BAR 36:03, May/Jun 2010
Handwriting Experts Weigh In on “Secret Mark”
Did Columbia University professor Morton Smith forge the famous Clement letter containing two passages from a secret—and different—copy of the Gospel of Mark?
A number of scholars have concluded, on inadequate grounds in our view, that Smith was a forger.
In a four-part treatment, including contributions by eminent New Testament scholars Helmut Koester and Charles Hedrick, BAR concluded that Smith, now dead, was innocent.a
Oddly enough, despite the scores of articles and books that have been written on the subject, no one has bothered to consult a handwriting expert in the language in which the alleged forged letter is written: Greek. To Smith’s detractors, that was apparently unnecessary. According to critic Bart Ehrman, “With any skill at all, and a little practice,” it would be easy for Smith to learn to fake the 18th-century handwriting in which the Clement letter is written. Yet no one ever followed through by consulting a Greek handwriting expert.