (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) år 1940.

Smith, som också studerat rabbinsk hebreiska, erhöll ett stipendium som möjliggjorde att han kunde resa till Jerusalem för att studera vid Hebreiska universitetet 1940–1942. Efter studierna kunde han emellertid inte lämna området på grund av USA:s inträde i Andra världskriget och använde därför tiden fram till 1945 till att doktorera som filosofie doktor med en avhandling skriven på hebreiska[4] [5] och blev därigenom den förste icke-juden att lyckas med den bedriften.[6] Han fick sin avhandling godkänd 1948.[7] I denna, som utkom i engelsk översättning 1951 som Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, lyfte Smith fram paralleller och likheter mellan evangelierna och den tidiga rabbinska litteraturen[8] (Tannaim: de rabbinska lärde vars uttalanden finns bevarade i mishna, den äldsta delen av talmud).

Smith återvände till Harvard Divinity School för att doktorera en andra gång, nu som Teologie doktor (1957), med en avhandling som först 1971 utkom i tryck: Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament.[9] Här argumenterar han för att det i det gamla Israel funnits två rivaliserande riktningar där synen på Jahve, som inte bara den högste utan den ende guden, var i minoritetsställning; en falang som ändå lyckades erövra makten genom att knyta exempelvis kung Josia till sin uppfattning.[10]

Mellan åren 1950 och 1955 undervisade han på Brown University i Rhode Island som assisterande professor. Därefter tjänstgjorde han ett år som gästprofessor i religionshistoria vid Drew University i Madison, New Jersey, varpå han 1957 utnämndes till professor i antikens historia vid Columbia University i staden New York. Han upprätthöll den tjänsten fram till sin pensionering som professor emeritus 1985, men fortsatte att undervisa nästan ända till sin död i akut hjärtsvikt vid 76 års ålder 1991.[11]

Gärning

Smith prästvigdes 1946 i Episkopalkyrkan i USA och verkade också som präst under åren 1946–1950.[12] Efter detta innehade han inga tjänster inom Episkopalkyrkan, men kvarstod ändå under hela sitt liv i dess prästregister.[13]

Smith ägnade åtskillig tid åt att spåra upp gamla handskrifter. Hans intresse väcktes i slutet av 1940-talet då han under sina doktorandstudier[14] kom att undersöka handskriftsläget rörande den asketiske 400-talsabboten Isidoros av Pelusium. Smith erhöll senare ett stipendium som möjliggjorde för honom att söka ett års tjänstledighet från Brown University och resa runt i Grekland för att fotografera handskrifter av och om just Isidoros. Under 1951 och 1952 besökte Smith kloster, privata och offentliga bibliotek, och lyckades så småningom fotografera alla betydande Isidoros-handskrifter i Västeuropa. Utöver detta lät Smith beskriva, fotografera och katalogisera många andra dittills okatalogiserade handskriftssamlingar.[15]

Smith företog åtminstone två ytterligare resor i syfte att leta efter handskrifter. Han tillbringade flera månader under sommaren 1958 i Turkiet och Palestina (då han bland annat fann Klemensbrevet), och han reste till Syrien 1966 på jakt efter hebreiska handskrifter.[16]

Morton Smith var känd som en mycket hängiven och skarpsinnig forskare som lade stor vikt vid detaljer och fakta. Därtill var han en ofta skoningslös kritiker av sina kolleger, framför allt när han ansåg deras arbeten vara bristfälliga.[17]Hans bidrag spänner över många forskningsfält, däribland den grekiska och romerska antikens litteratur, Nya testamentet, patristiken och judendomen under såväl andra tempelperioden som den senare talmudiska tiden.[18]

Klemensbrevet och Hemliga Markusevangeliet

Det var i samband med en vistelse på munkklostret Mar Saba sommaren 1958 som Smith fann ett tillsynes i hast nedskrivet brev på tre tidigare tomma sidor i en tryckt bok från 1646.[19] Smith hade redan i början av 1942 besökt klostret och då provat på klosterlivet i nästan två månader,[20][21] och hade nu 16 år senare som en ynnest för sitt långvariga ideella engagemang med att samla in pengar till det grekisk-ortodoxa patriarkatet i Jerusalem givits tillåtelse att under tre veckors tid undersöka klosterbiblioteket.[22][23] Eftersom de flesta värdefulla böcker hade förflyttats till patriarkatets bibliotek i Jerusalem, koncentrerade sig Smith i första hand på att finna sällsynta texter i inbindningarna av nyare böcker, vilka ibland bundits om med material från äldre kasserade handskrifter.[24] Mot slutet av sin vistelse fann han så en grekisk text skriven i vad som föreföll vara en 1700-talshandstil. Smith fotograferade sidorna och lämnade boken kvar.[25]

Redan i december samma år lät Smith lämna in sin egen transkription av brevet med en preliminär engelsk översättning till Library of Congress,[26] för att tillförsäkra sig upphovsrätten och därmed kunna dela upptäckten med andra forskare utan att riskera att bli bestulen på den.[27] Vid ett möte på Society of Biblical Literature år 1960 lät Smith offentliggöra sitt fynd, men det dröjde till 1973 innan han utkom med sin mångåriga och grundliga studie av brevet i Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark. Att det dröjde så länge (15 år efter upptäckten) hängde samman med att Smith uppenbarligen förväntade sig att forskaretablissemanget skulle vara motvilligt att acceptera den nya skriften, och han ägnade därför många år åt grundliga studier för att försöka autentisera texten.[28] Dessutom var Smith i huvudsak klar med boken redan 1966, men det tog ytterligare sju år i produktionsledet innan boken kunde tryckas.[29]

Kritik mot Smiths teorier

Genom att brevets äkthet redan tidigt blev ifrågasatt, kom misstankar om manipulering att riktas mot Smith själv, emedan den ende som rimligen skulle ha haft möjlighet att förfalska brevet var dess upptäckare.[30]

Saken förstärktes ytterligare genom Smiths tolkning av den längre passagen ur Hemliga Markusevangeliet som att Jesus och lärjungen med linneskynket genomgick en dopritual. Genom att bygga på många källor kom Smith till slutsatsen att Jesus lät sina närmaste lärjungar deltaga i mysterieriter där man förenades i anden, och där lärjungarna i initieringen inträdde i Guds himmelska rike (Guds rikes mysterium).[31] Även om Smith hyllades för sin grundlighet och stora lärdom, blev många upprörda över hans slutsatser om Jesus som en libertinistisk mystagog som lät hypnotisera sina lärjungar till att tro att de reste till himlen.[32] Att Smith dessutom antydde att den andliga föreningen mellan Jesus och lärjungarna möjligen också kunde ha innefattat fysisk förening var än mer frånstötande för många forskare, vilka omöjligt kunde föreställa sig att Jesus kunde framställas på det viset i en trovärdig antik kristen text.[33][34]

Efter Smiths död har anklagelserna mot honom blivit än mer uttalade.[35] Smiths egna tolkningar av brevet har dock ingen inverkan på frågan om dess äkthet. Smith reagerade kraftigt med både upprördhet och vrede gentemot alla antydningar om att han skulle ha förfalskat brevet.[36] och vidhöll sin oskuld fram till sin död.

Publikationer

Böcker:

  • Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels (1951)
  • The Ancient Greeks (1960)
  • Heroes and Gods: Spiritual Biographies in Antiquity [i samarbete med Moses Hadas] (1965)
  • Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament (1971)
  • Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark (1973)
  • The Secret Gospel; The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (1973)
  • The Ancient History of Western Civilization [med Elias Bickerman] (1976).
  • Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God? (1978)
  • Hope and History (1980)
  • Studies in the Cult of Yahweh. Vol. 1. Historical Method, Ancient Israel, Ancient Judaism. Vol. 2. New Testament, Early Christianity, and Magic [redigerad av Shaye J. D. Cohen] (1996)
  • What the Bible Really Says [redigerad tillsammans med R. Joseph Hoffmann] (1992).

Artiklar i urval:

  • Notes on Goodspeed’s “Problems of the New Testament Translation”. Journal of Biblical Literature 64 (1945), 501–514.
  • Psychiatric Practice and Christian Dogma, Journal of Pastoral Care 3:1 (1949), 12–20.
  • Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels. Journal of Biblical Literature, Monograph Series VI. ‘Society of Biblical Literature’ (1951).
  • The Common Theology of the Ancient near East, Journal of Biblical Literature 71 (1952), 135–147.
  • Minor Collections of Manuscripts in Greece, Journal of Biblical Literature 72 (1953), chap. xii.
  • The Manuscript Tradition of Isidore of Pelusium. Harvard Theological Review 47 (1954), 205–210.
  • Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, Harvard Theological Review 48 (1955), 21–64.
  • The Religious History of Classical Antiquity, Journal of Reformed Theology 12 (1955), 90–99.
  • The Jewish Elements in the Gospels, Journal of Bible and Religion, 24 (1956), 90–96.
  • Σύμμεικτα: Notes on Collections of Manuscripts in Greece. Ἐπετηρὶς Ἑταιρείας Βυζαντιῶν Σπουδῶν 26 (1956), 380–393.
  • Pauline Problems. Apropos of J. Munck, ‘Paulus und die Heilsgeschichte’, Harvard Theological Review 50 (1957) 107-131.
  • An Unpublished Life of St. Isidore of Pelusium. Eucharistherion (1958) 429–438.
  • Aramaic Studies and the Study of the New Testament, Journal of Bible and Religion 26 (1958), 304-313.
  • The Description of the Essenes in Josephus and the Philosophumena. Hebrew Union College Annual 29 (1958), 273–313.
  • The Image of God: Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism, with Especial Reference to Goodenough’s Work on Jewish Symbols, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 40, 2 (1958), 473–512.
  • A Byzantine Panegyric Collection with an Unknown Homily for the Annunciation, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 2, 137–155.
  • On the New Inscription from Serra Orlando, American Journal of Archaeology 63 (1959), 183f.
  • Greek Monasteries and their Manuscripts, American Journal of Archaeology 63 (1959), 190f.
  • What is Implied by the Variety of Messianic Figures, Journal of Biblical Literature 78 (1959), 66–72.
  • Monasteries and Their Manuscripts, Archaeology 13 (1960), 172–177.
  • Ἑλληνικὰ χειρόγραφα ἐν τῇ Μονῇ τοῦ ἁγίου Σάββα. Översatt till grekiska av Archimandrite K. Michaelides. Νέα Σιών 52 (1960), 110–125, 245–256.
  • New Fragments of Scholia on Sophocles’ Ajax. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 3:1 (1960), 40–42.
  • The Dead Sea Sect in Relation to Ancient Judaism, New Testament Studies 7 (1960-1), 347–360.
  • Hebrew Studies within the Study of History, Judaism 11 (1962), 333–344.
  • The Religious Conflict in Central Europe, The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 8 (1962), 21–52.
  • Religions in the Hellenistic Age, J. Neusner (ed.), Religions in Antiquity (1966), 158–173.
  • Jesus’ Attitude Towards the Law, Fourth World Congress of Jewish Studies [1965] (1967), Papers, I, 241–244.
  • Historical Method in the Study of Religion, History and Theory, Beiheft VIII (1968), 8-16.
  • The Present State of Old Testament Studies. Journal of Biblical Literature 88 (1969), 19–35.
  • On the Problem of Method in the Study of Rabbinic Literature, Journal of Biblical Literature 92 (1973), 112 f.
  • On the Authenticity of the Mar Saba Letter of Clement. Catholic Biblical Quarterly 38:2 (1976), 196–199.
  • A Rare Sense of προκοπτω and the Authenticity of the Letter of Clement of Alexandria, God’s Christ and His People: Studies in Honour of Nils Alstrup Dahl (ed. Jacob Jervell och Wayne A. Meeks; Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1977), 261–264.
  • In Quest of Jesus. New York Review of Books 25, no. 20 (December 21, 1978).
  • Clement of Alexandria and Secret Mark: The Score at the End of the First Decade, Harvard Theological Review 75 (1982), 449–461.
  • Regarding Secret Mark: A Response by Morton Smith to the Account by Per Beskow, Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984), 624.

Referenser

Noter

  1. ^ Movaco, Social Security Death Index.
  2. ^ Lindsay Jones (red.) Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005.
  3. ^ John Dart, Morton Smith; ‘Secret Gospel’ Discoverer (Los Angeles Times, 20 juli 1991).
  4. ^ Lindsay Jones (red.) Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005.
  5. ^ Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery, Yale University Press, 2007, s. 150.
  6. ^ Joseph Aviram, Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel, and Their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age Through Roman Palaestina (2003), s. 573.
  7. ^ Morton Smith, Maqbilot ben haBesorot le Sifrut haTanna’im (Ph.D. Diss., Hebrew University, 1948).
  8. ^ Allan J, Pantuck, A question of ability: what did he know and when did he know it? Further excavations from the Morton Smith archives, s 188; i Tony Burke (ed.), Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate. Proceedings from the 2011 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium’. (Cascade Books, 2013).
  9. ^ Lindsay Jones (red.) Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005.
  10. ^ Albert Pietersma, Review of Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament by Morton Smith, Journal of Biblical Literature Vol. 91, No. 4 (Dec., 1972), s. 550–552. Förhandsgranskning tillgänglig 30 juli 2013.
  11. ^ Lindsay Jones (red.) Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005.
  12. ^ Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery, Yale University Press, 2007, s. 150.
  13. ^ Lindsay Jones (red.) Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005.
  14. ^ Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel; The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), s. 8.
  15. ^ Allan J. Pantuck, Response to Agamemnon Tselikas on Morton Smith and the Manuscripts from Cephalonia, Biblical Archaeology Review (Tillgänglig online 28 juli 2013).
  16. ^ Allan J. Pantuck, Solving the Mysterion of Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, Biblical Archaeology Review (Tillgänglig online 18 mars 2016).
  17. ^ John Dart, Morton Smith; ‘Secret Gospel’ Discoverer (Los Angeles Times, 20 juli 1991).
  18. ^ Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities. Oxford University Press (2003), s. 70.
  19. ^ Isaac Vossius’ första utgåva av Ignatios av Antiochias brev (Epistolae genuinae S. Ignatii martyris) publicerad i Amsterdam år 1646.
  20. ^ Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel; The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (1973), s. 1, 4.
  21. ^ Stephen C. Carlson, The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark, Waco, Texas (2005), s. 8.
  22. ^ Allan J. Pantuck; Scott G. Brown, Morton Smith as M. Madiotes: Stephen Carlson’s Attribution of Secret Mark to a Bald Swindler, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 6 (2008) s. 106–107.
  23. ^ Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel; The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark (1973), s. 9.
  24. ^ Smith skrev att han inte hade tillstånd att ta isär böckerna. Ändå var det just det han gjorde och upptäckte då bland annat nästan ett dussin blad, där flera visade sig innehålla textfragment från Makarios av Egypten; alla okända i standardutgåvorna. (Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel, s. 11–13).
  25. ^ Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel, s. 12–13).
  26. ^ Manuscript Material from the Monastery of Mar Saba: Discovered, Transcribed, and Translated by Morton Smith, New York, privately published (dec. 1958), s, i + 10.
  27. ^ Allan J. Pantuck i en kommentar på Timo S. Paananens blogg, (Tillgänglig online 28 juli 2013).
  28. ^ Guy G. Stroumsa, Gershom Scholem and Morton Smith: Correspondence, 1945-1982, Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture; Leiden, Brill( 2008), s. xiv.
  29. ^ Scott G. Brown, Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, (2005), s. 6.
  30. ^ Exempelvis Quesnell, Quentin, The Mar Saba Clementine: A Question of Evidence, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 37 (1975), 48–67.
  31. ^ Smith utvecklade sina ideer om detta i framför allt Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God?, New York, Harper & Row, (1978).
  32. ^ Scott G. Brown, Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, (2005), s. 6.
  33. ^ Guy G. Stroumsa, Gershom Scholem and Morton Smith: Correspondence, 1945-1982, Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture; Leiden: Brill,( 2008), s. xiv.
  34. ^ Endast vid två tillfällen i sina två böcker om Hemliga Markusevangeliet nämnde Smith i ren spekulation att Jesus och lärjungarna kan ha förenats också fysiskt i riten, men han ansåg att det väsentliga var att lärjungarna fylldes av Jesu ande: ”Freedom from the law may have resulted in completion of the spiritual union by physical union.” (Morton Smith, The Secret Gospel, s. 114). “… ‘the mystery of the kingdom of God’ . . . was a baptism administered by Jesus to chosen disciples, singly, and by night. In this baptism the disciple was united with Jesus. The union may have been physical (… there is no telling how far symbolism went in Jesus’ rite), but the essential thing was that the disciple was possessed by Jesus’ spirit.” (Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, s. 251).
  35. ^ Exempelvis Stephen C. Carlson, The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2005), Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006) och Francis Watson, Beyond Suspicion: On the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark, Journal of Theological Studies, NS 61 (2010), 128–170.
  36. ^ Bland annat hotade han med att stämma förläggaren av Per Beskows bok Strange tales about Jesus på en miljon dollar om boken inte drogs tillbaka. Tvisten löstes genom att Beskow omformulerade några meningar. (The Blackwell Companion to Jesus, ed. Delbert Burkett – 2011 CHAPTER 28, Per Beskow, Modern Mystifications of Jesus.)

Agamemnon Tselikas’ Grammatical and Syntactic Comments Explored

An examination of Agamemnon Tselikas’

GRAMMATICAL AND SYNTACTIC COMMENTS


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

More on Morton Smith’s lack of skills to be able to forge Clement’s letter to Theodoros

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.

Interesting,

Roger Viklund, 2012-02-26

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

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

Craig A. Evans

Craig Evans believes that Clement’s letter to Theodoros is forged and that the forger is Morton Smith. The reasons for this, or what he above all finds most troubling, is one circumstance—namely “that themes of interest to Professor Smith, as seen in his publications before the finding of the Clementine letter, are found in the Clementine letter”. Evans then emphasizes two themes which he believes are the best examples. They are “(1) The “mystery of the kingdom of God” and prohibited sex, and (2) Markan materials omitted from Mark that exhibit Johannine traits.”

In the previous two posts (here and here) I examined Evans’ claim regarding the first theme; that Morton Smith linked the “mystery of the kingdom of God” to prohibited sex and that the first of the two quoted fragments from Secret Mark was describing a sexual scene in which Jesus and the youth were involved. I rejected both these interpretations. This time I will look into Evans’ second example regarding Smith’s prior suggestion that there would be “Markan materials omitted from Mark that exhibit Johannine traits”.

Craig Evans writes:

The second unusual feature that Smith surmised was that the evangelist Mark may well have omitted materials that contained Johannine traits. In his 1955 review of Taylor’s commentary Smith speaks of the possibility that the evangelist Mark may have omitted material. This, of course, is the point at issue in Clement’s Mar Saba letter—material omitted from the Markan Gospel. (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 12)

Evans starts by saying that Smith in “his 1955 review of Taylor’s commentary … speaks of the possibility that the evangelist Mark may have omitted material”. Now, first of all, how amazing would it really be if Smith had suggested such a thing? Is not this a fairly reasonable suggestion and one which must have been put forward by many? After all, Mark’s gospel is the shortest of the four gospels with lot of things missing if one compares it to the other gospels.

Anyway, in the footnote to this (42) Evans writes:

Smith, “Comments,” 35: Whatever did not serve Mark’s interests, “he would leave out as uninteresting, even if he did not deliberately censor it.” Recall also “Image of God,” 487, where Smith speaks of material that “has come down to us heavily censored.”

Taylor’s book is a commentary to the Gospel of Mark, and Smith is making a review of Taylor’s work. He describes his review as such:

TAYLOR’S WORK will influence the study of Mk. for years to come. Therefore it deserves such detailed criticism as the following, which should be considered a tribute to the book’s importance and to the great learning from which that importance derives. These, however, will be obvious to every reader; therefore this article is devoted to points which seemed to deserve correction rather than praise. (Morton Smith, Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, HTR, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1955, p. 21)

The part Evans is referring to is a comment upon Mark 6.6b-13 where Taylor writes:

“The narrative itself” (of the sending out of the twelve) ”is redactional. . . . Mark has no real appreciation of the immense importance of the event. . . . He does not tell us what the issue is. He records that the Twelve went out to preach, but does not relate their message apart from the phrase ἵνα μετανοῶσιν, and he has only vague ideas concerning their experiences and the results of the Mission”. (Morton Smith, Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, HTR, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1955, p. 33–34)

Smith regards Taylor’s statement that this narrative is redactional and that Mark does not appreciate the importance of the event, to be “true”. He says that Mark “not only knows nothing about the preaching adventures of the twelve, but does not even realize the importance of their mission to the course of events in Jesus’ life.” He also says that “it is necessary, in estimating the reliability of a tradition, not only to look for little, lifelike details, but also to notice major misunderstandings, errors, and the things which the author does not know.” Still Smith believes that “the tradition which governed the ordering of events in this part of Mk. may have been more reliable than T. believes” and he then gives examples of this. Smith thinks that the execution of John the Baptist would have worried Jesus and that it …

… would then be understandable that Jesus should take to the open country for a little rest (6.31). It is equally understandable that ‘Mark himself does not represent the movements of Jesus as a flight from Herod’ (p. 308). Mk. was remote from the historical situation, his interests were those of the Church of his day, and whatever did not serve those interests – e.g., whatever historical framework his sources may have contained – was just what he would leave out as uninteresting, even if he did not deliberately censor it. (Morton Smith, Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, HTR, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1955, p. 35)

It is accordingly Taylor’s original assumption that the story of the sending out of the twelve is redactional and that Mark “has no real appreciation of the immense importance of the event” and only have vague ideas concerning the disciples’ experiences, that leads Smith to conclude that Mark would leave out as uninteresting those things which did not serve the interests of the Church of his day.  This is a deduction Smith makes from his idea that the tradition on which Mark is relying is more reliable than Taylor believes. But why this would be a sign of Smith having unique ideas that would come true in the Mar Saba letter is something which at least I have difficulty understanding. Is there anyone who believes that the gospel authors wrote down everything they had heard of?

Craig Evans continues:

Smith also discusses Mark’s use of a source with “Johannine traits.” This is precisely what the first and long quotation of Secret Mark is—a passage with Johannine traits (cf. John 11, the raising of Lazarus) that had been omitted from public (i.e., canonical) Mark. (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 12–13)

In the footnote (43) to this statement, Evans writes:

Smith, “Comments,” 26: “ . . . what one would expect of a source with other Johannine traits” (and earlier on this page: “They have many points of contact with Jn.”).

But once again is Smith only reacting to Taylor’s analysis of the story of the healing of the paralytic at Capernaum in Mark 2. Taylor writes that “[t]he reference to forgiveness at a point where one expects the word of healing is abrupt” and that the “inference seems justified that Jesus traced the man’s plight to sin and believed that his spiritual restoration was a primary and indispensable condition to recovery.” But Smith believed that “[t]he introduction to the section supposes that two stories have been combined” and that “[s]uch a contradiction in an ancient document would lead one to suspect composite authorship”.

Smith continues to say that both authors may be wrong and that this “is suggested by the peculiarities of the Streitgespräche [contradictions] in which this story occurs”. As Evans correctly says, Smith then writes that “[t]hey have many points of contact with Jn” and Smith gives a number of examples to prove his point:

For instance, they contain the only passages in Mk. (2.10 & 28) in which Jesus prior to his trial is represented as using ‘the Son of Man’ publicly with apparent reference to himself. (In 8.38 the phrasing is such as to make the hearers think he is speaking of someone else.) In Jn. Jesus uses the term of himself publicly and frequently (v. esp. chs. 5 & 6 and 12.23–34). Other points of contact are Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of men’s hearts (Mk. 2.8 // Jn. 2.24 f.), his command to the paralytic (Mk. 2.11 // Jn. 5.8), the bridegroom metaphor (Mk. 2.19 // Jn. 3.29) and above all the use of miracles as a proof of his divine com- mission (Mk. 2.10, cf. Jn. 5.36 &c.) and the early plot against Jesus’ life motivated by his healing on the Sabbath (Mk. 3.6 // Jn. 5.16 ff.). Now two characteristics of Jn.’s style are sudden change of subject and use of apparent non sequitur. Using a miracle to break off an argument is just what one would expect of a source with other Johannine traits. Therefore its occurrence here need not be explained by the hypothesis that two stories have been combined. But if it is a Johannine trait, what lies behind it is probably allegory or deliberate Johannine obfuscation, not psychological diagnosis. John’s Jesus did not trace all afflictions to sin (Jn. 9.3). (Morton Smith, Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, HTR, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1955, p. 26)

I quoted this lengthy passage just to show how many similarities there are between Mark 2 and the Gospel of John. To claim that Smith by referring to such an obvious observation; one which almost every scholar in the field must be aware of, should have revealed that he forged the Clement letter is quite remarkable. Of course he knew that there were “points of contact” between John and Mark. By referring to this obvious fact, he was reacting to Taylor’s hesitation to acknowledge that two stories have been combined. That’s it!

Evans’ further claim that Smith would have suggested that “Mark may well have omitted materials that contained Johannine traits”. This however is not true. In the same way as regarding the mystery of the Kingdom of God and forbidden sexuality, Evans picks and chooses from different parts and tries to present the material as if Smith would have presented it all at one time.

But in the first example Smith only said that Mark omitted material, and he did not refer to anything Johannine. And in the second example Smith noticed that there are parallels between Mark and John, but he never said that Mark omitted anything. So Smith never said that “Mark may well have omitted materials that contained Johannine traits”. That is Evans’ own invention.

Evans also refers to Watson:

Watson comments: “Clement’s letter confirms Smith’s surmise that Mark may have ‘deliberately censored’ his sourcematerial, and that this source-material may have included proto-Johannine elements.” Quite so. (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 13)

Yet, Smith said the exact opposite, namely that Mark “would leave out as uninteresting” whatever did not serve the interests of Mark’s church “even if he did not deliberately censor it.” So, Watson claims that Smith would have said that Mark “’deliberately censored’ his sourcematerial” and Evans agrees (Quite so), although Smith said that he did not do that!

Evans’ third example is taken from Smith’s 1958 article The Image of God. He quotes a (cautiously cropped) section from the pages 486 and 487, and I give it in full beneath with the parts quoted by Evans marked in bold text:

Of these four bodies of evidence the works of the Biblical tradition, the Jewish literature of pagan style, the testimonia concerning Jews, and the archaeological material no one is complete by itself. Each must be constantly supplemented by reference to all the others. And each carries with it a reminder that the preserved material even when accessible represents only a small part of what once existed. By their very existence, they demonstrate how much has been lost; by the variety of the material they preserve, they prove the extent of our ignorance and tacitly warn of the danger of supposing that what is not to be found in them was never to be found at all.

This supposition would be dangerous in any field of ancient studies, but it is especially dangerous in the study of Judaism, because Jewish material has come down to us heavily censored. The censorship has been double an external censorship by Christian authorities and a domestic censorship by Jews. (The domestic censorship we have seen above, at work in Exodus Rabba, in the material collected by Hoffmann as Midrash Tannaim, and in the Targum on Psalms.) What material we have, is only such as got through this double sieve. Yet even this preserved material, as we have seen, testifies consistently to the hellenization of ancient Judaism. What, then, would have been the testimony of the material which has disappeared? We cannot be sure. (Morton Smith, The Image of God: Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism, with Especial Reference to Goodenough’s Work on Jewish Symbols,” BJRL 40 (1958): p. 486–487)

So, Smith is accordingly warning us to be cautious before we jump to conclusions by “supposing that what is not to be found in them was never to be found at all”. The “preserved material … represents only a small part of what once existed” and there is accordingly a lot of material which “has been lost”.

Evans asks the rhetorical question: “What ‘would have been the testimony of the material which has disappeared?’” He then provides us with an answer: “In one case we no longer need to ask this question. We now know. The Mar Saba Clementine provides us with some potentially shocking testimony, which almost disappeared, had it not been for Smith’s amazing discovery.”

But honestly, is this an argument in favor of Smith having forged the Mar Saba letter? The fact (and I use the word “fact”) that most of the works written in antiquity are lost, must be a well-known fact to almost every scholar in the field. It is so obvious that it normally goes without saying. That Smith emphasizes this circumstance is all due to him making a point. He is investigating the evidence for hellenization of Judaism; especially when it comes to regarding “man as an image of God“. He therefore examines the preserved written sources, but also in a true scholarly way is cautious and reminds us that it represents only a small part of what once existed.

Now, if this is how things work, then every scholar needs to be extremely guarded in what he says. If I myself, God forbid, in the future would make a discovery with a similar content and of a similar magnitude as the one Smith made, I am bound to be accused of having forged it, since also I have written that only a small part of the rich literature of Antiquity has survived; as also I have speculated that the author of the Gospel of Mark may have left out material and of course have noticed that there are points of contact” between “John” and “Mark”.

Roger Viklund, 2011-09-08

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

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

Craig A. Evans

In the previous post I examined Craig Evans’ attempt to link the mystery of the kingdom of God to forbidden sexuality in Secret Mark and came to the conclusion that the text does not support such an interpretation, as Jesus and the youth according to the preserved text of Secret Mark are not said to be involved in anything sexually. If so, you cannot claim that Morton Smith already before his discovery showed interest in subjects which are supported by the discovery.

But we could also investigate if Smith really linked the mystery of the kingdom of God to forbidden sexuality. In order to link these subjects, you must assert that Smith made a point of the mystery of the kingdom of God having something to do with forbidden sexuality. This is the real issue to be dealt with.

It is repeatedly said by different people, and now by Craig A. Evans, that Morton Smith “linked Mark 4:11 (‘To you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God . . .’) with secrecy and forbidden sexual activity”. But is this really so?

This argument is quite tricky to deal with. The reason for this is mainly due to the fact that Morton Smith made no real linkage between the mystery of the kingdom of God and secrecy and forbidden sexual activity. But since he mentions these things in close connection to each other, it might seem as if he did. And since the relationship between these entities is so indistinct, it also becomes difficult to unveil where the forgery proponents get lost. We need to know what Smith really is trying to say. The problem for me then is more of a pedagogic nature.

Of course this has already been quite thoroughly investigated by Scott Brown and Allan Pantuck. Brown showed in 2006 in Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Morton Smith, that the arguments presented by Stephen Carlson misrepresented what Smith actually wrote. And Pantuck made a similar rebuttal to the arguments presented by Craig Evans at the Toronto conference this year (basically the paper I am examining). So my attempt now will simply be a repetition of what previously has been elucidated by these two scholars.

Anyway, Evans’ claim that Smith published three studies where he made this connection; 1) in the 1951 English release of his Hebrew doctoral dissertation as Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 2) in a “1955 review of Vincent Taylor’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark” and 3) in his article “The Image of God” from March 1958, just a few month before he made his discovery at Mar Saba.

1) Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels (1951)

Smith’s dissertation was about Rabbinical (Tannaic) verbal parallels to Gospel material. Smith is comparing the Gospels to the Talmud, the Old Testament and so on. In the chapter referred to by Evans, Smith is in Allan Pantuck’s words “considering how the Gospels portray the words of Jesus in much the same way as the rabbis portray the words of the Law.” (Allan Pantuck, Reply to Evans, p. 2–3)

Evans then quotes the passage where Smith according to Evans links the mystery of the kingdom of God with secrecy and forbidden sexual activity. Like Stephan Carlson before him, Evans simply quoted those parts that would allow him to draw the conclusion he sought to find. He then continues …

I have quoted about one half of a lengthy paragraph. It is part of Smith’s discussion of human comprehension and what can and cannot be taught openly. The paragraph that has been partially quoted explores the idea that the early Church seems to have held to a doctrine of secrecy. Evidence of this, Smith thinks, is found in Mark 4:11, where Jesus explains to his disciples, “To you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God . . . ,” and in Paul, who says that he and other Christian leaders “speak wisdom among the perfect [or mature] . . . the wisdom of God in a mystery” (1 Cor 2:6–7).26 Following these two New Testament citations Smith suggests a comparison with the rabbinic distinction “between material suitable for public teaching and that reserved for secret teaching.” The secret teaching includes forbidden sexual relationships and Ezekiel’s vision of God’s chariot throne. The paragraph concludes with a further comparison with the Torah, which according to the rabbis was to be taught openly, and the teaching of heretics, which was to be taught secretly. Smith believes the evangelists Mark and John edited and presented the teaching of Jesus in response to this rabbinic teaching. (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 9)

So, according to Evans Smith suggested …

a)      that the early Church held to a doctrine of secrecy,

b)     a comparison with the rabbinic distinction “between material suitable for public teaching and that reserved for secret teaching.”

c)      that the secret teaching includes forbidden sexual relationships and Ezekiel’s vision of God’s chariot throne.

But in order to more easily follow Smith’s train of thoughts, I will quote the entire pertinent passage from Smith’s book Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels from 1951:

Further, I think the passage in Sifre on Deut. to have been based on the fact that an important part of primitive Christianity was a secret doctrine which was revealed only to trusted members.  Such a doctrine is suggested by the words put in the mouth of Jesus, speaking to his disciples: ‘To you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to those outside all things are in parables, that they may surely see and not perceive,’ etc.  And Paul himself wrote in I Cor. 2.1–6 ‘and I, coming to you, brethren, came not proclaiming the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom . . . that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  But we speak wisdom among the perfect, and a wisdom not of this age . . . but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.’ A similar distinction was recognized by the Tannaïm between material suitable for public teaching and that reserved for secret teaching, as we learn from Hagigah T 2.1 (233): ‘The (passages of the Old Testament dealing with) forbidden sexual relationships are not to be expounded to three (at a time,) but may be expounded to two; and the account of creation not to two, but it may be expounded to a single hearer; and (Ezekiel’s vision of) the chariot may not be expounded to a single hearer unless he be learned in the Law and of good understanding.’  In spite of this the composers of T L thought, as has been seen, that there was an important difference between the words of the Law, which were taught openly, and the teachings of the heretics, which were taught secretly.  (Morton Smith, Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 1951, p. 155–156)

Smith is not at all linking the mystery of the kingdom of God with forbidden sexual activity. What he is doing is showing that there is a difference between the outer teaching for the general audience and the inner teaching preserved for the disciples or a smaller group; and that this is true both among Christians and the Jewish rabbis. And while doing this he is providing examples to prove his point.

The Christian examples he takes from Mark 4:11: “To you is given “the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to those outside all things are in parables, that they may surely see and not perceive,” and from Paul, 1 Cor 2:1–6: “But we speak wisdom among the perfect, and a wisdom not of this age”.

Then Smith says that a “similar distinction was recognized by the Tannaïm between material suitable for public teaching and that reserved for secret teaching”. He is accordingly referring to a “similar distinction” between the inner and outer teaching made by the Jewish rabbis. Notice that he is only claiming that both Christians and Jews have a similar distinction between teaching meant for the people and teaching meant for a small group of chosen individuals. That is the point Smith wants to make and in order to do so, ha also exemplifies this from the Tannaic literature by referring to the Mishnaic tractate Hagigah 2.1, which Smith then quotes:

“The (passages of the Old Testament dealing with) forbidden sexual relationships are not to be expounded to three (at a time,) but may be expounded to two; and the account of creation not to two, but it may be expounded to a single hearer; and (Ezekiel’s vision of) the chariot may not be expounded to a single hearer unless he be learned in the Law and of good understanding.” (Morton Smith, Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 1951, p. 155–156)

According to this text there are three subjects that could only be expounded to a few people: 1) Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot could only be expounded to a sage, 2) the account of creation (from Genesis) could only be expounded to a single hearer, and 3) the passages of the Old Testament dealing with forbidden sexual relationships could only be expounded to two hearers.

According to Smith this shows that also the rabbis made distinctions between inner and outer teaching. The fact that one of the tree examples in Hagigah happened to be about forbidden sexual relationships, was not the issue for Smith; it was the fact that it only could be expounded to a few. Smith did not link the mystery of the kingdom of God with the forbidden sexual relationships; he simply gave a few examples which would prove his point of similarities between the Tannaic and Christian teachings.

Incidentally, these “forbidden sexual relationships” refers to the Levitical laws from primarily the Book of Leviticus. And although homosexuality is one of the sexual activities that are forbidden, there are a vast number of other sexual behaviors which are equally forbidden; that is incest, sodomy, intercourse with a woman who has her period, or is married to another man, intercourse with an animal, castration and so on. Homosexuality is simply one of the forbidden sexual relationships referred to in that part of the Hagigah.

2) The 1955 review of Taylor’s commentary on Mark

Evans writes the following:

In his 1955 review of Vincent Taylor’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark Smith vigorously challenges Taylor’s denial that Mark 4:11 envisioned secret rites. Against Taylor, Smith reminds us that Mark represents Jesus “as teaching in secret and commanding secrecy on many occasions,” which is based on the “recollection that Jesus (also for a wide variety of reasons) practiced secrecy.” The first part of Smith’s statement will elicit no objection from those persuaded by William Wrede’s interpretation of Mark (wherein the point of secrecy was to hide the messianic identity of Jesus), but the second part of Smith’s statement is quite another matter. Jesus “practiced secrecy,” we are told, “for a wide variety of reasons.” What could Smith have had in mind? Could one of those reasons have had to do with teaching regarding prohibited sexual activities, as perhaps hinted at in his dissertation? And as hinted at in subsequent publications, not to mention his remarkable discovery at Mar Saba? (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 10–11)

I am quite surprised that Evans even tries to cast suspicion on Smith by alluding to this classical review by Smith.

Taylor claims that there “is no case” in “the NT, and especially in the Pauline Epp.” in which μυστήριον (mystêrion) “connotes secret rites or esoteric knowledge communicated to ‘initiates.’” Taylor then refers to Mark 4:11 and says that in this “passage and its parallels, it is used of a knowledge concerning the Kingdom of God which has been imparted to the disciples, but not to the people in general.” It is this assumption by Taylor to which Morton Smith is responding. He writes:

This looks self-contradictory, but perhaps T. intended to distinguish between ‘the disciples’ and ‘initiates,’ or some word such as ‘Elsewhere’ should be understood before the first sentence. However, the secrets to which μυστήριον refers in the rest of the NT are not always ‘open,’ e.g. 1 Cor. 2.6 f. (cf. 3.1–3); Col. 2.2; Eph. 5.32. In 1 Cor. Paul says plainly that there is a wisdom which he preaches among the ‘initiate’ (τελείοις), but which he cannot yet preach to the Corinthians because they are still ‘carnal.’ Paul, therefore, claimed to have a secret doctrine. As for Jesus, Mark, of course, represents him as teaching in secret and commanding secrecy on many occasions. The worst error of the ‘Messianic secret’ theories — as Cadbury has remarked — was that they tried to explain all or most of these occasions by reference to a single motive. Actually, the early Church had a wide variety of motives for attributing secret doctrine to Jesus, and among them may well have been the recollection that Jesus (also for a wide variety of motives) practiced secrecy. Every such attribution, therefore, must be judged individually. (Morton Smith, Comments on Taylor’s Commentary on Mark, HTR, Vol. 48, No. 1, Jan., 1955, p. 29)

As can be seen, Smith is never referring, or even alluding, to any prohibited sexual activities. That “the early Church had a wide variety of motives for attributing secret doctrine to Jesus, and among them may well have been the recollection that Jesus (also for a wide variety of motives [not “reasons”, as Evans quote Smith]) practiced secrecy”, does of course not imply that Smith “had in mind” a “teaching regarding prohibited sexual activities”. Why would he? He was simply responding to Taylor’s assertion that mystêrion (μυστήριον) never “connotes secret rites or esoteric knowledge communicated to ‘initiates” in the NT.

In fact Smith does not even think that the expression “the mystery of the Kingdom of God” was something Jesus originally said. Smith continues namely…

Mk. 4.11–12 is probably an answer to Jewish polemic. The Jews are saying, ‘Jesus was not the Messiah, because if he had been he would have been recognized by our scholars. He was heard and rejected.’ The Christian answer is, ‘They never heard his true teaching. He revealed the mysteries [sic!] of the Kingdom only to his disciples; for outsiders he had only parables. Thus he fulfilled God’s command to prevent the Jews from believing.’

So, if Smith did not think that Jesus taught the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but the Christians later invented that saying, how could he then have thought that this saying was a reference to secret sexual practices taught by Jesus? There is nothing in Smith’s review of Vincent Taylor’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark which suggests that Smith believed that the secrecy practiced by Jesus had anything to do with prohibited sexual activities; as Evans is suggesting.

3) The article “The Image of God” (March 1958)

This is what Evan says:

In an article that appeared in March of 1958, just a few months before Smith visited Mar Saba, Smith once again mentions the Hagigah passage from the Tosefta. This time, however, he also mentions Clement of Alexandria and cites his work Stromateis. This interesting article calls for a few more comments. Twice Smith mentions Hagigah, one time in reference to the story of the Jewish sage Aher, who “used the spiritual power acquired by his mystical esperience [sic!] to lead good Jews into heresy.” Smith mentions Hagigah a second time in reference to “the teaching about the throne of God,” which was “to be kept most secret of all.” Smith adds that this teaching “quite possibly was not committed to writing.” In a footnote to this final part of the statement Smith references Clement of Alexandria, where in Strom. 1.1.13–14 he discusses secrecy, the secret elements of Jesus’ teaching, and how it is incumbent on him (Clement) to omit some of the teaching, and to impart what teachings he thinks he is permitted to impart cautiously, lest his readers “stumble by taking them in a wrong sense.” Here we have echoed themes articulated in the paragraph from the 1951 dissertation quoted and discussed above.

It is quite difficult to follow Evans’ logic here. You have to study the footnotes, which I have not included in the quotation, in order to realize the connections Evans is trying to establish. According to Evans Smith mentions the tractate Hagigah twice. I don’t know what Evans wants to make out of the fact that Smith is saying that the “vegetable symbols originally outranked the astral” and that it “is probably older”; and then supports this statement with this footnote:

The symbolism persisted, of course, after the destruction of the Temple. When Aher entered paradise “ he cut down the plants ” , i.e. used the spiritual power acquired by his mystical experience to lead good Jews into heresy (T. Hag. 2.3, ed. Zuckermandel, p. 234). … (Morton Smith, The Image of God: Notes on the Hellenization of Judaism, with Especial Reference to Goodenough’s Work on Jewish Symbols,” BJRL 40 (1958): p. 505, n. 1)

This has nothing to do with anything Evans is intimating and it is not even referring to the same paragraph in Hagigah as the one dealing with forbidden sexuality.

The next reference to Hagigah is according to Evans “in reference to ‘the teaching about the throne of God,” which was ‘to be kept most secret of all.’” Evans then says that “[i]n a footnote to this final part of the statement Smith references Clement of Alexandria, where in Strom. 1.1.13–14 he discusses secrecy, the secret elements of Jesus’ teaching, and how it is incumbent on him (Clement) to omit some of the teaching, and to impart what teachings he thinks he is permitted to impart cautiously, lest his readers ‘stumble by taking them in a wrong sense.’” Evans believes that “we” thereby “have echoed themes articulated in the paragraph from the 1951 dissertation”. But is this really so? This is what Smith writes:

It is upon the tree of life that God rests when he comes to the Garden of Eden—on this rabbinic, pseudepigraphic, Christian and magical texts agree.(2)  This legend, plus the fact that the tree of life is the symbol of the saint, enables us to understand the cryptic saying of Resh Laqish, “ The patriarchs, they are the throne of God “.(3)  We should not expect this doctrine to be developed in the preserved rabbinic material, since the teaching about the throne of God is specified as that to be kept most secret of all,(4) and quite possibly was not committed to writing.(5)

2 …
3 …
4 Hagigah 2. 1 and parallels.
5 Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. I. 1. 13-14 etc.

Smith is simply supporting his view that “the throne of God” is to be kept secret by referring to Hagigah 2.1, where as we have seen the Mishna forbids any public teaching regarding Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot or the throne. It is true that Hagigah 2.1 also refers to all sorts of forbidden sexuality, but this is not what Smith is referring to in this case. It is amazing that someone can suggest that Smith is alluding to forbidden sexuality by referring to a certain passage, although he explicitly refers to another subject in that passage.

Smith then refers to (or cites) Clement, Stromata 1.1.13-14 etc., to support that this secret teaching was not committed to writing. That he chose Clement to support this idea is of course quite expected. As Scott Brown puts it:

Again, Smith was discussing secret doctrines, and Clement is the most obvious Christian example of the widespread philosophical attitude that the most profound doctrines should not be put in writing: (Scott G. Brown, Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson’s case against Morton Smith, HTR, July 1, 2006, p. 325)

But all this does of course not support anything of Evans’ suggestions. The mystery of the kingdom of God and Mark 4:11–12, are not mentioned; neither is any forbidden sexuality. The reference to Hagigah 2.1 is to another prohibition and not to sexuality. And just because this tractate happens to be in a footnote followed by a footnote reference to Clement of Alexandria, does not support that Smith linked them to each other.

Summary

Evans claim that Smith already before he made his discovery of the Clement letter with two extracts from a Secret Gospel of Mark in the summer of 1958, had expressed similar ideas as those found in Secret Mark. Apart from the fact that those elements are not found in Secret Mark, Smith never made the connections Evans is saying that he did. According to Evans:

Prior to the discovery of the Clementine letter at the Mar Saba Monastery Smith had published three studies (1951, 1955, 1958) in which he discusses (1) Mark 4:11 (“the mystery of the kingdom of God”), (2) secrecy and initiation, (3) forbidden sexual relationships, including union with a god, (4) omitted Markan material with Johannine traits, and (5) Clement of Alexandria, usually in reference to his Stromateis, who believed it was necessary to omit some of Jesus’ secret (potentially offensive) teaching. (Craig Evans, Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark, p. 14)

It is of course not a bit strange if a scholar who has studied both Christianity and Judaism, also in his writings has mentioned Mark 4:11–12 and the mystery of the kingdom of God, and secret teaching as well, since also this was part of his study field. But the point is if he made the connection between the elements Evans believes can be found in Secret Mark. And the answer is definitely no.

In his dissertation and book, the Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels from 1951, he does not link the mystery of the kingdom of God with secrecy and forbidden sexual activity. He is simply showing that there is a difference between the outer teaching and the inner teaching and supporting this with examples to prove his point. Then he happened to chose Mark 4:11 as one of the Christian examples and Hagigah as the Jewish example to prove his point, and one of the subjects in that tractate was about all kinds of forbidden sexual relationships. That is all there is.

The 1955 review of Taylor’s commentary on Mark shows nothing at all. Smith is never referring, or even alluding, to any prohibited sexual activities. Evans’ belief that Smith would have alluded to “teaching regarding prohibited sexual activities” is totally unsupported.

And in his 1958 article “The Image of God”, Smith never even mentions the mystery of the kingdom of God, nor refers to any forbidden sexuality. He simply happened to put two footnotes next to each other, one referring to Clement where he suggest that not everything should be put in writing, and the Hagigah, where it said that the throne of God is to be kept secret.

Next, I will look into Evans’ suggestion that Smith would have supported the idea that Mark should have omitted material with Johannine traits and that this is also true regarding Secret Mark.

Roger Viklund, 2011-08-30

Morton Smith was very busy and would not have had time to forge the Clement letter

A Swedish version of this post can be found here
En svensk version av denna text finns här.

We have established that (at the latest) in a fourteenth century Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is said to have spent the night in Bethany teaching his disciples the Kingdom of God (see: A Fourteenth Century Text in which Jesus Taught the Kingdom of God During the Night at Bethany: Does It Demonstrate That Secret Mark Is an Ancient Text, and Not a Modern Forgery?). Unlike what is said in Secret Mark, there is no mystery of the kingdom of God being taught and there is also not just one disciple but many involved. So, as someone wrote to me, “it’s interesting but not compelling evidence. It probably won’t change any minds.” Yet it is a strange coincidence that an obscure Hebrew version of Matthew should have Jesus teaching the kingdom of God during the night in Bethany, with no indication elsewhere in any Greek, Latin or other texts that Jesus should have done so, before the discovery of the Mar Saba letter in 1958.

“The Cave” proposes only two possible alternatives, namely …

a) Secret Mark relies directly on Shem Tov’s Matthew (likely as a hoax)
b) Shem Tov’s Matthew relies, directly or indirectly, on Secret Mark” (Blocker and Viklund on Hebrew Matthew and Secret Mark)

There is though another possibility, although unlikely, it seems to me. Since the settings are not identical, the tradition could have been invented separately by the Hebrew community and by a forger of Secret Mark. Why this would happen, I do not know, but stranger things have indeed happened.

But if you at least find it to be a remarkable coincidence that these things are said in the Hebrew Matthew, then the thing to resort to if you thinks Smith forged the Clement letter, is that he found the Hebrew text at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTC) after he came to Columbia University in 1957.

The JTC is only a few streets away from Columbia University where Smith had his office, and we know that Smith spent some time at the JTC. Four of the available manuscripts containing the Hebrew text of Matthew are at the JTC. They were for sure inaccessible since they were not transcribed, nor translated, written in quite difficult handwriting and interspersed with anti-Christian commentary; and Smith showed no particular interest in Medieval Hebrew manuscripts.

Yet all the same, those who believe Smith forged the text often come up with all sorts of solutions on how he would have manage to accomplish such a deed as it would be to forge Clement’s letter to Theodoros. He for sure must have been able to imitate the style of both Mark and Clement. To imitate someone like Clement in his own native language is a really difficult task by someone living today and not having Greek as his native language. On top of this he would have chosen to write it down in a difficult 18th century monastic hand with all its different characteristics.

If you then find it too unlikely that Secret Mark just happened to express an idea found in a practically unknown obscure Hebrew 14th century text of Matthew, and you still think Smith forged the Clement letter, there is only one realistic scenario left. Smith must have found this Hebrew text at JTC after he entered his duties at Columbia University; i.e. sometime during the year preceding his discovery at Mar Saba in the summer of 1958.

But this is highly unlikely, because he was so occupied at this time and to make a forgery of this kind means that Smith would have needed a long, long time to make all the preparations, including to achieve all the abilities needed for the project. I do not think he would have been able to accomplish this even if he spent almost his whole life preparing for the task. But all the same, he would have had just one year at his disposal, if he by chance would have found the text almost immediately as he arrived.

So, it is then interesting to read what he himself writes on the issue regarding the time he had available. The letter presented below was written by Smith in December 1957 to his good friend and mentor Gershom Sholem (1897–1982) regarding a book by Sholem which he obviously had promised Sholem to read.

“The Department of History[1]
Columbia University
New York 27, N.. Y.
December 9, 1957

Dear Gershom,
This is an apology for having done nothing on your book since I saw you last, and having every expectation of doing nothing for the next twelve months to come. The fact is that my courses and preparation for courses to come are taking every bit of my time. I have some 95 students in my general course on ancient history, and this has meant a great deal of paper work. That course and another, on classical literature, which I am teaching, I had never given before; the subjects covered lie somewhat outside my former field; and consequently I have had to work constantly on preparation for them. I’m standing the strain all right, but by summer I shall be dead tired, so I am planning to spend the whole of the summer in the Near East – from mid-June to mid-July in Jordan, a week in Israel (when I hope to see you and Thanya[2]), a week in Istanbul, a month in northern Greece, hunting for collections of manuscripts in the monasteries of Chalcidice (excluding Athos), and a week each in Rome, Paris, and London. This means that when I get back I shall have another term of keeping up with my courses, but I hope that by a year from now all will be in hand, and I shall be able to get back to Reshit HaKabbalah. If you do not wish to wait this long for the completion of the work (longer, in fact, since if I start it again in January 59 I shall not be through before fall of that year; you know my speed) I shall be quite willing to turn over to you the part completed to date. For myself, however, I should like to go on and finish the translation of the work, and seriously intend to do so as soon as I can get time.”

Smith apologizes for not having had time to do anything on Gershom Sholem’s book because his courses take every bit of his time. He has never given courses on ancient history and on classical literature before, since they are a bit outside his field and he has to make a lot of preparations. He says that he is expecting of doing nothing for the next twelve month to come but that he will spend all summer in the Near East.

One might notice that the visit to Israel for a week mentioned by Smith, should have been the week following upon his stay at Mar Saba. Still there is no indication in this letter that he meant to go there.

All the same, I find it almost impossible to believe that Smith could have spent anywhere near the time needed to procure the abilities needed to make a forgery like the Mar Saba letter in this period of his life. If so, we again must assume that Smith, the “evil hater of Christianity”, disguised his evil plan by giving his friend the impression that he had much to do, while he in reality was using all his time to make the forgery – neglecting his duties towards his students.

Yet, we also know that Smith wanted all of his literary remains destroyed after his death and the fact that so much has remained is not anything Smith had control of after his death. These were letters which Smith wanted to have destroyed. If his purpose for writing the letters were to mislead the posterity, then he would not have ordered them to be destroyed.

Roger Viklund, 2011-08-08


Morton Smith var strängt upptagen och hade inte tid att förfalska Klemensbrevet under sin tid i New York

En engelsk version finns här.
An English version can be found here.

Vi har konstaterat att Jesus i en hebreisk version av Matteusevangeliet från 1300-talet allra senast, sägs ha tillbringat natten i Betania undervisande sina lärjungar om Guds rike (se: A Fourteenth Century Text in which Jesus Taught the Kingdom of God During the Night at Bethany: Does It Demonstrate That Secret Mark Is an Ancient Text, and Not a Modern Forgery?). Till skillnad från vad som sägs i Hemliga Markus, är det inte Guds rikes mysterier som lärs ut och det är heller inte bara en utan flera lärjungar inblandade. Som någon skrev till mig, ”det är intressant, men inte tvingande bevis. Detta kommer förmodligen inte att ändra några uppfattningar.” Ändå är det ett märkligt sammanträffande att det i en föga känd hebreisk version av Matteusevangeliet sägs att Jesus undervisade om Guds rike på natten i Betania, utan att det finns något tecken i någon grekisk, latinsk eller annan text om att Jesus skulle ha gjort det, före upptäckten av Mar Saba-brevet 1958.

Signaturen “The Cave” är av den åsikten att det bara finns två möjliga alternative, nämligen:

a) Hemliga Markus bygger direkt på Shem Tobs Matteus (troligen ett lurendrejeri)
b) Shem Tobs Matteus bygger, direkt eller indirekt på Hemliga Markus” (Blocker and Viklund on Hebrew Matthew and Secret Mark)

Det finns dock en annan möjlighet, även om den för mig ter sig osannolik. Eftersom omständigheterna inte är identiska, kan denna tradition oberoende av varandra ha hittats på av såväl den judiska gemenskapen som av en förfalskare av Hemliga Markus. Varför det skulle ha skett vet jag inte, men märkligare saker har förvisso hänt.

Men om man åtminstone ser det som ett extraordinärt sammanträffande att dessa saker förekommer i Hebreiska Matteus, så återstår om man ändå anser att Smith förfalskade Klemensbrevet, att Smith fann den hebreiska texten på Jewish Theological Seminary (JTC) efter att han anlände till Columbia University 1957.

JTC ligger endast några få kvarter från Columbia University där Smith hade sitt kontor och vi vet att Smith tillbringade viss tid på JTC. Fyra av de kända handskrifterna som innehåller den hebreiska texten av Matteus finns på JTC. De var förvisso svåråtkomliga eftersom de inte fanns transkriberade eller översatta, är skrivna i rätt svårtolkad handstil och texten dessutom är uppblandad med kommentarer som är starkt kritiska mot kristendomen. Dessutom visade Smith inget intresse för judiska medeltida handskrifter.

Oavsett detta brukar de som tror att Smith har förfalskat brevet föreslå alla möjliga förklaringar på hur han lyckades åstadkomma den enorma bedrift som det innebär att förfalska ett brev som detta. Han måste ha lyckats att perfekt imitera både Markus och Klemens. Att imitera någon som Klemens på dennes egna modersmål är en mycket svår uppgift för en modern människa som inte har grekiska som sitt modersmål. Dessutom skulle han ha valt att skriva brevet i en mycket svår grekisk 1700-talsstil med alla dess egenheter.

Om man då finner det alltför osannolikt att Hemliga Markus bara råkade ge uttryck för samma tanke som påträffas i en praktiskt taget okänd hebreisk 1300-talstext av Matteusevangeliet, men man samtidigt anser att Smith förfalskade Klemensbrevet, är det enda återstående realistiska scenariot att Smith måste ha träffat på denna hebreiska text på JTC efter att han tillträdde sin tjänst på Columbia University; dvs. någon gång under det år som föregick hans upptäckt av brevet i Mar Saba sommaren 1958.

Men detta är ytterst osannolikt eftersom han var så upptagen under denna period, och för att kunna åstadkomma en förfalskning av denna magnitud skulle Smith ha behövt mycket lång tid till sitt förfogande. Detta innefattar den tid han behövde ägna åt förberedelser för att kunna tillägna sig alla nödvändiga förmågor. Jag tror inte att han skulle ha lyckats med ett sådant projekt även om han skulle ha tillbringat större delen av sitt liv med att förbereda sig för uppgiften. Men oavsett detta, så hade han nu bara haft ett år till sitt förfogande – under förutsättning att råkade hitta texten i stort sett genast som han kom till New York och Columbia.

Därför är det intressant att ta del av vad han själv skriver rörande hur mycket tid han har över för annat. Brevet som återges här inunder skrev Smith i december 1957 till sin gode vän och mentor Gershom Sholem (1897–1982) angående en bok av denne som Smith uppenbarligen lovat honom att läsa.

“The Department of History[1]
Columbia University
New York 27, N.. Y.
December 9, 1957

Dear Gershom,
This is an apology for having done nothing on your book since I saw you last, and having every expectation of doing nothing for the next twelve months to come. The fact is that my courses and preparation for courses to come are taking every bit of my time. I have some 95 students in my general course on ancient history, and this has meant a great deal of paper work. That course and another, on classical literature, which I am teaching, I had never given before; the subjects covered lie somewhat outside my former field; and consequently I have had to work constantly on preparation for them. I’m standing the strain all right, but by summer I shall be dead tired, so I am planning to spend the whole of the summer in the Near East – from mid-June to mid-July in Jordan, a week in Israel (when I hope to see you and Thanya[2]), a week in Istanbul, a month in northern Greece, hunting for collections of manuscripts in the monasteries of Chalcidice (excluding Athos), and a week each in Rome, Paris, and London. This means that when I get back I shall have another term of keeping up with my courses, but I hope that by a year from now all will be in hand, and I shall be able to get back to Reshit HaKabbalah. If you do not wish to wait this long for the completion of the work (longer, in fact, since if I start it again in January 59 I shall not be through before fall of that year; you know my speed) I shall be quite willing to turn over to you the part completed to date. For myself, however, I should like to go on and finish the translation of the work, and seriously intend to do so as soon as I can get time.”

Smith ursäktar sig för att han ännu inte hunnit ta sig an Gershom Sholems bok eftersom hans undervisning tagit all hans tid. Han har tidigare aldrig undervisat i antikens historia eller i klassisk litteratur, eftersom dessa ämnen låg något utanför hans områden och han därför måste förbereda sig extra mycket. Han skriver att han inte förväntar sig att hinna göra något med boken under de kommande tolv månaderna men att han avser att tillbringa sommaren i Främre Orienten.

Man kan notera att det veckolånga besök i Israel som Smith här nämner, borde vara den vecka som följde direkt på hans besök i Mar Saba. Men det finns inget i detta brev som indikerar att han vid den tiden hade planerat för det besöket.

Hur som helst finner jag det vara näst intill omöjligt att tro att Smith vid denna tid skulle ha kunnat frigöra ens en bråkdel av den tid som borde ha behövts för att tillägna sig de nödvändiga förmågorna för att kunna utföra förfalskningen. Om han mot förmodan ändå skulle ha gjort det, måste vi anta att Smith, den ”ondskefulle kristendomshataren” lät förkläda sin ondskefulla plan genom att låtsas vara fullt upptagen medan han i själva verket använde all sin tid till att skapa förfalskningen – och därmed också ha underlåtit att fullfölja sina förpliktelser gentemot sina studenter.

Men vi vet också att Smith krävt att hela hans litterära kvarlåtenskap skulle förstöras efter hans död, och det faktum att mycket ändå har bevarats är något som Smith inte hade kontroll över efter sin död.  Smith ville inte att dessa brev skulle bevaras till eftervärlden. Hade han medvetet skrivit dem för att förvilla eftervärlden skulle han inte ha beordrat att de skulle förstöras efter hans död.

Roger Viklund, 2011-08-08


Francis Watson on the Secret Gospel of Mark

“While discussion of the Secret Gospel will no doubt continue, my hope and expectation is that it will be increasingly ignored by scholars who fear, with good reason, that their work will be corrupted by association with it.”

franciswatson2

Francis Watson

This is how Francis Watson, Chair of Biblical Interpretation at Durham University, England, ends his response to Allan J. Pantuck, in a new article in Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). And this should perhaps also have been the end of my blog post, since Watson’s closing remark really says it all. His “hope” is that the Secret Gospel of Mark “will be increasingly ignored by scholars”. I found the current article, Beyond Reasonable Doubt: A Response to Allan J. Pantuck, to be biased by Watson’s conviction that Morton Smith forged the Mar Saba letter and that the article therefore was lacking even more in substance than his previous, longer and fundamental paper (Beyond Suspicion: On the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark, JTS 61, 2010), to which Pantuck was replying in the first place in Solving the Mysterion of Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark (see also my review: Allan J. Pantuck on the Secret Gospel of Mark).

Maybe Watson meant to say that the Mar Saba letter for certain is a forgery and that he therefore is hoping that no one would be wasting efforts on interpreting a forgery. But the sheer lack of evidence presented by Watson in favour of the letter being forged and his total confidence that so also is the case, speaks against such an interpretation. Instead Watsons sets out from the expectation that we should ignore Secret Mark and that it is a fact that Morton Smith made it up; and from this conviction he tries to support his view.

Allan Pantuck choose to refute just two of the many arguments Watson presented in his fundamental paper; the ones that Hershel Shanks, the editor of BAR, found most persuasive. That is the parallels between Smith’s discovery and the plot in James Hogg Hunter’s novel The Mystery of Mar Saba, and Watson’s assumption that Morton Smith made an idiosyncratic analysis of the Gospel of Mark in which he laid out arguments that according to Watson also was confirmed by Smith’s discovery of The Secret Gospel of Mark.

Watson claims that Pantuck’s isolating of “two of the more accessible bits of this argument, and then speculating on the probability or otherwise of striking coincidences, does little to further the debate”. He believes “that Morton Smith’s authorship can be established ‘beyond reasonable doubt’” only if all of his arguments are “considered in full”.

This is a very strange way of arguing. Of course it is legitimate to refute individual arguments within a complex of many more arguments. And why would the full consideration of every argument show that Watson is right, if it can be shown that the individual arguments he presents cannot withhold a critical examination? In fact Watson presented very few new facts in his paper. Most of what he presented was the same old arguments already laid out by others, such as Stephen Carlson; and many of those has already been refuted. Just because Watson rehashed some of those and made them even more improbable, does not mean that they were new.

For example, Watson presents parallels between the Secret Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Mark and claims that the pericope thereby “would seem to be the work of an author determined to pattern his own work on mainly Markan phraseology.” But he does not even suggest the most obvious explanation; that the phraseology was Markan BECAUSE it was written by the same person who also wrote the Gospel of Mark. In The pastiche forgery of Secret Mark, as presented by Francis Watson, I showed that I could find even closer parallels in the Gospel of Mark to the parallels presented by Watson than he himself could find to the Secret Gospel of Mark. Of course you will find parallels to a certain writer if in fact he is the writer. In any normal circumstances a close parallel between a text and the genuine writing of a certain author is an indication that this author also is the author of the text. But this is not the case when it comes to the Mar Saba letter, because it has to be a forgery, and therefore also the things which indicates that it is genuine is used to argue that it is a forgery. Stephan Huller has repeatedly noted on his blog the same thing when it comes to the writing of Clement; that although everything is typical of Clement, it is nevertheless interpreted as a clever forgery by those who so badly wants it to be a forgery.

Pantuck objected to Watson’s claim that in the Mar Saba letter does Smith’s earlier view finds its confirmation, by showing that Smith’s view actually changed by his discovery. Watson agrees that there “is indeed a shift of emphasis at this point” but he retorts by saying that it “does not amount to much”:

“For one thing, the Secret Gospel still has Jesus teaching the mystery of the kingdom of God, even though the nocturnal setting and the partial or complete nudity of the two male participants hint at “rites” of a strictly private nature.”

Now, I have no great expectations for the forgery-proponents when it comes to making solid arguments for their case. But I become a bit surprised when someone is actually not telling the truth. What on earth does Watson suggest when he writes: “the partial or complete nudity of the two male participants”? Let me quote the actual passage from the Secret Gospel of Mark:

“And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God.”

Without any restrictions, Watson says that both Jesus and the youth are either partially or completely nude. Let us begin with Jesus. Where is it said that Jesus was either partially or completely nude? It is said that Jesus taught the youth the mystery of the kingdom of God, probably during the night. But nothing is said about Jesus taking off his clothes. What about the youth then? Is it said that he is naked? Not at all, only that he just wears a linen cloth. Does this mean that he is partially naked? Of course not. It is suggested that the linen cloth coved the entire body, and thereby you are neither partially, nor totally naked. This clearly untrue statement by Watson is really poor scholarship. How can you argue with someone who is not paying regards to the facts?

Watson’s first objection is obviously nothing to pay attention to. What about his second objection?

“In addition, my argument does not assert or require a total continuity between Smith’s views pre- and post-discovery, only a high degree of continuity. The full force of this point is only evident if one grasps how unusual Smith’s esotericism is within the context of New Testament scholarship in the 1950s and indeed today.”

Okey, but Pantuck’s objection was that Smith changed his opinion on this matter after the discovery. To this Watson gives no reply apart from saying that Pantuck’s objection “does not amount to much” and then he says that his argument does only assert or require “a high degree of continuity”. This of course is no objection at all and Pantuck’s argument is still valid.

The second subject is the alleged parallels to Hunter’s novel. Interestingly, Watson presents another parallel in order to show that “coincidences do happen in real life”. He then makes up a story of a hypothetical novel written in c. 1895 before the “Piltdown Man hoax of 1912”. Watson obviously suggests this to be a better parallel to Morton Smith’s discovery and that this example therefore would be refuting Pantuck’s parallels. I must say that I find it difficult to follow Watson’s logic. How can you prove something by MAKING UP a parallel and showing this to be similar to an actual incident? I would for sure have preferred a parable by Jesus.

The Hunter novel parallel is really stupid. If you only think for yourself, it is so plain meaningless. How on earth can one believe that Morton Smith would have modeled a forgery upon the plot in a spy novel? Of course you can model a novel upon an actual event. It is just to make up that story. But if you are imitating a novel, you also need to act like the novel, such as searching and be given access to the library at Mar Saba in order to plant the forgery; and like Watson claims, also express yourself in similar terms when you describe how you made your discovery.

Watson totally fails to refute anything presented by Pantuck.

Roger Viklund, 2011-04-22

Allan J. Pantuck on the Secret Gospel of Mark

A review of Allan J. Pantuck’s latest article published at Biblical Archaeology Review, Solving the Mysterion of Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark.

Allan Jonathan Pantuck, MD, MS, FACS. Associate Professor of Urology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

And so it finally came out. Having had the privilege of reading Allan Pantuck’s latest article in advance, I have been eagerly waiting for it to be published in Biblical Archaeology Review. Pantuck makes no great fuzz, but his arguments are very persuasive.

The article is mainly a response to two of Francis Watson’s arguments in his article Beyond Suspicion: On the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark, JTS 61 (2010); and then the two arguments which Hershel Shanks “appears to have found most persuasive”.

In the first part of the article, Pantuck deals with Watson’s assumption that Morton Smith made an idiosyncratic analysis of the Gospel of Mark in which he laid out arguments that according to Watson also was confirmed by Smith’s discovery of The Secret Gospel of Mark. In the second part Pantuck deals with the purported similarities between Smith’s discovery of Clement’s letter to Theodoros and the plot in James H. Hunter’s 1940-novel The Mystery of Mar Saba.

The analysis of the Gospel of Mark

In The Secret Gospel of Mark Jesus is said to have taught the youth the “mystery of the kingdom of God”. In the years before his discovery, Smith made some exegesis on Mark 4:11, where Jesus says that also his disciples had “been given the mystery of the kingdom of God”. Pantuck writes:

“While Watson acknowledges that there would be nothing unusual in finding some points of continuity between Smith’s prior views and his later interpretation of the Secret Gospel, he finds a scenario where these views themselves coincide so closely to the contents of the letter as to be suspicious. However, he does not consider how one should view significant discontinuities between Smith’s pre-discovery views, the contents of the letter, and Smith’s subsequent post-discovery interpretation. Yet, contra Watson, it is such discontinuities that we in fact find, lending support to the notion that Smith’s discovery led him to reevaluate and alter his prior views in significant ways.”

Pantuck shows that prior to Smith’s discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark, Smith held to the opinion that the word mysterion in the context of Mark 4:11 meant that Jesus was teaching in secret, and therefore “the mysterion of the kingdom of God concerned secret teachings and not secret rites.” But after Smith made the discovery he also changed his opinion in this matter and instead claimed that the opinion “that mysterion can never mean ‘secret rite,’ was ‘false’ and, in one aspect, ‘incredible.’”

Further Pantuck deals with Smith’s view on the relation between the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of John. Watson claims that Smith was of the opinion that parts from John and Mark 2:1–3:6 “may derive from a common source.” But according to Pantuck Smith instead showed in detail, that “they completely lack Johannine traits.” But after his discovery, Smith thought that there was a common Aramaic source behind the two gospels. In fact it was only in 1963, after three years of frequent discussions with Cyril Richardson, that Smith changed his understanding and came to the conclusion that there probably was a common source behind John and Mark.

Both of these two examples show that Smith changed his opinion on fundamental issues due to his discovery, and such turning of the tide is far more persuasive in order to establish authenticity, than any number of superficial similarities between Smith’s prior views and his later interpretation of the Secret Gospel of Mark are to establish forgery.

James Hogg Hunter’s novel The Mystery of Mar Saba

I guess that not many of today’s advocators of pro and con forgery, actually have read The Mystery of Mar Saba by Hunter. Perhaps if they did, not so many would argue that Smith used the novel as a template to forge the letter; both its content and the way it was discovered. Many things can be held against such a fanciful idea, although it seems to have persuaded among others Francis Watson, Stephen Carlson and Robert M. Price. But Pantuck tackles the problem from a different perspective. Instead of putting too much effort into dealing directly with the similarities which Watson has elaborated upon, Pantuck lists a few examples of extraordinary similarities in other areas which for certain have happened by chance. If such extraordinary similarities can occur by chance, why would we not be able to come up with some similarities also regarding Smith’s discovery – Pantuck seems to say.

Pantuck gives a five examples. He compares Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, in which there is a shipwreck and four survivors are stuck in a boat. After a few days of hunger they killed and ate a cabin boy named Richard Parker. And forty years later there was an actual shipwreck with only four survivors stranded in an open boat and eventually three from the crew did kill and eat a cabin boy named Richard Parker.

Then there is Morgan Robertson’s novel Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan where a ship named the Titan sunk after hitting an iceberg. 14 years later Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the same month and at the same place. The ships were both unsinkable, of almost equal size, and both had too few lifeboats.

Pantuck also finds another striking parallel to Smith’s discovery, but this time made by a certain Sophronius in the monastery of St. Catherine’s. Pantuck says that the “parallels here are more substantial than those Watson proposes”. But since this discovery was made in 1975, Smith could not really have imitated the story. And no one has suggested that Sophronius imitated Smith.

The fourth example deals with a letter written by an editor by the name of Clement Alexandre; a letter found by Pantuck in Morton Smith’s archives at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Pantuck asks himself:

“What are the odds that I should discover in a seminary library a previously unknown letter of Clement Alexandre requesting permission to publish the writings of Morton Smith”?

And the final example has to do with Pantuck searching the archives in order to find material regarding Morton Smith’s time at Brown University. He did for sure find a letter written by Morton Smith to the president of Brown University, but it was another Morton Smith, obviously “living in Providence, Rhode Island, at the same time”.

I have never been impressed by these forced parallels, perhaps because I have read the book and really thought the similarities were superficial. But Pantuck has in my opinion hit the Hunter novel parallel paradigm and sunk the Titanic.

My own take on this issue

Although Pantuck to some degree also makes a critical examination of some of Watson’s arguments concerning the similarities between the plot in the novel and the real discovery made by Smith, more can be said. And, for what it is worth, here is my take on this issue …

The similarities between Smith’s discovery and James Hogg Hunter’s novel from 1940 are purely imaginary similarities. The purported similarity between The Clement letter and Hunter’s novel is based on mathematically flawed statistics. You need to take into account every other novel that has been written before 1958, because if you start by looking for a novel with a content that resembles the Clement letter and its discovery, the chance of finding one that shares some similarities rapidly increases with the number of books you put into the calculation. I believe Alan Pantuck has shown this beyond any doubt. If you’re allowed to use the whole world literature with its vast number of novels counted in hundreds of thousand or perhaps millions, the chance of finding a novel which at least superficially resembles the discovery of Clement’s letter to Theodoros seems to be fairly high.

Further you have to take into account that both The Shred of Nicodemus (the text found in the novel) and Clement’s letter to Theodoros with extracts from the Secret Gospel of Mark are, and are relying upon, Gospel material, and therefore are bound to show similarities. Further the purported similarity that both are forgeries made at Mar Saba is not to be dealt with in a statistical analysis, since the suggestion that Clement’s letter to Theodoros actually is a forgery cannot be part of any parallels when in fact this very issue is the thing that is proposed and therefore the object of the investigation. If that is put into the calculation, it will be part of a circular reasoning. The question we should ask ourselves is if we were to take any event in modern history and tried to find a novel written before that event with a content that resembles it, would we likely come up with a parallel?

Francis Watson in the article, Beyond Suspicion: on the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark (JTS 61, 2010, 128-170), further elaborates on these purported similarities. After Francis Watson has summarized the plot of Hunter’s novel, he says: “Thus far, the parallel with Smith’s Mar Saba discovery is intriguing but inexact.” Yes, because the only real similarity he presents is the place of Mar Saba, where of course you could make a discovery of this magnitude and also a place you easily would chose in a novel for the same reason. And there is no similarity that both documents are forged (as he suggests), since we do not know that Clement’s letter to Theodoros is forged and as I said, one cannot simply assume that and use this as evidence when the actual issue is whether or not it is forged. If so it is a circular reasoning.

Then of course it was no secret that most manuscripts had been carried off to Jerusalem and that Morton Smith therefore would not have had any great expectations to make a major discovery. Watson writes that the “Nicodemus fragment and the letter to Theodore are discovered in similar circumstances narrated in similar language.” But what kinds of parallels are there really when Watson in Hunter’s novel finds that Sir William Bracebridge at a meeting back in London uses the word reconciled, while Smith wrote that he was reconciling himself; both to something negative, yet expressed differently? Really far-fetched! If you search for these kinds of similarities, you are bound to find some. Besides, there really are no “similar circumstances”.

Watson also claims that the “two Mar Saba discoveries are … similar in content.” To show this he says that in both cases a “short but sensational excerpt of an early text is discovered”. Now seriously, this is really generally expressed. What else could they find? In Smith’s case he did find many non-sensational finds and this one was the sensational one. Are we then to suppose that he forged it because of this? Or shall we believe that he was inspired by Hunter to produce a sensational text?

Further Watson claims that the discovery was made “together with a text or texts dating from the second century (manuscripts of Hermas and Barnabas, and of the letter to Theodore, respectively).” This is not entirely correct. It is (as far as I can see) never said in the novel that The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas are from the second century and as you probably all know, they could be from the first century. In the novel there are three separate documents, one for each book; and the third, The Shred of Nicodemus, is dated to the first century. This Shred of Nicodemus is never said to be “short” and is for sure no excerpt from a letter of Clement. So The Shred of Nicodemus is not short, not necessarily found together with a text or texts dating from the second century and there are separate documents found. The Mar Saba letter on the other hand is only one letter, with two short excerpts from Secret Mark and the letter could well have been written by Clement in the third century.

But the real problem lies in the causality. We are supposed to believe that Smith read a poor apologetic spy novel, got inspired to make a forgery in a similar fashion, which includes having a similar name as the Chief of the London police, Lord Moreton, a minor character being introduced late in the story, then started to study different fields in order to acquire the competence needed for the task. He then managed to get permission to visit Mar Saba, in spite of their restrictions, in order to plant his forgery. As I understand it Smith was given a special permission as a personal gesture to catalogue books at Mar Saba. What are the odds that someone being inspired by a novel to make a forgery at Mar Saba, also would get permission to examine manuscripts at Mar Saba? Because, one needs to assume that this was the causality in this context.

I would say that the only reasonable influence by the book on Smith, would be if he saw the title and came up with the idea to make a forgery and plant it at Mar Saba, as he was planning on going there anyway. But then he just as easily could have come up with that idea for a number of other reasons.

Roger Viklund, 2011-02-20

Den yngling Jesus uppväcker i Hemliga Markusevangeliet är Lasaros

Signaturen Jimmy hävdar i denna kommentar att det inte skulle kunna vara Lasaros som återuppväcks i Hemliga Markusevangeliet. Jag besvarade den kommentaren men anser att frågan förtjänar ett eget inlägg så att det inte ”drunknar” i kommentarerna.

Det följande inlägget är i stort sett detsamma som min tidigare utredning i frågan i kapitlet Uppväckandet av Lasaros i artikeln Den symboliskt utformade förlagan till Markusevangeliet – populärt benämnd Hemliga Markusevangeliet.

Munkklostret Mar Saba

I det brev som Morton Smith hittade i munkklostret Mar Saba 1958 besvarar kyrkofader Klemens av Alexandria tillsynes ett brev skrivet av en i övrigt okänd Theodoros. Eftersom Theodoros uppenbarligen oroar sig över påståenden gjorda av medlemmar i en sekt vid namn karpokratianerna om att det skulle finnas ett Markusevangelium, där det bland annat berättas om en ”naken man med en naken man”, låter Klemens lugna Theodoros. Markus skrev visserligen sitt evangelium i två olika långa versioner och i det längre mystiska evangeliet fanns material avsett för dem som var längre komna i sin utveckling och detta evangelium ”läses endast för dem som är i färd med att invigas i de stora mysterierna”. Fast Theodoros behöver inte oroa sig över att där skulle stå något om en ”naken man med en naken man”. För att bevisa att så inte är fallet citerar Klemens den passage som detta handlar om ur detta mystiska eller hemliga evangelium. Syftet måste rimligen ha varit att visa att vare sig Jesus eller ynglingen är nakna med varandra. Klemens skriver:

Efter ”Och de var på väg upp mot Jerusalem” och det följande fram till ”efter tre dagar skall han uppstå” står det ordagrant så här:

”Och de kommer till Bethania. Och där fanns en kvinna, vilkens broder hade dött. Och hon kom och föll på knä för Jesus och säger till honom, ’Davids son, ha förbarmande över mig.’ Men lärjungarna klandrade henne. Och Jesus blev vred och gick iväg med henne till trädgården, där graven var. Och genast hördes från graven ett stort rop. Och Jesus gick fram och rullade undan stenen från dörren till graven och gick genast in där ynglingen var, han sträckte ut handen och reste honom, sedan han fattat handen. Men ynglingen såg på honom och fattade kärlek till honom och började bönfalla honom att han skulle vara med honom. Och de gick ut ur graven och gick in i ynglingens hus. Ty han var rik. Och efter sex dagar befallde Jesus honom. Och när det blivit afton kommer ynglingen till honom klädd i ett linnetyg på bara kroppen och stannade hos honom denna natt. Ty Jesus undervisade honom om Guds rikes mysterium. Men därefter steg han upp och återvände till andra sidan Jordan.”

Efter dessa ord följer ”och Jakob och Johannes går fram till honom” och hela [det] stycket. Men ”naken med naken” och det andra som du skrivit om finns inte. Och efter ”Och han kommer till Jeriko” följer bara ”och där var systern till den yngling som Jesus älskade och hans moder och Salome, och Jesus tog inte emot dem.” Men de många andra sakerna du skrivit både verkar vara och är lögner. Den sanna förklaringen och den förklaring som är enligt den sanna filosofin är alltså …[Min översättning]

Sidorna 2 och 3 av Klemensbrevet, vari Klemens citerar den del av Hemliga Markusevangeliet som finns återgivet i översättning ovan.

En omedelbar iakttagelse man gör är den stora likheten mellan uppväckandet av den unge mannen från de döda i Hemliga Markusevangeliet och uppväckandet av Lasaros i Johannesevangeliet (11:1ff). Berättelserna är så pass lika att det måste ses som sannolikt att det egentligen är samma berättelse. Däremot namnges inte ynglingen som Jesus uppväcker i Hemliga Markusevangeliet. Det sägs alltså inte uttryckligen att det var Lasaros som Jesus uppväckte. Likheterna mellan berättelserna är som följer:

  1. I båda evangelierna, Hemliga Markusevangeliet och Johannesevangeliet, sker uppväckandet av den unge mannen efter att Jesus gått från Galileen till Judeen och därifrån till ”andra sidan Jordan”.
  2. I båda fallen är lärjungarna före uppväckandet rädda för vad som skall hända om Jesus blir gripen (Mark 10:32, Joh 11:8 ).
  3. Scenen utspelas båda gångerna i en ort vid namn Bethania, men det rör sig inte om samma Bethania (mer om detta strax).
  4. I Johannesevangeliet möter den avlidnes två systrar Jesus på vägen, medan det i Hemliga Markusevangeliet är en syster som möter Jesus på vägen.
  5. I båda berättelserna visar systrarna Jesus till graven, men i Hemliga Markusevangeliet uppväcker Jesus den döde genom att ta i honom, medan han i Johannesevangeliet ropar ut honom.
  6. Det är också endast i dessa båda berättelser som de som återuppväcks ligger i gravar.
  7. I Hemliga Markusevangeliet följer sedan Jesus den uppväckte mannen till hans hus. Jesus följer också Lasaros till dennes hus om än inte direkt efter att ha uppväckt honom.
  8. Ynglingen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet är rik, uppenbarligen eftersom han ägde ett hus. Även Lasaros ägde ett hus och bör således ha varit rik.

Tydligt är att vi här har att göra med samma berättelse och jag hävdar att den unge mannen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet är Lasaros och att den syster som möter Jesus på vägen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet och också försöker träffa honom i Jeriko är en av de två systrarna till Lasaros (Marta och Maria), då rimligen Maria. Detta betyder dock inte nödvändigtvis att jag ser dem som historiska personer.

Hemliga Markusevangeliet ger också perspektiv åt en episod i Johannesevangeliet, den då Thomas, som kallades Tvillingen, i stället för att hjälpa Jesus med att väcka upp Lasaros från de döda säger till de andra lärjungarna: ”Låt oss gå med för att dö med honom.”

Då sade Jesus rent ut till dem: ”Lasaros är död. Och för er skull, för att ni skall tro, är jag glad att jag inte var där. Men låt oss nu gå till honom.” Tomas, som kallades Tvillingen, sade till de andra lärjungarna: ”Låt oss gå med för att dö med honom.” (Joh 11:14–16)

Thomas uppmanar alltså de andra lärjungarna att följa Jesus till Lasaros och där dö, för att sedan förhoppningsvis likt Lasaros återuppstå. Detta går knappast att tolka bokstavligt, däremot symboliskt. Den rimliga tolkningen i ljuset av Hemliga Markusevangeliet är att här avses en invigning i de inre, större mysterierna. Se också min artikel Gnosis och den gnostiska kristendomen.

I ljuset av detta framstår berättelsen om uppväckandet av den unge mannen från de döda som en symbolisk berättelse med uppenbara gnostiska inslag. På samma sätt som Thomas vill dö för att återuppstå, uppstår också den unge mannen. Efter att Jesus uppväckt honom från ”de döda”, stannar de uppe hela natten, och Jesus lär honom Guds rikes mysterium. Det kan knappast sägas tydligare utan att tala klarspråk. Jesus inviger honom i mysterierna på samma sätt som Klemens från Alexandria i brevet hävdar att den hemliga undervisningen användes i de Stora Mysterierna där ”Herrens hierofantiska undervisning” förmedlas. Hierofant är namnet på en kultledare i de antika mysterierna. Hierofanten förmedlande esoterisk undervisning och var den som i samband med invigningsceremonier tolkade de heliga symbolerna och ledde och övervakade adepten under själva ceremonin. Alltså rör det sig om sådan undervisning som var så hemlig att den inte fick skrivas ner ens i Hemliga Markusevangeliet.

Noterbart är att uppväckandet av ynglingen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet och av Lasaros i Johannesevangeliet i båda fallen äger rum i Bethania. Fast det är inte samma Bethania utan två skilda byar men med samma namn. I Johannesevangeliet är det ett Bethania som låg ca 3 km från Jerusalems centrum; i Hemliga Markusevangeliet (i kombination med det som sägs i Markusevangeliet) ett Bethania som ligger i Pereen (Peraea) öster om Jordan och öster om Jeriko mellan Döda havet och Galileiska sjön

Oavsett hur man väljer att tolka denna information, är likheterna mellan uppväckandet av ynglingen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet och av Lasaros i Johannesevangeliet så stora att de inte kan ha uppkommit av en slump. Antingen skrev den ene av den andre, eller den andre av den ene, eller så byggde de båda på en gemensam tradition/berättelse.

I Johannesevangeliet benämns den individ som Jesus uppväcker från de döda Lasaros, vilket betyder ”Gud [El] hjälper”. Jag betraktar denna individ som uppdiktad och anser att hans namn är valt för att spegla en funktion, då i förhållande till Jesus som betyder ”Gud [JHVH] räddar/hjälper”. Det betyder att heller inte ynglingen i Hemliga Markusevangeliet är en reell person. Men oavsett vilket torde det stå klart att det rör sig om samma gestalt i både Hemliga Markusevangeliet och Johannesevangeliet.

Roger Viklund, 2011-02-12

Refuting ”The Gospel Hoax”

As I said in my previous post Why this homosexual reading of Secret Mark? I intended to publish the reply I made at “Jesus Mysteries” to Jake Jones IV’s summary of Stephen Carlson’s The Gospel Hoax. I have elaborated a bit more on that reply and also made it a bit less polemic, but as it covers most of Carlson’s book my intention has never been to make an in depth formal examination of every argument he presents. The list published by Jake Jones IV was his summary and I will comment upon that summary, point by point. Some arguments I will elaborate more in detail, other I will just make some short comments upon. I will first present Carlson’s arguments (as summarised by Jake Jones) set in blue and my comments beneath set in black.

1. Theodore and Secret Mark reflect the sexual mores of the 1950’s rather than the 200’s.

In my opinion, neither the letter to Theodoros, nor Secret Mark, reflects any sexuality. No matter what people say, that is merely an interpretation of the text. Let us study what the text actually says (the translation is Morton Smith’s own).

After Jesus has raised the youth (Lazarus), “the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him.“ To be with someone would in the ancient world not be synonymous with dating in modern terms, but more in line with joining or following someone. And the Greek word translated as “loved” is ἠγάπησεν. Agapaô means ”felt love for” and is normally used in a ”Platonic sense” to feel affection or true love and is not to be confused with ἔρως (erôs), the more sexual attraction. Remember that the same word agapaô also is used in John 11:5 when Jesus is said to love “Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus” (ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον). And it is obvious that the youth in Secret Mark is the same person as Lazarus in John 11.

“And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body.” Again, I believe that many people are fooled by the translation. To wear something over your naked body is NOT to be naked. In Swedish the correct translation would be “på sin bara kropp”, i.e. “on his bare body”. The focus is not on the nudeness, but instead on the fact that there are no other clothes beneath. You could say that he wore his shirt on his bare body and the only thing that this means is that he had no undershirt. I don’t know how this is expressed in other languages, but in Swedish it could hardly be expressed as “he wore his shirt on his naked body” (han bar skjortan utanpå sin nakna kropp) only “on his bare body” (på sin bara kropp). The focus is not on the nudeness but on the fact that wears only a pure “linen cloth”.

“And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.” Again the translation “remained with him that night” or “stayed with him that night” is a modern expressions which often means that people sleep with each other. Also Eckhard Rau says that in modern terms this is perceived as “spend the night with as ‚to copulate with casually’“. (see my REVIEW: Weder gefälscht noch authentisch? By Eckhard Rau.) Stephen Huller compares it to the “Rolling Stones ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together”.

One should also remember Mark 14:51–52: “there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about [his] naked [body] … [a]nd he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” Further there could not possibly be anything sexual about the fact that “Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God” since in Mark 4:11 also the other disciples “is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God”.

As I said in my previous post Why this homosexual reading of Secret Mark? I cannot see why people believe this has anything to do with homosexuality or sexuality at all; especially when you realise that this story hardly is based on any historic event.

2. Morton Smith was a life long bachelor, and as far as we know, he was gay. Thus Smith would have a personal interest in attitudes about homosexuality in the 1950’s.

Morton Smith

Morton Smith

Apart from Morton Smith actually being a bachelor, there is no proof that he was gay. In fact we have two witnesses to the contrary as Morton Smith seems to have been dating women. Of course some people said that he was homosexual and there seems to have been a lot of gossiping. I prefer not to listen to gossip. It could be that he remained a bachelor all his life because of his disappointment with the outcome of his love affairs. And even if he was gay, why would that suggest that he was a “criminal”? Are we living in the Middle Ages, where homosexuality was considered a crime and would lead to Smith committing this “crime”? I see no reason at all to suspect someone for being a criminal, or for that matter being immoral, just because he is homosexual.

Those who read Swedish can also se my blog post: Förtalet av Morton Smith som en illvillig homosexuell bedragare.

3. There is zero evidence for the antiquity of Secret Mark other than Morton Smith’s discovery.

Papyrus Egerton 2, fragment 1

It is true that there is no evidence for the antiquity of Secret Mark other than Morton Smith’s discovery. But if it would be a criterion that a text necessarily needs to be testified for in antiquity in order to be genuine, this would mean that we already know of every scripture that ever existed. There is also no evidence for Q (if one believes in Q) or the Egerton gospel (until its discovery last century). One must realize that the absolute majority of all texts in the Antiquity has been lost.

4. According to SC, Morton Smith never stated unambiguously that he discovered Secret Mark at Mar Saba. Such descriptions are always carefully guarded by conditionals. Such “weasel wording” is evidence of Smith trying to convey a false impression while avoiding a lie in the technical sense.

Per Beskow

That Smith never stated unambiguously that he discovered Secret Mark at Mar Saba, I find to be just semantics. Smith was seized with fury against those who accused him of forgery and was hypersensitive to any suggestion in this direction, something that Per Beskow found out when Smith threatened Beskow’s publisher to sue him for a gigantic sum if he would publish a book in which Beskow only pointed to the possibility of a forgery (see my article: Per Beskow and the Elusive MS over at Timo S. Paananen’s blog).

5. Morton Smith was well qualified to perpetuate such a hoax.

a. In 1955 Smith had published an analysis of a commentary on GMark

b. Morton Smith had an intimate knowledge of monastic libraries, particularly Mar Saba which he had visited previously.

c. Morton Smith had inspected, photographed, and transcribed dozens of Greek manuscripts, many of which he dated to the 18th century.

d. While at Drew, Smith had become interested in the Philosophumena of Hippolytus, which includes a discussion of the Carpocratians.

e. Smith, in March 1958, published an article, ”Image of God”, that cited Clement of Alexandria four times.

Of course Smith was a very knowledgeable scholar, but I don’t think people in general realise what it would take to accomplish a forgery like this letter in the 1950’s. Smith was a “document hunter”. He visited many monasteries during several travels and did then catalogue ancient books in those monasteries. Then of course Smith was just that kind of person we would expect to make a find like this one. Only those who searched for ancient manuscripts could possibly find such manuscripts. Helmut Koester tells us that he spent some time with Smith (a week), helping him to decipher the letter, and came to realize that Smith did have problems to understand the letter and could not even properly decipher the difficult Greek handwriting of the letter.

Helmut Koester

“Obviously, a forger would not have had the problems that Morton was struggling with. Or Morton Smith was an accomplished actor and I a complete fool.” (Helmut Koester, Was Morton Smith a Great Thespian and I a Complete Fool? Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec 2009)

What is it worth that a Biblical scholar like Smith “cited Clement of Alexandria four times”, or that he was interested in a text where the Carpocratians were discussed? What Biblical scholar has not quoted Clement or read about the Carpocratians? It takes a lot more to make a forgery of this “size” than having studied a certain subject.

6. Smith’s authentication of the manuscript by ten colleagues to “about 1750, plus or minus about fifty years” is inadequate. (pages 23-25).

a. The experts never saw the original document.

b. We don’t know if the experts saw photographs or photostats.

c. We don’t know how much time was spent by each respective college.

d. The results are filtered through Smith. We do not know if he understood them correctly, or if any qualifications were expressed.

e. Most of the experts were consulted orally, so we have no record of what was said.

f. They were simply asked to date the hand. This is entirely too informal.

g. The possibility of forgery and suspicious details was inquired upon after the documents were inspected. In fact, the wording used by Smith may indicate that only a single expert was asked about a hoax.

h. There is no evidence that the ten colleagues were provided with any comparison documents.

i. Smith did not deem it necessary to itemize the replies. This amounts then to nothing more than hearsay by a possible hoaxer.

Agamemnon Tselikas

Agamemnon Tselikas

On the other hand no one has said that the writing does not look like it is written during the early or the middle of the 18th century. The only objection seems to come from Agamemnon Tselikas, who on the other hand still has not published anything on this subject and who admits that the writing looks like an early 18th century hand. I would also say that the differences between the handwriting of the Cephalonia MSS (which Tselikas believes that Smith imitated and of which I have only seen very poor images) and the handwriting of the Mar Saba letter, are significant. If someone tried to copy that hand he or she did a very poor job.

On top of this we also have Venetia Anastasopoulou’s verdict; that dismisses Smith as the one who wrote the letter and says this:

“The whole writing shows freedom, spontaneity and artistic flair. It also shows a skillful penmanship of a well educated and trained writer who uses the language effectively in expressing his thoughts” (see her Handwriting Examination).

She also states that the letter …

“is written in a natural and spontaneous way and in my opinion, does not have such indications so to make us think of a suspicious writing” (see Can a Document in Itself Reveal a Forgery?).

7. The Letter to Theodore containing Secret Mark was not forged flawlessly. It shows ample evidence of being a forgery.

a. Blunt ends
b. Pen lifts
c. Retouching
d. Shaky lines
e. Forger’s tremor

This now belongs to the past. Carlson’s handwriting analyse has failed every criterion. He says that the letter shows signs of forgery by blunt ends, pen lifts, retouching, shaky lines and forger’s tremor. But he was wrong, yet managed to deceive many scholars into believing this. All of these “signs” which Carlson spotted was not in the writing but an effect of the line screen that was used when the images were printed in Morton Smith’s book. If Carlson had consulted the original photos instead of the printed copies, he would not have found those signs. I did show this already in 2009 (see my article: Tremors, or Just an Optical Illusion? A Further Evaluation of Carlson’s Handwriting Analysis) and Carlson has not yet even commented upon this (or anything else). Since a couple of years he is totally silent and he even declined BAR’s invitation to respond to Scott Brown.

Also Scott Brown in the second part of his new article called My Thoughts on the Analysis by Stephen Carlson,  showed why Carlson was mistaken:

“By comparing enlargements of the halftone images with enlargements made from the original photographs, it becomes obvious that the halftone apparatus misrepresents the line quality of the handwriting, producing artifacts such as disconnections, blobs, and corrugated or stepped lines that resemble pen lifts, hesitations, and forger’s tremor.”

8. SC identities Theodore and Secret Mark to be written in the same hand, photographed and published by Morton Smith, assigned number 22 in Smith’s catalog (pages 42-43). Smith dates the first hand, not to the 18th century, but confidently to the 20th century, and attributes it to M. Madiotes — the ”bald swindler”. Smith was folically impaired, so this is a confession.

The so-called M. Madiotes argument is another total disaster in Carlson’s attempt to accuse Smith of forgery. Carlson was wrong on every aspect as he had totally misunderstood what is in the text. In 2008 Allan Pantuck and Scott Brown published hitherto unknown material from Smith’s literary remains, in the article Morton Smith as M. Madiotes: Stephen Carlson’s Attribution of Secret Mark to a Bald Swindler.

First of all, MS 22 is not a text written by one person, but a set of short texts written by several people. Secondly, the text that Carlson claims is written in the same hand as the Clement letter is not written in the same hand, but in a markedly different one, yet still a characteristically eighteenth-century handwriting. Thirdly, Smith had not dated this text to the twentieth century. He had not dated it at all, nor commented on it. Fourthly, the text is not signed by M. Madiotes. It is not signed at all. That is because the text supposedly written by M. Madiotes is a different hand on the same page. Fifthly, the text said to be by M. Madiotes is written in a different style and upside down in relation to the text Carlson assumed was written by M. Madiotes. Whoever wrote this, wrote nothing apart from the name (his name?). Sixthly, it was therefore only the name that Smith dated to the twentieth century. The text that Carlson mistakenly thought that Smith attributed to M. Madiotes is in contrast written in typical eighteenth century handwriting. All in all, so to speak, six errors of fact! Besides, the name probably was not even Madiotes. Smith probably made a mistake in reading the faint name, which seems to have been M. Modestos.

For those who read Swedish there is an article that I wrote called ”M. Madiotes”-argumentet, which is based on Pantuck’s and Brown’s discovery and where I also added some extra material for comparison.

9. Theodore begins with a sphragis, ”From the letters of the most holy Clement, the author of the Stromateis.” This is evidence of a forgery. See pages 54-56 of The Gospel Hoax.

A so-called sphragis (Greek: σφραγίς) is a seal of authenticity. Carlson suggests that the letter contains information that was not necessary to know for the receiver of the letter and therefore was added by a forger to make the letter look authentic. The first line of the letter does not begin with a sphragis, and neither did Carlson say that it did. The first line is a headline added later to identify the letter. The letter could have been part of a larger collection, as we know that there existed such a collection of letters by Clement at Mar Saba in the early eight century.

Carlson instead claimed that that the alluding to Clement’s condemnation of the Carpocratians (which was already known) is a sphragis, and so also the information that the secret gospel was still being kept in Alexandria (according to Carlson an unnecessary detail if Clement was still in Alexandria). Carlson also sees the quoting of the long passage from Secret Mark with the exact information of where it was placed, as an unnecessary detail only meant for the modern reader.

Scott G. Brown

Scott Brown does however show that Clement on other occasions do quote a text in its entirety when he believes that the text was distorted and then also gives the “correct” interpretation of the text. (Scott G. Brown, The Letter to Theodore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Clement’s Authorship, JECS 16:4, 2008).

Jeff Jay on the other hand chose to compares Clement’s letter to other ancient letters. His conclusion:

“The letter to Theodore is plausible in light of letter writing in the late second or early third century and has tight generic coherence in form, content, and function.” (Jeff Jay, A New Look at the Epistolary Framework of the Secret Gospel of Mark, JECS 16:4, 2008, p. 597).

10. SC gives credit to Andrew Criddle (p. xv) who identified that Theodore is hyper-Clementine (a deliberate imitation of Clementine’s style).

Although Carlson does misrepresent what Criddle actually said in his statistical study of the letter, Criddle’s objection still is interesting, yet far from conclusive. Criddle counted the words never before used by Clement and the words he only used once before. The ratio he got from dividing these figures were then compared to an expected ratio. In Criddles study there were too many words which Clement used only once before and too few which were never before used by Clement. The ratio was 4/9 whereas it according to Criddle should have been 8/5. But this could not possibly make the letter hyper-Clementine, because one cannot say that the words Clement never used or previously used only once are words which are typical for Clement – quite the contrary. Andrew Criddle’s study was called On the Mar Saba Letter Attributed to Clement of Alexandria, JECS 3.2, 1995, 215–220. For those who read Swedish I have evaluated Criddles study at Andrew Criddles statistiska undersökning av ordfrekvensen i Klemensbrevet.

But when the same method as the one Criddle used on “To Theodoros” was used on Shakespeare, the results were not particularly impressive. The test was done on 7 of William Shakespeare’s plays, and the result of this test was that 4 of these 7 were not written by Shakespeare. That also included 2 plays of which consensus say that they are indeed written by Shakespeare. (Scott G. Brown, The Letter to Theodore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Clement’s Authorship, JECS 16:4, 2008. He refers to Ronald Thisted, Bradley Efron, Did Shakespeare Write a Newly-Discovered Poem? Biometrika 74, 1987, 445–455)

11. A work of Christian fiction, entitled The Mystery of Mar Saba, by James H. Hunter, was originally published in 1940 but frequently reprinted afterwards. The story revolved around the discovery of a revolutionary, ancient text in the monastery of Mar Saba that turned out to be a forgery (the Gospel Hoax, page 19). The forgery in the book is discovered by a scholar while he was cataloguing the manuscripts there. The Mystery of Mar Saba mentions the rolling away of stones and of linen clothing. It appears that Morton Smith modelled his hoax on the book.

The similarities between Smith’s discovery and James Hogg Hunter’s novel from 1940 are just imaginary similarities. The purported similarity between The Clement letter and Hunter’s novel is based on mathematically flawed statistics. You need to take into account every other novel that has been written before 1958, because if you start by looking for a novel with a content that resembles the Clement letter and its discovery, the chance of finding one that shares some similarities rapidly increases with the number of books you put into the calculation. If you’re allowed to use the whole world literature with its vast number of novels counted in hundreds of thousand or perhaps millions, the chance of finding a novel which at least superficially resembles the finding of Clement’s letter, seems to be fairly high.

Further you have to take into account that they both are, and are relying upon, Gospel material, and therefore are bound to show similarities. Further the purported similarity that both are forgeries made at Mar Saba is not to be dealt with in a statistical analysis, since the suggestion that The Clement letter actually is a forgery cannot be part of any parallels when in fact this very issue is the thing that is proposed and therefore the object of the investigation. If that is put into the calculation, it will be part of a circular reasoning. The question we should ask ourselves is if we were to take any event in modern history and tried to find a novel written before that event with a content that resembles it, would we likely come up with a parallel?

Francis Watson

Francis Watson

As Francis Watson in the article, Beyond Suspicion: on the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark (JTS 61, 2010, 128-170), further elaborates on these purported similarities, and since I have already examined some of his claims, I chose to direct my critique at Watson instead of Carlson in this point onwards; although the critique is valid also for Carlson.

After Francis Watson has summarized the plot of Hunter’s novel, he says: “Thus far, the parallel with Smith’s Mar Saba discovery is intriguing but inexact.” Yes, because the only real similarity he presents is the place of Mar Saba, where of course you could make a discovery of this magnitude and also a place you easily would chose in a novel for the same reason. And there is no similarity that both documents are forged (as he suggests), since we do not know that To Theodoros is forged and as I said, one cannot simply assume that and use this as evidence when the actual issue is whether or not it is forged. If so it is a circular reasoning.

Then of course it was no secret that most manuscripts had been carried off to Jerusalem and that Morton Smith therefore would not have had any great expectations to make a major discovery. Watson writes that the “Nicodemus fragment and the letter to Theodore are discovered in similar circumstances narrated in similar language.” But what kinds of parallels are there really when Watson in Hunter’s novel finds that Sir William Bracebridge at a meeting back in London uses the word reconciled, while Smith wrote that he was reconciling himself; both to something negative, yet expressed differently? Really far-fetched! If you search for these kinds of similarities, you are bound to find some. Besides, there really are no “similar circumstances”.

Watson also claims that the “two Mar Saba discoveries are … similar in content.” To show this he says that in both cases a “short but sensational excerpt of an early text is discovered”. Now seriously, this is really generally expressed. What else could they find? In Smith’s case he did find many non-sensational finds and this one was the sensational one. Are we then to suppose that he forged it because of this? Or shall we believe that he was inspired by Hunter to produce a sensational text?

Further Watson claims that the discovery was made “together with a text or texts dating from the second century (manuscripts of Hermas and Barnabas, and of the letter to Theodore, respectively).” This is not entirely correct. It is (as far as I can see) never said in the novel that The Shepherd of Hermas and The Epistle of Barnabas are from the second century and as you probably all know, they could be from the first century. In the novel there are three separate documents, one for each book; and the third, The Shred of Nicodemus, is dated to the first century. This Shred of Nicodemus is never said to be “short” and is for sure no excerpt from a letter of Clement. So The Shred of Nicodemus is not short, not necessarily found together with a text or texts dating from the second century and there are separate documents found. The Mar Saba letter on the other hand is only one letter, with two short excerpts from Secret Mark and the letter could well have been written by Clement in the third century.

But the real problem lies in the causality. We are supposed to believe that Smith read a poor apologetic spy novel, got inspired to make a forgery in a similar fashion, which includes having a similar name as the Chief of the London police, Lord Moreton, a minor character being introduced late in the story, then started to study different fields in order to acquire the competence needed for the task. He then managed to get permission to visit Mar Saba, in spite of their restrictions, in order to plant his forgery. As I understand it Smith was given a special permission as a personal gesture to catalogue books at Mar Saba. What are the odds that someone being inspired by a novel to make a forgery at Mar Saba, also would get permission to examine manuscripts at Mar Saba? Because, one needs to assume that this was the causality in this context.

I would say that the only reasonable influence by the book on Smith, would be if he saw the title and came up with the idea to make a forgery and plant it at Mar Saba, as he was planning on going there anyway. But then he just as easily could have come up with that idea for a number of other reasons.

12. Bart Ehrman noted the significant humor of Theodore being found into the flyleaves of Epistolae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris, Isaac Voss, 1646. This is ironic because the book concerns itself with forgeries. (page 20).

Vossius’ book was the first edition where the “forged” letters of Ignatius were excluded. Further at the end of the book Vossius also comments upon interpolations found in the Epistle of Barnabas. The next page was then the previous blank page onto which the first page of the Clement letter was inscribed. Ehrman saw it as ironic that the letter found by Smith was inscribed in a book which concerned itself with forgeries.

Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman

This is really hard to refute, as there is nothing substantial involved in the claim made by Ehrman. Sure it might seem intriguing that the letter was inscribed in this particular book – but only if also Clement’s letter to Theodoros is a forgery and its author decided to leave an ironic clue behind. As I said previously, since we have no proof that the letter is a forgery; there is no connection between someone dealing with forgeries and the Clement letter. Besides, I guess that most editions of ancient authors’ collected works also deals with the issue of authenticity. And if the letter would have been inscribed in another book, I am sure that it would deal with something else which also could be made to look suspicious – if you are out looking for clues – being a “clue hunter”. Ehrman himself is cautious not to make too much out of this, and I think that this is wise.

13. SC identifies within Secret Mark support for Morton Smith’s own previous works.

a. The coupling of ”the mystery of the kingdom of God” with a forbidden sexual relationship supports Smith’s earlier linkage in 1951 of Mark 4:11 with forbidden sexual relationships (page 81).
b. The similarity of Secret Mark to the Lazarus story in GJohn supports Smith’s 1955 contention that Mark used a ”source with Johannine traits”.

Stephen C. Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson

Carlson claims that Smith coupled “the mystery of the kingdom of God” with a forbidden sexual relationship already in 1951 as he linked Clement to both Mark 4:11 and T Hagigah 2.1 and thereby to a forbidden sexual relationship. But Smith never made that link. The only link that can be found is in the notes which say:

*  Hagigah 2.1 and parallels.

** Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 1.1.13–14 etc.

Mark 4:11 is not mentioned here. Smith only compares the rabbinic conception of the throne of God to Clement’s secrecy. The forbidden sexual relation is missing. The only link is two consecutive footnotes, and really, how much can one make out of that? After all Smith was a scholar who dealt with Christianity. What can we make out of the fact that he a few times referred to Clement, a few times quoted from the gospel of Mark?

I believe this has been thoroughly refuted by Scott Brown in his article Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Morton Smith (Harvard Theological Review 99:0303, 291-327). In order for Carlson’s assertion to be valid, both Hagigah 2:1 and The letter of Clement 1:12 should be about forbidden sexual relations and Smith have intended to make such a connection. But this was not the case. I just settle for quoting what Smith actually wrote:

“Further, I think the passage in Sifre on Deut. to have been based on the fact that an important part of primitive Christianity was a secret doctrine which was revealed only to trusted members. Such a doctrine is suggested by the words put in the mouth of Jesus, speaking to his disciples: “To you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but to those outside all things are in parables, that they may surely see and not perceive,” etc. And Paul himself wrote in 1 Cor. 2.1–6 “and I, coming to you, brethren, came not proclaiming the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom . . . that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. But we speak wisdom among the perfect, and a wisdom not of this age . . . but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.” A similar distinction was recognized by the Tannaïm between material suitable for public teaching and that reserved for secret teaching, as we learn from Hagigah T 2.1 (233): “The (passages of the Old Testament dealing with) forbidden sexual relationships are not to be expounded to three (at a time,) but may be expounded to two; and the account of creation not to two, but it may be expounded to a single hearer; and (Ezekiel’s vision of) the chariot may not be expounded to a single hearer unless he be learned in the Law and of good understanding.” (Morton Smith, Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 1951, s. 155–156)

Again, those who can manage Swedish can always read my more thorough evaluation of this in Är Klemensbrevet designat för att spegla Morton Smiths föreställningar?

14. SC notes that apparently free flowing salt adulterated by adding another ingredient is an anachronism. See page 60.

a. ”Morton” salt is considered a confession. (This could be a mere coincidence). However, if this is true, then Secret Mark is salted with clues.

According to Carlson the letter’s reference to the teaching on salt losing its savor, is premised on an image of mixing table salt with an adulterant that changes its flavor. This should be another of those clues which Carlson claims that Smith left to show that it was he who forged the text. Carlson writes: “For salt to be mixed with such an adulterant, it would have to be loose and free-flowing, but free-flowing salt is a modern invention.” It thereby would be an anachronism and since Morton Salt Company was the first ever to make free-flowing salt, Morton Salt of course is just a pseudonym for Morton Smith. But in order to make this assumption, Carlson of course needs to claim that Clement actually wrote about mixing salt with an adulterant (or mixing it at all). And the text does not say so. It says that “the true things” which the Carpocratians speaks of – not the salt – are mixed with inventions. It never says that the salt is mixed with anything, and so the clue is no clue at all. Then of course this is a quote from the Bible and contrary to Carlson’s statement, salt could be mixed with other ingredients. This Kyle Smith showed beyond doubt in his article ‘Mixed with Inventions’: Salt and Metaphor in Secret Mark. He writes:

Hershel Shanks

Hershel Shanks

“Salt could be (and was) both mixed and adulterated in antiquity, and to suggest that salt could not be mixed unless it is free-flowing salt with anti-caking agents added to it is belied by numerous ancient and modern references.”

And Hershel Shanks strengthened this by quoting from the Talmud, where it is said that salt can be mixed with other ingredients. He says: “In antiquity salt was regularly mixed with other substances.” (Hershel Shanks, Restoring a Dead Scholar’s Reputation, Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2009, 60.

15. According to SC, M.Smith also buries a reference to ”Smith” in the commentary on the text, Jeremiah 28:17. This is also considered a confession. (This could also be a coincidence).

Carlson’s claims that Smith apart from leaving the clue of the salt in Morton Salt company, also buried a reference to “Smith” in the commentary on the text, Jeremiah 28:17 from LXX (= Hebr. 10:14) where it is said that “every person is made dull from knowledge … because they have cast false things, there is no breath in them.” But, according to Carlson, “the linkage to Matthew 5:13’s use of ‘cast out’ works only in English, not in Greek.” Then Carlson suggests that Smith associated two words in English which in the original Greek has no connection. However, Smith never translated the Greek from Jeremiah. The translation was presented by Carlson. And there is nothing that shows that Smith ever made a connection between the “cast false things” in Jeremiah and the “cast out” in Matthew.

Scott Brown dealt with this in his article Factualizing the Folklore: Stephen Carlson’s Case against Morton Smith (Harvard Theological Review 99:0303, 291-327), and summarizes the issue in these words:

“Since the only commonality Carlson could perceive between Matt 5:13b and the quotation from Jeremiah was the verb ‘cast’ in his own English translation, Carlson deduced that Smith made an unthinkable exegetical error.
“Apparently Carlson did not consider the possibility that the parallelism with Matt 5:13b exists not in the words Smith quoted from Jeremiah but in the continuation of this verse indicated by “(and ff)” at the end of Smith’s quotation. …
“In other words, the parallels Smith perceived involved not only the context of the Greek words that he quoted from Matthew and Luke but also the context of the Greek words he quoted from Jeremiah. It had nothing to do with the English word ‘cast.’”

16. Theodore and Secret Mark are almost too good to be true.

a. The cliff hanger right at the end is extemely convinient. If any more was revealed about Clement’s alleged secret gnostic doctrine, the harder it would be to defend.
b. Jesus is so gay that no only is it said he loves the youth and the youth loves him, but he will have nothing to do with three women.

I do not know how to refute a statement that the letter and Secret Mark are almost too good to be true. I do not know what Carlson means with the word “good”. The cliff hanger at the end is strange, but as Charlie Hedrick puts it in an email to me: “It really is not possible to know why the letter ends where it does—unless you happened to be there at the time of the writing/copying”. It is therefore impossible to know why it ended just as the true interpretation was about to be revealed. Yet, if we are to believe what the letter says, the true interpretation was only meant to be given to the initiated ones, and if someone (Clement, Theodoros or their friends) decided to save the letter for posterity, then it is reasonable that the true interpretation was cut off from the letter so that those not worthy would not get hold of this interpretation.

That Jesus would be so gay that not only is it said he loves the youth and the youth loves him, but he will have nothing to do with three women, I do find to be rather comical, and I chose not to refute it since it basically is “irrefutable”, yet funny.

Roger Viklund, 2011-01-30

Peter Jeffery’s take on the handwriting of the Mar Saba letter

Peter Jeffery

As I said in my previous post (Scott Brown’s take on the handwriting of the Mar Saba letter), Peter Jeffery seems to be the “only” advocate of the theory that Clement’s letter to Theodoros (the Mar Saba letter) is a forgery, and at the same time also being willing to defend his position. Yesterday, the same day as Scott Brown published his Thoughts on the Reports by Venetia Anastasopoulou (which I commented upon earlier today) also Peter Jeffery had a short text published at BAR’s website: Additional Response to Handwriting Analysis.

Peter Jeffery, Scheide Professor of Music History Emeritus, Princeton University, wrote in 2007 The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (New Haven: Yale University Press). Together with Stephen Carlson, who seems to have vanished from the scene, he was, and still is, a leading forgery proponent.

 

Peter Jeffery’s main thesis is that the Mar Saba letter reflects homosexual ideas which best are to be seen in the light of the twentieth-century gay movement, and which also corresponds to the ideas held by the late Professor Morton Smith. In a previous contribution at BAR, Response to Handwriting Analysis, he said that he believes that Venetia Anastasopoulou’s handwriting analysis “does raise the bar for those who argue that Smith penned the Mar Saba document in his own hand (a claim I never made myself).” Be as that may, his whole book circled around one issue; i.e. Morton Smith being the forger.

In his new Additional Response to Handwriting Analysis, Jeffery seems to advance his position even further. Given the additional explanation presented by Venetia Anastasopoulou in Can a Document in Itself Reveal a Forgery? – Jeffery says that if “Anastasopoulou is right, therefore, we are left with a text that was transcribed by a Greek”. Although he never says it out loud, he still silently seems to accept Anastasopoulou’s conclusion that Smith did not write the letter. Jeffery said in his previous post that he never claimed that Smith himself penned the Mar Saba letter. But as he never seems to have said the opposite and he used most of the space in his book for accusing Smith of being a forger, I consider his “acceptance” that Smith did not write the letter himself as a small conversion. His willingness to adjust his theory, if only marginal, still is commendable.

pjeffery5

Peter Jeffery

But Jeffery still withhold that Smith probably was the counterfeiter, although he probably did not write the letter in his own hand. He says that the reason for suspecting the Mar Saba letter of being a forgery “is not the handwriting, but the content”. He considers it to be “more consonant with Morton Smith’s opinions than with the early Christian period.” He further claims that “proponents of an early Christian origin need to start explaining why a second-century date that leaves the text uninterpretable should be preferred to a twentieth-century date that renders it perfectly clear.” I consider this to be an inference based on Jeffery’s own reading of the letter and his own perception of what Christianity looked like in the first centuries; and then especially in Alexandria. Stephan Huller has in his “zealous” blogging made it quite clear that the Secret Gospel of Mark fits perfectly well in the context of early Alexandrian Christianity.

Jeffery refers to Scott G. Brown’s interpretation of “the document as an early Christian text” in the latter’s book Mark’s Other Gospel. He considers it to wish away all difficulties by means of “retranslation and bald-faced denial: Mark’s other gospel was mystical, not secret; it was not controversial despite Clement’s fulminations against heretics; it does not hint that Jesus practiced homosexual rites; it says nothing, in fact, that can’t already be found in canonical Mark.”

Now, this is really not what I found in Brown’s book. But of course he denies to have seen any “homosexual rites” as such are not to be found in the text and can only be visualized through the eyes of the beholder. I do not always agree with Brown, especially on his view that Clement was right and the Secret Gospel was an expansion of the canonical Mark, when it probably was just the opposite and canonical Mark was a reduction of Secret Mark (I am not convinced that Brown maintain this position today). (Update, January 27: Scott Brown sent a word that he still believes that canonical Mark preceded secret Mark.)

Anyway, Jeffery is arguing that although Smith might not have written the letter in his own hand, he still was the master behind its design. He rightly says that although Anastasopoulou stated that “it is the hand of someone who wrote with the fluency of a native Greek; she does not know who or when. Nor does she know if this Greek was the text’s author, or was perhaps copying it from another source, such as an earlier manuscript or a draft by Morton Smith.” This now seems to be Jeffery’s main theory, as he accepts that Smith could not have written the letter in his own hand, but still is convinced that the ideas presented are Smith’s.

However, Jeffery’s “new” proposal (and I believe this will be the future forgery theory, since it from now on will be difficult to claim that Smith himself could have imitated this extremely skilled eighteenth century Greek monastic hand) is that Smith had an assistant or an accomplice. This really is the only alternative if he shall withhold that Smith both did it and did not do it. It then had to be a Greek (or someone extremely versed in eighteenths century Greek monastic writing) accomplice. How Smith then managed to find such a person, who was both skilled enough and at the same time willing to take part in Smith’s personal vendetta against Christianity, remains a mystery. Why would anyone have participated in Smith’s personal vendetta and then kept this a secret for the rest of his or her life? Since there could not possible have been any money in this, there really seems to be no motive at all for such an act. This is by far more unlikely than Smith pulling this off by himself.

In his previous contribution, Response to Handwriting Analysis, Jeffery also suggested other alternatives. He claims that if “the Mar Saba scribe was not Smith” we do not know who it was. Besides being an “unknown Greek accomplice of Smith” it could have been a “rival of his who successfully deceived him?” But one has to ask oneself what motive of “hate” could have motivated one of Smith’s colleagues to do such a thing? The task of accomplishing this perfect forgery will then stand out as even more improbable. Since it already is extremely unlikely that Smith could have acquired all these incredible skills, and invested such a massive effort in order to produce a forgery that no one could disprove and took the secret with him to the grave; then how unlikely would it not be that a colleague of Smith would have done all this and taken his secret with him to the grave? Why then did not the colleague reveal his “prank”? What is the point of deceiving someone without ever revealing this deception or trick? And are we also to suspect that this colleague who deceived Smith also hired an accomplice, a Greek with firsthand knowledge of how to fake an extremely skilled eighteenth century Greek monastic hand? And how did this colleague manage to smuggle the book to the Mar Saba monastery, as outsiders seldom were allowed to visit? This scenario creates far more problems than it solves.

The third alternative would then, according to Jeffery, be that the person who wrote this really was “an 18th-century monk” who had mastered this style of writing. But if so, we have immensely dissociated ourselves from Jeffery’s original thesis on Morton Smith as the malicious gay loather of Christianity. On top of that, also all the other problems arise – how someone in the 18th-century would have managed to create this letter in the spirit of Clement; a letter which according to several experts would have been almost impossible to create until Otto Stählin’s concordance of Clement’ vocabulary was published in 1936.

Roger Viklund, 2011-01-25

Still nothing new regarding the Clement letter

In the search for the lost handwritten pages containing the alleged letter of Clement in which he quotes from the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark, Erik Zara in the beginning of August this year wrote to the Patriarchate in Jerusalem. A copy of the letter was sent to a number of scholars. Since now almost three months have passed and still Zara has not received an answer, I thought I might as well publish his letter. I have Zara’s permission to do so. Perhaps the leaves containing the letter are lost forever, and perhaps the Patriarchate has given up on finding them, or just is not interested in this issue.

The Library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Jerusalem
The Holy Land of Israel

Dear Revered Sir or Madam,

I write to you in regard to an important matter for modern Christian scholarship. During a visit in the Mar Saba monastery library in 1958, Dr. Morton Smith photographed the last three pages of the book Epistulae genuina e S. Ignatii Martyris, printed by Isaak Vossius in 1646. These pages contained a letter in 18th century hand writing, which allegedly was a transcript of a letter by His Holiness Titus Flavius Clemens, Clement of Alexandria. Prof. Guy G. Stroumsa, Shlomo Pines et alia visited Mar Saba in 1976 and studied the letter. The letter, which was regarded as a separate manuscript, was removed from the Epistulae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris. The manuscript was later in the 1970ies moved to the library of the Patriarchy in Jerusalem, where it was photographed by the librarian Kallistos Dourvas. Reportedly, also Prof. Quentin Quesnell has photographed the manuscript, in 1983. Dourvas has claimed that the manuscript, containing the letter allegedly written by Clement, still was in the possession of the Patriarchy in Jerusalem, in 1990, when he retired. When scholars later have tried to localize the so-called Clement letter, which begins κ τν πιστολν το γιωττου Κλμεντος το Στρωματως Θεοδρ, they have unfortunately not been successful. The letter has nevertheless been the subject of an intense scholarly debate, regarding, amongst other things, the authenticity of the letter. Since the ink it was written with has not been properly studied, but only black-and-white and colour photographs have been available, some have suggested that Morton Smith in fact forged the document in 1958. Another controversy regarding the letter is that that the writer (“Clement”) is speaking of a secret, mystical, Gospel of Mark, the authorship of which is still being under debate. In the last few years, Stephen C. Carlson has been claiming that the letter is a hoax, but has been disputed by Dr. Scott G. Brown et alia.

Since an authentic Clement letter would be important for us scholars trying to understand the early development of Gnosticism and similar heresies, and since a proven hoax on the part of Morton Smith or any other modern or medieval forger would expose the agenda of the Antichrists and make it possible to effectively refute all rumours about secret or hidden Gospels, an examination of the manuscript would indeed be very significant. I therefore hereby humbly request that you report to me if the letter allegedly written by Clement (attached to this fax) is in the possession of the Library of the Patriarchy of Jerusalem, if you could kindly provide me with high-resolution photographs of the letter, and also if the letter will be available for close examination by scholars in the future.

With the most highest respect,

Dr. Erik Zara, Th.D.

Roger Viklund, 2010-10-30

« Older entries