Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is There Video Footage of the Mar Saba Document?

I learned about Morton Smith's participation in the BBC 4 program(me) Jesus: the Evidence from 1984 from reading Geza Vermes's The Real Jesus. Then and Now. I found it on Youtube very quickly and noticed some shots of Morton Smith walking around (I think Mark Goodacre discussed footage of Morton Smith going back to Mar Saba over a year ago). Yet most curious of all was footage I saw in the documentary of what looks like the 1646 Voss edition with Mar Saba 65 in the back pages. Just go to 48:30 minutes on the counter in the Youtube video below.

Well as it turns out, I think Morton Smith says here that what we are seeing is a 'facsimile' that was created especially for the documentary (how could he just pull the book off the shelves as we see here). The Morton Smith segment begins here:

Yet it would be interesting to see what happened to this duplicate Mar Saba 65. Was it destroyed? Who manufactured it? It looks like whoever put the document together they tried to duplicate the original text because the words at the top right hand corner of page three of Mar Saba 65 look remarkably similar to the real thing:

Does anyone have any idea how they reproduced this duplicate Mar Saba 65? I would imagine it was printed. Still Bart Ehrman has said it would be easy to reproduce the handwriting and the discovery. I would be interested to hear how this would have been carried out.

It is also interesting to note that the camera crew doesn't seem to have had access to the library. The inference would be that they did not get to film or see the original manuscript. The inference would then be that Morton Smith did not have any sway over the new 'regime' at Mar Saba and moreover that the manuscript was 'out of his control.' I know for a fact that Quinton Quesnell saw and held the manuscript about four years later (June 1984). So the Mar Saba authorities were picking and choosing who they let in to see the text. I suspect that Agamemnon Tselikas's comment that the monks did not like Morton Smith stems from this 1980 attempt to arrange for the camera crew to film the manuscript. This would have rubbed the Mar Saba authorities (or those in Jerusalem) the wrong way.

Tselikas's quote from people living in the monastery today is worth reconsidering in this light:

It is interesting here to quote the echo that exists in the monastery about his personality. The librarian told me that «the whole affair of the "so called" discovery of the letter raised by Smith himself in the purpose to create noise around his name and thus become known. Besides, he was a very strangepersonality. We believe that this text is “manufactured” and we have not any interest of this».

I think what pissed them off was the presence of the camera crews in the early 1980s. How many monks living in 2010 would be able to remember anything about Smith's previous visits? The residents of monasteries don't like people to photograph or film them or their books. I know this from other attempts in monasteries outside of Mar Saba. Anyway it is all very interesting ...

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