Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Nov 25, 2020 11:50 am

I know. 1988 was pushing the limit. When the style went to all one length hair I instantly joined the ranks of les moches

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Achamoth
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Achamoth » Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:08 pm

I still don't see what the big deal over "secret mark" is either way. Even if it is completely authentic it merely adds an acolyte receiving a baptism into the mysteries to the narrative. It is easily the least interesting of the heretical texts from that era. Perhaps the best evidence for secret mark's authenticity is that someone with such a poisonous hatred of Christianity as Milton Smith would have forged something more threatening to the official history of Christianity.

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Nov 26, 2020 6:54 am

When you misspell the name of the discoverer of the letter you instantly lose credibility - especially when he was such a towering figuring in late twentieth century scholarship. It means you don't know much about him and the controversy surrounding the letter. Like saying 'US of A' when discussing American politics. The underlying question is whether it is likely - not possible - that such a towering figure, one who devoted his life to scholarship and little else, could have been willing to throw that reputation into the gutter in order to corruptly influence the direction of research into early Christianity. I see little evidence in favor of such a proposition. Yes certainly corrupt people exist. They exist within religious orders as well as atheist societies. They exist among men and women, people of all races, colors and creeds. But those who promote such conspiracy theories suggest that in the case of Morton Smith the suspicions that arose among certain contemporaries were justified and that 'in due course' evidence would appear which would support those suspicions.

The difficulty is that they have been telling us this for over fifty years. For over fifty years we have been assured that the 'hunch' that Quesnell expressed would lead to some sort of proof that would discredit the letter. This has not happened. Instead what various papers have done is raised new 'concerns,' new 'questions' which in turn - we are told - should keep the 'question' of authenticity open. It does remind me to a great extent of the approach of the Trump legal team in this recent election - i.e. make the worst most outrageous accusation and then expect that evidence will appear 'any time now' to justify the horrendous accusations. My response is of course that after almost seventy years we should take the opposite approach. We should accept the authenticity of the letter with the faint acknowledgement that it is unfortunate that we don't know everything, that it is unfortunate that we can't test the letter. In fact I would argue that if Quesnell and others hadn't raised such a stink - the letter would have remained where it always was, we could have tested the letter and all questions would have been resolved (unless of course the test turned out positive and - like Donald Trump's supporters ever new conspiracy theories would have been invented to 'explain' why they didn't get the result they were after).

In other words, as in the Trump election claims - the other side has had the opportunity to justify their initial 'suspicions' with actual evidence for almost seventy years. That evidence has failed to appear undoubtedly because it does not exist. Now after almost seventy years we must consider the possibility that - like the Trump legal time - the outrage was created merely to discredit the discovery. In other words, one can invent a dishonest claim of forgery even easier than a forgery itself. Just as it remained a possibility that Smith invented the discovery to change the trajectory of scholars so too with the religious zealots who cast doubt on Smith's discovery. In the end, enough time has passed. No evidence has appeared to justify the horrible accusations of the religious zealots who invented the claim of forgery. Time to move on with the acknowledgement that it is still possible for new evidence to emerge - as unlikely as that seems now given that seventy years have elapsed.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

StephenGoranson
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by StephenGoranson » Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:06 am

Morton Smith was a hard-working researcher, but that was not one of my questions.
Karen King was a hard-working researcher.
She contacted the NY Times and others to cover what she claimed was an important ancient gospel text.
Morton Smith contacted the NY Times and others to cover what he claimed was an important gospel text. Maybe just coincidence.
If I may repeat one of my actual questions:
Geoffrey Smith (recorded at LMWsymposium.com) argued that “Secret Mark” was written sometime after Eusebius’ History (written in the 320s), and therefore was not by Clement of Alexandria, who died about a century earlier.
Do you think Geoffrey Smith’s argument was persuasive or not?

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:12 am

As I said in my post. It's been almost seventy years. We gave the Trump legal team less than half a month to justify their accusations with real evidence. If there is evidence for it being a forgery seventy years should be enough time. As such it is time to close the book until the evidence appears for Smith's guilt.

On the subject of the forthcoming book I can't or won't make any public comment until publication. Read into that what you will.

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:21 am

And on the general subject of pseudepigrapha I would go so far as to say that there are very few 'genuine' texts in the study of early Christianity. A brief history.

The Marcionites (De Recta in Deum Fide) accused the orthodox of forging texts in the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I am partial to their suggestion.
The Marcionites argued that massive interpolations are present in the letters of Paul. I am swayed by their suggestion.
The Marcionites suggest that Acts is a forgery. It is not history at all but historical invention. I am sympathetic to their suggestion.
The other early Patristic texts suffer from similar interpolations. The letters of Ignatius are one such example. And so on and so on.

The idea that someone could have written a letter in Clement's name wouldn't be surprising in and of itself. I happen to think it is authentically Clementine but I could be wrong just as I could be wrong about the letter being a modern forgery. Morton Smith could indeed have forged the letter - or at least a possibility exists. I happen to think it is a remote possibility because there is no compelling evidence for this scenario. But if this evidence were to emerge I would have to accept it as as likely scenario as the evidence suggested. In short - make the evidence appear and you have confirmation of your story. Until then, as with Donald Trump it is time to concede to the reality of the situation - there is no evidence of it being a modern forgery.

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Secret Alias
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:29 am

As another aside on the subject of pseudepigrapha I think Morton Smith's student Shaye Cohen presented evidence that your beloved corpus of Josephus was likely a forgery or at least an original Aramaic hypomnema of Josephus was heavily interpolated into the existing Greek texts we now possess. Thackeray too for that matter. I don't see you refrain from using Josephus to piece together your interest in the Essenes. We all end up accepting questionable texts to the degree that it furthers our research. Subjectivity is a human trait. All research comes from scholars who - for lack of a better metaphor - lack 20/20 vision. In layman's terms, no one's perfect, no research is beyond reproach, no thesis is foolproof.

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Even Stephen

Post by JoeWallack » Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:46 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16r98zeAaoU
StephenGoranson wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:34 am
There’s no consensus yet, but it may be, partly by unintended consequence, slowly arriving.
Geoffrey Smith recently showed persuasively (in LMWsymposium.com) that the letter by “Clement” (his quotation marks) was composed sometime after Eusebius’ History, so not by Clement. And, I add, if Clement of Alexandria disappears from this, likely so does the Secret Mark of Alexandria—apparently not known to Origen, nor anyone else, before Morton Smith. Geoffrey Smith, and co-author Brent Landau--who dismissed some proposals, but only some targets easier to caricature, not Smith seen in full (e.g., his humor)--propose it was written after Eusebius but before Morton Smith. Yet Michael Zeddies has demonstrated (JECS 2007; HTR 2009) that a very detailed revisionist setting can be argued, even if not finally persuasively. But Origen (Zeddies’ choice) stated that he had not met Carpocratians (correcting Harpocratians with Henry Chadwick and an assist from A. D. Nock; c. Cels. 5.65). Origen was not trickily addressing dead Celsus, an option M.S. offered in a 1984ff article (see below), but addressing his contemporary Christians, including patron Ambrose. Post Eusebius, Carpocratians were likely extinct; Epiphanius had to content himself for his disdain by quoting earlier writers. M. S. found in them a parallel to a version of Sabbatai Sevi’s tikkun, though Scholem demurred. Who else had similar motive? A forthcoming book (Yale UP) may attempt to answer that. After Origen and after Eusebius, Clement’s reputation was diminished by guilt by association with Origen—perhaps not a great pseudepigraphic pick to allege a Secret Gospel.
Morton Smith in a detailed article in JTS archive (box 10, folder 1), unpublished (though marked up for publishing), perhaps intended to be “the Score” after two decades, brazened it out, saying, in effect, of course this was Clement. Never you mind that the language is hyper-Clementonian and the content is non-Clementite, because the letter is his secret writing, as opposed to his other writing that Morton Smith repeatedly characterized as his writing in public. So difference to be expected, see? It does not take super imagination to find a subtext not far to seek: this is Clement, fools, because I wrote it as Clement! (More sermons by Augustine discovered in a Mainz library did not have changed doctrine.)
Some of his students, even without including Neusner, apparently think he was capable. At least one scholar Smith listed as accepting Clement authorship has denied that.
To say (with Brent Landau) that Smith was “ethical’ by leaving the book at Mar Saba begs the question whether he planted it there, pre-inscribed.
So far the most detailed paleographic publication is by Agamemnon Tselikas. Voss page 11 had ink and pen tests (Greek). (Minor note: Latin text used in the binding.) Book Provenance indications were ripped away.
Did M. S., as has been suggested, have an accomplice? I doubt the few available expert suspects would trust Smith nor he them. Not to deny as possible, though, that he may have practiced other writing and been critiqued by an expert or two, unaware of the real purpose. (Compare, in admittedly quite different and worse context, those who trained as pilots, only to crash planes).
M. S. of Philadelphia, if I remember, though I’ve lost the reference (anyone know?) deposited a “manufactured in the United States” 1958 neat fair copy of his with a named Philadelphia bookdealer. Quite speculative: is that from whom he bought 1646 Voss? Of course, not the final word. Corrections welcome.
JW:
I've bolded the supposed clues you've left where you imply the conclusion that MS was the forger. Let's back up. The most important related category of evidence here is witnesses. As far as we know there is only one first hand witness. Morton Smith (MS). MS spent his whole life and career (so to speak) testifying that he did not forge "The Letter". So you can come up with all the supposed clues you want, good, bad and ugly, it does not change the fact that the only first hand witness here is solidly in the innocent category. The only other potential quality witness would be non-first hand witness. He said, she said, I saw, I thought I saw, a Pussy Catholic. So before we get to circumstantial evidence, whatcha got?


Joseph

FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

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StephenGoranson
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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by StephenGoranson » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:11 am

In 1912 Charles Dawson claimed that he found important early human bones, known as Piltdown man. By faulty logic he could be called the sole eyewitness, and therefore “innocent.” Decades later this was proven to be fake.
We know that others witnessed the ms. Including Guy Stroumsa and David Flusser. The former thought the text genuine; the latter thought it was a fake.
Will posters—avoiding, e.g., my question whether or not Geoffrey Smith’s proposal at LMWsymposium is persuasive--now call David Flusser a religious zealot or a Trump supporter?

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Re: Did Morton salt Mar Saba?

Post by andrewcriddle » Sat Nov 28, 2020 7:08 am

StephenGoranson wrote:
Mon Nov 23, 2020 7:34 am
There’s no consensus yet, but it may be, partly by unintended consequence, slowly arriving.
Geoffrey Smith recently showed persuasively (in LMWsymposium.com) that the letter by “Clement” (his quotation marks) was composed sometime after Eusebius’ History, so not by Clement. And, I add, if Clement of Alexandria disappears from this, likely so does the Secret Mark of Alexandria—apparently not known to Origen, nor anyone else, before Morton Smith. Geoffrey Smith, and co-author Brent Landau--who dismissed some proposals, but only some targets easier to caricature, not Smith seen in full (e.g., his humor)--propose it was written after Eusebius but before Morton Smith. Yet Michael Zeddies has demonstrated (JECS 2007; HTR 2009) that a very detailed revisionist setting can be argued, even if not finally persuasively. But Origen (Zeddies’ choice) stated that he had not met Carpocratians (correcting Harpocratians with Henry Chadwick and an assist from A. D. Nock; c. Cels. 5.65). Origen was not trickily addressing dead Celsus, an option M.S. offered in a 1984ff article (see below), but addressing his contemporary Christians, including patron Ambrose. Post Eusebius, Carpocratians were likely extinct; Epiphanius had to content himself for his disdain by quoting earlier writers. M. S. found in them a parallel to a version of Sabbatai Sevi’s tikkun, though Scholem demurred. Who else had similar motive? A forthcoming book (Yale UP) may attempt to answer that. After Origen and after Eusebius, Clement’s reputation was diminished by guilt by association with Origen—perhaps not a great pseudepigraphic pick to allege a Secret Gospel.
2 comments.

1/Enrico Tuccinardi's work viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7037 makes accidental attribution to Clement of a work by e.g. Origen unlikely. The work is either Clementine or a deliberate imitation.

2/ From an earlier post
It has previously been suggested that the Mar Saba letter is an ancient forgery/pseudepigraph See for example Annick Martin The letter is dated by Martin c 400 CE in the context of the Origenist controversy. The later date has advantages, IMO the background for the letter is Neoplatonic not Middle Platonic. However, if the letter is a very late ancient forgery Secret Mark itself seems unlikely to be authentic in any interesting way.
If the letter is an ancient pseudepigraph it is probably promoting "Origenist" ideas in the name of Origen's predecessor.

Andrew Criddle

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