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THE SECRET GOSPEL OF MARK
 
The Gospel of Mark is the most important one for it is the first and gives the framework for the other gospels.  Luke and Matthew used a lot of it to create their own "accounts".

 

The fact that Luke and Matthew use word for word stories about Jesus that are not in Mark may indicate:


They have a lost gospel


Or that they belong to our present Mark but are deleted.

 

There is evidence that the Gospel of Mark that we now have was part of a much larger work. Large parts of it were left out in the revisions that left us with our present version. The missing parts were kept secret and only very high level Christians were allowed to see them. These parts were still hidden for well over a century after the gospel was written.

Professor Morton Smith found a transcription of a letter written by Clement of Alexandria in the monastery of Mar Saba that was written into the endpaper of a copy of the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch dating from the 1600’s. Mar Saba is near Jerusalem. Concerning this letter which the Professor believed to be genuine “some experts think it could have been the work of Clement” (page 111, The Bible, Fact or Fantasy?). Smith wrote a book called The Secret Gospel in defence of its authenticity.

In Jesus, The Evidence, Ian Wilson implies that the secret gospel is probably authentic when he asks if the letter really came from Clement’s pen and states that the majority of today’s scholars concur that it is (page 27).

It is important that John Drane does not attempt to dispute the Clement letter’s authenticity in his book, The Bible, Fact or Fantasy? Nor does he tackle it in his other book, Jesus and the Four Gospels.
 
Some hope that Smith forged it. Indeed if he had, he would not have put in a testimony from Clement that Mark wrote the gospel under Peter's guidance which contradicted scholarly opinion. The Church lied from the start about who wrote the gospels. In fact nobody knows for sure who wrote the four gospels (page 18, Decoding Mark). Decoding Mark shows the gospel is very hostile to the twelve apostles so it is hard to imagine Peter helping Mark with the gospel or Mark using his data. Jesus in Mark asks the disciples if their hearts are hardened which shows he thought they could be totally depraved monsters. Decoding Mark page 24 explains that this was extremely serious - in Jewish thinking and literature the expression hardened heart meant extreme disobedience, loss of salvation and made one dead spiritually. Mark especially has it in for Peter (page 41). No wonder we don't find any lies about Jesus saying, "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church" or have Mark making a pope out of him.
 
Consider this, “The majority of the scholars consulted accepted the ascription to Clement” (page 301, The Canon of Scripture). Consider also, critics have been forced to falsely claim that the photos of the letter that Smith has which are the only evidence of the letter’s existence are bad pictures and that parts of the text have been cropped. The owners of the manuscript have verified its existence though one of them is the Church leader Archimandrite Meliton of Jerusalem. He wouldn’t want to help defend the secret gospel for his faith told him it was evil heresy. The way the secret gospel fits in with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi codices indicates authenticity. Read The Strange Case of the Secret Gospel According to Mark by Shawn Eyer (Alexandria: The Journal for the Western Cosmological Traditions, Volume 3 (1995), pp. 103-129).
 
The monks who had the book which contained the letter were unlikely to have fabricated such a heretical letter. No forger would have expected his forgery to get anywhere so it was not worth doing. And the other monks who read it must have accepted it as authentic when they did not destroy the pages.
 
The letter is incomplete which adds to it being likely to have been authentic. It stopped in the middle of the page of the book it was copied into.
 
The letter resembles what Clement would have written. It has lots of affinities with his style and choice of words.
 
The eighteenth century handwriting shows that the letter would have been transcribed a number of times since it was written by Clement. That is why nobody can point to this word or that sentence structure being unlike Clement to declare that it was not Clement’s work. Changes and errors would have crept in. But they are so minor and few that they do not cast doubt on authorship. They would if they were serious and/or numerous.
 
Clement in the letter stated that Mark wrote his gospel. Later in Alexandria, Mark wrote a more spiritual gospel. A sect called the Carpocratians got hold of it and were altering it.
 
The letter complains that the heretics, the Carpocratians, were using hidden portions of Mark’s Gospel and putting in insertions to make it seem to advocate sexual vice. For example, they put in, "Naked man with naked way." The way the letter complains mostly about the heretics and devotes only a third to the hidden text argues for it being authentic.
 
The letter contained the text of a gospel story that is missing from the version of Mark we have today. The letter declared that the portion in question along with other portions must be kept away from the public. Concerning this letter which the Professor believed to be genuine “some experts think it could have been the work of Clement” (page 111, The Bible, Fact or Fantasy?). Smith wrote a book called The Secret Gospel in defence of its authenticity.
 
The story says that Jesus went to Bethany and a woman whose brother had died asked Jesus for mercy. The apostles rebuked her and Jesus being angry went with her into the garden where the brother's tomb was. A shout was heard from within the tomb and Jesus went and rolled the stone away and he raised the brother. The brother saw Jesus and loved him and wanted to be with him and then Jesus went to his house for he was rich. Six days later Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom during a night long ceremony in which the brother wore only a white robe over his nakedness. Then Jesus was said to have gone back over the Jordan. Another portion we are given says that the sister and Salome and Jesus' mother were snubbed by him.

The hidden gospel text does not clearly downgrade Jesus or add anything to Christian belief that doesn't belong to it. All it does it show that the Church gave us an edited version of the gospel and was hiding a lot of the data about Jesus. A forger would be expected to invent some clear heresy to put in it so that controversy would rage and scandalise Christians. Anybody who tried to add to the gospel could not like Christianity but the forger gave no real hint of that so there was no forger. Some would say the mere existence of the letter was a heresy for it said the Church was using scriptures that couldn't be depended on for there were bits dropped out of them and that the scriptures were tampered with. But it would only be a serious heresy for a Church that claimed to infallibly declare that scripture was complete like the Roman Catholic Church has done. It is wiser to believe that the portion belongs in Mark's gospel than to believe we miraculously have the whole Bible that is inspired by God.

The letter uses the Western Reading, of Mark 10:46, like Clement tended to do (page 305, The Canon of Scripture).

It is claimed that the gospel text is fake for it shares some words and parallels with the other gospels which came after Mark. It is as if memories of the texts of the other gospels were introduced. But the transcriber is likely to have done that when the text was near enough to a text he had read before and was familiar with. Perhaps Clement did that when he wrote out sections of the secret gospel. Anyway some of the same gospel phrases could have been put in by Clement by chance. For example, Jesus taking the young man’s hand in the Clementine gospel may not have been remembered from the time in Mark and the other gospels when Jesus took the hand of the daughter of Jairus. People tend to use the same words when talking about somebody doing that.

The story of the man being found in the tomb by Jesus and learning the mystery of the kingdom reminds us of Lazarus who was raised from the dead in John’s gospel. Smith uses this similarity to authenticate the gospel. But it could just as easily be a different story for there is a huge difference in detail. No it is more likely to be a different one because it is not said that the man was dead. The story gives the lie to any suggestion of the man being dead for it says the man shouted from inside the tomb when Jesus arrived whereas in the Lazarus story Lazarus does not shout.  He rises when Jesus tells him. Jesus didn’t tell him to arise on arrival. He waited a while. Of the man in the Mark gospel it is not said that that his sisters mourned for him, that he loved Jesus before then like was said of Lazarus and has different details from the Lazarus story in John. Also, there is no resurrection at in the Mark story but a man being taught the mystery of the kingdom of God. The man is the rich young man and not Lazarus and is not called Lazarus. Yet Bruce says that the Clementine text must be forged when it has this story that is so similar to the story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John’s gospel. If it is another form of the Lazarus story then it is older than John’s account for it has no miracles and is simpler. We see that it does not even say that the young man in the tomb was dead. Remember he must have been alive for he shouted before Jesus went in. This was some kind of symbolic ritual – the man was buried alive for a ritual reason like some people believed in being buried in water for similar reasons.

If the secret gospel account is the original Lazarus story, then consider this. The fact that in John, Jesus wept for Lazarus implying that he did not know Lazarus could be brought back to life and then had the tomb opened implies that Lazarus must have shouted to him. John then hints that Lazarus was not raised by Jesus but was buried alive. This would be an important unintended clue that the secret gospel was real.

 

Smith would not have forged the gospel when it claims to be a secret gospel.  What forger makes the red light flash by saying his forgery is obscure for that means it is very likely to be fake?  No forger does that.

 

 Brown is by far the more persuasive - and better qualified to judge. His meticulously argued book presents many reasons why the hoax theory fails to stand up. For example, many of the literary characteristics used to identify the letter as Clement’s and the Gospel extracts as being from the same hand as Mark have only been recognised since Smith made his discovery public: neither he nor any other forger could have known about them when creating their hoax. Also, some of Smith’s original translation is now recognised as wrong (even the term ‘secret gospel’ itself); which would be very odd for a forger. The evidence is very much in favour of Clement’s letter being genuine. But much more significantly, it seems that the extracts of Mark he quotes are not just authentic, but actually come from the original gospel. It is the New Testament Gospel that was adulterated.

There is no real proof against the letter being real. It is real for the evidence says it is. The fact that Morton Smith has merely imagined the Lazarus connection and tried to twist the secret gospel into backing up his idea that early Christianity was a mystery occult religion and full of libertinism proves that he did not forge it. Yet many critics like to say he did for they have no other candidate for this alleged forging. Whoever wrote into the back of the book of the letters of Ignatius wrote it for himself and not for posterity for it was kept hidden so it was genuine.

 

Many flourishes in the text that are characteristic of Clement and Mark have been found that Smith himself was not aware of.

 

The critics seem so confident that the gospel is faked when they had to wait until Smith was safely out of the way in the grave before accusing him of trickery.
 

[Please read the book by Scott G Brown Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery.]


More recently, a book called Decoding Mark looks at how chaisms prove what parts of the gospel are Mark's work and which are the work of a possibly dishonest person and how the missing portion that is given to us in the Clement letter has chaisms that show it belongs to this gospel. Chaisms are poetic word patterns and contrasts. Luke used Mark to make his gospel and he left out a portion of it. Mark's work sticks to a pattern and a different pattern shows up in this portion. It wasn't in Luke's copy of Mark and the different pattern shows it was somebody else's work. In Mark's real writing, the pattern is broken at one point but if you insert the Secret Gospel portion the pattern becomes continuous. This book gives new evidence that the letter was not forged by Smith.
 
The way the contrasts and reverses of events are worked out in the chiasms would suggest to me to be too well done and that the stories were being made up. Scholar Mary Ann Tolbert of the Pacific School of Religion thinks that the construction of Mark shows that Mark is fiction and adds that the content and story indicates that too (page 144, Decoding Mark).
 
The Secret Gospel of Mark was kept only at Alexandria. This shows that the pope then was not considered to be the head of the Church. Top Christians alone were allowed to read the gospel and the exclusion of the bishop of Rome shows that the papacy was a later invention of the Church. The Secret Gospel shows that the Catholic idea that Jesus and Mary were very close and she was sinless is challenged by the refusal of Jesus to accept visits from her. Clement instructed in the letter that since the Secret Gospel has been leaked, those who inquire about these links and who ask if Mark wrote the gospel must be lied to. It is known that the early Church did resort to lying to promote the faith. Clement today is a saint of the Romish Church and the Orthodox Church. They honour fake saints and yet many of them believe canonisation is infallible.
 
The other thing that supports the letter's authenticity is how the ending seems to be missing from Mark. The endings we have are not authentic.
 
The secret gospel proves that the gospels were hidden so well – that even many harmless bits were hidden – that portions of them were lost forever. When the Church hid the story of Jesus being in the tomb with the young man it must have concealed the other ones with greater determination.  We conclude that the early Church tampered with its scriptures to create a religion of lies.
 
WRITINGS CONSULTED

Bible Dictionary and Concordance, New American Bible, 1970  
Early Christian Writings, Translated by Maxwell Staniforth, Penguin, London, 1987  
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995  
Evil and the God of Love, John Hick, Fontana/Fount, Glasgow, 1979  
Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, Karl Von Hase, Vols 1& 2, The Religious Tract Society, London, 1906  
He Walked Among Us, Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, Alpha, Cumbria, 2000  
Jesus – One Hundred Years Before Christ, Professor Alvar Ellegard, Century, London, 1999  
Jesus and the Four Gospels, John Drane, Lion, Herts, 1984  
Jesus the Evidence, Ian Wilson, Pan, London, 1985  
JR Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1988 (from 1891 Edition published by Macmillan and Co. London)  
New Age Bible Versions, GA Riplinger, Bible & Literature Missionary Foundation, Tennessee, 1993
On the True Doctrine, Celsus, Translated by R Joseph Hoffmann, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1987  
The Apostolic Fathers, B Lightfoot and JR Harmer, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1988, from 1891 Edition published by Macmillan and Co. London  
The Bible Fact or Fantasy, John Drane, Lion, Oxford, 1989  
The Canon of Scripture, FF Bruce, Chapter House, Glasgow, 1988
The Early Church, Henry Chadwick Pelican, London, 1987  
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief, Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985  
The First Christian, Karen Armstrong, Pan Books, London, 1983
The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels, Penguin, London, 1990
The History of Christianity, Lions, Herts, 1982  
The History of the Church, Eusebius, Penguin, London, 1989  
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, Corgi, London, 1982  
The Jesus Event, Martin R Tripole SJ, Alba House, New York, 1980
The Jesus Mysteries, Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, Thorsons, London, 1999
The Jesus Papyrus, Carsten Peter Thiede and Matthew D’Ancona, Phoenix, London, 1997  
The Lion Concise Book of Christian Thought, Tony Lane, Lion Publishing, Herts, 1984
The Nag Hammadi Library, Edited by J A Robinson, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990
The Newly Recovered Gospel of St Peter, J Rendle Harris, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1893
The Original Jesus, Tom Wright, Lion, Oxford, 1996
The Reconstruction of Belief, Charles Gore DD, John Murray, London, 1930  
The Secret Gospel, Morton Smith, Aquarian, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985  
The Strange Case of the Secret Gospel According to Mark by Shawn Eyer Alexandria: The Journal for the Western Cosmological Traditions, Volume 3, 1995  
The Unauthorised Version, Robin Lane Fox, Penguin, Middlesex, 1992

THE WWW
 
WERE THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN AUTHENTIC AND UNAUTHENTIC BOOKS? GLENN MILLER
www.christian-thinktank.com/dumdad2.html

THE GOSPEL OF MARCION AND THE GOSPEL OF LUKE COMPARED, CHARLES B WAITE
 www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/3827/wait2.htm

THE STRANGE CASE OF THE SECRET GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK, SHAWN EYER
www.globaltown.com/shawn/secmark.html

The “Historical” Jesus by Acharya S
www.truthbeknown.com/historicaljc.htm