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Re: [textualcriticism] Stephen Carlson's "Gospel Hoax" on Secret Mark

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  • P.M. Head
    Thanks Stephen, I d like to ask a couple more questions and respond to your comments. I hope they are sensible but having read your book I ve now put in down
    Message 1 of 31 , Dec 1 1:50 PM
      Thanks Stephen,

      I'd like to ask a couple more questions and respond to your comments. I
      hope they are sensible but having read your book I've now put in down
      somewhere in my office and - it being the end of term - it seems to have

      > I would certainly be nice to have more of the Madiotes text, but we do
      > have enough of it to know in conjunction with Smith's catalog entry that
      > there was a 20th century person imitating an 18th century hand in books
      > that Smith cataloged at Mar Saba. That fact alone means that the 10 oral
      > paleographic opinions of Smith's colleagues are not worth the paper
      > they're written on.

      So, are you saying that you know nothing more of the Madiotes text (no. 22)
      than we do? We've got a cut off bit of a picture. Is that what your
      discussion is based on? Or is that picture just an illustrative sample?
      Surely it is methodologically preferable to get the whole text, read it,
      study the hand as a whole etc. What is the Madiotes text? What is it about?

      I'm not sure what you mean when you say that this text proves that a 20th c
      person imitated an 18th c hand. Are you saying that the Madiotes text is
      clearly a 20th Cent writer imitating an 18th C hand? I don't recall that
      from the book (which may be my recollection). What is this based on?
      Smith's catalogue gives it a 20th Cent date. Are you saying that the hand
      is attempting to look 18th Cent? That might just prove Smith wrong on
      dating, but you'd need a good argument for the 18th cent date. Or am I
      missing something here?

      >As for the identification itself, no other hand of the several I examined
      >from Mar Saba comes anywhere as close to the hand of Theodore as that of
      >Madiotes among several diverse characteristics (execution of the strokes,
      >letter shapes, pen nib width), and the differences fall within the range
      >of variation exhibited by the hand of Theodore. The identification is
      >made even easier when the size of the population of 20th cen. individuals
      >with access to Mar Saba and imitating 18th cen. handwriting is considered.

      I understand this argument, but it is important to realise this is not a
      palaeographical argument for the identity of the scribe responsible for two
      different manuscripts. Such an argument would have to start further back
      with a bigger sample and demonstrate significant distinctive similarities
      unique to the two scripts/manuscripts. Your argument partly depends on the
      suspicion: I (SC) reckon these two are similar, and they are more similar
      than any other (of the 'several') hands I've seen at Mar Saba. But that is
      no palaeographical smoking gun.

      I'm also a bit confused about the Madiotes piece. You clearly regard it as
      written by Smith. Smith says it came from the binding of a book and judging
      by the photo it is sewn in with the other pages. So on your theory Smith
      brings his Voss on Ignatius, with Theodore already written into the back
      sheets, and deposits this in the monastery's library. During the same visit
      he writes a clue to this in a blank sheet in the binding of another book (a
      text written by M. Madiotes), takes a photo, and publishes the photo in the
      popular book as a clue to the hoax. Hmmmmmmmm. I'd really like to know what
      this Madiotes text is all about!

      >>Nor do I find any
      >>significant association between the samples of Smith's Greek hand and the
      >>photos of Theodore.
      >Really? We are dealing with a case of *disguised* handwriting; we're not
      >trying to determine whether two instances of normal handwriting come from
      >the same person (which is the more usual question in paleography). Good
      >imitators can usually mask their normal handwriting traits, so there is
      >normally no expectation of finding any similarities at all. However, less
      >competent imitators have been known to lapse into their natural hand, so
      >the fact that it was possible to match any of the lapses in the hand of
      >Theodore to Smith's handwriting is highly significant.
      Well, I'm no expert in 18th Cent Greek palaeography (or 20th cent for that
      matter); and I was looking at this material more from the perspective of
      'does this prove a connection', rather than 'is this also suspicious?' I'll
      have another look.

      >> I'd be interested to know from Stephen the order of his own thinking on
      >> this subject. Did he firstly see the supposed similarity of hand-style
      >> and then think about Madiotes? Or was it the other way around? He saw
      >> that Madiotes could be conceived of as a clue and then wonder about the
      >> hand?
      >It was my noticing the similarity of the hands that spurred me to do
      >what I should have done earlier: read and translate all the catalog
      >entries of Smith's from the Modern Greek. Then it took me a while to
      >discover the meaning of Madiotes. Perhaps the book's treatment of this
      >issue would have benefited from a more logical, rather than chronological,
      >exposition of this aspect of the case (i.e., use Smith's identification
      >of Madiotes as an input into the identification of the hand rather than
      >vice versa)?
      No the book is OK. I would have found the 'more logical' order more
      problematic (and I was wondering whether that is actually what happened).
      So fair game.

      The rest I really need to have the book to hand for. Your comments helped
      me understand the argument better, so thanks for that. But this will have
      to do for now.


    • Peter Head
      Thanks again Stephen - that is a good job and a good reply, The photo and caption in Secret Gospel are useful here (in support of your case - clearer than the
      Message 31 of 31 , Dec 6 9:14 AM
        Thanks again Stephen - that is a good job and a good reply,

        The photo and caption in Secret Gospel are useful here (in support of your
        case - clearer than the photo in your book actually) and it does look like
        5A is the front page of the book = f.1.r.
        Together with the information you provided that:
        one of whose lines reads "MONAXOU KAI ARXIMANDRITOU."
        That certainly fits with Smith's catalogue description.
        No names noted as yet, and also 'tacit withdrawals' on your side!

        My 'tacit withdrawal' of the alternative proposal was more of a strategic
        withdrawal (I'd rather try to disprove your identification than to have to
        prove the alternative). But now I'm willing to acquiesce (surrender) to the
        proposed identification of 5A = f.1.r. [I'd be even happier to know that
        someone had seen the relevant names on this sheet as well of course, but as
        a working hypothesis this does seem to be the only viable option on the table]

        Presumably your confidence that the upper text is Madiotes comes from the
        order of treatment in Smith's catalogue.

        Cheers for now


        At 02:52 PM 12/5/05, you wrote:
        >At 10:28 AM 12/5/2005 +0000, Peter Head wrote:
        > >What you are saying is that you considered various possibilities for the
        > >identification of the page in the photo 5A, including the one I have
        > >proposed (but which you did not adopt). But I wonder whether there is ANY
        > >positive evidence for the identification you adopt?
        > >
        > >According to Smith the Madiotes sheet is:
        > >a) f.1.r: i.e. the opening sheet of the whole book
        >The page is either f.1.r (rightside-up) or f.17.v (upside-
        >down). The orientation of the handwriting at the top of
        >the page would indicate that, unless it is upside-down, it
        >is the f.1.r page.
        >Further confirmation of the orientation of the book comes
        >from Smith's caption for the picture (SECRET GOSPEL, p.
        >37) states: "The endpaper, here turned down, was a page
        >from a Georgian manuscript. . . . The leather edge of the
        >binding is seen at the left; the bound, modern Greek
        >manuscript, at the right." The word "down" is appropriate
        >if the page is f.1.r; it is inappropriate if the page is
        >f.17.v. The consistency of Smith's numbering of the pages
        >in his catalog with his description of the orientation of
        >the MS in his photo means that the page must be f.1.r.
        >Further corroboration, should that even be necessary, comes
        >from the content of the second hand (both as listed in the
        >catalog and from the top-down in the MS), which is assigned
        >by Smith to "the monk Dionysios, Archimandrite", one of whose
        >lines reads "MONAXOU KAI ARXIMANDRITOU." [Negatively, for
        >the f.17.v. identification, none of the content shown in the
        >photo corresponds to "Luke, son of the blessed Panagiotos,
        >the tailor (ampatzes)."]
        >In light of the tacit withdrawal of the alternative proposal,
        >which had confounded not only recto and verso but also Greek
        >and Latin letters, I see no reasonable basis to question the
        >identification of the page as f.1.r.
        >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

        Peter M. Head, PhD
        Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament
        Tyndale House
        36 Selwyn Gardens Phone: (UK) 01223
        Cambridge, CB3 9BA Fax: (UK) 01223 566608
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