Scott Wolter: Masonic Expert Says "Sinclair Journals" Not Consistent with the Latin and English of Their Alleged Time Period
I can speak to the fact that PGMMN (Past Grand Master of Masons in Minnesota) Terry Tilton and I have had the three surviving pages, one in Latin, one in Old English, and one in modern English, sent to Masonic scholars in the appropriate languages in Scotland. An opinion was offered [that] the Latin and Old English were not quite consistent with the period and he suggested other opinions be sought by other experts which will happen. While I am quite confident the older journals were copied, most likely in the mid-19th Century, more research will be performed on those surviving pages as well as archaeological investigations based on content. This book is only the beginning of a much bigger story.
This would seem to be highly relevant information, and facts that both Wolter and Muir declined to make public until directly questioned about the matter. It is marred a bit, however, by the fact that Wolter and Tilton asked a Freemason—his credentials beyond that are not given, and Wolter later says that Tilton alone can choose whether to share them—rather than recognized language experts to date the text. (Yes, Wolter speaks of Old English, but I presume he doesn’t know the difference between Old and Middle English.) According to Wolter, Muir provides a photo of the Latin text in her book, but it will cost $40 to view it, a price far too high for the dubious nature of the material.
Wolter’s excuse for the linguistic mismatch seems to be that a nineteenth century copyist changed the language, but that raises its own problems: If the text isn’t an accurate copy, by what right do we imagine it to be authentic at all?
Consider, for example, what Wolter says the journals contain: “Read the journals and you’ll learn the details about how the Scottish Templars started the mission to establish the ‘Free Templar State’, and then handed the ‘Covenant’ to our brethren you call the ‘Founding Fathers’, who finished the job.” Just leaving aside the fact that this contradicts or fails to match the entire rest of the historical record, it is rather remarkable that the text is somehow exactly aligned to claims that only emerged from speculators like Wolter in the past couple of decades. (Prior to Wolter and his circle, the Templar “state” was believed to be in Mexico, according to fringe theorists going back to Eugène Beauvois in the early 1900s.) Also—the typical form should be Templar Free State, on the model of the Congo Free State, though a genocidal colonial regime is probably not the right model for your imaginary medieval pagan hippie commune.
Muir, for her part, concurs with Wolter that Victorian copyists changed the texts:
Yes, one of the scholars said the Latin was not in the style that was typical of the age. However, we are working on a theory that they may have been copied by local scholars during the Civil War in order to preserve what they said. […] If they were copied by local Freemasons it would have taken a team of writers who knew different languages. With the nearby Greeneville College which taught classical languages it's very possible.
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it does not take experts to copy. Anyone of minimal literacy can look at text and copy it. High schoolers plagiarize that way all the time. You do not need to know what text means to scrawl the letters on paper. Indeed, many medieval texts were copied by scribes who had only minimal knowledge of the texts, as evidenced by transcription errors both unfortunate and hilarious. It may take experts to translate texts, but not to write out a copy of them.
Meanwhile, Muir said that she tried to have the pages of the Sinclair journals DNA tested (!) but elected not to reveal the results of those tests:
Yes, I had asked to have one of the journal pages tested for DNA because there appeared to be a blood spot on the last page of Henry's journals. I also wanted DNA run on the lambskin map. At the time I had all the originals, However, now without them, we aren't able to repeat the process and I've chosen not to reveal those results.
And what would those results possibly show? Since the body of Henry is long gone, even if there were recoverable DNA, you aren’t going to match it to Henry. There are enough living Sinclair clansmen (legitimate, illegitimate, and fake) that any “connection,” should one be found, would be all but meaningless at 700 years’ remove—particularly since the living Sinclair family members haven’t been shy about promoting fakery around their family name.
Muir previously said that she disposed of all of the journals after translating them into modern English by burying them. She said that she now feels that this action is “mortifying,” but she has made no effort to recover the supposed journals.
Muir also told Wolter’s readers that she chose to block me on Twitter after accusing me of lying about replying to her tweet asking me to look at her book. After she contacted me on Twitter and requested that I examine the book, I had asked her to provide evidence supporting the claims that the journals were authentic. She declined to respond. She now says that it was a “mass tweet,” though she specifically tweeted the message to me individually (all tweets are “mass tweets” unless specifically tagged @ a handle), and she never saw the response before accusing me of lying. “I sent out a tweet about the book so that I could reach more people. Probably the first tweet in a very long time. I didn't ignore his message. I simply didn't see it until a few days ago and then made certain he was blocked. I choose not to endorse his type of journalism.” She prefers the type where you simply believe without proof that two dozen medieval journals are buried in a secret garbage pile because their translator didn’t think it important to keep them. (Her complaint that I priced her book wrong is also untrue; the listing she sent me via Twitter gave the price as $95; she changed it to $45 afterward. The original listing is no longer active, and the price has changed in the newest listing to $40.)
I’ll just finish up with this telling bon mot from Wolter, who now suggests that Templarism existed far beyond the formal membership of the Knights Templar: “Did it ever occur to you that being a ‘Templar’ begins first and foremost ‘in your heart’?” Sure it does. Aren’t we all really secret goddess cultists deep inside?
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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