A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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rakovsky
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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Thanks for your replies.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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Tony Burke writes in "Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery?" that
The closest any scholars came to [giving evidence for forgery] were in arguments presented by Andrew Criddle, Ernest Best, and Philip Jenkins. In 1995 Criddle performed a statistical analysis of the Letter to Theodore purporting to show the letter “contains too high a ratio of Clementine to non-Clementine traits to be authentic and should be regarded as a deliberate imitation of Clement’s style.”22

[Price] saw also something suspicious in Smith writing his name on the manuscript. “If Smith had forged the text,” he wrote, this and other items “would make additional sense . . . Was he signing his own work?”26

25. Price, “Second Thoughts on the Secret Gospel,” 131.
I don't have access to Price's article. It seems weird that Smith would sign an ancient text that he found - usually if archaeologists or historians find priceless or very valuable works of art or writing they don't sign it. He conceivable could have done so in order to show that he was the one who discovered it and can vouch for it, but it's still weird. Typically when you sign a book it means that someone gave it to you. Composers of art and book authors also sign their own masterpieces.

I like Peter Jeffery's sense of humor, like when he gives the "Jeffery Challenge." Tony Burke relates:
Peter Jeffery’s paper constructs from Clement’s writings a multi-stage scheme of Christian initiation. This he compares with the letter to determine what kind of initiation or ritual it is describing and if it is consistent with the mystery cult vocabulary used by Clement. Among the disagreements he finds between the letter and Clement’s undisputed writings are the appeal to written rather than oral hidden truths and a special initiation ceremony for those being perfected separating them from the merely baptized. Thus, Jeffery characterizes the letter as a collection of ritual terms from Clement “indiscriminately mashed together” (p. 230).

The same method, he says, is observable in Smith’s academic works. During his presentation, Jeffery encouraged the graduate students in the room to observe for themselves Smith’s “‘scattered indications’ technique of reassembling words and phrases from ancient writings” (p. 246) by taking what he called the Jeffery Challenge: “Go to the library, check out [Smith’s Clement of Alexandria], take any random page, and check his sources. Frequently the source does not support what Smith is saying, it is distorted, taken out of context. If you can do that for ten hours and not figure out that you are being conned, then I will write you a glowing letter of recommendation on Princeton stationery to the business school of your choice.”

Because Smith’s writing is “extremely deceptive, distorted, untrustworthy,” Jeffery said, “[Smith] is not a man whose announcement of a discovery is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.”
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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No wonder you like him. https://www.thedp.com/article/1999/03/a ... aring_loss Suing a rock band for playing too loud is like complaining about nudity in a strip club. It's like complaining about MSG in a Chinese restaurant in Des Moines. The question with these folks is always are they trying to find fault because they don't like being blindsided by new ways of thinking. From my POV it's like the Samaritans. The Torah was written with the Samaritans in mind. But ... we have this whole system where a city which is unmentioned in the Torah is the Holy City. We just like the Jews better ... That's why we should all be glad that religion is disappearing from the world. It's not that religion is bad. Religion is kind of cool. It can be poetry, art, beauty, order all those good things. Religious people on the other hand ... not always so good, beautiful and true.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 2:54 pm No wonder you like him. https://www.thedp.com/article/1999/03/a ... aring_loss Suing a rock band for playing too loud is like complaining about nudity in a strip club.
That's stupid.
It's like complaining about MSG in a Chinese restaurant in Des Moines. The question with these folks is always are they trying to find fault because they don't like being blindsided by new ways of thinking.
Some of them are like that. But that can't apply to Robert Price and Ben Smith.

In my case I originally assumed it was authentic based on it being in the Early Writings list. I find early Christian writings, including the Gnostic ones, interesting. Plus, I've been going through a process of trying to categorize them, like by time period and school of authorship.

Christianity did have a period where it was underground and apocalyptic thinking plays a role like in Revelation. So the idea of semi secret or private instruction, like explaining the meaning of the symbols in Revelation, is not totally off base. But M. Smith's 1950's theory was that there was some kind of occult instruction to initiates comparable to what some groups in Judaism that G. Scholes talked about had. He was trying to theorize about an analogy. But we don't have direct evidence of occultism in the 1st century or 2nd century official or orthodox Church other than the normal stuff (eg. Niceness Creed ideas). We don't have evidence of tantric or sex instruction like M. Smith was hinting at.... unless you include Secret Mark, which he "discovered" after he published his secret rites theories in 1951-1958.

Yeah, the sex instruction theory is not real pleasant for me, but that unpleasantness is not nearly enough alone for me to dismiss the Secret Mark. The Torah has a lot of unpleasant stuff like stoning gays, but that's not enough for me to say that the OT doesn't teach that. Instead, I have to use a different framework to criticize that, like saying that the NT approach to the OT rules is about compassion instead of harshness. The NT finds its own ways to deal with those problems, like emphasizing forgiveness instead of enforcing punishment.
From my POV it's like the Samaritans. The Torah was written with the Samaritans in mind. But ... we have this whole system where a city which is unmentioned in the Torah is the Holy City.
Isn't Jerusalem the Canaanite city of Salem under King Melchizedek who met Abraham with presents?

Anyway, the Secret Mark topic is kind of interesting in the way that trying to perceive and expose a forgery is interesting in a particular interesting field (early writings). It"s kind of like trying to figure out and explain why Enron or Bernie Madoff are running con jobs before it became publicly obvious. At this point, we don't have a public admission or obvious evidence like a secret video recording of someone forging it with M. Smith in mind. We just have a giant pile of oddities that make it look that way when taken together.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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Wisdom of Solomon Chapter 12 complains about the Canaanites using unholy rites and "secret rituals". That is actually further evidence of the Letter to Theodore being fake because it both cites Wisdom of Solomon as authority and promotes secret rituals. Wisdom of Solomon says to God:
3. You hated the people who once lived in your holy land because of the evil deeds they were doing. 4. They were casting spells and using drugs, and performed unholy rites. 5. They murdered their own children without pity! Those who were initiated into their secret rituals feasted on human flesh and blood.
We have records of the early Church teaching that those who become Christian get communion, but we don't have any records of them having more secretive or occultic rituals.

Morton Smith on the other hand in the 1950's theorized that those early Christians had secretive occult sex related rituals and he claimed wrongly that Clement taught lying for the faith. Then he claimed that he found his signed-by-himself copy of the "Letter to Theodore," in which Clement instructs "Theodore" to lie that the Church doesn't have more secretive rituals. And as authority, Clement cites Wisdom of Solomon. Yet the Wisdom of Solomon actually is against weird unholy rites and secret rituals.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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E-v-i-d-e-n-c-e. Not this death by endless cart before the horse nonsense.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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rakovsky wrote: Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:36 amWe have records of the early Church teaching that those who become Christian get communion, but we don't have any records of them ...
rakovsky wrote: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:16 pmpossibly disrobing
Christian art depicted baptism of the naked body.

Image

Romans would crucify people naked, for humiliation, reflected in Mark 15:24:
And they crucified Him. They also divided His garments by casting lots to decide what each of them would take.
Melito of Sardis emphasized that Christ died naked on the cross:
It was He because of whom the earth quaked. He that hung up the earth in space was Himself hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that bore up the earth was borne up on a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy in a naked body-God put to death! the King of Israel slain with Israel's right hand! Alas for the new wickedness of the new murder! The Lord was exposed with naked body: He was not deemed worthy even of covering; and, in order that He might not be seen, the luminaries turned away, and the day became darkened because they slew God, who hung naked on the tree.
Paul makes the connection between a believer's baptism and the death of Christ (Romans 6:3):
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
So does the Gospel of Mark (Mark 10:39):
The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized
So, did catechumens get baptized naked? To save time, I'll quote an answer. Yes, at least sometimes.

https://christianity.stackexchange.com/ ... ised-naked

From A Dictionary of Christian Antiquities p 160 ed W Smith & S Cheetam (1875)
A comparison of all the evidence leads to the conclusion that the catechumens entered the font in a state of absolute nakedness. See particularly St Cyril, Hieros. Myst. Catech. ii ad init; St Ambrose, Serm. xx (Opp. t.v. p. 153, Paris 1642)and Enarrat. in Ps lxi 32 (BB t.i.p. 966); St Chrysostom, ad Illum. Cat. i (Migne, tom. ii. p 268). Possibly a cincture of some kind (quo pudori consuleretur) may have been worn, as indicated in some medieval works of art.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th Century)
Therefore, I shall necessarily lay before you the sequel of yesterday's Lecture, that ye may learn of what those things, which were done by you in the inner chamber(2), were symbolical. 2. As soon, then, as ye entered, ye put off your tunic; and this was an image of putting off the old man with his deeds(3). Having stripped yourselves, ye were naked; in this also imitating Christ, who was stripped naked on the Cross, and by His nakedness put off from Himself the principalities and powers, and openly triumphed over them on the tree(4). For since the adverse powers made their lair in your members, ye may no longer wear that old garment; I do not at all mean this visible one, but the old man, which waxeth corrupt in the lusts of deceit(5). May the soul which has once put him off, never again put him on, but say with the Spouse of Christ in the Song of Songs, I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on(6)? O wondrous thing! ye were naked in the sight of all, and were not ashamed(7); for truly ye bore the likeness of the first-formed Adam, who was naked in the garden, and was not ashamed. 3. Then, when ye were stripped, ye were anointed with exorcised oil(8), from the very hairs of your head to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For ye were cut off from the wild olive-tree(9), and grafted into the good one, and were made to share the fatness of the true olive-tree.
Bishop Hippolytus of Rome:
21 1 At the hour in which the cock crows, they shall first pray over the water. 2 When they come to the water, the water shall be pure and flowing, that is, the water of a spring or a flowing body of water. 3 Then they shall take off all their clothes.The children shall be baptized first. All of the children who can answer for themselves, let them answer. If there are any children who cannot answer for themselves, let their parents answer for them, or someone else from their family. 5 After this, the men will be baptized. Finally, the women, after they have unbound their hair, and removed their jewelry. No one shall take any foreign object with themselves down into the water. ...

9 When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each of them to renounce, saying, "I renounce you Satan, all your service, and all your works." 10 After he has said this, he shall anoint each with the Oil of Exorcism, saying, "Let every evil spirit depart from you." 11 Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, likewise, will go down with them into the water. (Hippolytus. "Apostolic Traditions" of Hippolytus, 21:1-11. Translated by Edgecomb, Kevin P. Derived from Bernard Botte (La Tradition Apostolique. Sources Chretiennes, 11 bis. Paris, Editions du Cerf, 1984) and of Gregory Dix (The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr. London: Alban Press, 1992)
Getting naked was an important part of the ancient Christian ritual of baptism.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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I think this whole exercise is silly. At one time there was just hate for Morton Smith which fueled a desire for discrediting the discovery. Then Stephen Carlson wrote an insipid book framed around the use of poor resolution images to claim a forger's tremor. The book was well received. But then the obvious was pointed out. But people want to act that we 'unremember' our reaction to Carlson's book without the forger's tremor argument. Carlson is still an amazing scholar. His reputation isn't lessened by the fact that he needed to work off low resolution images to find a 'slam dunk' or 'smoking gun.' The document could be a forgery. The Torah is. The four gospels are. So why not join the club? But you have to provide evidence of forgery not just misremembering the elation you felt when reading a book whose strongest point was made up, the result of ambition or something more nefarious.
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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But almost seventy years of scholarship on the subject and we're down to evidence like (1) 'he must have been gay,' (2) 'no one liked him,' (3) 'he was weird,' (4) 'the list of books in the library doesn't mention the Ignatius book (and at least a few hundred other books),' (5) 'he wanted to make a name for himself,' (6) 'his book begins with 'to the one who knows.' (7) 'there's this other book about discovering a lost gospel at Mar Saba,' (8) 'he lost his faith,' (9) 'it's too good to be true,' (10) 'why didn't he steal the book instead of returning it,'(11) 'maybe he was angry about being gay,' (12) 'the letter is too Clementine for Clement,' (13) 'he didn't photograph the edge of pages,' (14) 'it's a pastiche,' (15) 'he was bald' - am I missing something? Have I left out other shining examples of 'productivity' in the humanities?
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Re: A Suggestion for Revising the Early Writings' Entry for Secret Mark

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Peter Kirby wrote: Fri Apr 23, 2021 12:33 pm
rakovsky wrote: Fri Apr 23, 2021 11:36 amWe have records of the early Church teaching that those who become Christian get communion, but we don't have any records of them ...
rakovsky wrote: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:16 pmpossibly disrobing
Christian art depicted baptism of the naked body.
...
Getting naked was an important part of the ancient Christian ritual of baptism.
That's a lot of quotes, Peter. You do a good job with researching topics that way. I remember the nakedness in baptism coming up in Cyril of Jerusalem. People used to often swim naked until what, the 20th century? In the EO church, there is a practice of having a special baptismal robe that people wear. In early tu imrs maybe they also had that before or after the naked baptism.

What I wrote was:
rakovsky wrote: Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:16 pm A) An alleged early Christian ritual practice - private gnostic-style instruction involving possibly disrobing and in my reading of the passage, homosexual activity - that was unknown or very rarely known until M. Smith's 20th c. discovery, was related in ...
We have records of the early Church teaching that those who become Christian get communion, but we don't have any records of them having more secretive or occultic rituals.
So on one hand we have evidence of baptism while naked like you quoted, and on the other we don't have evidence of catechetical instruction while naked or of homosexual activity or of more secretive rituals. People get catechism instructions of preaching that explain the teachings, but they don't do that naked and they aren't sex teachings like Smith was trying to analogize to certain Jewish sex occult rites that Scholem described.
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