“Something useful…”

I had hesitated to explain why I’ve removed from public view so many posts among those I’ve provided here, since their aim was to give people working on the manuscript the bare bones of my investigation as it progressed – in addition to  opinions based in earlier formal studies and  experience.

For longer-term, and/or better informed readers, I expect that to quote the following will be sufficient:

1. a recent comment made by Rene Zandbergen:

“progress has mostly been achieved by significant personal efforts that produced something that was clearly recognised  as something useful.”

2. from  publisher’s blurb sent to me – and claiming to contain

.. a new theory … Based on careful study of the images depicted, the plants portrayed, and the lack of any Christian imagery, the authors conclude that it was a Jewish person residing in Italy who must have written the manuscript. 
[matter by] Dr Stephen Skinner, Dr Rafal Prinke, and Dr René Zandbergen.’

Anyone of moderate intelligence can recognise “something useful”, but the mere act of having been able to recognise  something as ‘useful’ does not entitle anyone to pretend it a new idea and the result of their own work, nor to represent to others as ‘an idea’ what the speaker knows is the hard-won conclusions in someone else’s work.

A great many of my readers surely know that; the question is – does Zandbergen?

Postscript – in some parts of the world it is possible to see a larger or smaller part of the essays at the Amazon site.  This is not the Yale University sponsored facsimile, but one by Watkins Media Limited.  We note that the publication had been advertised to appear in August rather  than in mid-June.






8 Replies to ““Something useful…””

    1. from the statistics – Other than my footnote-comments, yours have been the third most common made here since 2011. The content of every comment you have made in the past six years has been some fact presented with the aim of pointing out a real or imagined error. I appreciate your taking the time again.


  1. I haven’t seen the publication as it is not available yet, so I cannot comment on any theories that are discussed within, but I have seen the cover and Zandbergen is not listed as the author, he’s listed as one of two people who contributed an introduction. People writing introductions do not always hold the same views as the author(s) and it’s not clear whether the introduction addresses the theory or whether it’s a general introduction about the VMS facsimile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JKP – When sending the email circular, the publisher implied that all three had together developed this ‘new theory’. I guess the advertiser felt it necessary to include all three names and the word ‘new’. I won’t be buying it, and don’t really want the review copy offered; I have the Yale facsimile and the most valuable thing in that is the technical staff’s essay, if you overlook the bits of bogus history slipped into it here and there. Very good essay indeed from my point of view. Solid, factual, demonstrable. Great pictures.


  3. I discovered today that there’s a preview for the book and it’s apparently Skinner who put forward the views mentioned by the publisher.

    I don’t know if I’ll purchase it when it becomes available. The only VMS book I have so far is the Yale facsimile and I think they did a nice job of it. I haven’t read the essays yet but will when I have time.


    1. -JKP- Panofsky was the first to put forward the view that the work was the product of an individual Jewish writer as ‘author’. You are probably not aware that his opinion was being represented as out-dated or ill-informed before I began demonstrating the extent to which imagery in the manuscript finds its nearest explanation in Jewish works from the eastern Mediterranean, and other details are most reasonably explained as alluding to the customs of eastern Jews. I did not point these things out to try and justify Panofsky’s opinion, but because my findings so often required acknowledgement of that earlier opinion. Other motifs, again, find their closest parallel and most intelligent explanation, by the early fourteenth century in works produced by Jews as well as certain Genoese. Considering that this material has been part of work published here, over six years, and that Zandbergen is aware that many people are under an impression that he is an ‘authoritative’ source – it seems to (at the very least) a failure of will or judgement that he should have omitted to correct his collaborator’s mis-conceptions, especially when that collaborator – certainly cannot make such a claim of expertise for himself. All three authors would normally be provided, by the publisher and before publication, with copies of the other essays – though it remains to be seen whether Watson did so.
      I can say that my academic publisher does so, precisely to ensure that errors of various types do not appear in a volume bearing one’s own name. Skinner’s claiming to have produced a ‘new theory’ – and by the means which it is claimed he does – will be printed before my publisher had planned to issue the (finished) volume 1 and (in progress) second volume of my essays. These are (or now perhaps ‘were’) due to go to press at the end of this year, and offer (or offered) the formal, academic version of material so briefly presented online since 2009.

      This is not the first time, since I took the year away, that we have seen persons suddenly announce as ‘a new idea’ what appears to be a second-hand and unattributed use of my conclusions or research – apparently gained as “an idea”. Zandbergen’s re-use without permission or subsequent apology, and then pre-emptive publication, of matter from my consideration of Libri, Fiesole and Kraus is just another instance of such matter, all of which results in the original scholar having to deal with a suspicion that they, themselves, are imitating the imitators.
      I’ve probably said more than I should, but I have no way to know if I’ll be offering any more work or comment online after today. Not my decision.


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