S. Carlson on M. Smith's "Gospel Hoax"
- If I may, I commend _The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith's Invention of _Secret Mark__
by Stephen C. Carlson (Baylor U. Press, Nov. 2005). Carlson present multiple,
confluent arguments pointing to Smith as the likely creator of a hoax, creating
a claimed 18th-century ms, supposedly a letter of Clement that quoted a secret
gospel. I have just read it. I had doubts here and there about the case, and
various questions remain, and, though scholars who still wish to defend the ms
as genuine (18th-c.) surely should be heard, at the moment, the chances of
vindicating "Secret Mark" appear to me almost vanishingly small.
Smith was so learned. And, notwithstanding his cutting language, very generous
with his time, e.g., reading and commenting on papers sent to him. He had an
appreciation of theatre. And his 1982 HTR "Clement of Alexandria and Secret
Mark: The Score at the End of a Decade" certainly showed a sense of play. Why?
If he did, how could he lie to Scholem? Did Fitzmyer notice a clue to a hoax
In any case, in my view, this book is a fine contribution to learning.
"Jannaeus, His Brother Absalom, and Judah the Essene"