“Killer” Carlson unmasks another fraud

This article came through from CLASSICS-L:

Science Daily 12/15/09:

Ancient Book of Mark Found Not So Ancient After All”

A biblical expert at the University of Chicago, Margaret M. Mitchell, together with experts in micro-chemical analysis and medieval bookmaking, has concluded that one of the University Library’s most enigmatic possessions is a forgery. The book, a copy of the Gospel of Mark, will remain in the collection as a study document for scholars studying the authenticity of ancient books.

Scholars have argued for nearly 70 years over the provenance of what’s called the Archaic Mark, a 44-page miniature book, known as a ‘codex,’ which contains the complete 16-chapter text of the Gospel of Mark in minuscule handwritten text. The manuscript, which also includes 16 colorful illustrations, has long been believed to be either an important witness to the early text of the gospel or a modern forgery, said Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature.” …

Mitchell completed the analysis with a study of the textual edition the forger had used. She confirmed and refined Stephen C. Carlson’s proposal that the modern edition from which the forger copied the text was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann. Mitchell identified telltale readings in the Archaic Mark that arose from the original 1856 edition of Buttmann’s critical text, reproducing errors later corrected in the flurry of collations of the famous manuscript Vaticanus between 1857 and 1867.

There was a famous forger of the period, Constantine Simonides, who mingled scraps of genuinely old material with fakes of his own composition.  I wonder if this is another of his creations?

Simonides was unmasked by the famous Tischendorff, who had discovered the Codex Sinaiticus.  Simonides took his revenge by claiming that Simonides himself had written the Sinaiticus, although disclaiming writing any other texts.  There was a lengthy discussion in the Guardian, reprinted in the Journal of Sacred Literature, in which Simonides claims were gradually but relentlessly revealed to be mendacious.


6 thoughts on ““Killer” Carlson unmasks another fraud

  1. Thanks for the mention, Roger.

    I have no substantive opinion whether this is the work of Simonides, because I haven’t studied him in detail, but my rough sense is that Archaic Mark doesn’t look good enough of a forgery to be one of his.

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