Friday, May 28, 2010

Ms. Anastasopoulou Stapled to the Wall

I've made my position clear on the reliability of certain handwriting experts, but for those who put stock in Ms. Anastasopoulou's "exoneration" of Morton Smith, Jason Staples has a good critique. From his blogpost:
"Put simply, BAR’s handwriting analysis concludes that, all things being equal, based on the handwriting excerpts in his notes, etc., Smith couldn’t have simply sat down and copied out the Mar Saba letter. But this isn’t the proposed scenario at all! Rather, if Smith indeed forged Secret Mark, he would have worked through the Greek carefully for quite some time, checking and re-checking everything to make sure he had it perfect. Then he would have chosen a specific Greek scribal style to learn—preferably something that would be difficult (but doable) and distinct and traceable to the right timeframe. Then he would spend however long it took to learn this special style, making sure to use the right tools for the job (no ball point pens or #2 pencils for this kind of practice), ultimately practicing the Mar Saba letter in its entirety numerous times, likely memorizing the Mar Saba letter in the process, down to each accent, to make sure he could produce it without having to copy it from another sheet... In the process, of course, his overall Greek fluency wouldn’t have improved much, as he would be operating within such a small language base. Nor would his Greek block writing (with a pencil or ball-point, no less) have improved or changed much, since the two scripts are so extremely different. (For example, my Hebrew block characters haven’t changed a whole lot since I started writing in Hebrew cursive some years back; if anything, they’ve gotten clumsier.)"


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