Saturday, January 8, 2011

A S Barnes on the Gospel 'according to the Egyptians' as a Longer Alexandrian Gospel of Mark

Of the original ' Gospel according to the Egyptians ' we can form a fairly definite notion. It can hardly have been anything else than some form of the Gospel of St Mark. All Christian tradition is unanimous in assigning to St Mark the work of evangelizing Egypt and founding the Church of Alexandria. When we find, therefore, that a special ' Gospel according to the Egyptians ' was in existence from very early times, and when we find St Chrysostom actually stating that St Mark wrote his Gospel in Egypt, we can hardly help coming to the conclusion that these two traditions are correlated. St Mark, we may suppose, left behind him in Egypt a Gospel narrative which may not indeed have been absolutely identical with that which we now call by his name, but which, on the other hand, it is natural to suppose had some close affinities with it, and this narrative became known to the Christians of the first century as the Gospel according to the Egyptians.

On this hypothesis it follows, of course, that the various scraps which are quoted by Origen and others from a Gospel which was known to them under this name, since they have no apparent affinities with the Gospel of St Mark, must either be additions made at a later date to the original narrative, or else, and perhaps more probably, be quotations from an apocryphal Gospel which usurped the name in the second century, after the original Gospel of the Egyptians had become known throughout Christendom as the Gospel accordind to St. Mark. In either case they are of no value to the student who desires to recover the text of the original document, and the details in which it varies from that form of the Gospel of St Mark which we now possess ..."
[A. S. Barnes; The Gospel according to the Hebrews; Journal of Theological Studies 6 (1905) p. 357]

As I have always said, scholars cannot possibly argue that the Letter to Theodore 'goes totally against' all we know about the development of the gospels and the Gospel of Mark in particular. Here is a scholar writing half a century before the discovery of the document and its reference to a longer Alexandrian text of the Gospel according to Mark and postulates the existence of 'secret Mark' without any personal knowledge of Morton Smith's discovery. If these 'hoaxers' want to argue that Smith 'created' this document based on a reading of Barnes's work - bring it on. They should just stop wasting everyone's time with the argument that to Theodore 'makes no sense,' 'is completely without witnesses or support in Patristic literature' and the like.

I think most of their bullshit comes from an unhealthy jealousy knowing that they will never discover or accomplish anything close to the significance of Smith's discovery. Yet maybe they should look in the mirror for the answer to that one. Smith was 'out there' in the real world searching for ancient documents. He wasn't just sitting on his fat ass, wasting his time teaching inane course which begin with 'the History of [fill in the blank]'

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