Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Short Interview with Quentin Quesnell

In November 2009 I compiled a list of questions I would like to ask from Quentin Quesnell, who had handled the manuscript of Clement's Letter to Theodore in 1983. During the year 2010 I did write to Quesnell, and even received a brief reply from him. Here are the questions (bold) and Quesnell's answers to them (cursive) with some [editorial] remarks:

1) Did you go to Jerusalem just for the manuscript, and can you recall the exact date (or month)?
Just for the manuscript... Date? June, 1983.

2) I assume you went to the Patriarchate library to see the manuscript. Did you have any trouble convincing the staff to let you take a look at it? Can you think of any reason why you succeeded to see the manuscript, while Thomas Talley failed in 1980? [Talley was told that the manuscript was being "repaired".]
Trouble? None. Reason for success? I don't know. Perhaps that I had written ahead. I don't recall encountering any staff except Kallistos. He was always with me.

3) Was it easy for the library staff to locate the manuscript?
Easy for them to locate? I don't know. It took only minutes to return.

4) Was the manuscript kept in a special case or in a restricted area of the library?
Special case? No. No restricted area. It stood on a simple wooden table on a reading stand. I was asked not to touch it. I had about two hours to examine the pages each visit. Everything seemed to be as one would have expected. Kallistos was extremely helpful. The manuscript was covered in plastic, removable.

5) You told me on the phone that the manuscript was already removed from Voss' book. Did you notice anything peculiar about the manuscript?
Peculiar? Apart from the general peculiarity of the whole situation? No.

6) Was there any discussion about testing the manuscript scientifically, e.g. doing an ink test?
Scientific, physical experiments? Yes, repeatedly. But he (they?) was immovable.

7) Can you recall the name of the firm that photographed the manuscript? Did you take the manuscript out of the library yourself? If you took the manuscript yourself to this firm, do you remember who gave you the permission to do that? Did you yourself return the manuscript to the library?
The firm? Garo. Kallistos took it to the firm and handled all arrangements with them. There were some discussions with people at the Ecole, I believe.

8) What happened to the colour photographs? Could they be the same photographs that Charles W. Hedrick and Nikolaos Olympiou published in 2000?
I have them.

P.S. Beyond the answers to your eight questions supplemental material will follow as soon as possible - also the Smith-Quesnell correspondence of 1983 etc., a contemporary (1983) narrative of my six weeks in Jerusalem in the form of letters to Professor Jean Higgins (Smith College Dept of Relig).


Sadly, as exciting as some of the answers above may sound, this was the last line of our correspondence. Over the following year, I kept sending Quesnell letters (three of them, one every four months), but never received another in reply. And no, I do not know what to make of this turn of events.

The studio, Photo Garo, exists still (, but they have not answered to my emails, either.

The above is published in hoping that someone with better geographical positioning would be inclined to go on from here.