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Morton Smith's Mark Secret

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  • goranson@duke.edu
    Morton Smith wrote in Monasteries and their Manuscripts (Archaeology 1960 p.173): ...persons hunting for manuscript material should not neglect printed
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 5, 2006
      Morton Smith wrote in "Monasteries and their Manuscripts" (Archaeology 1960
      p.173): "...persons hunting for manuscript material should not neglect printed
      books. Not only end papers and blank pages, but even margins often contain
      considerable manuscript additions."

      Smith wote marginal notes in his own books. "He wrote approximately seventy-five
      addenda and twenty-five corrigenda in his personal copy of CA [Clement of
      Alexandria]" (p. 376 in Scott Brown, "The Question of Motive in the Case
      against Morton Smith," JBL 2006).

      In Secret Mark (1973 p.11) Smith wrote: "Many of the [Mar Saba] printed books
      contained extensive handwritten passages. Binders' pages at front and back,
      blank pages between chapters, even margins had been pressed into use.

      So one might expect Smith should have described whether the Voss book had
      notations between chapters or in the margins. But he did not. Instead he spent
      time on a less important matter: photography to determine which edition of Voss
      it was.

      The Voss book, photographs show, was in very good condition, yet lacked its
      front cover and title page. The title page, plus any marginal notations, could
      have helped with provenance information. Nor did Smith, if he lacked time, ask
      the monks to check the margins later, nor did he go back to see it himself--
      despite subsequently being in Israel. Why was he not curious to see if the
      endpaper scribe (or another) had written elsewhere in the book? Perhaps because
      Smith was that scribe. Perhaps Smith did not want further provenance information
      published. Perhaps Smith used the front binding papers for practice, before
      bringing the book to Mar Saba (called "Mount Saba" in a new JTS review of
      Carlson's Gospel Hoax).

      Can the Voss book be found and examined in Jerusalem? If the Madiotes
      handwriting sample (in a cropped photo) is small, can the whole ms be found?

      Who is Theodore and why would Clement, uncharacteristically, be sharing, in
      writing, secrets with him?

      Brown in JBL discussed "The Gay Gospel Hypothesis," "The Hoax Hypothesis," and
      "The Controlled Experiment Hypothesis." But these aren't the only options; and
      two or three may overlap in some proposals. ("Controlled" experiment, also, can
      apply to controlled set-up, not necessarily controlled outcome.) Brown
      apparently gets mixed up about the possible options, e.g., on page 374. In the
      Hoax Hypothesis, Brown says, two implications are that "the hoaxer does not
      take his own hoax seriously" and that Smith "thought little of the people he
      duped." Then he attempts to deny these. But the implications are poorly framed.
      What if Smith had a two part motive: first to have his text (a serious joke)
      accepted as genuine, and secondly, to have it eventually shown false, with a
      hoped-for analogy made, that if his gospel was accepted as genuine and was not
      so, other gospels might be regarded similarly? Smith had anti-religion motives
      surely. And Smith regarded different people differently. Plainly two he most
      admired were A.D. Nock, who did not accept the text as fully genuine what it
      claimed to be; yet Smith dedicated a book (or two--"one who knows"?) to Nock.
      Smith appreciated Nock's non-acceptance.

      Then there's Gershom Scholem. Smith showed him the ms soon after he left Mar
      Saba. He's the first person mentioned. Smith evidently did not tell his Greek
      Orthodox hosts he had found a "Secret Mark". The 1960 Mar Saba ms catalog notes
      the Clement letter but no gospel text is mentioned there, despite Smith's
      previously having "walked on air" when he knew what he had. Only after the
      catalog was in print did Smith reveal his ms to the 1960 SBL meeting (6 pages
      of notes for that are in his archive).

      Scholem did not fully accept Smith's interpretation of Jesus in his ms. Morton
      Smith wrote to Scholem in 1976 (originals of the correspondence are preserved
      in Jerusalem, despite the destruction of Smith's other letters; the JTSA Smith
      archive is being catalogued this year). Smith to Scholem (JECS 2003 p.151 G.
      Stroumsa ed.) "...I think I've learned more about Jesus from you and Shabbatai
      Zvi (I'm sometimes not sure which is which) than I have from any other source
      except the gospels and the magical papyri...."

      Smith learned about the antinomian Shabbatai Zvi from Scholem many years before
      1958. Smith himself wrote that he mixed up Jesus and Shabbatai Zvi. Smith,
      plausibly, projected Shabbatai Zvi's antinomianism onto his literary depiction
      of Jesus in his Mark Secret.

      Stephen Goranson
      http://www.duke.edu/~goranson





      margin Arpreviouslych, SecM, Sbrown 376
      but which ed, no word on much more important notes
    • finckean
      Dear Steve, I m not equipped to answer your questions about the genuineness of the letter (viz. letter of Clement to Theodore - basis of additions to Mark
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 6, 2006
        Dear Steve,
        I'm not equipped to answer your questions about the genuineness of
        the letter (viz. letter of Clement to Theodore - basis of additions
        to Mark 10:34 and 46). Not having read Carlson's book, I may be
        premature in supporting Brown's advocacy of the authenticity, but
        here goes. Homosexuality in the Bible may have ended with the
        questionable passage, but it didn't begin there. After David
        beheaded Goliath, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame.
        Accompanying this rise to fame was the emotional attachment of the
        royal family to him: 1) Saul - "And he loved him very much" (1 Sam
        16:21); 2) Jonathan - "And Jonathan's soul was bound up in David's
        soul, and Jonathan loved him as his soul" (1 Sam 18:11); 3) Mikal -
        "And Saul's daughter Mikal loved David" (1 Sam 18:20). None of
        these "love" impulses was reciprocated - as far as we're told - and
        all of them became obsessional. In Saul's case he stalked David
        until his (Saul's) death, and Mikal continued her infatuation with
        David even after their marriage (1 Sam 18:28: "And Saul's daughter
        Mikal loved him"). Apparently the marriage was never consummated,
        and after his hasty departure Mikal nourished her fetishism by
        putting images of him in her bed (1 Sam 19:30). On the other hand,
        the relationship with Jonathan did attain a climax, because 1 Sam
        18:2-3 says "And Jonathan cut a covenant with David, since he loved
        him as his soul. And Jonathan stripped his garment and gave it to
        David, as well as his pants, his weapons and his underwear". The
        matter is left there, but then so is Clement's letter. Nothing is
        said of Jonathan's wealth in scripture, but as heir to the throne he
        had status. Cf. LGM 9: "the youth ... was rich". LGM 11: "And in
        the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his
        body" paraphrases 1 Sam 18:3. But (you may wonder) what business
        does 1 Sam 18 have in Mark? Mark 2:25-26 paraphrases the event of 1
        Sanm 21:1-7 - David's arrival at Nob and his request for bread from
        the priest and his defense of that request through appeal to the
        chastity of himself and his fellows. Just before, Mark 2:22 ends a
        lesson with the words "New wine (goes) in new wineskins". The
        lesson is about a bridegroom separated from his beloved male
        friend. "New wine into new wineskins" includes the words in
        Greek "neon eis askous" (new into skins). That is close enough to
        neaniskos "youth" in Greek to suspect that Clement's letter - the
        additional material at Mark 10 - is an echo of the rewritten
        David/Saulide episodes at chapter 2.
        Andrew Fincke
      • goranson@duke.edu
        ... Hello Andrew Fincke, If I read you right, you first stated that you tentatively accept Scott Brown s view that the putative letter of Clement with Secret
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 7, 2006
          Quoting finckean <finckean@...>:

          > Dear Steve,
          > I'm not equipped to answer your questions about the genuineness of
          > the letter (viz. letter of Clement to Theodore - basis of additions
          > to Mark 10:34 and 46). Not having read Carlson's book, I may be
          > premature in supporting Brown's advocacy of the authenticity, but
          > here goes. Homosexuality in the Bible may have ended with the
          > questionable passage, but it didn't begin there. After David
          > beheaded Goliath, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame.
          > Accompanying this rise to fame was the emotional attachment of the
          > royal family to him: [snip...]
          > Andrew Fincke

          Hello Andrew Fincke,
          If I read you right, you first stated that you tentatively accept Scott
          Brown's
          view that the putative letter of Clement with "Secret Maark" is genuine, and
          then, second, you gave some analysis of what you consider precursors to the
          text. My question: even if, for conversation's sake, we accept your analysis,
          what does that have to do with who really wrote the letter? Morton Smith, no
          doubt, had read the verses you cite, so your exposition does not appear to me
          to exclude the possibility that he wrote the "Clement" text. I have given some
          of my reasons why I consider the text not genuine.

          Additionally, Stephen Carlson (author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's
          Invention of Secret Mark) has responded to the recent JBL article by Scott
          Brown (author of Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith's Controversial
          Discovery) on possible proposed motives, on his blog:
          http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog.

          Also, for those interested, Peter Jeffery has a book (that I haven't read
          yet)forthcoming later this year: The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined
          Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (Yale U.P.).

          best,
          Stephen Goranson
          http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
        • finckean
          ... Hello Andrew Fincke,If I read you right, you first stated that you tentatively accept Scott Brown s view that the putative letter of Clement with Secret
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 7, 2006
            --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, goranson@... wrote:
            Hello Andrew Fincke,If I read you right, you first stated that you
            tentatively accept Scott Brown's view that the putative letter of
            Clement with "Secret Maark" is genuine, and then, second, you gave
            some analysis of what you consider precursors to the text. My
            question: even if, for conversation's sake, we accept your analysis
            what does that have to do with who really wrote the letter? Morton
            Smith, no doubt, had read the verses you cite, so your exposition
            does not appear to me to exclude the possibility that he wrote
            the "Clement" text.

            Dear Steve,
            You brought up valid objections to the authenticity of the letter.
            You directed us to JBL for Brown's massive article on homosexuality
            in the Bible. I read the 33 pages and said to myself, "Why did
            Brown put us through this long treadmill? A heoric figure with a
            naked devoted protege (and rich one) is right there at 1 Sam 18:2-
            3." I then sat down and wrote a letter in which I showed a place
            where Mark cites another part of the same business, 1 Sam 21:1-7,
            explicitly and implicitly connects the incident with a
            neaniskos "youth" who was enamoresd of a male friend. You're
            perfectly right. Either Smith or any number of his predecessors
            could have taken Jonathan's unseemly behavior and made out of it a
            little story for Mark 6. That's not the point. The point is, Brown
            wrote 33 pages hashing and rehashing homosexuality in the Bible as
            if a Martian had landed in a spaceship, and the scientific community
            was up in arms to examine it/them from every standpoint. And by
            directing us to the article, you in some sense affirmed the validity
            of his approach. The Israelis say, "There is no bear, also no
            forest" That is no bear (Martian) and no forest (spaceship).
            There's just naked Jonathan and strong David, the shepherd/king,
            standing before us in New Testament garb.
            Furthermore, your
            "Additionally, Stephen Carlson (author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton
            Smith's Invention of Secret Mark) has responded to the recent JBL
            article by Scott Brown (author of Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking
            Morton Smith's Controversial Discovery) on possible proposed
            motives, on his blog: <http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog>."
            didn't work for me - neither the link, nor direct typing of the
            address.
            Andrew

            [Moderator's note: The URL works now because I have fixed it. For those who didn't get it the first, second, or third time around, DO NOT put a period ("full stop" for those who speak the Queen's English) after a URL if you want the URL to work. Yahoo's URL parser will include the period in the URL and the URL will not work. If you must put a period after a URL, enclose the URL in <> so that Yahoo's parsing software will exclude the period from the URL.
            RMW}
          • finckean
            Dear Steve, You write: My question: even if, for conversation s sake, we accept your analysis, what does that have to do with who really wrote the letter?
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 9, 2006
              Dear Steve,

              You write: "My question: even if, for conversation's sake, we
              accept your analysis, what does that have to do with who really
              wrote the letter? Morton Smith, no doubt, had read the verses you
              cite, so
              your exposition does not appear to me to exclude the possibility that
              he wrote the "Clement" text."
              My understanding of the matter - and I don't have the source books
              at hand - is that the Clement-letter is fragmentary, esp. there is a
              gap between LGM 1 (Mark LGM 1) and LGM 2 (Mark 10:46 and one after
              LGM 2. If Smith invented the hoax, why the gaps? And if the 1 Samuel
              material is the crux of his invention why did he leave out the
              juicy material: 1) 1 Sam 20:41 "And they kissed and wept until a
              great climax" (so Septuagint; Hebrew: "until David got large"); and
              2) 2 Sam 1:26 (David's recollection of the affair): "You were very
              lovely to me; your love for me was more awesome than heterosexual
              love"? The Clement material - far from being sensationalist - was an
              original part of Mark designed to tone down the eroticism of the
              Jonathan-David account by highlighting the spiritual aspect of the
              relationship. Clement's contemporaries considered even that
              emasculation of the text too risque and excised it. What we have is
              part of a letter Clement wrote describing the events of the
              editorial committee meeting where the final form of Mark was settled.
              Andrew Fincke
            • goranson@duke.edu
              ... Dear Andrew, Briefly, the so-called Clement letter is fragmentary in the sense that we have the beginning but not the end. The two quotations from
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 9, 2006
                Quoting finckean <finckean@...>:

                > Dear Steve,
                >
                > You write: "My question: even if, for conversation's sake, we
                > accept your analysis, what does that have to do with who really
                > wrote the letter? Morton Smith, no doubt, had read the verses you
                > cite, so
                > your exposition does not appear to me to exclude the possibility that
                > he wrote the "Clement" text."
                > My understanding of the matter - and I don't have the source books
                > at hand - is that the Clement-letter is fragmentary, esp. there is a
                > gap between LGM 1 (Mark LGM 1) and LGM 2 (Mark 10:46 and one after
                > LGM 2. If Smith invented the hoax, why the gaps? And if the 1 Samuel
                > material is the crux of his invention why did he leave out the
                > juicy material: 1) 1 Sam 20:41 "And they kissed and wept until a
                > great climax" (so Septuagint; Hebrew: "until David got large"); and
                > 2) 2 Sam 1:26 (David's recollection of the affair): "You were very
                > lovely to me; your love for me was more awesome than heterosexual
                > love"? The Clement material - far from being sensationalist - was an
                > original part of Mark designed to tone down the eroticism of the
                > Jonathan-David account by highlighting the spiritual aspect of the
                > relationship. Clement's contemporaries considered even that
                > emasculation of the text too risque and excised it. What we have is
                > part of a letter Clement wrote describing the events of the
                > editorial committee meeting where the final form of Mark was settled.
                > Andrew Fincke

                Dear Andrew,
                Briefly, the so-called "Clement letter" is fragmentary in the sense
                that we have
                the beginning but not the end. The two quotations from so-called "Secret Mark"
                are presented as just that, two excerpts, so there is no "gap" problem.
                But the
                letter breaks off in a tantalizing manner that is part of Smith's joke
                and hoax.
                It is remarkable that the supposedly 18th-century scribe (actually Smith) did
                not remark about the exasperating break in the text.
                Smith attempted to make his letter believable, so he did not push
                beyond what he
                thought he could get away with.
                Perhaps if you read Carlson's book, which gathers and adds to the
                evidence, you
                will find that Smith wrote the letter. I have suggested some additional
                indications. And Peter Jeffery apparently has more to add soon via Yale
                University Press.

                best,
                Stephen Goranson
                http://www.duke.edu/~goranson


                >
              • George F Somsel
                I find your interpretation of the David material somewhat outré. Even your earlier material on Saul/David and Michal/David was rather perverse, but you have
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 9, 2006
                  I find your interpretation of the David material somewhat outré. Even your earlier material on Saul/David and Michal/David was rather perverse, but you have outdone yourself with your comments on Jonathan and David. By your interpretation of the LXX as "a great climax" and of the MT as "David got big" you are clearly implying a homoerotic situation when no such meaning is implied. The Greek of the LXX simply indicates a "complete end" and unless, you are to maintain that in Ps 126.2-3 God himself has an erection, you must concede that you have misinterpreted this.

                  ___________


                  finckean <finckean@...> wrote:
                  Dear Steve,

                  You write: "My question: even if, for conversation's sake, we
                  accept your analysis, what does that have to do with who really
                  wrote the letter? Morton Smith, no doubt, had read the verses you
                  cite, so
                  your exposition does not appear to me to exclude the possibility that
                  he wrote the "Clement" text."
                  My understanding of the matter - and I don't have the source books
                  at hand - is that the Clement-letter is fragmentary, esp. there is a
                  gap between LGM 1 (Mark LGM 1) and LGM 2 (Mark 10:46 and one after
                  LGM 2. If Smith invented the hoax, why the gaps? And if the 1 Samuel
                  material is the crux of his invention why did he leave out the
                  juicy material: 1) 1 Sam 20:41 "And they kissed and wept until a
                  great climax" (so Septuagint; Hebrew: "until David got large"); and
                  2) 2 Sam 1:26 (David's recollection of the affair): "You were very
                  lovely to me; your love for me was more awesome than heterosexual
                  love"? The Clement material - far from being sensationalist - was an
                  original part of Mark designed to tone down the eroticism of the
                  Jonathan-David account by highlighting the spiritual aspect of the
                  relationship. Clement's contemporaries considered even that
                  emasculation of the text too risque and excised it. What we have is
                  part of a letter Clement wrote describing the events of the
                  editorial committee meeting where the final form of Mark was settled.
                  Andrew Fincke






                  george
                  g f somsel
                • finckean
                  Dear Steve, You write: Smith attempted to make his letter believable, so he did not push beyond what he thought he could get away with. To LGM 1:1 A certain
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 10, 2006
                    Dear Steve,
                    You write: "Smith attempted to make his letter believable, so he did
                    not push beyond what he thought he could get away with."

                    To LGM 1:1 "A certain woman whose brother had died" must refer to
                    Mikal, whose brother, Jonathan, had died in the sense that he (with
                    all Israel) were paralyzed with fear of Goliath. At least we have
                    no mention of Jonathan after his naming as Saul's firstborn in 1 Sam
                    14:49 until the abrupt emergence in 18:1, as if he shot out of the
                    tomb aftger David's miraculous murder of Goliath.
                    LGM 2:1: "and his mother and Salome were there". We know from
                    Josephus that Salome was the girl who caused John the Baptist's
                    execution. See now Ross Kraemer, "Implicating Herodias and Her
                    Daughter in the Death of John the Baptizer", JBL 1/2 (2006), 321-
                    349, 325ff. Perhaps John's predecessor, Jonathan, suffered some
                    mishap with a girl named Salome that caused a sort of paralysis. At
                    any rate, he owed his life to David, for thice it says: "And
                    Jonathan loved David AS HIS SOUL" (1 Sam 18:2, 18:3 and 20:17).
                    Jonathan was apparently debilitated by his injury, because he said
                    to David, "You will be king, and I will be your deputy" (23:17).
                    LGM 2:2a: "And Jesus did not receive them." Cf. 1 Sam 21:5: "We
                    have had no contact with woman for three days". With that statement
                    David justified his request for provisions - namely the shewbread -
                    from the priest. That incident is summarized at Mark 2:25-26.
                    LGM 2:2b: "And as he was leaving Jericho" Cf. the continuation at 1
                    Sam 21:10: "And David stood and fled in that day from Saul"

                    Finally to your: "Perhaps if you read Carlson's book, which gathers
                    and adds to the evidence, you will find that Smith wrote the letter.
                    I have suggested some additional indications." I find your
                    argumentation, most of which I don't follow, since I haven't read
                    Carlson's book, more compelling than what I read in Carlson's 9-part
                    blog. I'm trying to get the book on interlibrary loan. There's
                    also a German book from a few years back that may deserve a look.
                    Andrew Fincke
                  • finckean
                    ... Even your earlier material on Saul/David and Michal/David was rather perverse, but you have outdone yourself with your comments on Jonathan and David. By
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 10, 2006
                      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, George F Somsel <gfsomsel@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I find your interpretation of the David material somewhat outré.
                      Even your earlier material on Saul/David and Michal/David was rather
                      perverse, but you have outdone yourself with your comments on Jonathan
                      and David. By your interpretation of the LXX as "a great climax" and
                      of the MT as "David got big" you are clearly implying a homoerotic
                      situation when no such meaning is implied. The Greek of the LXX
                      simply indicates a "complete end" and unless, you are to maintain that
                      in Ps 126.2-3 God himself has an erection, you must concede that you
                      have misinterpreted this.
                      >
                      > ___________
                      Dear George,
                      The Greek is "ews sunteleias megalhs". That may be "great end" but
                      not "complete end". Megalhs means "great, large, dynamic". I concede
                      your point about the Hebrew - It may simply be: "And they kissed each
                      other and wept (over?) each other until David went overboard". Whether
                      such a massive barrage of kissing falls short of "implying a
                      homoerotic situation" is not for me to decide.
                      Andrew Fincke
                    • finckean
                      ... additional ... Yale ... Dear Stephen, The German book is Echard Rau, Das Geheime Markusevangelium: Schriftfund oder Raetsel, Neukirchen 2003 (96 pages).
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 11, 2006
                        Stephen Goranson wrote:
                        > Perhaps if you read Carlson's book, which gathers and adds to the
                        > evidence, you
                        > will find that Smith wrote the letter. I have suggested some
                        additional
                        > indications. And Peter Jeffery apparently has more to add soon via
                        Yale
                        > University Press.

                        Dear Stephen,
                        The German book is Echard Rau, Das Geheime Markusevangelium:
                        Schriftfund oder Raetsel, Neukirchen 2003 (96 pages). I'm in touch
                        with Scott Brown by e-mail and requested that he join the discussion.
                        Andrew Fincke
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