Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

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DCHindley
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by DCHindley »

I have been trying to find out who might have been able to forge the letter of Clement of Alexandria to Theodore (if that is what it was) in the age of Theosophy (roughly 1878 onwards).

Having previously suggested G R S Mead, who flourished at the cusp between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While he was a trained scholar I have come to the conclusion that he did not have the calligraphic ability to produce the text that was photographed by Smith. It would be more likely from the hand of a person who was an expert at writing minuscule cursive Greek, either a professional calligrapher (sp?) or an Eastern Orthodox monk.

M Smith, IMHO, also did not have the ability to write in a "manuscript" type hand.

An alternate suggestion was Constantine Simonides, who definitely could have produced this letter out of whole cloth. Yet he supposedly died in 1867, although there is evidence (so I hear) that he faked his own death so he could continue to produce forgeries sold through intermediaries. The alternate date of death is 1890, but search as I may there seem to be absolutely no sources to be found online that say this. There is no evidence I can see that he had theosophic leanings either.

However, if someone had a familiarity with the underground mystic movement that was propagated under the pseudonym "Dionysius the Areopagite," with talk of veiled truths and citations from otherwise unknown books by a certain Hierotheos, that person could I think create the letter. If, that is, they had the skill set stated two paragraphs above.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a resource to help me for "likely suspects?"

DCH

Edit: Added comment about Smith's ability to write with a "manuscript" hand.
theeternaliam
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by theeternaliam »

DCHindley wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2019 7:50 am Until recently I had only encountered Dionysius the Areopagite in passing. He is mentioned in connection with Dionysius the Bishop of Corinth, as they had been equated by some. Others have thought that the real writer behind the pseudonym was Clement of Alexandria. This latter connection may be relevant to the source of the backstory of the Letter to Theodore.

For those who do not have access to the latest translations of the Corpus Dionysium (if that is what it is called), which has been aided by Syriac manuscripts edited in the 1970s, most of his alleged works are available in ET from the Greek mss by John Parker, part 1 (DIVINE NAMES, MYSTIC THEOLOGY, LETTERS, &c.) published 1897 and part 2 (THE HEAVENLY HIERARCHY, AND THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY.) in 1899. The archive PDF below contains both parts (they were apparently originally published separately and someone combined them together):

https://archive.org/details/worksofdion ... t/page/208

DCH
Thank you for the works of Dionysus pdf. I'm quite keen on the cloud of unknowing, which is partially inspired by dionysus the areopagite from what I gather. Will promptly bookmark that site. I've been living more of an active as opposed to contemplative life lately, but reading books on Christian contemplation can inspire me to practice more. I've considered living a wholly contemplative life as I'm not exactly enamored with the current world we living in but have yet to make the leap
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DCHindley
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by DCHindley »

theeternaliam wrote: Wed Sep 04, 2019 9:22 am
DCHindley wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2019 7:50 am Until recently I had only encountered Dionysius the Areopagite in passing. He is mentioned in connection with Dionysius the Bishop of Corinth, as they had been equated by some. Others have thought that the real writer behind the pseudonym was Clement of Alexandria. This latter connection may be relevant to the source of the backstory of the Letter to Theodore.

For those who do not have access to the latest translations of the Corpus Dionysium (if that is what it is called), which has been aided by Syriac manuscripts edited in the 1970s, most of his alleged works are available in ET from the Greek mss by John Parker, part 1 (DIVINE NAMES, MYSTIC THEOLOGY, LETTERS, &c.) published 1897 and part 2 (THE HEAVENLY HIERARCHY, AND THE ECCLESIASTICAL HIERARCHY.) in 1899. The archive PDF below contains both parts (they were apparently originally published separately and someone combined them together):

https://archive.org/details/worksofdion ... t/page/208

DCH
Thank you for the works of Dionysus pdf. I'm quite keen on the cloud of unknowing, which is partially inspired by dionysus the areopagite from what I gather. Will promptly bookmark that site. I've been living more of an active as opposed to contemplative life lately, but reading books on Christian contemplation can inspire me to practice more. I've considered living a wholly contemplative life as I'm not exactly enamored with the current world we living in but have yet to make the leap
Thanks!

DCH
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Secret Alias
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by Secret Alias »

I just stumbled up on this discussion because I generally only look at a few of the categories at this forum. I am still absorbing all you have written but I can say that there is a very pronounced understanding in early Christianity (pseudo-Clementines, the Gospel of Judas Thomas. Clement's Gospel of the Egyptians etc) that all things female are corrupt and necessarily bad. While we don't know what the Christology of these groups or these gospels are it is difficult to imagine women being held in high regard (although in all fairness the He-Man Women Haters Club of Little Rascals fame did ultimately bend for Darla). I was never espousing an open (or closed for that matter) 'gay' Christian community. Nevertheless even from my person observation of Roman Catholicism (owing to my wife's background) it is difficult for me to believe that even THIS modern church really beliefs that the union of man and woman is a good thing for 'it's men' - i.e. the members of priesthood or its catechumen.

My approach was always - well there is a secret here too. Because they open tell people 'man and women' is a holy marriage, but clearly not holy enough for its men. Do I really believe that the Catholic Church secretly/officially espoused homosexuality. No. But something different from carnal intercourse surely between man and man - possibly. I think that the Catholic Church accepted Jesus as a form of the perfect Man who preceded Adam. Yes. I think that the various degrees of perfection 'men' can attain were supposed to be reflected in the hierarchy stretching all the way to Papa - the granddad of all men. In some form even here in an exclusively male community - I think the ban on female presbyters is fundamental - they are attempting to reach back to the primal Man Jesus. They are trying to gain salvation through 'acquaintance' - which goes back to the original sense of gnostic in Platonic literature and the encounter between Moses and God and why Moses is called 'the Man of God.'

Again, I don't think this is 'homosexual' in our modern sense of the world. More like the relationship between father and son (which is probably why 'Father' and 'Son' is so pronounced the religion. I think it is reflected in the Pseudo-Clementines where Faustus takes on the 'face' of Simon. There is a psychological 'impression' that a father leaves on his son through love. The son grows up 'in the image' of the father. I think the community likely developed in a large part among fatherless sons in the aftermath of the Jewish Roman war (excuse my speculation). I think the establishment of a 'fatherly presence' might even explain or be the result of Jesus being portrayed as only having an earthly mother - who knows. But rather than developing 'homosexual' love I assume Christianity began as an attempt to replicate the love of a father and son, the love which develops and fosters perfection, in a Platonic setting with all the mystical assumptions inherent in that community adapted for a Jewish setting. Thought I would chime in my two cents as I reflect on this. But it is clear that I see 'Secret Mark' as the product of early Christianity rather than that of a man - Morton Smith - who had no father issues we know of.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by rakovsky »

DCHindley wrote: Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:03 pm I have been trying to find out who might have been able to forge the letter of Clement of Alexandria to Theodore (if that is what it was) in the age of Theosophy (roughly 1878 onwards).

Having previously suggested G R S Mead, who flourished at the cusp between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While he was a trained scholar I have come to the conclusion that he did not have the calligraphic ability to produce the text that was photographed by Smith. It would be more likely from the hand of a person who was an expert at writing minuscule cursive Greek, either a professional calligrapher (sp?) or an Eastern Orthodox monk.

M Smith, IMHO, also did not have the ability to write in a "manuscript" type hand.

An alternate suggestion was Constantine Simonides, who definitely could have produced this letter out of whole cloth. Yet he supposedly died in 1867, although there is evidence (so I hear) that he faked his own death so he could continue to produce forgeries sold through intermediaries. The alternate date of death is 1890, but search as I may there seem to be absolutely no sources to be found online that say this. There is no evidence I can see that he had theosophic leanings either.

However, if someone had a familiarity with the underground mystic movement that was propagated under the pseudonym "Dionysius the Areopagite," with talk of veiled truths and citations from otherwise unknown books by a certain Hierotheos, that person could I think create the letter. If, that is, they had the skill set stated two paragraphs above.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a resource to help me for "likely suspects?"

DCH

Edit: Added comment about Smith's ability to write with a "manuscript" hand.
I don't know how to rule out that Smith could write with a manuscript hand. If there was a forger who wrote it and Smith knew the forger and worked with him, it entails a conspiracy beyond Smith. In one scenario, Smith could have drafted the word text and gotten a forger to handwrite it. In another scenario, someone could have forged it and given it to Morton Smith as a gift because Smith had been theorizing about secret Christian rites.

I remember reading a real life story online where a Greek claimed that someone got him to handwrit a forged ancient document's text. In that story, someone forged the text and asked him to handwrite it in an old style, and the Greek that he didn't know that the forger was going to pass it off as an original. I don't remember unfortunately which ancient forged document the story was about.
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DCHindley
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by DCHindley »

I'm no expert on 18th century Greek cursive writing, but writing fonts like that effortlessly would take years of careful practice, sort of on the line of how Calligraphers get to write it so effortlessly.

Years ago, I saw one of those weird pseudo documentaries in the History Channel, and they had this calligrapher dressed as a scribe jotting some mighty small writing on papyrus leaf by a reed pen, and pretty effortlessly at that.

If one looks at popular books published by trained scholars in the 70s, when the publisher did not have any capability of typesetting Greek fonts, the scholar would then just write the Greek word, words or phrases, to publish as a graphic. The ones I recall seeing did not appear to be well executed.

How might that relate to today? I can write English narrative in what we call a "cursive" style here, and pretty fluidly at that, and of course I can read other's cursive writing easily. That doesn't mean I don't mix fonts, or always write nice and neat. But that was because I had to learn cursive writing style in grade school, and all my reports had to be handwritten (so they automatically know it was you by the penmanship. who wrote it). From 3rd grade to graduation from high school, that's a nine year span, whew!

I am not aware of anyone claiming they saw Morton at the Patriarchal library practicing his Greek writing hand from originals. :confusedsmiley:

DCH
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Secret Alias
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by Secret Alias »

The argument for forgery runs something like this:

1. nothing extraordinary ever happens to anyone
2. Morton Smith discovered something extraordinary
3. the discovery of something extraordinary in a drab boring universe is ground for suspicion that what he found was a forgery
4. forgeries are made by bad people
5. Morton Smith seems to have been a homosexual
6. homosexuals were considered to be bad people in 1958
7. therefore Morton Smith must have considered himself a bad person
8. as such Morton Smith forged his discovery.

I think that neatly sums up every case for forgery.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Secret Alias wrote: Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:56 am The argument for forgery runs something like this:

1. nothing extraordinary ever happens to anyone
2. Morton Smith discovered something extraordinary
3. the discovery of something extraordinary in a drab boring universe is ground for suspicion that what he found was a forgery
4. forgeries are made by bad people
5. Morton Smith seems to have been a homosexual
6. homosexuals were considered to be bad people in 1958
7. therefore Morton Smith must have considered himself a bad person
8. as such Morton Smith forged his discovery.

I think that neatly sums up every case for forgery.
I love this. You have created a list of 8 items, characterized the list as exhaustive, and yet somehow managed not to include a single one of the reasons why I, for example, might be suspicious of forgery in this case.

I am not going to get involved in a debate on the authenticity of Secret Mark here and now, but I would humbly suggest that you are not even trying to understand your intellectual opponents with such a list.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by Secret Alias »

I was actually quite proud of it. I can similarly summarize the case for authenticity:

1. extraordinary things occur all the time
2. extraordinary things happen more often to people who make more attempts to accomplish extraordinary things
3. Morton Smith actively hunted for manuscripts at a time when monasteries were opening their doors to Western scholarship
4. those organized efforts to photograph manuscripts did not include things scribbled in the blank pages of printed books
5. there are thousands of printed books in monasteries that have things scribbled in their blank pages
6. some of these things written into the blank pages of printed books were manuscripts of ancient texts
7. therefore it is not unreasonable to suppose that Morton Smith working harder than his peers to discover something extraordinary discovered something extraordinary
8. as such Morton Smith did not forge his discovery

We do this all the time in the Jesus Existed thread viewtopic.php?f=3&t=301&p=117550&hilit= ... ed#p117550 in the other forum. It's in keeping with the spirit of levity and irony at this non-academic forum.

But in going through the 39 pages of participants I noticed that YOU were not one of the people engaging in the mirth. Apparently you don't like making lists like this ... Sorry if it offended you.

When you get a chance feel free to correct my previous list of more 'substantive' arguments WHICH IDENTIFY MORTON SMITH AS THE FORGER. Not that the text is a forgery but Morton Smith specifically. I apologize in advance for leaving out Aleister Crowley-based arguments. I also left out the SBL seminar where a group of academics concluded that Morton Smith was insane and therefore a forger. My oversight for these important contributions to scholarship!
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Secret Alias
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Re: Secret Mark, GRS Mead and Morton Smith

Post by Secret Alias »

When you have a moment Ben do be a dear and attempt to summarize the relevant arguments I overlooked which point to Smith specifically as the forger.
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