Friday, June 10, 2011

Harvard University Press is Planning a Digital Edition of Morton Smith's 1973 Book Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark

I was speaking with Karen Peláez, Subsidiary Rights and Contracts Specialist at Harvard University Press, who told me that even though the company retained only limited rights on Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, it was selected as one of a number of old books that the publish company has slated for a digital re-release 'some time in the near future.' She told me that because the book was originally printed on film, it was very time consuming to transfer it to the new media. In our initial conversation she emphasized that Morton Smith did retain most rights and that Harvard Press only had 'limited' jurisdiction on the work. When she called me back some time later she clarified that original statement by saying that Harvard considered that it had exclusive electronic rights to the book. It would be interesting to contact Smith's estate to see what there side of the story might be or even if Smith has an estate.

I suggested to Harvard University Press that they might want to make at least part of the book available for free on a designated website to help drive interest in the book. You can imagine how excited she was when she heard the idea of making any part of the book 'freely available' anywhere. But who buys books any more? This book however is a useful reference for anyone interested in why it is absolutely unlikely that Smith could have been the forger. I'm telling you one and all - if you read this book you will instantly abandon any notion that Smith was responsible for fabricating this text.

I have often mused that many of us appear to the other side in the debate as "Morton Smith's bastards" (assuming I think that most of those interested in the text are male). All of which brings up a tangential question - what is the female equivalent of 'bastard'? I haven't a clue. Shakespeare seems to use the term 'female bastard' to describe such an individual:

As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
This female bastard hence; and that thou bear it
To some remote and desert place, quite out
Of our dominions
[Winter's Tale]


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