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Re: [XTalk] Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: Ken Olson To: Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 4:01 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Chilton on
    Message 1 of 17 , Oct 26, 2006
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Ken Olson" <kenolson101@...>
      To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 4:01 AM
      Subject: Re: [XTalk] Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark


      > On October 25, 2006, Jack Kimon wrote:
      >
      >>>Interesting but Chilton's review is somewhat hollow. Stephen's book is
      > extremely well done but still unconvincing.<<
      >
      > It has proved convincing to several competent scholars.

      Of course, Ken. Stephen's book is very well done. There are going to be
      competent scholars who accept Stephen's well presented position as well as
      competent scholars who do NOT. That is the way scholarship works and
      Stephen is an excellent scholar.


      >
      >>> My first objection is the
      > "homoerotic" thing...to whom? Sexually insecure and adolescent
      > modernWestern males?<<
      >
      > I do not believe that Carlson is saying that you or I or any particular
      > reader would find the text sexually stimulating, but rather that the
      > narrative contains a suggestion of homosexual activity (see chapter five
      > of
      > his book). As he is by no means the first person to find a suggestion of
      > homosexual activity in it, I think it is reasonable to see that suggestion
      > it in the text.

      And I do not think so in the context of the ancient Middle East. When I put
      both the canonical version in Mark and the Secret Mark version together of a
      naked young man with a linen wrap I get a baptism in "living water"
      scenario. Some clues suggest that the Gethsemane olive orchard may have
      belonged to Mark's parents in the upper city. There was the Kidron water
      flow that supplied water to the olive orchard as well as the Gihon Spring
      and may have been used for baptism in this "favorite place" of Jesus. The
      conflation of the Lazarus story and the Gethsemane story is no different
      than other narratives in the Gospels but my point is that there is much in
      the ANE and in other cultures around the world in modern times that are NOT
      "homoerotic" or suggestive of homosexuality but will be perceived as such in
      the sexually juvenile Western World. I cannot count the number of times
      that male friends in Israel, Egypt or even Indonesis, Thailand and Malaysia
      have taken my hand when walking down the street. It is, in their culture, a
      gesture of protection as well as signalling locals that "this person is with
      me." Don't try that in downtown Memphis.



      >
      >>> The foundation of the claim that Clement's letter to
      > Theodore is a fake lies in Morton Smith being a con man.<<
      >
      > First, the term "con man" is a more extreme term than Carlson uses or
      > argues
      > for. Stephen calls Secret Mark a "hoax."

      But a "hoax" is a con job.

      >
      > Second, this is Carlson's conclusion based on the evidence he produces,
      > not
      > an unexamined premise. Carlson may be wrong in his conclusions, but it is
      > imaginable that Smith did compose the letter to Theodore himself and the
      > possibility can be investigated, which is what Carlson did.

      Yes, of course. Stephen was very thorough and it is certainly not an
      unexamined premise any more than my own. I am not claiming Stephen is
      wrong, I am saying I am not yet convinced which is also not an unexamined
      premise. First, I need to be convinced that one of the "forgeries within a
      forgery within a forgery," namely the forgery of Clement is indeed one of
      the forgeries and that Morton Smith was a good enough Clementine scholar to
      pull that off.

      >
      >>> I don't believe it
      > and it gains purchase because Smith is dead making him a tad unresponsive
      > to
      > the charge.<<
      >
      > We make claims about dead people all the time. Such is not off limits in
      > this field and you produce no evidence that Carlson is incorrect unless
      > you
      > wish us to accept your personal incredulity as having probative value.
      >
      > >>My examination of the fly leaves show a very rapidly...almost
      > urgent...copying of an exemplar manuscript (probably in an uncial Greek)
      > into a Phanariot Greek minuscule with all of the flourishes and ligatures
      > peculiar to the 18th century. Unless it can be demonstated to me that a
      > few
      > flow tremors do not appear in genuine 18th century minuscule manuscripts
      > written similarly hurried AND if it can be demonstrated to me that there
      > are
      > non primarily Greek speaking scholars who can write 18th century Phanariot
      > minuscule very hurriedly, Secret Mark can still be genuine.<<
      >
      > It seems that you wish to place the burden of proof on Carlson to prove
      > the
      > non-existence of flow tremors in hurriedly-written 18th century
      > manuscripts.
      > If you wish to falsify Carlson's claims about the tremors, all you have to
      > do is produce counterexamples.

      That is one of the problems for both Stephen and me...lack of the primary
      resource...the actual manuscript. I have no reason to believe that Morton
      Smith was accustomed to writing fluently, normally and rhthmically ( and
      hurriedly) in a Phanariot Greek hand. This is a hurried hand which conforms
      in my mind to a librarian attempting to preserve something he thought
      important and was probably ordered to destroy, much like Kallistos was
      ordered to do the same thing to the copy. And why would he tear out the
      leaves and "lose" them..or destroy them when access to them would settle the
      debatte? In a real sense, the letter is not a "forgery" but a copy. In a
      legitimate copy of the original, a "tremor" can form where the copyist
      pauses to check back to the exemplar and there may be an occasional pen
      rest. I also see foxing that occurred between 1642 and the time of the
      writing and also foxing that occurred afterward that interferes with the
      writing....at least so it appears from both the Smith and Hedrick photos.

      In short, a COPY will demonstrate the same flow patterns as a forgery as the
      18th century scribe's eyes went from the original Clementine letter to the
      flyleaves and back again.

      >
      > It also seems that you are insisting that in order for Carlson's theory to
      > be plausible, he must show that someone besides Smith who is a non
      > primarily
      > Greek speaking scholar is expert enough to have written the Greek hand.
      > But
      > Carlson is suggesting that Smith practiced in order to be able to draft
      > the
      > letter to Theodore and it is very understandable that other people who
      > lack
      > Smith's motive and did not want to produce a manuscript in such a hand
      > would
      > not invest the time and effort to acquire the ability. I find it
      > fascinating that you have to qualify your requirement with "non primarily
      > Greek speaking."

      Why? I am seeing a document that was written, IMO, by someone who spoke and
      wrote Greek in an 18th century Phanariot minuscule naturally. I think the
      suggestion that Morton Smith practiced for..how long? months? Years> ..to
      write this is far fetched.




      > You seem to be admitting that there might indeed be human
      > beings who have acquired this ability, but Smith could not have been one
      > of
      > them by virtue of having English as a first language.

      That is what my paleographer's eye tells me.



      > (It would, of course,
      > also be possible to entertain the theory that Smith used an accomplice who
      > was Greek scribe).

      In a Phanariot minuscule hand with its "legalistic" shorthandedness,
      ligatures and flourishes? That is still reaching too far and I think he
      would have to had an accomplice for the Clementine style as well. That is
      just too many hoaxers to remain a secret for so long.


      >
      > One of the characteristics that many of Carlson's critics (Scott Brown
      > being
      > something of an exception) seem to share is the desire to dismiss the
      > possibility that Smith could have composed the letter to Theodore himself
      > without ever seriously investigating that possibility or engaging Carlson
      > at
      > the level of detailed argument with which he investigates that
      > possibility.

      Other than the familiarity with Clement and his works common to any scholar
      in Smith's position, I think it is legitimate to question whether Smith had
      the degree of specialization combined with an equal degree of specialization
      in a Greek minuscule hand that is unique. I am not sure that a similar cas
      could not be made against a number of Biblical scholars with such an
      intensive examination of their abilities, styles, prejudices, etc.

      Stephen may well be right but I am not convinced and do not see his book as
      the "final" deathblow to SM that is being promoted. We need the actual mss
      and it looks like Kallistos has thought to himself that "so-and-so was
      supposed to have destroyed this in 1750 and now I am going to get it done."

      Regards

      Jack Kilmon
      San Antonio, Texas
    • Jack Kilmon
      ... From: To: Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 5:57 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk] Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark
      Message 2 of 17 , Oct 26, 2006
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: <goranson@...>
        To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 5:57 AM
        Subject: Re: [XTalk] Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark


        > Jack, you described the manuscript writing using these words: very
        > rapidly,
        > almost urgent, hurried, hurriedly. I'm no expert on this, but I am not
        > aware
        > that it has been demonstrated that the manuscript was written quickly. I
        > find
        > it more probable that Smith took his time, and practiced, including on the
        > front end papers. And then brought the book with him to Mar Saba.

        Actually, it is my observation of the hand that leads me to believe it was
        written hurriedly. The flow tremors and pen rests could have resulted from
        the scribe's eyes moving back and forth between the original and his copy on
        the fly leaves. It would have been far easier to fake the letter in an
        early uncial script than in the highly flourished Phanariot style, IMO.

        >
        > Even though Smith wrote, more than once, that marginal annotations in old
        > book
        > were an important source of information, he gave no information about any
        > marginal notes that the Voss book may have had. Nor, evidently, though he
        > was
        > subsequently in Jerusalem, did he make efforts to reexamine the book, or
        > have
        > someone else to do so. Also, he did not mention in his Mar Saba catalog
        > that
        > the manuscript had Secret Gospel quotations. And only after the 1960
        > catalog
        > (and his seldom-seen 1958 publication) were in print did he announce his
        > find
        > at the December 1960 SBL meeting.
        >
        > I'm all for discoveries of ancient documents. But I think Secret Mark is
        > not
        > ancient, but modern.
        >
        > Smith directed few doctoral dissertations. I am not aware of any on that
        > short
        > elite list who has declared Secret Mark non-genuine other than Neusner.
        > But I
        > can say that at least two of the others--even if they are not persuaded
        > that
        > motive has been shown--do allow that Morton Smith was capable, in terms of
        > knowledge and skill, of creating the manuscript.

        I cannot think of what the motive could have been either, particularly since
        Smith would have another 30 years to his career which would have been
        destroyed. Much of the debate appears to settle around Smith's activities
        and eccentricities as well as dislike for him. I have read some of his work
        on political and social aspects of early sects but I don't think it has been
        demonstrated sufficiently that his degrees of specialization in Clement,
        Greek hands and Markan style (just one of these specialties is a career in
        itself) was so acute. My position is that I am just not as convinced as
        those who claim Stephen has dealt the definitive death blow.

        Regards,

        Jack

        Jack Kilmon
        San Antonio, Texas


        >
        > best,
        > Stephen Goranson
        > http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
      • Jack Kilmon
        ... From: Stephen C. Carlson To: Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:22 AM Subject: Re: [XTalk]
        Message 3 of 17 , Oct 27, 2006
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Stephen C. Carlson" <scarlson@...>
          To: <crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thursday, October 26, 2006 10:22 AM
          Subject: Re: [XTalk] Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark


          > At 09:27 PM 10/25/2006 -0500, Jack Kilmon wrote:
          >>My examination of the fly leaves show a very rapidly...almost
          >>urgent...copying of an exemplar manuscript (probably in an uncial Greek)
          >>into a Phanariot Greek minuscule with all of the flourishes and ligatures
          >>peculiar to the 18th century.
          >
          > Thanks for your comments, Jack. For those on-list who may not
          > be aware of it, Jack's web page about his uncial exemplar
          > hypothesis is found here: http://www.historian.net/smunc.htm
          >
          > A major difficulty I'm having with your idea about an uncial
          > exemplar, Jack, is how could a early modern monastic scribe
          > copy a scriptio continua (no spaces between words) uncial
          > exemplar into a fully accented and word divided minuscule
          > script "very rapidly" without any word division errors or
          > typical confusions of uncial letters (e.g. between E O S).

          That's a valid point, Stephen. I would expect, however, that an 18th
          century Greek scribe whose natural hand was the "flourishy" Phanariot of SM
          could read an uncial mss and just copy away in his minuscule hand.



          > A further difficulty with the idea of a hasty scribe is
          > that the scribe must have expanded common uncial nomina
          > sacra (e.g. IC for name "Jesus") into its full spelling.

          If my natural hand is a minuscule without nomina sacra, as was the
          convention at that time, and I knew what the NS were, I see no problem with
          this.

          > The amount of editorial interventions to produce the text
          > we see in the photographs is irreconcilable with the idea
          > that the scribe was pressed for time.

          Even if his eyes were shifting back and forth from his copy to the original?


          >
          > Also, Smith had a lot of prior experience with 18th century
          > hands, as I documented in my book, so your observation about
          > the peculiarity of the hand would tend to exclude a great
          > number of people as a candidate for the scribe, but not Smith
          > himself.

          As I told Ken and Stephen , you may well be right...and I hope you are not
          offended by my skepticism...maybe I am just stubborn but my paleographer's
          eye is just not yet convinced. Does a 42 year old Smith have these
          abilities? I see a hand that must have taken years to develop. Why would a
          man in the peak of his career jeapardize it? I would like to further explore
          my opinion that the hand is a hurried one. This is an important issue and
          can be the deciding factor for me. The line quality of a hurried hand is
          good. Quality diminishes the slower the hand. There are normally 3 writing
          speeds for the average person using this type of script, which includes
          English). There is a set speed, a facile speed and a rapid speed.. SM
          appears to me, from the photographs, to be between a facile and rapid hand
          because of the line quality, use of accents, apparent quill pressure and the
          Phanariot flourishes. Because SM is a copy requiring the copyist to
          write...stop...look to the exemplar...write again, etc, I would expect quill
          lifts and rests. The person who wrote/copied SM was right handed...what was
          Smith?

          Where is the Voss book now? was there bleed through or offset transfer to
          the boardpaper? It seems to me that a forensic examination of the book
          itself, which I assume is in Jerusalem and was not "lost," could yield some
          information.

          I will say that your research and examination of the photographs is so well
          done and without bias that I am leaning in your direction...I just need more
          for the reasons I have outlined in these communications before concluding
          that Morton Smith was an extremely talented nut and a fraud.


          Best Regards,

          Jack


          Jack Kilmon
          San Antonio



          >
          > Stephen Carlson
          > --
          > Stephen C. Carlson
          > mailto:scarlson@...
          > Weblog:
          > http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
          > Author of: The Gospel Hoax,
          > http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
          >
          >
          >
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        • Mike Grondin
          ... STM this is only the case if there is a natural hand tremor due to age or infirmity. Such a tremor would probably result in small jags if writing too
          Message 4 of 17 , Nov 1, 2006
            --- Jack Kilmon wrote:
            > The line quality of a hurried hand is good.
            > Quality diminishes the slower the hand.

            STM this is only the case if there is a natural hand
            tremor due to age or infirmity. Such a tremor would
            probably result in small jags if writing too slowly.
            Not having that problem, however, I find the opposite
            to be true, viz. that the more quickly I write, the
            lower the quality.

            Mike Grondin
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Jack, Do you have evidence for this, or is it just your experienced opinion? It seems like an unlikely over-generalization to me. When writing fast, isn t
            Message 5 of 17 , Nov 1, 2006
              At 09:21 AM 11/1/2006, Mike Grondin wrote:

              >--- Jack Kilmon wrote:
              > > The line quality of a hurried hand is good.
              > > Quality diminishes the slower the hand.

              Jack,
              Do you have evidence for this, or is it just your experienced opinion?
              It seems like an unlikely over-generalization to me. When writing fast,
              isn't there a tendency to do fine on the straightaways, but then tend to
              overshoot the hard turns? Or by "line quality" are you only talking about
              the "straightaways"?


              >STM this is only the case if there is a natural hand
              >tremor due to age or infirmity. Such a tremor would
              >probably result in small jags if writing too slowly.

              True, the straightaways will get more ragged if drawn too slowly.
              Seems to me *confidence* would be a bigger factor.
              Bob


              >Not having that problem, however, I find the opposite
              >to be true, viz. that the more quickly I write, the
              >lower the quality.
              >
              >Mike Grondin
              >
              >


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • David Hindley
              ... From: David Hindley [mailto:dhindley@njassociates.com] Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 9:30 AM To: crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: Chilton on
              Message 6 of 17 , Nov 3, 2006
                -----Original Message-----
                From: David Hindley [mailto:dhindley@...]
                Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 9:30 AM
                To: 'crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com'
                Subject: Re: Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark

                Ken Olsen said:

                <<It seems that you wish to place the burden of proof on Carlson to prove the non-existence of flow tremors in hurriedly-written 18th century manuscripts. If you wish to falsify Carlson's claims about the tremors, all you have to do is produce counterexamples.>>

                I am not directing this response to you in particular Ken, but if one is making the claim that evidence for tremors almost certainly means forgery (or whatever semantic term we wish to employ for rhetorical effect), and I think Stephen has essentially done so in his book, he *should* include an examination of similar documents for indications of, or lack of, similar tremors. In other words, there has been no control study to compare the manuscript photos against. The fact that a tremor can be an indication of forgery, when other evidence rules out a contrary explanation, does not mean that these tremors prove forgery. This is basic scholarly method, as without controls we are only making allegations.

                I've said it before and I'll say it again, this whole debate about a possible forgery smacks of "advocacy scholarship" and a "will to believe" so strong that almost any argument seems persuasive. What's the argument here, really? "Smith *could* have done it (because he was an evil genius, like the devil himself), so he *must* have done it (because the idea of a Secret Mark, in which Jesus *may* be portrayed as a libertine, is repulsive to our sensibilities)." The unstated assumptions I am picking up are in parentheses.

                Smith might have originally zeroed in on this particular manuscript, in spite of its source (a partial manuscript quotation in a blank book page written in a modern hand), because it could be interpreted to show that a relatively early tradition once existed that supported his already formed opinion that Jesus was a libertine. Yet he ultimately did not press the issue, probably because evidence was not strong enough to really prove anything. He himself noted the letter fragment appeared too good to be true. At best, even if this letter of Clement of Alexandria was genuine, the Gospel which the author quoted may not have been. Remember, it was the supposed Carpocratian version of Secret Mark that said "naked man with naked man", with "Clement" denying that such a passage was in his own Church's version.

                Is it really necessary to kill the messenger to dispose of Secret Mark? It can be disposed of quite nicely on its own merits, without getting ugly.

                Respectfully,

                Dave Hindley
                Cleveland, Ohio USA
              • goranson@duke.edu
                ... Dave, I suggest that your message takes as too small the difference between whether the MS is a copy of a second century text or is a twentieth-century
                Message 7 of 17 , Nov 3, 2006
                  Quoting David Hindley <dhindley@...>:

                  >
                  >
                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: David Hindley [mailto:dhindley@...]
                  > Sent: Friday, November 03, 2006 9:30 AM
                  > To: 'crosstalk2@yahoogroups.com'
                  > Subject: Re: Chilton on Carlson & Secret Mark
                  >
                  > Ken Olsen said:
                  >
                  > <<It seems that you wish to place the burden of proof on Carlson to
                  > prove the non-existence of flow tremors in hurriedly-written 18th
                  > century manuscripts. If you wish to falsify Carlson's claims about
                  > the tremors, all you have to do is produce counterexamples.>>
                  >
                  > I am not directing this response to you in particular Ken, but if one
                  > is making the claim that evidence for tremors almost certainly means
                  > forgery (or whatever semantic term we wish to employ for rhetorical
                  > effect), and I think Stephen has essentially done so in his book, he
                  > *should* include an examination of similar documents for indications
                  > of, or lack of, similar tremors. In other words, there has been no
                  > control study to compare the manuscript photos against. The fact that
                  > a tremor can be an indication of forgery, when other evidence rules
                  > out a contrary explanation, does not mean that these tremors prove
                  > forgery. This is basic scholarly method, as without controls we are
                  > only making allegations.
                  >
                  > I've said it before and I'll say it again, this whole debate about a
                  > possible forgery smacks of "advocacy scholarship" and a "will to
                  > believe" so strong that almost any argument seems persuasive. What's
                  > the argument here, really? "Smith *could* have done it (because he
                  > was an evil genius, like the devil himself), so he *must* have done
                  > it (because the idea of a Secret Mark, in which Jesus *may* be
                  > portrayed as a libertine, is repulsive to our sensibilities)." The
                  > unstated assumptions I am picking up are in parentheses.
                  >
                  > Smith might have originally zeroed in on this particular manuscript,
                  > in spite of its source (a partial manuscript quotation in a blank
                  > book page written in a modern hand), because it could be interpreted
                  > to show that a relatively early tradition once existed that supported
                  > his already formed opinion that Jesus was a libertine. Yet he
                  > ultimately did not press the issue, probably because evidence was not
                  > strong enough to really prove anything. He himself noted the letter
                  > fragment appeared too good to be true. At best, even if this letter
                  > of Clement of Alexandria was genuine, the Gospel which the author
                  > quoted may not have been. Remember, it was the supposed Carpocratian
                  > version of Secret Mark that said "naked man with naked man", with
                  > "Clement" denying that such a passage was in his own Church's version.
                  >
                  > Is it really necessary to kill the messenger to dispose of Secret
                  > Mark? It can be disposed of quite nicely on its own merits, without
                  > getting ugly.
                  >
                  > Respectfully,
                  >
                  > Dave Hindley
                  > Cleveland, Ohio USA

                  Dave,
                  I suggest that your message takes as too small the difference between whether
                  the MS is a copy of a second century text or is a twentieth-century
                  misdirected
                  composition. If historians do not address that difference, whether for fear of
                  being charged with "getting ugly" or "kill[ing]" or for some other reason,
                  would that seem good to you? Or perhaps I misunderstand your
                  recommendation. If
                  it is (to skip the fake/forgery/hoax/fraud choice) bogus, shouldn't that be
                  shown and known?
                  Stephen Goranson
                  http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
                • Stephen C. Carlson
                  ... Actually, in my book, I specifically compared the photos of Smith s MS against three manuscripts from Mar Saba: Sabas 452, 518, and 523 (See FIGS. 2A, 2B,
                  Message 8 of 17 , Nov 3, 2006
                    At 09:36 AM 11/3/2006 -0500, David Hindley wrote:
                    >I am not directing this response to you in particular Ken, but if one is
                    >making the claim that evidence for tremors almost certainly means forgery
                    >(or whatever semantic term we wish to employ for rhetorical effect), and I
                    >think Stephen has essentially done so in his book, he *should* include an
                    >examination of similar documents for indications of, or lack of, similar
                    >tremors. In other words, there has been no control study to compare the
                    >manuscript photos against. The fact that a tremor can be an indication of
                    >forgery, when other evidence rules out a contrary explanation, does not mean
                    >that these tremors prove forgery. This is basic scholarly method, as without
                    >controls we are only making allegations.

                    Actually, in my book, I specifically compared the photos of Smith's MS
                    against three manuscripts from Mar Saba: Sabas 452, 518, and 523 (See
                    FIGS. 2A, 2B, and 2C, respectively).

                    Stephen Carlson
                    --
                    Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                    Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
                    Author of: The Gospel Hoax, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932792481
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