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Old 03-10-2001, 01:25 PM   #11
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Here is a question for you: Did you start this thread with the intention of debunking Morton Smith's conclusions based on his serious scholarly study of "Secret Mark?" If so, What evidence do you have that supports your claim that Smith "bullshitted everyone about Secret Mark?" Surely you have something more substantial than the reported quote of the opinion of one historian? </font>
If you read up on Secret Mark (hereafter: SM), it seems to support Morton Smith's professional contentions...

Now imagine this. Imagine Morton Smith goes to an obscure monastery outside of Jerusalem, and just by chance finds SM, which by coincidence supports his life's work. The SM is actually a quote in a passage in a letter by Clement. The letter breaks off right at the moment where Clement is about to explain the meaning of the passage. Although the passage is very short, every word in it supports Morton Smith's contentions. Nobody is allowed to see the original Clement letter, they have to work with photos Morton Smith brought back.

In short, it fairly reeks of a forgery, although the Clement letter itself seems to be considered on the level by most Clement experts.

It would have required some pretty serious skill to fake, but it is possible and has been done before.

So I thought it was a fake. I think it's really neat that the whole gospel has been brought to light. The debate will be interesting.

Michael
 
Old 03-10-2001, 04:15 PM   #12
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
If you read up on Secret Mark (hereafter: SM), it seems to support Morton Smith's professional contentions...

Now imagine this. Imagine Morton Smith goes to an obscure monastery outside of Jerusalem, and just by chance finds SM, which by coincidence supports his life's work. The SM is actually a quote in a passage in a letter by Clement. The letter breaks off right at the moment where Clement is about to explain the meaning of the passage. Although the passage is very short, every word in it supports Morton Smith's contentions. Nobody is allowed to see the original Clement letter, they have to work with photos Morton Smith brought back.

In short, it fairly reeks of a forgery, although the Clement letter itself seems to be considered on the level by most Clement experts.

It would have required some pretty serious skill to fake, but it is possible and has been done before.

So I thought it was a fake. I think it's really neat that the whole gospel has been brought to light. The debate will be interesting.

Michael
</font>
Thanks for your comments.

I have read the full account of Morton Smith's discovery and publication of "Secret Mark" in The Secret Gospel. I find it incredible that Smith could have and would have pulled off a hoax of this magnitude. I simply take him for his word.

While Smith had personality conflicts with numerous other scholars, it seems that many, if not most, of his peers considered him to be an honest, world class scholar.

rodahi

 
Old 03-10-2001, 05:04 PM   #13
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:
Thanks for your comments.

I have read the full account of Morton Smith's discovery and publication of "Secret Mark" in The Secret Gospel. I find it incredible that Smith could have and would have pulled off a hoax of this magnitude. I simply take him for his word.

While Smith had personality conflicts with numerous other scholars, it seems that many, if not most, of his peers considered him to be an honest, world class scholar.

rodahi
</font>
It was incredible and he was a world class scholar. But when recalls Cyril Burt, and that brilliant faker who forged that account of the Boxer Rebellion (name forgotten), it is not so unusual or impossible.

But, in any case, it turned out to be the real McCoy. Is there a translation out yet?

Michael
 
Old 03-10-2001, 10:25 PM   #14
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:

Here is a question for you: Did you start this thread with the intention of debunking Morton Smith's conclusions based on his serious scholarly study of "Secret Mark?" If so, What evidence do you have that supports your claim that Smith "bullshitted everyone about Secret Mark?" Surely you have something more substantial than the reported quote of the opinion of one historian? </font>
Hello rodahi

Actually, until Akenson made his comments in his interview, I hadn't given Secret Mark a whole lot of thought. The textual support for this particular document is so weak that it is astonishing to me that anyone treats it as much more than a curiousity.

We have one fragment, now lost, dating from the 18th Century. We have some letters from Clement of Alexandria, and interestingly enough, while Crossan, Koester and company wouldn't give Clement the time of day on almost anything he wrote, they jumped all over this particular letter. Unfortunately, while Clement quotes from it directly, we have no originals, so we don't even have co-oberating evidence to support what it might have said.

And now, the document is gone (and no, I don't think that was deliberate on anyone's part, and Smith certainly didn't have anything to do with that), but without the original examining it is even more highly problematic.

Further, so far as I am aware, the majority of scholars consider the piece to be, at best, a 2nd Century "conflated pastiche from the Canonical Gospels" (R. Brown, Introduction to the New Testament, [New York, 1996], pg. 836), and beyond Crossan, Koester and a few members of the Jesus Seminar, not many put much stake in what it has to say. Given it's dating to the 2nd Century, this seems pretty reasonable to me.

Bottom line, we have no original, what we do have are photos of an 18th Century document with no external support from earlier MSS or quotations from the early Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria. If Smith did not create this particular document, then he certainly used it to full advantage, but not by employing actual textual criticism as much as agenda building.

Given Smith's motives, and the paucity of supporting evidence for his arguments, I think Secret Mark belongs in the world of legends (perhaps alongside the Gospel of Peter, but at least there we have more to look at), and I am especially grateful that it was a non-Christian scholar that called Smith and his supporters on this "document" and its worth.

If, on the other hand, you think that there is good evidence to refute Akenson and other sceptics about Secret Mark, then I would be interested in seeing it.

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited March 10, 2001).]
 
Old 03-11-2001, 10:43 AM   #15
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Nomad,

You said:

Bottom line, we have no original, what we do have are photos of an 18th Century document with no external support from earlier MSS or quotations from the early Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria. If Smith did not create this particular document, then he certainly used it to full advantage, but not by employing actual textual criticism as much as agenda building.

I am not sure what you mean by "agenda building." Would you mind explaining?


Given Smith's motives, and the paucity of supporting evidence for his arguments, I think Secret Mark belongs in the world of legends (perhaps alongside the Gospel of Peter, but at least there we have more to look at), and I am especially grateful that it was a non-Christian scholar that called Smith and his supporters on this "document" and its worth.

What do you believe were Smith's "motives?"

If, on the other hand, you think that there is good evidence to refute Akenson and other sceptics about Secret Mark, then I would be interested in seeing it.

I am not really sure what to make of "Secret Mark" itself, but I see no good reason to question the integrity of Morton Smith. No one to my knowledge has presented evidence demonstrating that Smith has ever been dishonest in any of his scholarly endeavors or that he has been anything less than meticulous in his documentation.

As a matter of fact, Jacob Neusner, once a friend of Smith's, had this to say about The Secret Gospel: "This is a brilliant account of how Morton Smith reached a major discovery in the study of first-century Christianity. We have not only his conclusions and the way in which these are argued, but also his own life and thought as he reached them. The discovery itself ranks with Qumran and Nag Hammadi, Masada and the Cairo Geniza, but required learing and sheer erudition than all of these together, both in recognition of what had been found, and in the interpretation and explanation the meaning of the find. All this Smith has done--and he tells us about it in a narrative of exceptional charm and simplicty." (Back flap of PB The Secret Gospel)

Of course, the above was written in the seventies, before Neusner became Smith's arch enemy. There could be something more than professional scholarly opinion influencing what Jacob Neusner (and others) says about Morton Smith these days.


 
Old 03-11-2001, 11:21 AM   #16
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Rodahi asked:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Here is a question for you: Did you start this thread with the intention of debunking Morton Smith's conclusions based on his serious scholarly study of "Secret Mark?" If so, What evidence do you have that supports your claim that Smith "bullshitted everyone about Secret Mark?" Surely you have something more substantial than the reported quote of the opinion of one historian?
</font>
Nomad's response:
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Bottom line, we have no original, what we do have are photos of an 18th Century document with no external support from earlier MSS or quotations from the early Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria. If Smith did not create this particular document, then he certainly used it to full advantage, but not by employing actual textual criticism as much as agenda building.

Given Smith's motives, and the paucity of supporting evidence for his arguments, I think Secret Mark belongs in the world of legends (perhaps alongside the Gospel of Peter, but at least there we have more to look at), and I am especially grateful that it was a non-Christian scholar that called Smith and his supporters on this "document" and its worth.
</font>
Rodahi asked two questions:
1. What was Nomad's evidence that Smith "bullshitted everyone"; and

2. Why was Nomad making that assumption, based upon nothing more than the reported quote of the opinion of one historian.

As for #1, Nomad has offered no evidence that Smith ever intended deceit. But Nomad had no problems poisoning the well with such phrases as:
if Smith did not create this particular document....
given Smith's motives....
agenda building...

As for #2, Nomad has still not told us why he felt secure in accusing Smith of deceit. The fact that Nomad is not aware of whatever evidence Smith used to reach his conclusions is not sufficient to "jump the gun" and accuse Smith of deceit. When the available evidence indicates that Smith was an honorable scholar in the rest of his writings and research, why would Smith suddenly break form on this one issue? Since deception would be out of character for Smith, the burden of proof is doubly high for anyone (such as Nomad) who wants to claim that he engaged in deliberate deceit.

The ultimate irony here is that in another thread (Existence of God(s)/Do we have Faith in Science) what do we find? Nomad was trying to chastise other posters on the board for relying upon the reported quote of one person about something Cardinal Newman said.

In that thread, he chastised several people relying upon Sagan's quote of Morris Cohen in Reason and Nature . Jumping to conclusions about what Cardinal Newman said (or meant) was inappropriate, according to Nomad. Instead, Nomad told these posters that they needed Cardinal Newman's original text.

Yet here we see Nomad doing much the same, with respect to Smith. So if skeptics are not supposed to use a 2nd hand quote of Cardinal Newman, shouldn't Nomad likewise use original material from Smith?

Note: the skeptics freely admitted that Newman might have been misquoted. But they also indicated that it was tangential to the discussion, a point that Nomad continues to duck.

 
Old 03-11-2001, 11:32 AM   #17
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Not only that, Omnedon1, but Nomad was just as guilty as he accused Cohen/Sagan by misquoting Sagan and accusing him of making a statement of faith. He hasn't responded to my accusation, but he doesn't have to. Anybody paying attention knows that I am right.

Nomad stated that Sagan said, "the universe is all there is or will be." Sagan actually said, "The Cosmos is all that there is, or ever was, or ever will be." Instead of making a statement of faith, he was actually defining the title of his book/PBS series. Not at all the same.
 
Old 03-11-2001, 02:56 PM   #18
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by sentinel00:
Not only that, Omnedon1, but Nomad was just as guilty as he accused Cohen/Sagan by misquoting Sagan and accusing him of making a statement of faith. He hasn't responded to my accusation, but he doesn't have to.</font>
Umm... what are you talking about sentinel? I asked a specific question about what Sagan said with regards to the universe/Cosmos being all that there is, or ever will be. You said that he had, in fact, said something to this effect. So what is the problem?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad stated that Sagan said, "the universe is all there is or will be." Sagan actually said, "The Cosmos is all that there is, or ever was, or ever will be." Instead of making a statement of faith, he was actually defining the title of his book/PBS series. Not at all the same.</font>
How so? By saying that the Cosmos is all there there ever will be, then it appears that he is automatically ruling out the existence of anything else. Yes? No?

Nomad
 
Old 03-11-2001, 03:04 PM   #19
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by rodahi:

Nomad: Bottom line, we have no original, what we do have are photos of an 18th Century document with no external support from earlier MSS or quotations from the early Fathers, including Clement of Alexandria. If Smith did not create this particular document, then he certainly used it to full advantage, but not by employing actual textual criticism as much as agenda building.

rodahi: I am not sure what you mean by "agenda building." Would you mind explaining?</font>
Yes. Morton Smith is the only person to have ever seen this particular document in its original form. The need to discover something new and unique is well known in NT scholarship, and Smith's "discovery" of this particular document ensured his fame and guaranteed that he would be noticed. Thus, even before he had received his doctoral thesis, he had the perfect vehicle for scholastic stardom.

Now, rather than telling us about just how honest Smith was, perhaps you could offer exactly how much evidence he and his supporters have to promote Secret Mark. It certainly looks like a lot less than we would have from the original authors from the actual Canonicals (actually it looks a lot closer to zero evidence, but I am feeling charitable). So let's see what you've got.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Given Smith's motives, and the paucity of supporting evidence for his arguments, I think Secret Mark belongs in the world of legends (perhaps alongside the Gospel of Peter, but at least there we have more to look at), and I am especially grateful that it was a non-Christian scholar that called Smith and his supporters on this "document" and its worth.

rodahi: What do you believe were Smith's "motives?"</font>
I believe Smith was motivated by the desire to be the first to discover something truly new about the Gospels, and in particular about the historical Jesus.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: If, on the other hand, you think that there is good evidence to refute Akenson and other sceptics about Secret Mark, then I would be interested in seeing it.

rodahi: I am not really sure what to make of "Secret Mark" itself, but I see no good reason to question the integrity of Morton Smith. No one to my knowledge has presented evidence demonstrating that Smith has ever been dishonest in any of his scholarly endeavors or that he has been anything less than meticulous in his documentation.</font>
You did not answer my question. How about we concede his good character for the moment, and just look at the evidence. We can then decide just how good that evidence is, and base our belief accordingly.

That is how it's done in these sceptical parts right?

Nomad
 
Old 03-11-2001, 03:19 PM   #20
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Omnedon1:

As for #1, Nomad has offered no evidence that Smith ever intended deceit.</font>
Hello Omnedon1

Smith sprang Secret Mark on the world knowing full well that he had no evidence to support his claims. This is at best, building a house of cards. The fact that it received such an enthusiastic reception amongst some may or may not have come as a shock to the man himself, but once the genie was out of the bottle so to speak.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> But Nomad had no problems poisoning the well with such phrases as:</font>
Same question I gave to rodahi. What evidence do you have for Secret Mark?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">As for #2, Nomad has still not told us why he felt secure in accusing Smith of deceit.</font>
I accused Smith of spreading bullshit. For that matter, so are Crossan and Koester for giving this bit of work any credence. I am asking for evidence, not conjecture, especially when the motives of those involved is so blatant. Show us what you've got, then we can have something to talk about.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> The fact that Nomad is not aware of whatever evidence Smith used to reach his conclusions is not sufficient to "jump the gun" and accuse Smith of deceit.</font>
I told you what he used Omnedon. He has some pictures with no originals of two very small fragments. What else do we have, because in normal scholarship, this wouldn't even get you out of the gate.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> When the available evidence indicates that Smith was an honorable scholar in the rest of his writings and research, why would Smith suddenly break form on this one issue?</font>
This was the first real thing that Smith did as a scholar. After 1960 is when he built his reputation, not before. In any event, I am prepared to concede that he may well have been a nice person, and basically honest, but his actions look pretty suspect right now. Give us some actual evidence besides the pictures and let's see where it leads.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">In that thread, he chastised several people relying upon Sagan's quote of Morris Cohen in Reason and Nature . Jumping to conclusions about what Cardinal Newman said (or meant) was inappropriate, according to Nomad. Instead, Nomad told these posters that they needed Cardinal Newman's original text.</font>
Interestingly I am asking for the same thing here. I am not interested in what Morton Smith or anyone else thought. I want to know what they've got. So let's see it.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Yet here we see Nomad doing much the same, with respect to Smith. So if skeptics are not supposed to use a 2nd hand quote of Cardinal Newman, shouldn't Nomad likewise use original material from Smith?</font>
Since there is no original material to go on, and I am the sceptic here, I am waiting for someone to produce something to look at. The request is the same on both threads.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Note: the skeptics freely admitted that Newman might have been misquoted. But they also indicated that it was tangential to the discussion, a point that Nomad continues to duck. </font>
Actually, since sentinel offered the quote without criticism, as had Sagan, the issue was central. If people are going to freely bandy junk about as if it was true only because some respectable scholar like Sagan or Smith said it, then we are deep into faith country here, and I don't think sceptics would be too happy in that position.

Nomad
 
 

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