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Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:27 am
by StephenGoranson
I have not read this new article yet, so this is a neutral passing along of information about a new publication of potential interest:

Stephen Huller [spelled there with umlaut u] and Daniel N. Gullota, Quentin Quesnell's _Secret Mark_ Secret: A Report on Quentin Quesnell's 1983 trip to Jerusalem and his inspection of the Mar Saba Document, Vigiliae Christianae v. 71 no. 4 (2017) 353-378.

Unbeknownst to most, in June of 1983, Quentin Quesnell made a visit to Jerusalem in order to personally inspect the Mar Saba document known as the Letter to Theodore. This is significant because it adds Quesnell to a small group of people who have testified to have seen the Letter to Theodore in person, and an even smaller group who have commented on its appearance and contents first-hand. Following Quesnell’s death in 2012 many of his personal belongings were acquired by Smith College (Northampton) and recently released to the public for viewing. Among Quesnell’s belongings was a journal full of notes, along with photos and letters to his wife Jean Higgins, all relating to Morton Smith’s discovery of the Letter to Theodore at Mar Saba and to Quesnell’s 1983 visit to Jerusalem. On the basis of these documents the following article offers a summary of Quesnell’s part in the debate over Smith’s discovery and a report of his inspection of the manuscript.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:03 am
by Secret Alias
Regardless of where you stand on the issue it is interesting to imagine an encounter of this kind. And then it happened! And then QQ almost didn't tell anyone about it. Just a 30 something fellow Catholic scholar at a conference - Adela Collins. It was just a passing reference to his recent trip when he returned stateside. And she happened to add the tidbit as a marginal reference years later. Otherwise we wouldn't know about any of it. And who tracked down this reference? Timo Paananen. Somehow I volunteered to connect him with QQ a few years back thinking it must be expensive for a grad student from Finland to be calling America so I remember being in my laundry room making the call to Timo and then QQ. QQ didn't sound very well on the phone. But Timo asked his questions and went on to other things and I started thinking 'but what about all this stuff in QQ's garage.' What's going to happen to it all. So I started calling QQ and he agreed to let me scan the material. And I arranged for someone to come over and scan the material. But then his German nurse forbade the visit. And then QQ died and I tracked down the trustee. And she didn't know whether to let me have access to the stuff. So I arranged for Trobisch to go see the stuff but then she changed her mind. And then she decided to give it to Smith College. And then we had to wait for all the stuff to actually be cataloged which took over a year. And then there was seeing the stuff and then two years to get the article to print. It was crazy.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:49 am
by StephenGoranson
I misspelled the second author: Daniel N. Gullotta.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:10 am
by Secret Alias
Another odd thing that comes out of this is that Hedrick's photos (that he published in 2000) were paid for by QQ. It's very odd but you see it clearly in the collection. QQ left some money for Dourvas to photograph the MS. A letter comes later and Dourvas sends the photos to QQ's home. But in order for the world to actually get the very photos which 'correct' the things QQ complained about with respect to Morton Smith's 'failure' as a scholar the first time around (i.e. the black and white photos with no edges of the pages visible) the world had to wait for another chance encounter - i.e. Hedrick traveling with a Greek to the library and Dourvas agreeing to give them QQ's photos (obviously Dourvas kept a copy for himself or the library).

While the article can't get too deeply into 'contextual' issues within scholarship it is odd - to say the least - that scholar B who was made famous for criticizing scholar A makes in many ways more egregious errors than scholar A.
  • Scholar A may have been a bad photographer but at least he published photos of a manuscript both men were rare witnesses to.
  • Scholar A may have taken a long time to publish an official account of his trip to see the manuscript but at least he published something.
  • Scholar A may have abandoned his interest in the manuscript that both men saw but Scholar B didn't! QQ had dozens of printed pages from the internet (who does this!) that are now in the library collection demonstrating that he was very much aware of the ongoing debate about the manuscript in scholarship. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually spoke to leading voices in the 'forgery side' of the debate. There just isn't any evidence for it in the paltry scraps that survived in his garage.
The bottom line you get from the material is that QQ was such a biased researcher that if he couldn't produce a paper confirming his pre-existent bias that the document was a forgery he wouldn't publish anything ... he wouldn't publish anything because it would be counter to his a priori convictions. This is not the way scholarship is supposed to proceed but this is the way it has preceded because the manuscript was contextualized in the 'culture wars' throughout the late 70's to the Bush presidency. Now that gay marriage is pretty much a bit of 'settled law' the manuscript isn't as controversial and we can take a second look. But the question of authenticity was rooted very much in the question of 'tradition' and 'traditional values' not so much with regards to actual difficulties arising from the manuscript.

A Columbia professor finds a manuscript, takes photographs, leaves the manuscript where he found it and publishes a brief paper when he returns home and eventually publishes a more comprehensive study on the manuscript later. Who can really find fault with that? If a 'culture war' hadn't been brewing in his home country in the ensuing years after the discovery none of this could have been deemed controversial because it wasn't and isn't controversial.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:26 am
by Secret Alias
The article doesn't get into these things. It's just a summary of the library contents contextualized with years of research and conversations I've had with personalities related to the events (i.e. members of the documentary team along with Morton Smith that happened to be in Israel as QQ was looking at the manuscript). Another odd bit that is only tangentially mentioned in the article. When QQ was inspecting the manuscript not only was Morton Smith in Israel but Koester was giving a lecture on Secret Mark at the Hebrew University which QQ attended! Apparently QQ grilled Koester and attended a dinner where Secret Mark was discussed (it was the topic of his lecture). But he never let on that he was examining the very same document in the Jerusalem library. Very, very, very curious behavior for a scholar. But an even more amazing coincidence from the point of view of the history of the document. Koester lecturing on Secret Mark, Smith in Israel to film the document but coming away empty handed and QQ actually handling the document ... secretly. Of course it was done in secret! It fits the story too perfectly.

It should be emphasized that this forum is an informal social network for people interested in the early history of Christianity and religion. My comments are informal and do not reflect or represent the contents of the article because I haven't looked at the paper in months. The paper was completed early last year (2016). Small changes were made. But I haven't thought or written about these things in some time. These are just scattered reflections made in light of a thread started by someone at the forum and I offer my opinions as they are now not as they were then - i.e. when I had the material in the library collection at hand. Of course what I wrote at that time is a more accurate reflection of the events in question. What I say here is a distantly removed reflection of something that was written over 18 months ago. That published text should be the last word on details related to QQs visit to Jerusalem.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:11 am
by Secret Alias
I have to admit the process of getting peer reviewed papers published IS TOO SLOW. ... 0-12341305 I can't even remember what is in this article it's been so long. When people criticize Smith for the length of time it took to get his scholarly tome published consider that this rather simplistic overview of QQs papers took almost 4 years to get published. Crazy.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:19 am
by Kunigunde Kreuzerin
It's cool that you are published there. Congrats :cheers:

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:21 am
by StephenGoranson
On early reading the article has pros and cons. It does provide some new
information. It sometimes recognizes that some questions about this trip are
unknown (e.g. how did QQ learn that the ms was moved to Jerusalem)

It occasionally overreaches, claiming certainty about QQs state of mind.

It occasionally betrays the authors' preference for authenticity rather than
fakery. E.g., footnote one: "Smith's visit and discovery."

It occasionally misleads. E.g., p. 368 declares "similar writings at Mar
Saba" whereas the supporting footnote merely says other books there "which
could serve for comparison." And note 51 "...perhaps at Mar Saba. I could go
and look." No mention of A. Tselikas' different view.

Also misleading on page 376 "He [QQ] also mentioned that it was 'impossible'
that Smith could have smuggled a book from outside of the monastery...." I
think QQ wrong here (given books piled on the floor, etc.), but note 106
begins :"A phone conversation with Quesnell before his death,
[odd transition here] also corroborated by Agamemmnon Tselikas..." A.T. said that
no one could copy such a text in the monastery. But the article leaves out
the continuation of A.T.'s report whee he explicitly contradicts--not
confirms!--the claim by asserting that Smith likely did smuggle the Voss
book in, already inscribed.

Page 371 makes an unclear claim about a note mentioning 1672, and that QQ
"certainly" would know who wrote that (huh??), that that might be the date
of inking. Yet the book was not on later catalogs. 1672 by the way--though
maybe irrelevant--is the date of the Synod of Jerusalem by all eastern
Orthodox, versus Protestants.)

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:23 am
by Secret Alias
It would be great if you went to Smith College and read the material yourself.
It occasionally overreaches, claiming certainty about QQs state of mind.
see above.
It occasionally betrays the authors' preference for authenticity rather than
fakery. E.g., footnote one: "Smith's visit and discovery."
Well Smith did 'visit' the monastery and made a 'discovery.' To state anything beyond that would be to betray partiality to one side or the other. Since you like Tselikas's report so much here is how characterized the situation - "The letter was accompanied with a newspaper clipping from where was announced the discovery of the Clement’s letter."
No mention of A. Tselikas' different view.
and then you (half) cite Tselikas's view:
-the claim by asserting that Smith likely did smuggle the Voss
book in, already inscribed.
But let's cite his published view. He begins by noting the facts:
Morton Smith has certainly earned the trust of the abbot during his stay in the monastery, in the first as in the second time.
Ok and then another fact:
"But to move freely in the library and use the edition of Ignatius to copy the Clement’s letter I find it impossible."
This was corroborated by QQ in our phone conversations and other witnesses including Dragas. I've asked Tselikas to confirm this and he did numerous times. There was no freedom for outsiders in the library. That's the fact. That was how it was. But surely the text is a forgery. It says things that have never been said before. How are these things reconciled? This is where speculation begins which needs to be rationalized against the basic situation on the ground. So Tselikas goes on to write
Most convincing is that the edition of Ignatius with the letter already written by Morton Smith or by someone else was placed in the library by Morton Smith himself
How does this statement reconcile itself with the lack of freedom. That's why Tselikas can't come out and say that Smith smuggled the book in. He wants to say it but has to introduce the conspiracy because of the lack of movement. So again later:
all the evidences suggest that the forger can not be other person than Morton Smith or some other person under his orders.

How does anyone reasonably reconcile the report about the actual situation on the ground - viz. that there was no freedom of movement? Tselikas only mouths the official position of the monastery (in which he has an office and is granted freedom of movement in this and every monastery). "... some other person under his orders. " Come on.

I correspond regularly (or at least used to) with Tselikas ('Memos') through his closest and dearest friend Harry Tzalas. He was the first person to receive the article and he actively contributed to my research. He was consulted not only for the development of the article but for years leading up to it. I don't know whether I can reveal personal correspondences but he was consulted throughout. I've also spoken numerous times to the Patriarchate. Father Aristarchos speaks fluent English and almost inevitably any discussion about the manuscript - no matter how technical the question - reverts back to the question of (a) the Orthodox Creed viz. 'do you believe in the sanctity of our faith ...' or (b) 'why are you so interested in this document, you must be gay, trying to destroy the Church' etc. I mean this isn't a scientific institution.

The facts are what QQ wrote in his notes which are a certain gauge for what he was thinking at the time of the discovery. There is at least one statement in there from memory that he was being closely watched at all times he had books in his possession. Dourvas at least seems to come across as favorable to authenticity from the notes. I guess I can provide one example of how I worked with Tselikas for research in the article. You fail to mention that there is a lot of new research that went into making the paper and a lot of stuff that was left on the cutting room floor so to speak. An example. George Dragas was very amicable up until the moment it was revealed I did not think the document was a forgery. He is quite friendly with Dourvas and considers him a good friend and a 'man of deep faith.' We had at least two conversations where Dragas claimed that he was in Jerusalem or might have been in Jerusalem (the first conversation) when an American (whom he presumed was QQ) was kicking up a fuss about this manuscript. When he told me the full story (assuming it was indeed QQ and Mar Saba 65) he said Dourvas accepted the manuscript's authenticity and was tired of coming and going fetching books for the obnoxious American.

Now I only made contact with Dragas once the article had already been basically put to bed. At some point his attitude toward helping me changed and he never answered any of my phone calls so the information was not included in the article. However it is worth noting some important lines of future research. I arranged an interview with Meliton the librarian who moved the document with Stroumsa and the other Israeli scholars. He is now a metropolitan bishop in Athens. The most interesting thing is that he alludes to the 'interest' that the general secretary at the time now 'Theophanes Archbishop of Gerasa (nee Theodosios Chasapakis) had in the document. He graduated from Durham University with an MA in Patristic Theology - his teacher was Dragas.

This Theophanes is alive I believe and living in Jerusalem. The title 'Archbishop of Gerasa' is honorific. He lives in Jerusalem: ... %BF%CE%B92

some interesting notes to his CV - "1981 was sent for Higher Studies at the University of Durham, England, holds the degree of Master in Patristic theology." Even though he went to school in Durham he likely came back to Jerusalem when Dragas was there.

In any event that didn't make the article nor did my efforts to interview Meliton the librarian before Dourvas who moved the document from Mar Saba to Jerusalem. In any event, the point here is that years of research went into this paper. I took advantage of the technological advancements over the last 20 years where long distance costs have been dramatically reduced and actually spoke to living people about what might still be a living text. I know the preferred method in this field is to reproduced books without end and at least from outside it seems too much driven by an effort to seem clever.

Rather than being clever or perhaps because I am not that intelligent I approached matters like Papias whom Eusebius said was stupid and tried to actually make contact with as many living witnesses to this document and this story as possible. How was this accomplished? Over the telephone. Let me cite verbatim 'the report' that Memos provided for me translated into English by our mutual friend Harry dated 5/22/15 in my gmail account:
Memos finally reached Meliton Mitropolites Marathon over the telephone while I was at the Centre of Paleography intending to arrange a meeting. I must stress that Meliton has now only a honorific Metropolis and in fact has no office or church of his responsibility. He goes from time to time to the Metropolis church of Akademias Platonos in central Athens. So he was speaking from his home.

Meliton was very kind to Memos, he knew of him and was in a way embarrassed as to where we could all meet. At that point he asked Memos if the reason of the meeting was related to “the lost pages of the Ossiou Sabba” manuscript!!!. So obviously the Bishop is aware of the research Memos has done some years ago in the Jerusalem Patriarchal Library. Memo said yes and also mentioned my interest in finding out about the faith of the lost manuscript.

Very kindly Meliton said “ …of course I will be pleased to meet you both but let me state right away that I have left Jerusalem since 1986 and I have no idea of what happened to the lost pages”. He added: “When I was at the Jerusalem Patriarchate a few years before leaving for Greece, I was asked to accompany some Jewish scholars who were interested in that particular book that contained the manuscript pages. So as instructed I went to Ossios Sabba took the book –checked that the manuscript pages were in it—and returned to the Patriarchal Library in Jerusalem and delivered the book to the Kallistos [Dourvas], the responsible person for the Library. Theophanis, the Head-Secretary (Archigramateas) was also interested in the book, he is now Bishop of Jerash. I know that when I left Jerusalem the pages were no more in the book, but I have no idea of where they may be or who has separated them from the book. Kallistos is now somewhere in Northern Greece. That is all what I know and when and if we meet I will have nothing more to add”.

I was listening at the conversation on a “conference line” and my impression is that Meliton was saying what he knew, there was no hesitation in his voice it was the voice of a person who knew well a story that had been repeated again and again.
I also know where Dourvas is - or was in 2015 - and tried to contact him too. But this 'telephone research' is how this article came together. I tried to act responsibly - not including evidence that could not be verified or where I wasn't sure that the person really knew what he claimed to know. I did not include Dragas's testimony even though it was quite fascinating simply because it seemed too good to be true and I wasn't able to corroborate that testimony a second time.

In the case of Harry's testimony we operated in a very similar fashion. The nature of technology now allows us to focus our research on the manuscript as a 'living entity' rather than strictly limit ourselves to 'things said about the manuscript.' Of course QQ's written testimony was the focus of the paper but I had the advantage of a numerous discussions with the professor in the final years of his life - some, where I like Harry was an acknowledged participant taking a mostly taking a passive role in the conversation (when Timo was conducting the questioning) - later as the questioner and he the respondent.

I tried to make the paper centrally focused on his papers but of course supplemented that research with my own telephone conversations and those of my associated - namely those of Daniel, Harry and of course Tselikas. I can't tell you the number of conversations I had over the course of the preparation of the paper. I called Dourvas in Sappes. I called Dragas. I called the Patriarchate. I spoke to the Jerusalem University. To Magen Broshi. To Koester. All involved with producing Jesus the Evidence. I tried to track down the exact date of Koester's presentation on Secret Mark. Sometimes emails were involved but mostly phone conversations.

The amount of research that I have conducted on this subject is exhaustive but every step along the way Tselikas has been consulted and involved - practically since 2012 (or at least that's as far back as I can remember). I tried to make the article as objective as possible. I am sorry if you feel that I should have referred to the text as Smith's 'purported discovery' but Tselikas refers to the text simply as 'Smith's discovery' also. I really recommend that you read the notes at Smith College yourself.

Re: Stephan Huller article on Q. Quesnell and "Secret Mark"

Posted: Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:11 am
by andrewcriddle
From my own experience of the secure sections of an academic library, (which may be a bad parallel), the surveillance is intended to prevent the damage or removal of material. It would probably not prevent the unauthorised addition of an extra book to a shelf of books.

Andrew Criddle