SMITH, MORTON°


SMITH, MORTON°
SMITH, MORTON° (1915–1991), U.S. scholar, educator, and historian of the ancient world. Smith, who was born in Philadelphia, served on the faculties of Brown, Drew, and Columbia universities, becoming professor of ancient history at the last. Smith made contributions to a number of fields, ranging from biblical studies to the history of magic. In 1958 at Mar Saba, a Greek Orthodox monastery near Bethlehem in Israel, Smith found a copy of a letter ascribed to clement of Alexandria, the second-century director of the catechetical school of Alexandria. It contained excerpts of a Secret Gospel of Mark, which Smith subsequently translated. The letter remains a subject of great controversy. Smith was particularly interested in the history of Judaism during the Second Temple period. Part of his comprehensive study of this topic was published as Judaism in Palestine; vol. 1, To the Reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (1971). He treated the latter part of the period in his "Palestinian Judaism in the First Century" (in: M. Davis (ed.), Israel: Its Role in Civilization, 1965). In this essay he assessed the actual role and influence of the Pharisees as simply one among several Jewish sects. Also relevant to this period is his Makbilot bein ha-Besorot le-Sifrut ha-Tanna'im (1945; Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 1951; revised form of diss. in Heb.). His other publications include The Ancient Greeks (1960), Heroes and Gods (with M. Hadas, 1965), Palestinian Parties and Politics That Shaped the Old Testament (1971), The Secret Gospel (1973), and Jesus the Magician (1981). He edited Hope and History (with R. Anshen, 1980. and What the Bible Really Says (with R. Hoffmann, 1993). A two-volume set of his collected essays, titled Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, was published in 1995.   -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and other Greco-Roman Cults: Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty (1975); idem, Are There Really Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels? (1993); S. Brown, Mark's Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith's Controversial Discovery (2005). (David Flusser / Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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