More on Stephen Carlson’s hand-writing analysis of the Secret Gospel of Mark

Further to some of my comments back in 2005 (see my post: The Secret Gospel of Mark and Carlson’s The Gospel Hoax: Smoking gun?), Scott Brown and Allan Pantuck have now written a rather damaging critique of Stephen Carlson’s work on the handwriting analysis of the Secret Gospel of Mark.

Thanks to Tony Burke for pointing me to the post on Timo Paananen’s Salainan evankelista blog and to Allan Pantuck for sending me a copy of the article.

8 thoughts on “More on Stephen Carlson’s hand-writing analysis of the Secret Gospel of Mark

  1. Stephen C. Carlson

    It is hardly damaging. Brown and Pantuck have misunderstood a fairly standard disclaimer and used to attack a position I have not espoused. All the disclaimer says, rightly, is that without a sample from the person is supposed to have written it, it cannot be shown to be forgery “solely on the basis of forensic document examination.” My book, of course, does not make that claim and more cautiously states that the examination raises a question of its genuineness.

    Furthermore, Brown’s decrying of the lack of “known standards” is especially rich, considering that I was the first person to publish any comparison of the handwriting with genuine 18th cen. samples from Mar Saba, something which neither Smith nor Brown had done.

  2. Loren Rosson III

    Yes to Stephen’s comment above. Brown and Pantuck are spit-balling. Francis Watson’s recent essay can be taken as the final word on the subject, but the fact is that the truth has been obvious for a long time now.

  3. Roger Viklund

    Final word …?
    The document examiner Venetia Anastasopoulou who was hired by BAR, says this in her 39 pages long experts report:

    “It is my professional opinion that the writers of the questioned document of “Secret Mark” on the document listed as Q1, Q2 an Q3 and Morton Smith’s handwriting on the documents listed as K1 – K27, are most probably not the same.
    Therefore it is highly probable that Morton Smith could not have simulated the document of ‘Secret Mark’.”

  4. Phil Harland Post author

    I now see that Roger had a comment about the new evidence (examiner) as well.

    Loren: I wouldn’t jump the gun on this “final word” stuff. I like enthusiasm, but not when it hinders scholarship.


  5. Loren Rosson III

    That happens to be my own choice of words, Phil, and I mean exactly that. What’s hindering scholarship is the fact that a transparent hoax is still being defended. As I explained in my post on Watson’s article, you can even throw out a lot of this business. The fact that Smith’s escapade to Mar Saba mirrors that in a novel on so many levels, that his published views were vindicated by his discovery, and on and on… any fool knows that coincidences like this don’t obtain. If Hunter’s novel had been spotted by biblical specialists long before 2001, this thing would have nipped in the bud. Now it’s a monster that too many people are invested in. It’s incredible, really. And this has nothing to do with enthusiasm. It has to do with eating crow and moving on before the credibility of the guild suffers unpleasantly.

  6. Phil H.

    Hello Stephen,

    You may want to put your responses to that article on the page where it is published (or on your own page linking to that article) to allow the back and forth that will help scholars to better assess the situation and evaluate each of your statements based on evidence.


  7. Mike Z.

    I have to agree that it would be dangerous to call the final word on anything relating to Secret Mark. Especially when Smith’s discovery relates to Hunter’s novel on nearly no levels at all. That is, there are in fact almost no coincidences. And what coincidences there are do happen from time to time, as I write on my blog.

    Smith’s discovery, I would say, it not a transparent anything.

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