Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Colin Duckworth Represents a Bigger Scandal Than Either D'Antraigues or Morton Smith [Part One]

I have been talking about Eric Osborn and Colin Duckworth's 'discovery' of D'Antraigues claims to have seen a number of Greek manuscripts in the Coptic monastery St Macarius in Egypt.  Some people see a parallel between Morton Smith and D'Antraigues.  That's fair and obvious.  But what often gets overlooked - and the thing I am most obsessed with right now - is the implausibility of Duckworth's claim to have 'discovered' D'Antraigues 'discovery' in library archives in Dijon.  Yes, for anglophones this is 'something new.'  I spend the greater part of last month corresponding with a great number of Coptologists about this and many anglophones were 'surprised' by this 'revelation.'  Many of the best scholars thought this was an open and shut case - D'Antraigues had to be making this up.  And they might be right. 

Yet I am not a 'real scholar.'  What I mean, I am not in the business of scholarship.  I will put together a paper on D'Antraigues discovery and its implications, but I just like to 'swim around' in the information associated with something.  Maybe it is a mental defect that I can't 'control' my brain and make it 'see' what is 'important.'  But there are just so many nuances, there are just so many things to learn from any given experience. 

As many of you can guess - I don't do very much. 

So if we leave aside the question of whether or not D'Antraigues or Smith are 'lying' or 'telling the truth' for a moment, I'd prefer to focus on the question of whether Colin Duckworth was making up shit when he claimed to 'discover' this story.  How on earth could an expert on French history not have known about D'Antraigues claims before heading out to Dijon?  It's everywhere in French literature.  I have found at least fifteen references to this discovery.  This shouldn't be surprising because it is such a great, compelling story.  It's so very exotic with all its vivid depictions of the Orient - you get a feel for what it must have been like in Paris when coffee was first introduced.

My point is that whether Morton Smith or D'Antraigues is telling the truth, Colin Duckworth is lying. He could not have 'discovered' this story at the archives in Dijon.  There are just too many references to D'Antraigues and the trip to Macaire to allow for him to have 'stumbled' into this story.  He knew about the account while working at Melbourne and then heightened interest in the story by claiming to have found it on an exotic trip abroad.  Sound familiar? 

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