Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

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Ken Olson
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Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Ken Olson »

Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report
Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/dai ... is-report/

In his extensive multi-part report, Tselikas explains that the handwriting of the Clement letter doesn’t match that of any other scribe at Mar Saba monastery, where the manuscript was discovered by Morton Smith, and in fact indicates forgery or imitation of 18th-century Greek script. Monastery records show that the book was not in its collection as of 1923, and due to strict supervision in the library, the letter could not have been copied into the book after 1923, so it must have been copied elsewhere and brought to the Mar Saba library later. Tselikas concludes that Smith’s opportunity and motive make him the most likely suspect and that Smith probably forged the letter or had someone else do it for him before bringing the book to Mar Saba.


Agamemnon Tselikas’ Summary:
Based on extensive report I sent you on the letter of St. Clement I expose here a summary of my remarks.

I noticed several grammatical errors in the text which we can divide into two categories: Those which are due to the “author” and those which are due to the copyist. The first category concerns syntactic and meaning errors, which St. Clement would not be possible to make. The second category concerns the wrong dictation of some words. This phenomenon is frequent in the Byzantine and post Byzantine manuscripts and we can not give particular importance. However, if the scribe generally appears as an experienced and very careful, some of these mistakes show that he had not sufficient knowledge of the language.

The main palaeographical observation is 1) that a big number of lines of the letters and links are not continuous, fact which means that the hand of the scribe was not moving spontaneously, but carefully and tentatively to maintain the correct shape of the letter. 2) That there are some completely foreign or strange and irregular forms that do not belong to the generally traditional way and rule of Greek writing.


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.

Once we prove that the handwriting of the letter is alien to the genuine and traditional Greek, we can accept that it is an imitation of an older script.

A comparison of the handwriting of the Greek letters of Morton Smith with the handwriting of Clement’s letter can not give significant evidence that Morton Smith is the scribe, and this because as imitation, certainly the scribe of the letter would not use his own personal style. Nevertheless, some factors point to Morton Smith. My conclusion is that the letter is product of a forgery and all the evidences suggest that the forger can not be other person than Morton Smith or some other person under his orders. Morton Smith was able to do it. He had the model (the described manuscripts), the appropriate and famous place for the discovery (St. Sabba Monastery), the reason (to become known and significant).

Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Again, we were discussing what I call the anti-gay, anti-Morton Smith Duke conspiracy regarding the origins of Secret Mark. That explanation for the text being a forgery depends on two claims that have no firm basis in fact (1) that the text references homosexuality and (2) that Morton Smith was a homosexual. Both of these claims have no firm basis in fact. It is noteworthy also that Tselikas on many occasions in interviews and personal contact admits that paleographers are not trained to spot forgeries. That is the job of document examiners. I've already cited one such interview. I don't understand this fixation with this text on your part. You've admitted that it might be one letter or it might be another letter. You've brought no new evidence beyond Sabar's one year + investigation which did not establish Morton Smith as a homosexual, the central underpinning behind your Duke University colleagues theory that provided "a loss of faith" and "revenge on Christianity" as a motive for making the forgery. So now you have to admit the gay reference isn't "certain" nor is the "gay identity" of Morton Smith. So at least admit, as reason would demand, that this Duke conspiracy theory about the document no longer works.

There are other arguments for why the document might be a fake. I am willing to listen to all of them. But after decades of trying the claim that the forgery has something to do with homosexuality is no longer tenable.
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

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In this interview and many others Tselikas admits it is not the job of the paleographer to determine authenticity. https://www.archaiologia.gr/blog/2014/0 ... %BB%CE%B1/ He includes himself in that grouping. Why then did he write all these things for BAR? I have an interview with Dragas who has close friends with Dourvas and told me he was there when Quesnell asked to see the document. I didn't include this in the VC thing because it came after Daniel and I had already submitted the article. The gist of it is that the authorities at Jerusalem grew tired about the constant interest in this document. I cannot speculate as to what was the motivation for Tselikas contradicting his repeated acknowledgement that he as a paleographer does not have the authority to determine authenticity (nor for making silly arguments such as Morton Smith being an American spy, or that Morton Smith took photos of certain manuscripts which he certainly did not etc). Nevertheless I strongly suspect that the document is in the desk of a graduate student of a British university (a former student of Dragas) who is now the so-called "Bishop of Gerash." I have heard this from Meliton the person who helped move the text from Mar Saba to the Patriarchate. Not only do I think that Tselikas had access to the physical document when he did his transcription, I know testimony that the text still exists, that the bishop of Gerash (who is the best friend of the current Patriarch of Jerusalem) had a "deep interest" in the text predating the BAR request. They've just decided to make the text unavailable to us. The constant stream of requests to see the text and the constant questions regarding of Jesus's sexuality (prompted by your Duke conspiracy theory I might add) has turn the opinion away from sharing the text and I believe prejudiced opinion against the authenticity of the material. Tselikas's transcription is still the most authoritative not merely because Tselikas is the greatest authority on handwriting from this period. There is still the strong possibility that his transcription was made from the manuscript itself. Again he has never said this. Whenever I have asked him for the text he says he can't find it. This is something which will likely be known for sure. He certainly photographs himself with the Voss book. But he does have access to every manuscript that he can find in the library.
"We, let's say, use, on the one hand, some completely conventional terms to name writings of the 10th century, the 13th, the 15th century, completely conventional, demonstrative names but, coming to the newer years, what other terminology could we use? Do I know too? Let the writing be right-leaning, left-leaning writing, upright, lying down, let's say such terms, and I wanted to see what happens or how some graphologists describe the letters. And I had actually bought some books when I was in France, around '77 – and it doesn't take much to cross the Rubicon – I'd taken what I needed from there, I'd understood what people were doing, but I'd left it at that. Fine, I wouldn't be the typist. And it happened that these people came here, that there was also a sympathy and a mutual willingness to exchange knowledge, opinions, etc. and, seeing the enthusiasm of these people, we say okay, you your graphology, I my palaeographic, and you learn, and I slowly enter into your reflection, without for God's sake - I dare not, I dare not - articulate word for consulting graphology. Or to determine authenticity, match a signature on a check (Ή για να αποφανθώ περί της γνησιότητας, να ταυτίσω μια υπογραφή σε μια επιταγή). No. Because this is a purely professional matter, people have their business, it's over and done with."
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by StephenGoranson »

Quentin Quesnell--not Duke connected. Nor Peter Jeffery, Nor David Flusser. Nor Grant Adamson. Nor Ariel Sabar. Nor Shaye Cohen, a Smith Ph.D. Columbia student, then at Brown, now at Harvard, and his literary executor, who introduced the collocation, "Secret Morton."
Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Nor Shaye Cohen, a Smith Ph.D. Columbia student, then at Brown, now at Harvard, and his literary executor, who introduced the collocation, "Secret Morton."
I've talked to Shaye. He doesn't think Morton Smith forged the document. You're wrong.
Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Quentin Quesnell--not Duke connected. Nor Peter Jeffery, Nor David Flusser. Nor Grant Adamson.
Dead. Irrelevant (a joke even among conspiracy theorists). Dead. Dead. It's just this Duke Conspiracy theory.
Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Sabar just tried to do his Jesus Wife article again with Morton Smith. Couldn't find a "there there." No proof of homosexuality. Just another attempt at personal attacks. It's never ending. Why? Because they can't find any proof.
Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Nor Ariel Sabar.
Was the article even about the document? It was an expose on Morton Smith's bad character. All 8 references to Clement:
  • The circumstances of the discovery were admittedly complicated. What Morton Smith claimed to find at the monastery wasn’t some first edition of Secret Mark on papyrus. It was a copy of a letter that quotes Secret Mark. The letter’s author appeared to be the second-century Church father Clement of Alexandria. It had been transcribed, in an 18th-century Greek hand, onto the end pages of a printed 17th-century book. Smith had discovered those end pages, he said, while cataloging books in the monastery’s library.

    Addressed to an unknown man named Theodore, the letter calls out Secret Mark’s sexual innuendo. Some early Christians may have seen the gospel as portraying “naked man with naked man,” Clement writes, but Clement condemns such views as false and “utterly shameless.”

    A possibly larger problem was that the letter of “Clement” appeared to crib distinctive language from a Church history composed a century after Clement’s death. “Anyone who has ever caught a clever student cheating on an essay or during an exam will find the pattern familiar,” Smith and Landau write.

    Wasn’t whoever wrote the Clement letter doing the same thing, by urging readers not to mistake Jesus’s night with the young man for anything so “blasphemous and carnal” as “naked man with naked man”?

    Was same-sex love—or lust—one of those sins? Ancient sources don’t say. But Landau and Smith theorize that the Clement letter was written by a Mar Saba monk during some “in-house” debate over the propriety of such unions.

    If Sabas or his successors had enforced too hard a line on same-sex unions, might some monks have pushed back? Might one of them have faked a letter from two unimpeachable authorities—Clement and God—that presented Jesus himself as the model for intimate but still-sacred unions between men?
By contrast there are 28 references to homosexuality. 28 references to sex. Even though these words are not present in the letter. 8 references to Clement versus almost 50 references to sex and "sexual deviance." That's a 6:1 ratio. Sabar knows how to appeal to a vulgar audience with skill. So this is an article about Secret Mark it's about portraying Morton Smith as an evil deranged faggot. It's about establishing Smith as a dehumanized caricature. It's the kind of tactics repressive cultures used to demonize unwanted individuals and peoples.

The article assumes from the beginning the letter is a forgery and then, after mentioning Landau and Smith's assumptions about gay monks proceeds to attack Morton Smith. This is not an academic paper. We are given two choices - gay monks, gay Smith. Even though "the world's only Greek paleographer" determined there is no homosexual reference in the letter.

Not an academic article. Just a popularization and vulgarization of the Duke conspiracy theory adapted for National Enquirer readership. Mark Goodacre thinks the article is "brilliant." Disgusting. But defeating Q is apparently worth vulgarizing academia and always been worth it as long as his hands are clean.
Secret Alias
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Re: Agamemnon Tselikas’ Handwriting Analysis Report Did Morton Smith Forge "Secret Mark"?

Post by Secret Alias »

Image

What exactly is "brilliant" about Sabar's new article on Morton Smith? What has happened to the debate about Secret Mark? So a blatant misrepresentation of a fellow scholar is "brilliant" merely because this personal attack might bring people over to your side. Where are we with academia? So buried with the hollow insincerity of his British accent there is no longer even a pretense of civility any longer. Apparently Goodacre has "known all along" that the document is a fake and Smith a homosexual and this article which suggests all sorts of crazy things about Morton Smith is doing a service to the debate about authenticity? Really? So what was stopping us before was "the law" and that as long as you can figure out a way to defame someone within the letter of the law all is good. It's just about winning. Wow. This is the new world. No discomfort with the methods used in the article. None whatsoever. Ends justify the means.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Mon Mar 18, 2024 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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