Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Peter Jeffery on Morton Smith's False Manuscript

Expand Messages
  • goranson@duke.edu
    The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery, by Peter Jeffery (Yale U.P., 2006) offers further
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 16, 2006
    • 0 Attachment
      The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness
      in a Biblical Forgery, by Peter Jeffery (Yale U.P., 2006) offers further
      evidence that Morton Smith composed the MS claimed to be a Letter of Clement of
      Alexandria that quoted a Secret Gospel of Mark. Jeffery examines the history of
      liturgy and finds that Smith's imagined initiation ceremony did not fit the
      practice in Alexandria at the time. Jeffery shows that Smith pursued fairly
      desultory work in cataloging the Mar Saba library, if that had been his main
      purpose. For example, why didn't Smith examine the folder of old MS fragments,
      if his interest had been to find old texts? Smith didn't bother to check in the
      Jerusalem library (where most Mar Saba MSS had been moved) for texts by the same
      hand as his claimed find. And, as I noted previously, why didn't Smith--who
      published the admonition for scholars to check old books for marginal
      annotations--say anything about the 1646 Voss book margins?

      Jeffery engages previous critiques of Smith's claims mostly merely quite
      briefly, and goes his own way. So the work of integrating his insights with
      previous scholarship remains for reviewers to evaluate. The book is not free of
      errors; on page 2 Jeffery says Smith got his "second doctorate" at Hebrew
      University, but that 1945 degree was before his 1957 Harvard Th.D. Perhaps
      others will comment on Jeffery's Roman Catholic perspective on the Anglican
      church and on homosexuality. In any case, this is a learned and lively book
      that, in my view, shows even more than before that Smith wrote the Letter with
      Secret Mark.

      Jeffery wrote (p.263 n.65) that Smith's 1958 private publication Manuscript
      Material from the Monastery of Mar Saba, Discovered, Transcribed and Translated
      by Morton Smith "no doubt" included photographs. Perhaps so, but he has not seen
      it (nor I). It was an exceedingly limited publication. The Smith papers (minus
      letters destroyed; except for the Scholem correspondence, originals of both
      sides, preserved in Jerusalem) are being cataloged at Jewish Theological
      Seminary. Those papers may provide more insight.

      Stephen Goranson
      http://www.duke.edu/~goranson
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.