Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Archaic Mark" – Final Verdict

As we have known for many years now, Chicago MS 972 = Archaic Mark = Greg.-Aland 2427 is a modern production. In the latest issue of Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 101-133, Margaret M. Mitchell, Joseph G. Barabe and Abigail B. Quandt have published an article, "Chicago’s 'Archaic Mark' (ms 2427) II. Microscopic, Chemical and Codicological Analyses Confirm Modern Production" in which they give the final verdict from their analysis of the manuscript in the following areas:

* physical and chemical make up
* palaeography,
* iconography,
* textual readings

It is nice to see that Stephen Carlson is duly acknowledged in the very first paragraph as the scholar who exposed "Archaic Mark" from the fourth perspective, textual readings:
The latter line of inquiry, into possible modern editions that might have been used to account for the codex’s surprising level of concurrence with Codex Vaticanus,3 has been taken up skillfully by Stephen C. Carl- son, who proposed that the exemplar used by the scribe of ms 2427 was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann,4 indicating that the manuscript is a modern forgery.

It is good to now also have a comprehensive analysis of the three other areas, not only to confirm the MS as a forgery, as I see it, but to gain insights from the methods and results in order to expose other forgeries in the future - the subtitle to Abigail Quandt's portion is telling: "Reconstruction of the Forger’s Technique." She concludes:
In summary, the materials and processes used in the creation of the “Archaic Mark” reinforce, on the one hand, what is already known about manuscript forgeries during the modern period and, on the other hand, give us an even deeper understanding of the careful work that went into creating such a complex and ultimately successful forgery that has mystified scholars up until the present day.

In Mitchell's final portion titled "The Forger’s Textual Dependence" Stephen Carlson's "keen detective work" is acknowledged, but also Wieland Willker:
The most extensive list of comparisons of ms 2427 with Buttmann’s 1860 edition, following on and confirming Carlson’s proposal, was made in an excellent online contribution by Dr. Wieland Willker. Willker lists nine “first rate indications” of agreement between ms 2427 and features unique to Buttmann, and seven instances as “additional supporting evidence.” Tracing the genealogical history accounting for these “unique features” and “very rare or unusual readings” in the Buttmann edition allows us to confirm how strong and decisive the case is for its use by the forger of ms 2427.

Wieland's online contribution “Ms 2427 – a fake” (2006) is available here.

Epilogue: Another Fake by the Same Scribe?
A while ago I wrote a long report on the story of "Archaic Mark" here. Towards the end I hinted at another manuscript which was probably copied by the same scribe and illuminator who worked on "Archaic Mark," and in the comments, Wieland Willker correctly guessed that I was talking about Greg.-Aland 2537 in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. The original claim was made in an article: Mary Virginia Orna et al, “Applications of Infrared Microspectroscopy to Art Historical Questions about Medieval Manuscripts,” in Archaeological Chemistry IV (ed. Ralph O. Allen; Advances in Chemistry Series 220; Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1989) 270. It is clear that the text of MS 2537 is different. The question is whether it was copied from a real manuscript or another edition? A brief report from anyone who wants to check by e.g., going through Text und Textwert is welcome and could be published on this blog.


  1. Thanks Tommy,

    They don't come up with a name. I would have thought that Simonides was a good candidate. If you look at the portrait of Mark (Nov. Test, p. 117), there are some similarities with Simonides' portraits elsewhere (see e.g. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=6162172&fulltextType=BR&fileId=S0009840X09000377 on p. 409-410).

  2. Thanks for the article. I've been riveted by the suggestion of a fake and the process of investigation. I do want to mention that the link you have provided for Wieland's online contribution is not linked...so you may need to re-enter it (or perhaps it is just me that is having trouble connecting through that particular link).

  3. Pete, you may be on to something there!

    Thanks Rick and Wieland, I have updated the link.