07 July 2021

Implausible hoax doctrine

    The most scholarly work published thus far about the Oera Linda-book was a dissertation by Goffe Jensma. (1) It presents a theory in which a triumvirate, backed by several co-conspirators, produced the manuscript in order to initially fool their intended audience and eventually, when their victims would have understood the prank, make a theological statement. A basic assumption of the study was that it had to be a 19th century fictional creation.

  1. De Gemaskerde God — François HaverSchmidt en het Oera Linda-boek ('The Masked God'), 2004, defended at the Faculty of Theology at Groningen University. It has an English summary, accessible at www.academia.edu/619642.
Goffe Jensma
De Gemaskerde God (2004) dissertation by Jensma
Dutch translation (2006) by Jensma

    The three creators would have been pastor and poet Haverschmidt (1835-1894), his friend the librarian and linguist Verwijs (1830-1880), and royal navy shipyard superintendent Over de Linden (1811-1874). While the first two were known to have been college friends, Haverschmidt would have had to get to know Over de Linden well enough in the 1.5 year (December 1862 to July 1864) that he was one of three pastors at the Den Helder parish of 9,300 members. Over de Linden was known to not be a church-goer, he was a generation older than the pastor, was (grand)father and remarried as a widower in May 1863. The 28 year old Haverschmidt got married in August 1863 and would one year later become father. Both will have had other things on their mind — not least of all to work for a living — than concocting a highly advanced (and potentially dangerous) mystification.

Haverschmidt (1835-1894)
Verwijs (1830-1880)
Over de Linden (1811-1874)

    After the two supposedly would have gotten acquainted, they would have had to mostly work together with Verwijs through mail, as the pastor moved to Schiedam in 1864 and the linguist lived in Leeuwarden, hours of travel separating the three of them.

    However, most implausible of all circumstances was that the intelligent and talented Verwijs would have risked not only losing his career, but also being criminally prosecuted. After all, having examined the manuscript in 1867, he initially concluded that it was "irrefutably authentic" and "an ancestral manuscript, copied many times", (1) asking the Frisian Provincial Executive permission to negotiate a purchase from the owner as well as funds to have it copied and translated. (2)

  1. Letters Verwijs to Over de Linden, October 13 and 19, 1867.
  2. 'Gedeputeerde Staten', the executive branch of government of a province in the Netherlands.

    If the manuscript would have been intended to be obviously fake at second consideration, as Jensma theorized, Verwijs' request would have been unforgivable, if he would have been complicit. And even if the three creators would have agreed to keep their teamwork a secret, would Verwijs have had reason to trust especially Over de Linden, whom he could hardly have gotten to know well and who, like he, was known to be a drinker and thus could easily have talked past his mouth?

    What if King William III would have insisted to see the manuscript and what if he would have taken offense at the anti-monarchist sentiments expressed in the work? If it had been a joke, it was a very dangerous one. As it was later stated: "Some see [it] as the deceptive masterpiece of dark powers, created with the apparent goal of undermining the foundations of church and society." (1)
  1. Dr. M. de Jong in his foreword of Het Geheim van het Oera-Linda-Boek (The Secret of the OLB), 1927.
King William (1817-1890)
    In a publication about Germanic words for woman, (1) Verwijs suggested that the name of the town Vronen was derived from the Old-Frisian word FRÁN (Dutch vroom; sacred, pious), while in Oera Linda the original form FOR.ÁNA (Dutch voor-aan; in front) is suggested. He published much more about etymology. If he really created the Fryas language, it should be possible to identify his signature. However, in the meticulous studies that tried to prove him guilty, such evidence was never found.
  1. De namen der vrouw bij den Germaan, 1863.
Verwijs (1863)

    Jensma's three suspects all had a life. They were not hermits with unlimited time or resources. Even if they would have had the time and skills to create it, as well as the courage to possibly enrage the establishment, would they have taken the risk that the manuscript remained unnoticed? If Ottema had not translated and published it, hardly anyone would have known it ever existed. Would none of them have wanted any credit for it, if only posthumously?

    Before theorizing about possible modern creators, it should first be compellingly proven that it cannot possibly be a 13th century copy, or a copy thereof. If it would be a 19th century fantasy, loosely based on a selection of sources, this should have become ever more evident in the last 150 years, but the opposite is the case.

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