Friday, April 29, 2011

Shutting Down All the Humanities Departments As a First Step to Improving the Study of the Mar Saba Document

Given the recent 'success' of the Secret Mark conference in Toronto ('success' being defined by the organizers as attracting fifty people besides the ten panelists) I thought I might ask an important question which will help define the study of the Mar Saba document into the future.  Do humanities scholars really have more integrity than the rest of us?  I ask that of course because the history of the document as been quite sordid ever since its discovery.  What I mean by that of course is that whether you are someone who promotes the 'hoax hypothesis' and feels that a scholar as well respected as Morton Smith could have forged one of his discoveries or if you are someone who defends the authenticity of the Mar Saba document and feels that the text has suffered as a result of a 'vendetta' against it or Morton Smith on behalf of conservative evangelicals - the humanities as a whole have come out looking rather badly.

I happen to think that the only way things will get better after we shut down the all the humanities departments in all the universities or at least 'outsource' the study of the document to China or some other country that might have developed a better crop of scholars when compared with those in North America.

The one bit of good news that comes out of the Secret Mark conference is that Timo Paananen is blogging again. Indeed one may even hope that given massive popularity in Pakistan we might hope for Timo to be an ambassador of sorts not only for the humanities but for western culture in the sensitive business of relations between Christian and Muslim cultures.

Indeed it is amazing enough that after a six month absence from blogging Timo managed to draw all sixty people who attended the Secret Mark conference to sky rocket his Alexa ranking from zero in April to a ranking more than twice as high as this blog.  Maybe that's because most people will only trust someone who is enrolled in a doctoral program at a respected university.  Maybe it's because Timo's posts are so much more insightful and have a special appeal to the people of Pakistan.  Indeed when we do a search at for Timo's site we get the following information: has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 3,361,902, and the site has attained a traffic rank of 41,508 among users in Pakistan, where almost all its audience is located.

Global 3,361,902
Alexa Traffic Rank 
Pakistan Flag 41,508
Traffic Rank in PK 
Sites Linking In

Now I want my readers to absorb how incredible it is that a site which deals with an obscure document from recent Christian apocrypha (and a text which my mother would misidentify for the title of a Three Musketeers book) could have its entire audience located in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  And look at the bald statement at the Alexa summary - "the site has attained a traffic rank of 41,508 among users in Pakistan, where almost all its audience is located." Almost all of the readers of Timo's blog are located in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.  That is simply incredible.

It is owing to the incredible popularity of salainen evankelista that I think we should make Timo Paananen not only the ambassador for a new era of integrity with respect to the scholarly study of the Mar Saba document but moreover, a cultural ambassador on behalf of the West to the entire Muslim world.  If Timo can accomplish this sort of fanatical following at the heart of the Muslim world, just think what he could do with more pressing difficulties.

For in order to fully comprehend the accomplishment that Timo has achieved let's compare his statistics to those of the official government website of the nation of Pakistan itself for a moment.  It has only a slightly better ranking than Timo's site (36,135 as compared with 41,508):

The Government of Pakistan 
About The Government of Pakistan ( About the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, its component departments, the economy, cultural heritage, tourism, the Kashmir conflict and the latest press releases.'s three-month global Alexa traffic rank is 648,026. The site has attained a traffic rank of 36,135 among users in Pakistan, where roughly 83% of its audience is located, and visitors to this site view 1.4 unique pages each day on average. has a relatively good traffic rank in the city of Islamabad (#3,225). The site's content places it in the “Government” category of websites.
Global 648,026
Alexa Traffic Rank 
Pakistan Flag 36,135
Traffic Rank in PK 

You see this is why Tony Burke was so correct in only showing respect to 'professional scholars' and limiting the participation in his little gathering (otherwise known as 'a field trip for Tony Burke's students') to 'accredited academics.' You see members of the rabble like you and me can't be trusted with this text. We have to be very cautious to limit debate and meaningful dialogue to those who have been properly developed in the institutions of higher learning. Otherwise all the dishonest people would corrupt the study of the text with their untrained eye.

It seems so obvious to me now. Everything is going perfectly well in the study of the Mar Saba document. It's not the system that's to blame - it's those of us out in the general public who with our unrefined sensibility can't help but think we should padlock all the humanities departments in all the universities.

It's like the old joke - what do you call a hundred lawyers up to their neck in sand? Not enough sand. What do you call ten thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start. (Unless you are an environmentalist; then you would consider this indiscriminate dumping of hazardous waste) ...

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