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Re: tc-list clement of alexandria

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  • Yuri Kuchinsky
    ... Yes, I agree with this. This subject was discussed in some detail not so long ago on Crosstalk-L. It is to be regretted that unfounded rumours have been
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 4, 1998
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      On Fri, 31 Jul 1998, Mr A.J.A. LABOUCHERE wrote:

      > As I recall, the statement that only Smith saw the letter is
      > incorrect: the librarian and the Abbot (or other appropriate
      > designation) also saw it.
      >
      > I will check further on this, and post any other details I come
      > across. But the oft-heard statement that "only Smith saw it" seems
      > wrong, even on the face of it.

      Yes, I agree with this.

      This subject was discussed in some detail not so long ago on Crosstalk-L.

      It is to be regretted that unfounded rumours have been circulating in the
      last few years that tended to question Smith's integrity. Some suggestions
      were even made that he may have had some role in forging SecMk. I would
      like to offer to esteemed scholars my take on why such rumours seem
      entirely groundless.

      This article was posted previously to Crosstalk-L. Apologies for the
      length. I would be grateful for any and all criticisms.

      Best wishes,

      Yuri.

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 13:47:33 -0400
      From: y.kuchinsky@...
      To: crosstalk <crosstalk@...>
      Subject: SecMk is authentic


      Why it is impossible that Morton Smith could have forged Clement's letter
      & the SecMk fragment.

      ---


      Now I have revisited this old controversy. In the course of my recent
      research re: the compositional history of the Gospel of Mark, I have
      reread Morton Smith's two books on the subject, after many years. I was
      interested primarily by what SecMk can tell us about the history of early
      Christianity.

      I certainly don't agree with Smith in everything he says. In fact, I see
      quite a few areas where Smith seems rather off base in his interpretations
      of early Christian history. In particular, I'm much more sceptical than he
      in attributing the events SecMk narrates directly to the events in life of
      the Historical Jesus. SecMk seems to me more like a later gnostic-oriented
      expansion, while still produced within the Markan community. Nevertheless,
      Smith had done a huge amount of background research in this area, and his
      book reveals many unexpected surprises on my later rereading.

      Speculation has been rife in recent years that Smith was the forger of
      this intriguing document, or else was in charge of a criminal conspiracy
      to produce this forgery. Such speculation has been broadcast of late
      especially by the famous scholar Prof. Jack Neusner, the former student of
      Smith turned his enemy (this happened for reasons entirely unconnected
      with the ms). Neusner is of course a very influential man in the biblical
      field, and his views cannot be disregarded. Some other scholars also
      tended to lend support to such accusations.

      It is my purpose to show in this article that these accusations are
      entirely without merit, and that, if anything, they may only raise doubts
      about the professional competence of those making them.

      It needs to be noted, of course, that there are many responsible scholars
      who are sceptical about this SecMk fragment, and who suspect it is a
      forgery. But generally these sceptics consider that this was an old
      forgery of some sort. Some maintain it is a forgery produced in the 18th
      century; others say it was produced any time in between the 2nd and the
      18th centuries.

      Prima facie, that this is an old forgery is not impossible, of course. And
      academic discussions of such scenarios have been going on for great many
      years, ever since the discovery of the fragment was announced by Smith,
      first privately to some scholars in 1958, and then publicly in 1960. This
      is a very complex debate, and I will not be able to deal with it now. The
      purpose of this article is merely to defend Smith from what I see as
      entirely unjustified accusations of wrongdoing. He was an honest scholar
      who happened to come across a mysterious manuscript, and who devoted many
      years of his life to trying to understand its meaning. He did not deserve
      these sordid accusations.

      While, as I show further, it would have been impossible for Smith to have
      accomplished such a forgery, the same arguments should apply to a lesser
      extent to other theories of forgery not involving Smith. Myself, I have
      looked at length into these debates and into various versions offered by
      different scholars, and my view is that the balance of the evidence points
      to Clement's letter fragment as being genuine, i.e. authored by Clement
      himself. I think the whole ms is exactly what it claims to be, i.e it is a
      letter of Clement containing what Clement thinks is part of a secret
      version of Mk's gospel, as used in the Church of Alexandria. (By the way,
      it also seems likely to me that Clement's version of the textual
      development of Mk as given in the letter is not entirely accurate, for
      whatever reasons.)


      MANUSCRIPT ITSELF

      It seems like most serious opponents of SecMk in the last few years have
      been focusing their criticism on the fact that the manuscript has been
      seen by so few. There was some mystery about this manuscript. Where is it?
      How come basic tests on paper, ink, or other such tests have not been
      conducted? The piece of information Mahlon Smith have supplied recently on
      Crosstalk list about the manuscript having been seen recently after all by
      a credible witness is very important in this respect, to help put some of
      these doubts to rest.

      I've suggested before that perhaps the main reason the manuscript has been
      seen by so few was that so few were really so interested in seeing it.
      Certainly it is a lot easier to spread groundless rumours behind people's
      backs than to go out and actually do such field research, which, needless
      to say, may involve such complications as having to pack your suitcase and
      do a bit of travel for a change... It is to the credit of Charles Hedrick
      that he did go out and take his time to look up the ms, instead of just
      talking endlessly about how few have seen it, and what all this may
      signify...


      THREE FORGERIES IN ONE

      Now, to begin my case for authenticity, I would like to stress that we are
      actually talking about _three_ separate hypothetical forgeries here. Let's
      keep this in mind. In other words, in order for Smith to have accomplished
      such a highly complex forgery, he would have had to have done the
      following.

      He would have needed to forge not one but two documents:

      1. The letter of Clement itself.
      2. The two SecMk gospel fragments.

      And also, the third item that he would have needed to have pulled off.

      3. To have found a scribe, really a genius of a scribe, who would have
      been able to forge some very unique and specialized 18th century Greek
      scribal handwriting, and to forge it flawlessly, with all its highly
      unique abbreviations and complexities. Nobody in their right mind would
      try to suggest that Smith was an expert scribe himself. Not quite. He
      would have certainly needed an accomplice for this.

      Since these two texts, the letter itself, and the gospel fragments as
      given by Clement, are composed in completely different styles, and using
      very different vocabularies, in order to forge them Smith would have had
      to be an expert on both Clement and Mk. He was neither, certainly not
      before 1958.

      So, now, let's consider these 3 items in order.

      1. The excerpt from the letter of Clement, itself, is much longer than the
      gospel fragments, and it would have been a lot harder to forge credibly.
      As Thomas Talley, one serious investigator of this problem, indicated, at
      this time only a small handful of scholars still dispute that the letter
      represents an authentic tradition from Clement of Alexandria. Every word
      and sentence of the Clementine portion of this ms has been put under the
      microscope and compared in minutest detail to the extant undisputed
      Clementine texts, of which we have quite a lot. And every comparison has
      basically held up. These detailed studies are many and freely available
      for perusal by interested parties.

      Out of the fourteen leading Clementine scholars Smith consulted
      originally, only two had some reservations, and Smith had dealt with their
      quite minor technical objections in detail, and showed them insufficient
      to cause doubt as to authenticity.

      It is important for our case that the letter has been included in the
      standard edition of the Alexandrian father's writings since 1980. [Talley,
      Thomas. "Liturgical Time in the Ancient Church: The State of Research."
      Studia Liturgica 14 (1982), p. 45] And this should speak better than
      anything else about where the consensus of the Clementine scholars is now
      in regard to this matter.

      This first item alone should make it appear highly unlikely that Smith
      could have pulled it off, i.e. could have fooled the whole world of
      scholarship to such an extent.

      2. Now, the SecMk fragment, in itself, presents us with a very special set
      of highly complicated problems of its own. On purely linguistic basis,
      scholars have been arguing whether or not the fragment could have been put
      together merely from scraps of the canonical material. (Since almost every
      serious opponent of SecMk thinks this would have been an ancient forgery,
      the debate has been conducted primarily in this context.) The balance of
      evidence seems to point to the fragment being based on an original
      tradition, separate from and prior to the canonical traditions. But a
      definitive judgement here on purely stylistic grounds is quite a tough
      call, since the fragment is rather short. In any case, Smith not being
      known as a Mk scholar prior to his discovery, very few indeed suggested
      that he, himself, could have created the fragment ex nihilo.

      Now, the next and a separate question about this SecMk fragment should be,
      Supposing it's genuine, how does it fit together with the canonical
      gospels? I.e. what about the contents of this fragment, rather than just
      the style of writing? Because, it is important to note, the parallels must
      be considered not only with the rest of Mk, but also with Jn, since the
      SecMk fragment narrates the raising of a young man that is very close to
      the raising of Lazarus in the Fourth Gospel.

      And not only that, there's yet another complicated matter to consider
      here. Smith has also suggested in his two books that there are also other
      and more significant structural parallels between Mk and Jn, the parallels
      going far beyond the fragment.

      According to Smith, his thinking in this area was stimulated by the
      research associated with the fragment. Once he saw the parallels between
      the SecMk fragment and Jn, he also began to see much greater parallels
      between large parts of Mk (beginning at 6:32; cf. p. 56 in SECRET GOSPEL)
      and large parts of Jn (beginning at 6:1). He bases his theories in this
      area in part on the work of some scholars who were working early in this
      century, and who suggested compatible theories re: the redactional history
      of Jn, and Jn's possible use of Mk -- among them Bultmann, N. Huffmann,
      and especially Charles Dodd. (CLEMENT, p. 146ff.)

      It is not possible to deal here now with all these complex relationships.
      Their full consideration should involve,

      - the proto Mk theories of Helmut Koester, and of Alfred Loisy,
      - other controversial wider theories about how Jn, Lk, and Mt relate
      to Mk (was Jn really influenced by Mk's structure?),
      - Smith's own views on the matter that were clearly evolving and
      changing over time, as his published work indicates,
      - the question of how many other commentators, such as Crossan,
      evaluated this evidence,
      - possible Aramaic proto-sources (Smith favoured this idea, but
      received little support from other scholars on this),
      - and much more besides.

      All that needs to be said at this point is that for Smith to have managed
      to accomplish this second forgery, and to accomplish it in such a way that
      scholars are still debating the matter hotly after 40 years, would be
      nothing short of miraculous. And, generally, I don't believe in such
      unlikely miracles.


      EPIGRAPHY LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR DOUBT

      3. And, finally, the handwriting. As Smith details in his book, the near
      consensus of all the top palaeographic experts he consulted both in Greece
      and the US was that the manuscript dates to the 18th century (on pp. 22-23
      of his SECRET GOSPEL, Smith gives the long list of the names of these
      experts).

      Certainly the opinion of these competent scholars should not be taken
      lightly. We are talking here about some highly specialized criteria that
      they take into consideration, such as the use of special scribal
      ligatures, of subscripts, of very complex abbreviations, both medial and
      terminal, the use of the coronis, and other such matters comprehensible
      for the most part only to experts.

      And also Smith reports in his CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA that a rare manuscript
      was found that is remarkably close in appearance to our ms. Smith writes
      that a Greek scholar, Professor Scouvaras, has discovered

      "...an eighteenth-century ecclesiastical document in a native Greek hand
      strikingly similar to that of our manuscript. [It is reproduced on Plate
      IV in Smith's book] ... [It is] an autograph codex of the Oecumenical
      Patriarch Callinicus III and was written about 1760 in the Phanariot hand
      which had been formed in Constantinople shortly before that time." (p. 2)

      So here we are, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Three forgeries in one,
      Smith's critics would like to charge him with. Two unique ancient texts,
      so different in style and content, _plus_ finding an epigraphic genius
      forger to put them down on paper. Does this stray far beyond the realm of
      reality? I sure think so.


      AN IMPOSSIBLE SCENARIO

      And now let's look at what Smith would have had to do to put it all
      together. To remind, his discovery was made when he was doing the job of
      cataloguing odd mss in the rather neglected library of the great Greek
      Orthodox desert monastery of Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. Presumably, the
      critics charge, Smith would have planted the book with the text already
      written into it while he was doing that job. This means that he would have
      had to have spent years of his life previously to that getting himself
      totally immersed into Clement and Mk, becoming a "secret world-class
      expert" in these two highly complex areas.

      And when he finally accomplished that task, and composed the two texts,
      next he would have had to find the "Genius Scribe", his presumed
      accomplice. (Or did he find this accomplice even before he embarked on his
      nefarious course?) So they pulled it off, and produced the flawless
      forgery. Then he goes to Mar Saba and plants the mss. From then on, the
      story unfolds as previously known.

      An obvious question needs to be asked here. Is there any evidence that
      Smith knew far in advance that he would be doing this two-week job at Mar
      Saba in 1958? Actually, according to his CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, p. ix,
      Smith was given permission by Benedict, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to
      catalogue the library when he was already in Jerusalem in 1958.

      In my opinion, it is this premeditation part of this supposed plot to
      forge these documents that makes it really quite fantastic. He had this
      idea, "I will produce this forgery and will plant this book in this
      library." And then he devotes years of his life to this, working in the
      highest secrecy... Does this sound like a light-hearted prank that some
      suggested as his motivation?

      And it also needs to be noted here that if Smith managed to "plant" this
      particular manuscript in any other library other than Mar Saba, the case
      for authenticiy would have been rather weaker. This is because there's a
      recorded tradition that a collection of Clement's letters _has been
      attested_ in Mar Saba during the Middle Ages. So such a discovery in Mar
      Saba was not totally unpredictable, after all...

      Smith devoted many well-documented years of his life on an academic study
      of the ms he discovered. Some commentators have actually suggested
      half-jokingly that the amount of effort he put into all this was almost
      inexplicable. After reading his two books, it indeed seems like Smith was
      genuinely obsessed with his discovery.

      So Neusner and Co. would presumably claim that Smith did all this
      background research _before_ he "discovered" the ms? And then he
      "pretended" to do all this work later? But he repeatedly consulted dozens
      of noted scholars later and not before! Many of these scholars are still
      around to tell their side of the story...

      To summarize. To accomplish _the three_ such highly complex forgeries, and
      not to have been caught, would have been beyond the power of one man. To
      have even _attempted_ such a hopeless task, a task both so hopeless and so
      time-consuming, would have been quite silly, and Smith was generally not
      thought of as silly.

      And finally, when Smith's discovery is looked at dispassionately, there's
      really not much there on the surface. What kind of an earth-shaking
      reaction did he accomplish? Not much really beyond some obscure disputes
      among professional text crunchers. It's not like the ms just comes out and
      says, "Jesus was a homosexual, and the whole of Christian religion is a
      hoax"... Not at all. All it really says is that the Carpocratian heretics
      were perverts and twisted the Scriptures. But this was already well known
      before. So, in other words, the pay-off from such a monumental forgery
      would have been not all that much in any case.

      To conclude, the mss is genuine.

      And for any who still have doubts, by all means, lobby for the tests on
      the ink of the mss. Such tests should surely remove all doubt as to the
      authenticity of this, on the whole, certainly very intriguing, and
      probably highly revealing document.

      Regards,

      Yuri.

      Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

      http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

      The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
      equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
    • Julio Anjos
      ... From: Yuri Kuchinsky To: Mr A.J.A. LABOUCHERE Cc: tc-list@shemesh.scholar.emory.edu
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 5, 1998
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: Yuri Kuchinsky <yuku@...>
        To: Mr A.J.A. LABOUCHERE <AJALabouchere@...>
        Cc: tc-list@... <tc-list@...>
        Date: 04 August 1998 16:29
        Subject: Re: tc-list clement of alexandria


        <...>
        >AN IMPOSSIBLE SCENARIO
        >
        >And now let's look at what Smith would have had to do to put it all
        >together. To remind, his discovery was made when he was doing the job of
        >cataloguing odd mss in the rather neglected library of the great Greek
        >Orthodox desert monastery of Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. Presumably, the
        >critics charge, Smith would have planted the book with the text already
        >written into it while he was doing that job. This means that he would have
        >had to have spent years of his life previously to that getting himself
        >totally immersed into Clement and Mk, becoming a "secret world-class
        >expert" in these two highly complex areas.
        >


        More than that, where would he have found the previouslly unknown Sofocle
        works in whose back the Clementine was copied? Wouldn't that have to be
        forged as well?

        <...>
        >And it also needs to be noted here that if Smith managed to "plant" this
        >particular manuscript in any other library other than Mar Saba, the case
        >for authenticiy would have been rather weaker. This is because there's a
        >recorded tradition that a collection of Clement's letters _has been
        >attested_ in Mar Saba during the Middle Ages. So such a discovery in Mar
        >Saba was not totally unpredictable, after all...
        >


        I did not know that! But it seems to me that some thing need to be analysed
        about this:

        a) The letters were beeing copied on the XVIII th century, so it seems
        very likelly they are still around ( the full Mar Saba Collection of
        Clementines that is).

        b) Morton Smith did not find such a collection!

        c) Were they in purpose not presented to Dr. Smith? Does Mar Saba
        Monastery still have them?

        d) Wouldn't it be interesting if a similar hand to the Clementine Letter
        was to be found in other manuscripts on the Monastery ( private letters,
        etc)

        Do not forget that the existence of what became to be known as Codex
        Sinaiticus was denied for years by the monks! that we had to wait for this
        century for findidng many missing fragments of that codex on the same
        monastery it was originally discovered in!

        >Smith devoted many well-documented years of his life on an academic study
        >of the ms he discovered. Some commentators have actually suggested
        >half-jokingly that the amount of effort he put into all this was almost
        >inexplicable. After reading his two books, it indeed seems like Smith was
        >genuinely obsessed with his discovery.
        >
        <...>

        I think you do not call an important point to the discussion table here.

        That point is : the level of akademia and Mr. Smith's own age at the time of
        discovery, seem incompatible with him beeing the forgerer if anyone really
        forged the Letter! If he was the forgerer he could have made a full Secret
        Mark with all bells and whistles, not just an handfull of verses!

        Julio Anjos
      • Wieland Willker
        Hello, if you would like to read the letter itself: You can find the original letter scanned from M. Smith books on my page at:
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 7, 1998
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          Hello,

          if you would like to read the letter itself:
          You can find the original letter scanned from M. Smith books on my page at:

          http://alf.zfn.uni-bremen.de/~wie/texte/secmark.html

          On top is the first page of the letter with the last page of the printed book: "Epistulae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris", 1646
          On bottom are all three pages of the letter for your reading pleasure.
          The text inbetween is the German translation.

          My personal view is that our canonical Mark is an edited, shortened version.
          One of M. Smith speculations was that sections mentioning Salome had been removed, because Salome played an important role in some sects.

          Best wishes
          Wieland

          -----
          Original Message: http://www.findmail.com/list/tc-list/?start=4285
          Start a FREE email list at http://www.FindMail.com/
        • Julio Anjos
          ... From: Wieland Willker To: tc-list@shemesh.scholar.emory.edu Cc:
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 7, 1998
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            -----Original Message-----
            From: Wieland Willker <willker@...-bremen.de>
            To: tc-list@... <tc-list@...>
            Cc: willker@...-bremen.de <willker@...-bremen.de>
            Date: 07 August 1998 09:16
            Subject: Re: tc-list clement of alexandria
            >
            >My personal view is that our canonical Mark is an edited, shortened
            version.
            >One of M. Smith speculations was that sections mentioning Salome had been
            removed, because Salome played an important role in some sects.
            >
            >Best wishes
            > Wieland


            Funny you mentioned that. I have not read M. Smiths book but it seems then
            that

            "
            "Salomae interroganti, quousque vigebit mors," non quasi vita esset mala, et
            mala creatura, "Dominus, Quoadusque, inquit, vos mulieres paritis,"
            "
            (Salome asked "until when will death have power over us?" and the reply was
            "While youi women have children!" )

            As cited by clement on Chapter VI of Book III of the THE STROMATA might also
            be a part of Secret Mark?
          • Yuri Kuchinsky
            ... Not quite, Julio. As Wieland Willker already noted, the letter was inscribed into the copy of Epistulae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris , 1646.
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 7, 1998
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              On Wed, 5 Aug 1998, Julio Anjos replied to Yuri:

              > More than that, where would he have found the previouslly unknown
              > Sofocle works in whose back the Clementine was copied? Wouldn't that
              > have to be forged as well?

              Not quite, Julio.

              As Wieland Willker already noted, the letter was inscribed into the copy
              of "Epistulae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris", 1646.

              http://alf.zfn.uni-bremen.de/~wie/texte/secmark.html

              [Yuri:]
              > >And it also needs to be noted here that if Smith managed to "plant" this
              > >particular manuscript in any other library other than Mar Saba, the case
              > >for authenticiy would have been rather weaker. This is because there's a
              > >recorded tradition that a collection of Clement's letters _has been
              > >attested_ in Mar Saba during the Middle Ages. So such a discovery in Mar
              > >Saba was not totally unpredictable, after all...

              > I did not know that!

              Smith provides the particulars in his books.

              > But it seems to me that some thing need to be analysed
              > about this:
              >
              > a) The letters were beeing copied on the XVIII th century,

              We don't know this. We only know that one letter may have been copied.

              > so it seems very likelly they are still around ( the full Mar Saba
              > Collection of Clementines that is).

              I doubt it.

              > b) Morton Smith did not find such a collection!

              No.

              > c) Were they in purpose not presented to Dr. Smith? Does Mar Saba
              > Monastery still have them?
              >
              > d) Wouldn't it be interesting if a similar hand to the Clementine Letter
              > was to be found in other manuscripts on the Monastery ( private letters,
              > etc)

              We can only wish...

              > Do not forget that the existence of what became to be known as Codex
              > Sinaiticus was denied for years by the monks! that we had to wait for
              > this century for findidng many missing fragments of that codex on the
              > same monastery it was originally discovered in!

              ...

              > That point is : the level of akademia and Mr. Smith's own age at the
              > time of discovery, seem incompatible with him beeing the forgerer

              I agree with you.

              > if anyone really forged the Letter! If he was the forgerer he could
              > have made a full Secret Mark with all bells and whistles, not just an
              > handfull of verses!

              Best wishes,

              Yuri.

              Yuri Kuchinsky || Toronto

              http://www.trends.net/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

              The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
              equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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