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Re: [GTh] Digest Number 1050

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  • Jack Kilmon
    ... From: Andrew Bernhard To: Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 3:44 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] Digest Number 1050 ... I
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 30, 2005
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Andrew Bernhard" <abernhar@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 3:44 PM
      Subject: Re: [GTh] Digest Number 1050



      > So this "trend," to my judgment, is meaningless without any substantive
      > reason for it. Ultimately, over the last thirty years, the arguments for
      > and against the authenticity of Secret Mark have been put forward.
      > Opinions may shift, Smith's enemies will die like Smith himself, the next
      > generation of scholarly stars will come along and want to refute their
      > teachers - neat. Ultimately, the only way to determine if Secret Mark is a
      > 20th century forgery is to test the ink on the (sadly missing) manuscript.
      >
      > There's no way of knowing before the ink-test is done, so why try to
      > prejudice people one or the other?
      >
      > Also, Jack, I'd be very interested in what palaeographic features, etc.
      > you can see in the photos of Secret Mark that would suggest it's authentic
      > (or at least that the manuscript was actually copied in the 18th century)?

      I agree that trends do not prove forgery. Academic biases between
      disciplinary camps do not prove forgery. Certainly the Mar Saba
      Archimandrite must have believed it to be original since he confiscated it
      under a ruse and had the Jerusalem Patriarchate librarian at the time (Fr.
      Kallistos) rip the flyleaves containing the letter from the Voss book.

      Now...down to your question. Let me take a little while to answer it since
      it requires a lengthier treatment involving Greek palaeography in the
      Byzantine and post-Byzantine period and the influence of the 18th century
      Phanariot hold on the former Byzantine scriptoria from Istanbul to the
      Danube.

      Jack Kilmon
      San Marcos, Texas
    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... Thanks for your comments, Andrew. I agree that trends are in no way a substitute for substantative reasons and solid evidence. I wasn t really
      Message 2 of 3 , May 2 5:48 PM
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        At 01:44 PM 4/29/2005 -0700, Andrew Bernhard wrote:
        >> When Bruce Metzger, Bart Ehrman, and Larry Hurtado have voiced
        >> serious doubts about its authenticity in print, I do think that
        >> it is reasonable to state that "the prospect of it being a modern
        >> fake seems to be gaining ground." These aren't featherweights.
        >
        >Fair enough, Steven - a reasonable defense can be made that your statement
        >was accurate. However, if I may throw my two cents into the mix, I must
        >object in principle that this kind of "trend-finding" statement is
        >unhelpful. I mean, who cares if there's a trend? Is there a reason for the
        >trend other than the personalities of these (decidedly non-featherweight)
        >scholars? I would have to say no.

        Thanks for your comments, Andrew. I agree that trends are in no
        way a substitute for substantative reasons and solid evidence. I
        wasn't really challenging the relevancy of Tom's trend--as you are
        properly doing for all such discussions of trends. I was more
        interested in whether there was a basis for Tom's trend, so I can
        identify anyone I didn't know of before who is currently writing
        favorably about the Secret Gospel of Mark and see if there's anything
        I'm missing.

        >Ehrman seems to me to have it right in his chapter on secret mark in Lost
        >Christianities (if I remember correctly). He says he has his personal doubts
        >and states his reasons, but concludes the chapter by saying (in effect): I
        >will not say that Morton Smith forged this document because I don't know and
        >the moment I say its a forgery someone will find the manuscript, test the
        >ink, and find out it was copied in the 18th century!

        Yes, Ehrman did say that. I blogged about this point almost a year and ago.
        Here's what I said: "If the ink on the Mar Saba Clementine is to be tested,
        there is not enough of it to be carbon-dated, leaving us with the less
        conclusive examination of the ink's chemical composition for consistency
        with known early modern inks. However, these chemical tests can be fooled
        by using recipes current in the eighteenth century. Therefore, while a
        chemical test of the ink might condemn the Mar Saba Clementine as a forgery,
        it is not clear to me that testing the ink can exonerate the letter if
        the result is consistent with early modern inks." I have since learned
        that the ink formulas in use at the time were pretty simple (e.g. about
        4-5 different ingredients). Though worth testing, I don't think the ink
        will help us very much.

        The URL of that blog post, with more material is:

        http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/2003/10/ehrman-forgery-of-ancient-discovery-in.html

        >So this "trend," to my judgment, is meaningless without any substantive
        >reason for it. Ultimately, over the last thirty years, the arguments for and
        >against the authenticity of Secret Mark have been put forward. Opinions may
        >shift, Smith's enemies will die like Smith himself, the next generation of
        >scholarly stars will come along and want to refute their teachers - neat.
        >Ultimately, the only way to determine if Secret Mark is a 20th century
        >forgery is to test the ink on the (sadly missing) manuscript.

        As I explained above, I have my concerns about how conclusive testing
        the ink will actually be. Determining if Secret Mark is a product of
        the 20th century or not will probably have to rest on other evidence.

        >There's no way of knowing before the ink-test is done, so why try to
        >prejudice people one or the other?

        "Prejudice"?

        >Also, Jack, I'd be very interested in what palaeographic features, etc. you
        >can see in the photos of Secret Mark that would suggest it's authentic (or
        >at least that the manuscript was actually copied in the 18th century)?

        My main problem with this question is the null hypothesis it assumes. I
        think that the burden of proof actually falls on those disagreeing with
        Smith's prima facie case that it was copied in the 18th century. That
        case is discussed in his CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, pp. 1-4.

        Stephen Carlson
        --
        Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
        Weblog: http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/
        "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
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