Did Wilson, et al, unwittingly reveal Morton Smith’s literary sources for the “Secret Gospel of Mark?”

Admittedly, Wilson, et al,’s book “The Lost Gospel” is a midrash of fantasy, but sometimes there are crossovers in fantasy worlds. So is the case, I speculate, between Wilson, et al, and Morton Smith.

In “The Lost Gospel,” Wilson, et al, suggests a literary connection between Joseph and Aseneth and The Secret Gospel of Mark. On the surface, and because that is all this blog post requires, it looks like a solid case. For those of us who study literary sources (mimetic criticism), the closeness is seen easily enough. Of course, we don’t have the original Secret Gospel because it was never presented. It is another “lost gospel,” I guess.

While there are some scholars who accept Smith’s testimony, there are plenty of others who do not. Those who do not suggest Smith created this forgery.

So, where did Morton Smith get his close-to-real story? Perhaps he simply invented it wholesale, the story of Jesus’s esoteric relationship with a naked young man in the Secret Gospel of Mark. But, if he took the time to design the letter in such a way as to remove himself from the picture, then he was careful enough to insure the story was similar to others, right?

I can only speculate — Smith used Joseph and Aseneth, resting on the idea as presented in Wilson, et al, and the fact that we know Smith had at least once delved significantly into Joseph and Aseneth.

Odd….

 

 

Eucharist? Not bloody likely — The Gospels, Didache, Joseph and Aseneth, and Reality “#thelostgospel”

Pollen Comb of Honeybee Hive

Jewish bees? Gentile bees? If they are pollenating, one is Jesus and the other is Mary Maggie-pie. Pollen Comb of Honeybee Hive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long before the “lost gospel” was found, Dr. Mark Goodacre had a webpage devoted to the pseudepigrapha tale. You can find it here.

In Wilson and Jacobovici’s book they declare, without regard for logic, that the story in Joseph and Aseneth 16 is the “First Holy Communion Ever.” One would think that this audacious statement would be backed up with well supported facts. One would think…

This is how chapter 16 reads,

And the man said to her, “Bring me, please, a honeycomb too.” 2. And Aseneth said, “Let me send someone my lord, to my family estate in the country and I will get you a honeycomb.” 3. And the man said to her, “Go into your inner room and you will find a honeycomb there.” 4. And Aseneth went into her inner room and found a honeycomb lying on the table; and the comb was as white as snow and full of honey, and its smell was like the breath of life. 5. And Aseneth took the comb and brought it to him; and the man said to her, “Why did you say, ‘There is no honeycomb in my house?’ And lo, you have brought me this.” 6. And Aseneth said, My lord, I had no honeycomb in my house, but it happened just as you said: did it perchance come out of your mouth, for it smells like myrrh?” 7. And the man stretched his hand out and placed it on her head and said, “You are blessed, Aseneth, for the indescribable things of God have been revealed to you; and blessed too are those who give their allegiance to the Lord God in penitence, for they shall eat of this comb. 8. The bees of the Paradise of Delight have made this honey, and the angels of God eat of it, and no one who eats of it shall ever die. 9. And the man stretched his right hand out and broke off a piece of the comb and ate it; and he put a piece of it unto Aseneth’s mouth. 10. And the man stretched his hand out and put his finger on the edge of the comb that faced eastwards; and the path of his finger became like blood. 11. And he stretched out his hand a second time and put his finger on the edge of the comb that faced northwards, and the path of his finger became like blood.

Now that you have read it, let me post it again with portions in bold,

And the man said to her, “Bring me, please, a honeycomb too.” 2. And Aseneth said, “Let me send someone my lord,  to my family estate in the country and I will get you a honeycomb.” 3. And the man said to her, “Go into your inner room and you will find a honeycomb there.” 4. And Aseneth went into her inner room and found a honeycomb lying on the table; and the comb was as white as snow and full of honey, and its smell was like the breath of life. 5. And Aseneth took the comb and brought it to him; and the man said to her, “Why did you say, ‘There is no honeycomb in my house?’ And lo, you have brought me this.” 6. And Aseneth said, My lord, I had no honeycomb in my house, but it happened just as you said: did it perchance come out of your mouth, for it smells like myrrh?” 7. And the man stretched his hand out and placed it on her head and said, “You are blessed, Aseneth, for the indescribable things of God have been revealed to you; and blessed too are those who give their allegiance to the Lord God in penitence, for they shall eat of this comb. 8. The bees of the Paradise of Delight  have made this honey, and the angels of God eat of it, and no one who eats of it shall ever die. 9. And the man stretched his right hand out and broke off a piece of the comb and ate it; and he put a piece of it unto Aseneth’s mouth. 10. And the man stretched his hand out and put his finger on the edge of the comb that faced eastwards; and the path of his finger became like blood. 11. And he stretched out his hand a second time and put his finger on the edge of the comb that faced northwards, and the path of his finger became like blood.

Let me take them in order.

  • Honeycomb is the Torah, the words of God (see Sirach 24)
  • Myrrh, is associated with the Wisdom of God, which is the Torah (See Sirach 24)
  • Shall never die – language connected to Genesis 3.22 and the honeycomb which gives life.

These three things are all connected to the Wisdom tradition of the Jewish and then the Christian people. In this tradition, Wisdom is the Torah and it is the Torah that gives eternal life. Wisdom plays a significant part in deuterocanonical literature, such as Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon, as well as in Jewish mysticism and developing Christian theology. You can see this in Hebrews and John. Why are these two latter books so important? Because Wisdom becomes Jesus Christ. If Christians understand Wisdom as Christ (this is apparent in Paul as well), then it is unlikely such an imagery could get so mangled as to produced what is suggested in the “decoded” allegory. Rather, what is better sensed in chapter 16 is a conversion story where one food (or Law) is replaced by another (in this case, a pagan food for the Torah).

But, what about the sign of the cross and the eucharistic symbology? I think it is possible to see a connection there, although we may run into parallelism, which Wilson and Jacobovici have done, if we believe this language is a code. The meal imagery is easily explained as a conversion process, yet, there is a nagging parallel to Christian practices as developed late in the 4th and 5th centuries. How late? Around the time this document was no doubt written.

Possibly, there are two “liturgical” images here:

  • Eucharist
  • Sign of the cross

If you are Orthodox, you will recognize a similarity to the Epiklesis of the Divine Liturgy.  It evolved from the Apostolic Tradition usually attributed to Hippolytus (c. 215). What is most interesting is that the section on the Eucharistic prayer is commonly thought to be a later addition, perhaps even from the 4th century (albeit with earlier layers of tradition). At the time of Hippolytus, however, sign of the cross-as-invocation was still performed upon the forehead (as found in Tertullian). It wasn’t until the 5th century we begin to see the connection between signing the cross on the holy bread and the turning of that bread into the body of Christ:

With regard to other points of theology, we may note that Cyril very strongly insists on the Real Presence and on Transubstantiation, of which he gives a most accurate definition: “That which seems bread is not bread but the Body of Christ; that which seems wine is not wine but the Blood of Christ.” “It is not ordinary bread (ἄρτος λιτός), but the Body of Christ.” “As Christ changed water into wine, so does he change (μεταβάλλει) wine into his Blood.” Christians who receive holy communion become “of one Body and of one Blood with Christ” (σύσσωμοι καὶ σύναιμοι Χριστοῦ) and are “Christbearers (Χριστοφόροι).” Transubstantiation takes place, he says, “by the invocation of the Holy Ghost.”5 The holy Eucharist is a “spiritual sacrifice” and a “sacrifice of atonement.”1

Today, the rite looks like this:

(The Priest signs the Holy Bread with the sign of the Cross, saying quietly:) And make this bread the precious Body of thy Christ:

(The Priest makes the sign of the Cross, saving quietly:) And that which is in this cup, the precious Blood of thy Christ:

(The Priest makes the sign of the Cross over both the Holy Gifts, saying quietly:) Changing them by thy Holy Spirit: Amen, Amen, Amen.

Again, we are fluctuating between the 3rd and 5th century, with a date of the 4th century as probable for the inclusion of this specific invocation (over the bread, with the sign of the cross) into the liturgies of the various Sees. But, what does the first images of the Eucharist look like?

If we go to the Synoptics (no earlier than 73 with Mark), we get the image of a traditional Passover seder. Once we turn to Acts (I would place this work into the early 2nd century), the “breaking of the bread” becomes an event to celebrate the growth of the Church. However, if we turn to Paul and 1 Corinthians 11.23–26 (mid 50’s), we see a communal rite, sacred nevertheless, that is supposed to harken back to Jesus. Some could see the revelation of this rite to Paul as a spiritual vision, rather than Paul taking up an already standing tradition. It would be difficult to argue this position, as the meal was already present among the Jews, albeit with different intentions.

The earliest non-canonical detailing about the sacred meal comes from a first century document called The Didache. This preserves the Eucharist like this:

9.1 Now this is how you should engage in giving thanks, bless God in this way.
9.2 First, at the cup, say:
We give thanks to you, our Father,
for the holy vine of David, your servant, which you have made known to us.
Through Jesus, your servant, to you be glory for ever.
9.3 Then when it comes to the broken loaf say:
We give thanks to you, our Father,
for the life and knowledge which you have made known to us.
Through Jesus, your servant, to you be glory for ever.
9.4 For as the broken loaf was once scattered over the mountains and then was gathered in and became one, so may your church be gathered together into your kingdom from the very ends of the earth.
Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.
9.5 Only let those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord eat and drink at your Eucharists. And remember what the Lord has said about this: do not give to dogs what is holy.

The issue with excluding the Didache has somehow preserving a “truer” (code for non-Pauline) Christianity is that we have enough textual studies between Mark and Matthew and Paul to suggest that the Didache (which used Matthew) recognized Pauline Christianity. (See here, here and here to begin correctly the view that the Didache is “Pauline free.”) Note, the Didache does not use code language, allegory, or otherwise. Unlike 4th century eucharistic rites, it doesn’t include the epiklesis or sign of the cross. Rather, follows Pauline order in the wine and the bread.

Before I leave this alone, let me decode “Pauline Christianity.” For many who use this term, it means the pro-inclusion-of-Gentiles into Israel’s covenant. Note what Jacobovici has said,

“Someone might say to me, why are you finding so many great things, why nobody else? I tell you why. Because I’m Jewish, I’m not Pauline—I don’t think inside a Christian box… I’m not a theologian, I’m not a Christian, and I see that in this world you can look at texts with fresh eyes and see new things.”

While I am not going to answer the racist undertones of that statement, let me point out the false dichotomy of such a view. Paul was Jewish. Many of the people he spoke to and wrote to were Jewish. We have scant evidence Paul was overly successful in converting Gentiles. Indeed, whereas the Epistle to the Romans was written to a Jewish and Gentile audience, Paul didn’t establish this community. To be Pauline is to be Jewish. If you look at the language in Joseph and Aseneth as liturgical and then compare it back to the earliest record of the sacred meal (1 Corinthians 11.23–26), you will even see a Pauline influence!2 But, you have to backwards read and treat it as something more than it is. But this goes further. Many in early Christianity still considered themselves Jewish, still used the synagogues, and still, alongside the Rabbis, brought to life new theology. In fact, real scholarship (usually called “the parting of the ways”) reveals a centuries-long relationship between Jews and Christians that aided both peoples. If anything, by comparing the 4th century Christian liturgical development, 2nd Temple Jewish mysticism, and the 5th century Joseph and Aseneth what could be revealed is a confluence of Jewish and Christian mysticism lasting well into Christendom.

What we should see here is the fallacy established by Wilson and Simcha, but also a chance to see either an interpolation of Christian conversion rites into a Jewish story or still yet a novella that contained Jewish-Christian mysticism recognizable to and aiding both Jews and Christians. It is not impossible the imagery of Joseph and Aseneth provided fodder for developing liturgies, or vice versa. What is impossible is to say that this mystical tale known nearly from its inception “is either lost or a gospel” (see here as well) and that it represents the earliest image of the Eucharistic celebration.

  1. Adrian Fortescue, The Greek Fathers (London; St Louis, MO: Catholic Truth Society; B. Herder, 1908), 157.
  2. Why? Because Paul was a Jewish mystic and the Christianity he left us shares an intimate relationship with Jewish mysticism!

#thelostgospel press conference Bingo game!

Tomorrow is the press conference, to coincide with the release of the book, according to Jacobovici. It will be held at the British Library’s conference center which can be rented for a nominal fee. Due to the early release of the book on Google books, Dr. Robert Cargill has reviewed the book. (See my round up and post here.)

So, in honor of the press release, I thought a little fun may be in order. Here are the bingo cards (SIMCHA BINGO – pdf download), with which we can all play “Simcha Press Conference Bingo”. The game will be fun because the card includes the go-to arguments and phrases that Simcha routinely relies upon to promote himself and attack his critics.. The best thing about this is, is that you can reuse it next Christmas/Easter when our friend has another new startling revelation to announce! 

This is just one of the cards!!!!

simcha press conference bingo

20th century reading reveals super-secret details of the life of an allegorical novella

English: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying...

“Snow is the air, election days have passed, the leaves are brown and another non-scholar has a book out with a “startling revelation” about Jesus. It’s almost time for me!” English: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying Santa Claus. Date approximate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now, you’ve read that Simcha Jacobovici  and Barrie Wilson are publishing a new book along with a new documentary proving that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had two sons. This was expected, as this book has been on the “on hold” shelf (or whatever it is you want to call) for a while now.

There are two perspectives you need to see first.

One is Dr. Robert Cargill. I stress the doctor part for various reasons. Unlike others, he has the academic chops, prowess, and beard to actually comment on this. In 2013 he wrote,

Anyone attempting an allegorical interpretation of Joseph and Aseneth, and arguing for anything other than an apology for why Joseph married a non-Israelite (and the daughter of a pagan priest at that), is grasping at speculative straws, and attempting (like the author of the Syriac text) to stretch the text into something it was never designed to do. Whether it be a gnostic interpretation of the text, or an attempt to argue something truly ridiculous and sensational, for example, that the story somehow represents Jesus and Mary Magdalene (as “Bride of God”, requiring an appeal to separate Gnostic texts like Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip), and that this allegorical representation from sixcenturiesafter the life of Jesus, relying on the weaving together of multiple Gnostic texts composed a full century after the life of Jesus, somehow provides “evidence” of aspects of Jesus’ actual, historical life – such allegorical interpretations are the height of unsubstantiated speculation.

Cargill has a review (since most of the book is now available online) up.

Another is Dr. Mark Goodacre who actually devotes time to literary practices of early Christianity was on Good Morning America.

More ABC US news | ABC Health News

By the way, Goodacre wrote a piece on this in 2013.

One of the reasons this should be dismissed is the dual claim of lost and gospel attached to this story. As Cargill noted in the linked-to piece, the story has long been known and is not actually a gospel. It simply fits as a novella.

Further, other authors long before Jacobovichi and Wilson has noted supposed parallels, such as Edith Humprey’s excellent book on Joseph and Aseneth, 

Certainly, we have no parallel more exact than that of the Christian Eucharist and Chrismation, and yet the book is lacking in unambiguously specific Christian references. The paucity of evidence concerning Judaisms at the turn of the eras (in which earliest ‘Christianity’ is to be situated), and our access to this time through mostly later texts, adds to our difficulty in making sense of such phrases, and may continue to lead some, such as Ross Kraemer, to decide for a later date for our piece. It is becoming clearer that several concepts that we normally associate with Christianity were more broadly acceptable in this time of formation—for example, evidence for belief in ‘two powers’ in heaven, a mystical teaching later proscribed by the rabbis (cf. A.F. Segal, ‘Heavenly Ascent in Hellenistic Judaism, Early Christianity and their Environment’, ANRW, II.23.2, especially pp. 1352–68; idem, Two Powers in Heaven: Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977]). Such fluidity between turn of the era Judaisms (which included formative Christianity) may possibly apply to liturgical language that we now know only in the Christian context….

And…

our considerations of genre forbid that we see in Aseneth simply a hidden apology for an alternate temple.1

Humprey’s book, unfortunately is not cited. Perhaps it is because of her stern and well-evidenced warning against rampant parallelism, hasty interpretation, misunderstanding of genre (as well as the inability to properly access the context).

(Anthony Le Donne, James McGrath, Jim West, Greg Carey, Steve Caruso, Jim Davila, Jimmy Akin)

By the way, there is now a Bingo game for the upcoming press conference.

  1. Edith McEwan Humphrey, Joseph and Aseneth (Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha; Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 59–61.

you can’t just sue to shut someone up…

On Simcha…

Dr. Robin Jensen and her employer, Vanderbilt University, have filed motions to dismiss thelawsuit brought against themby pseudoarchaeologist, professional filmmaker, andrecent filer of multiple lawsuits against critics who disagree with his conclusions, Mr. Simcha Jacobovici.

Read the rest

Apparently the mayor is not the only one in Toronto smoking crack

Simcha is trying nail down another paid-for award, it seems. That’s right, the nails are back, but his analysis has gotten even worse. Much worse.

By the way, this has been refuted by a real archaeologist.

I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to point out the phallacies Simcha needs to firm up his case. He tries to wrap his hands around it, but keeps getting the shaft. He just keeps spitting it out and expecting the world to swallow it.

Anyway… as someone pointed out… nails near or in a tomb doesn’t point to death, rather… they would point to the resurrection. The nails only become important IF JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

HT to XCV8 via the tweeters for the title. It just seemed to fit.

Wait. Dang it. Am I seeing Simcha everywhere? I mean, Simcha sees Simcha everywhere. In every line. Every line is an attack. Every attack is about Simcha.

Dang it. I’ve got SimchalookatmebecauseeveryoneisalwaystalkingaboutmebecauseimSimchaits.

What has Simcha done to me!!!!!?!?!??????!!!!!!

Must be a Canadian thing.

I wonder if Little Honey Tee Tee is a Canadian?

@Goodacre Finds a Bride for God

Mark Goodacre writes –

On Sunday, I posted some comments on Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson’s forthcoming book and documentary, Jacobovici and Wilson’s “Lost Gospel”.  It led to a very interesting comments thread in which the possibility came up that their “lost gospel” might in fact be a section from Pseudo-Zachariah Rhetor featuring a Syriac text of Joseph and Aseneth as well as the correspondence that prefaces it.  In response to this, Richard Bauckham has sent the following comments, which I am here promoting to a post of its own….

via NT Blog: The Bride of God or the Lost Gospel of Joseph and Asyath, Richard Bauckham.

Go. Read.

@goodacre on Jacobovici and Wilson’s “Lost Gospel”

I’d usually just retweet this, but you need to read this.

NT Blog: Jacobovici and Wilson’s “Lost Gospel”.

Why? Because it is likely this book (from some inside sources I have on the matter) will be delayed once again. But, read the above post to find out why.

Dr. Cargill on the Rhetoric of Simcha Jacobovici

He concludes,

He states himself that he is not an academic. Perhaps we should stop expecting him to argue like one.

Granted, Simcha will not recant of his false accusations, his deceptions, and his hyperbolic notions of awards and titles, but at the very least, people will get to see the full story.

McClellan on Jacobovici’s (rather immature) Rhetoric

Daniel concludes –

Mr. Jacobovici is fabricating an ideological opponent and juxtaposing characterizations of our work to rhetorical jabs at that strawman in order to associate us with it and thus appeal to a growing and popular ideological community that is interested in a specific anti-establishment and humanistic Jesus.

via Jacobovici’s Rhetoric | Daniel O. McClellan.

A fantastic read.

What can you buy with enough money?

posers

Title$, position$… and the revi$ion of hi$tory.

First, note this post… Hilarious.

If you’ve followed the Simcha/Tabor fiasco, you’ll note the need to call into question certain items, especially related to Simcha’s interview with Father Puech. This has caused some to reconsider some of the long standing issues from the beginning, such as the number of replicas in the possession of Simcha, et al.

Dr. Mark Goodacre has revealed that there are two replicas.

simcha is paranoid 1

Simcha swears that his opponents are something like 33rd degree Masons

Dr. Tabor has since responded, suggesting that their is a pre-existent narrative (we are unable to prove) and,

They are indeed somewhat different since two different labs produced them using the photos we had taken. I think the second might be a bit more accurate overall, especially in the proportional size of the “fish” and a more careful representation of the “little fish” along the border, plus a few other details, such as the “zig zigs” on the left end that should have been added.

As Tom Verenna has pointed out, Tabor has been shown to have changed certain items and representations based on criticism, without citing either his changes or his motivations for such changes.

Notice who Tabor says made the second replica –

The second was done in Israel by Associated Producers, for the launch of The Jesus Discovery film

Associated Producers is Simcha’s company. Further, there is considerable time between the creation of the two replicas. What transpired in this time? The criticism leveled from actual scholars.

There are issues here as well, but more on that as it develops.

For instance, see Tom’s post on what makes a replica a replica.