I think you have inadvertantly illustrated the limitations of human long term memory. You seem to have conflated Morton Smith (Secret Mark
. Secret Mark
may well be a hoax, but Smith is unlikely to have been the hoaxer, in my view. Smith wasn't "up for tenure."
You may be remembering a famous quotation attributed to Smith in a NY Times
interview, "Thank God I have tenure," which many senior academics
have had occasion to say.
In any case, Thomas
was physically realized by sometime in the Fourth Century, when a translation of it was hidden at Nag Hammadi. There is no
controversy whatsoever that.it is genuinely an ancient work. The rest is debatable.
In other words, the order in his gospel is simply the order in which Peter recalled the stories.
That depemds on how you interpret what Eusebius said that Papias said that elder John said about what Mark wrote. Here's one uncontentious
translation (Eusebius, Church History
III.39.15; I notice you quoted something similar, along with comments on Matthew
, III.39.16, in
answer to another poster. I'll just stay with Mark
This also the presbyter said: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered
of the things said or done by Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward, as I said, he followed Peter, who adapted his
teaching to the needs of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a connected account of the Lord's discourses, so that Mark committed no error
while he thus wrote some things as he remembered them. For he was careful of one thing, not to omit any of the things which he had heard, and not to
state any of them falsely. These things are related by Papias concerning Mark.
There is a rat's nest of pronouns there. I parse it that Peter preached sermons about Jesus' words and deeds, composed as Peter's ministry required
("with no intention of giving a connected account..."). Later, Mark chose to present Peter's preachings not as a book of sermons (such as the
Koran is) but rather as a chronological sequence of the events which Peter witnessed and testified to in the body of Peter's sermons. In this reading
of Eusebius, Mark arranged the incidents which Peter supplied, preserving the accuracy of the incidents. There was, however, little or no
chronological order for Mark to preserve. (And there is more sequence to the Gospel's events than just that Jesus' death comes near the end
I also didn't mean to suggest that Mark's organization made his Gospel fully "tamper proof." We know that something happened to the text at the
ending, after 16: 8, and we think the opening verse identifying the work could also be later. Finally, Morton Smith reminds us that it is at least
possible to add and remove material undetected from the middle of Mark
Nevertheless, a loosely assembled collection of largely independent and mostly short sayings like Thomas
is especially vulnerable to
alteration. Such a collection might "invite" editing. A church receives the collection to use as a lectionary. The church supplements the
collection with some local traditional sayings, and rarely recites some other items that the locals don't like as much. When the time comes for the
church to make a new copy of its well-worn lectionary, the locally loved sayings fit right in, and the locally disused ones aren't missed when
they're left out.
If my copy of Mark
differs from your copy, then people will talk, as Morton Smith also reminds us. If my copy of Thomas
yours, then people might not even notice for a long time, much less complain.