Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Information Emerges About James Hogg Hunter Author of the Mystery at Mar Saba From the Secret Mark Conference

One of the most important new pieces of evidence to emerge from the Secret Mark conference in Toronto this past Friday was Allan J Pantuck's discovery that James Hogg Hunter author of the Mystery at Mar Saba had actually been to the same monastery Morton Smith discovered the Letter to Theodore. As Roger Viklund tells it:

Pantuck presents a new piece of evidence. James Hogg Hunter actually went to Mar Saba himself. Pantuck has spoken to Hunter’s son and he told him that his father went to the monastery in 1931. The son had read the 1931 tour material which said that James Hunter in the early morning hours:

“set out from Jerusalem on a donkey with a special permit obtained from the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem. Carrying food and water into the desert his small party journeyed through the valley of Hennon – the Gehenna of the New Testament, then through the valley of Fire, and three hours later came to the [Mar Saba] monastery founded by Euthyarius in 474 AD.” (Allan J. Pantuck in his reply to Evans, p. 11)

Of course this makes the proposed parallels even more understandable. It would come as no surprise that when dealing with the same subject, and when the events took place at same site, there will be some generic parallels. But if the author of the novel also visited the same places as the discoverer of the manuscript did, then of course the chances of even more direct parallels further increases. Both Smith and Hunter must have been riding the same path through the valley, seeing the monastery in a similar light from a similar angle. Talking to the monks and learning of the history of the monastery with all its legends. And one of the most important issues is of course ancient manuscripts and all the inciting stories of rare manuscripts, hidden in caves in order to save them for posterity.

If Hunter then later came up with the idea to write a novel where some of the action takes place at Mar Saba and Smith later visits the same monastery and eventually will make an astounding discovery there, the chances that they both will refer to the issues of Mar Saba in a similar way seems to be quite high. They must have seen the same things, heard the same stories and learned the same things. If I go to Paris and report of the surrounding of the Eifel tower, there is a good chance that it at least superficially will resemble the reports given by other people who also has been to Paris.

This is a remarkable piece of evidence that just about destroys the allegation that Morton Smith somehow modeled his life on a third rate pulp fiction novel. Is there anything left to the 'hoax proposition' besides the argument that Morton Smith was not a nice guy?

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