Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Michael Kok PhD Student at the University of Sheffield Says It Best “I Very Cautiously Proceed that `Secret Mark` is Innocent Until Proven Guilty”

I couldn`t help but notice this post in the blogsphere this week hopefully signalling a change in the attitude toward Morton Smith`s important discovery in 1958:

Not sure if this is old news to bloggers or how many people have noticed (we may have been distracted by the May 21st impending apocalypse that has been indefinitely delayed ), but BAR has published the Handwriting Analysis Report by Agamemnon Tselikas, which comes to very different conclusions on the authenticity question than the other expert Venetia Anastasopoulou (via). I am perplexed by this whole issue and just cross my fingers for the manuscript to be re-discovered to solve this debate once and for all (preferably before I put anything to do with Secret Mark in my thesis). At this point, I think I very cautiously proceed that “Secret Mark” is innocent (authentic) until proven guilty, but I would not base elaborate constructions about the creation of Mark or conspiracy theories about the origins of Christianity on the basis of this text but simply conclude that the text is just evidence of one aspect of the reception history of Mark at a specific place (Alexandria) and time (late second/early third century CE). A parallel may be the “longer endings” of Mark after 16:8, both of which are interesting evidence of Mark’s later reception and attempts to fill in the gaps and enigmas in Mark’s text.

I noticed that Michael Kok is Canadian which isn`t really surprising given that a disproportionate number of scholars from the Great White North seem to accept the authenticity of the document (maybe we aren`t as cynical as our neighbors to the south). In any event I hope the article signals a fundamental change sweeping through (non-evangelical) scholars of early Christianity.

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