[Chapter 2 deals with the physical dimension of the MS, including Voss' book, its paper, the ink and the handwriting. I consider Carlson to be on his strongest here. First of all, I go through the history of the physical MS, as I had already done in Chapters 1.1 and 1.2 - every chapter in the thesis is written as a self-contained unit. Briefly:
-One of Smith's founds was a book, later to be defined to be a 1646 edition of "Epistulae genuinae S. Ignatii Martyris", a collection of Ignatius' authentic letters edited by a Dutch humanist Isaac Voss. In the blank back pages of Voss' book there were two and half pages of handwriting, Clement's letter to Theodore.1
-The book remained in the monastery for 18 years, until, in 1976, Guy G. Stroumsa et al. deposited it to the Orthodox Patriarchate Library in Jerusalem.2
-Nearing the end of the millennium Father Kallistos Dourvas told Charles W. Hedrick and Nikolaos Olympiou that he had removed the MS from Voss' book in 1977 for conservation purposes. He had also photographed the MS, and these photos were published in 2000. Kallistos reminisced further that the whereabouts of the MS were known to him up to 1990, when he retired from the Patriarchate library.3
-After Kallistos' retirement in 1990 the MS has not been seen though many scholars have made requests for it.4]
Although the MS seems to have disappeared completely, one conclusion from its history - in all fairness - should be drawn: that Morton Smith should not be blamed for the disappearance of the MS. If there is a need for a scapegoat, the staff of the Orthodox Patriarchate Library in Jerusalem would be a more apt candidate.5 It is an altogether different question, if Smith acted in a less than desirable manner when he did not bring the MS out of the monastery with him, but confined himself to take photos. At least two mitigating circumstances can be presented in defence of Smith. First, Voss' book that hold the MS in its blank back pages (not to forget the MS itself), belonged to the monastery; Smith was not allowed to simply take it with him.6 Second, according to his own words, when leaving the monastery Smith did not know that Clement, at the end of the text, quoted from a previously unknown variant of the Gospel of Mark - he could do the full transcription only after he had had the photos developed, back in Jerusalem.7 When the procedures of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem seem to be a nuisance to the scholars even today8, it would be quite unfair to necessitate more from Smith afterwards, more than what he deemed possible in 1958, the taking of the photographs.
The history of the MS and its contents seem to offer three distinct scenarios of authenticity to be made: either the Theodore-letter is an authentic document from antiquity9, that has been copied in the back pages of Voss' book in the 18th-century, the Theodore-letter is a forgery from the 18th-century, or the Theodore-letter is a forgery from the 20th-century. The second scenario has been proposed by e.g. Charles E. Murgia.10 As for the 20th-century forger, Morton Smith has been the only candidate so far. In the following chapters, the scenarios of authenticity are used to thresh the good arguments from the bad: a detail that fits reasonably well to all the scenarios should not be used to argue for any single scenario of authenticity.
1Smith 1985, 12-17.
2Stroumsa 2003, 147-153.
3Hedrick 2000, 8-9.
4Cf. Dart 2003, 137-139 and Brown 2005, 25.
5The words of Nikolaos Olympiou - that the MS may be hold in custody for reasons of piety - should not be forgotten, either; Hedrick 2000, 8-9. Alternatively, the MS is rumored to be in the hands of thieves in search for an institute rich enough to ransom it; http://www.music.princeton.edu/~jeffery/smithfaq.html
6According to his own words, Smith was only allowed to make a catalogue of the MSS and publish his findings; Smith 1985, 9. The moral integrity of Smith is further demonstrated by the fact that he did not cut open book bindings, although with this method he could have made other remarkable finds, along the lines of the MS of Sophocles he unearthed as end papers (the bindings in this particular case had already been torn); Smith 1985, 12.
7Smith 1985, 13-14. Even though, had Smith known about the previously unknown Gospel pericopes, stealing the property of the monastery would have still been a highly questionable act (although, at the same time, quite understandable).
8A highly odd case from recent years, reported by Dale A. Johnson, talks about "byzantine tactics", "delay", and the necessary bribing of the staff of the Patriarchate - Johnson uses here a guarded expression "giving of gifts" - to get Johnson a permission to photograph Syrian MSS in the Patriarchate Library; Johnson 2007.
9There is no need to differentiate between the letter of Clement proper and the excerpts he offers from the Secret Gospel of Mark in this thesis. Only in the first scenario of authenticity is there a possibility for the other being authentic (more naturally, this would be the letter by Clement to actually have been written by Clement, or even an imitation from late antiquity) and the other (more naturally, this would be the Secret Gospel) being pseudonymous extension to the Gospel of Mark. However, for the question of authenticity, as it is analyzed in this thesis, this fact has no bearing.
10Murgia 1976, 39-40.
Philip Jenkins on Jewish-Christian Gospels
1 week ago