Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today Was a Very Important Day in the (Shadowy) History of Mar Saba 65

Um die Erfinder von neuen Werten dreht sich die Welt – unsichtbar dreht sie sich. Doch um die Schauspieler dreht sich das Volk und der Ruhm: so ist es der Welt Lauf. - FN
There are so many things that I cannot say to my regular readers. It is ironic of course as I think I established this blog after the death of my father as a way of breaking the isolation of living in Seattle. There are two people beside myself who know what is about to happen (no it is not the re-discovery of the lost manuscript). It is going to be very important nevertheless. It will certainly change our understanding of the history of the document.

Yet in the meantime I am waiting for 'it' to happen, filling in time typing on the keys of my laptop. I can't help but reflect on why I care so much about this strange document.

I used to tell people I was working on a book about all of this. That was before I discovered that you can't make a living writing about the truth. You have to think about 'who your audience is' which is a polite way of saying 'prostitute yourself on a mass scale.'

Do I think that the rediscovery of the Mar Saba document matters or should matter to everyone? That is a very good question. I really don't know how to answer that. A part of me certainly sympathizes with the posthumous fate of Morton Smith. I didn't know the man. I read a few of his books. I was certainly influenced by his scholarship. But in no way did I ever hold him in the same place as my favorite writers like Montaigne, la Rochefoucault or Nietzsche.

Nevertheless I have to admit, for whatever reason, the more I looked into matters I couldn't help but feeling that there was something inherently unfair about the way scholars were treating Morton Smith's discovery after his death. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was drawn to the Letter to Theodore owing to a need to defend Morton Smith. But I'd have to say that everything I ever disliked about the humanities when I was a freshman in college seems to be confirmed in the 'debate about authenticity' with respect to this document.

That's the Nietzschean in me speaking. It is always makes you seem more honest when you reduce the complexity of human motivation down to basic drives - i.e. revenge. Yet I think a lot of that is just false posturing. I don't want to admit that I am something of an idealist and that in my day to day life I think helping uncover the truth matters.

I suspect that it is impossible for any of us not to avoid thinking about death and mortality once we lose our parents. I know in my case at least dealing with not being able to connect with my father always had a great impact on me. In some crazy way I imagine that all of this must be a consequence of that.

In any event, some big things are about to happen in terms of research into the Mar Saba document. Not just the one discovery I made today but there's a meeting going on in Athens on Tuesday which might even lead to a more important breakthrough. If God wants this document to be found again it will likely happen in the next few months.

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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