Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark

What Smith found in 1958:

In the Mar Saba monastic library (near Jerusalem

--An early edition of writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch (printed)

--An 18th c. handwritten copy of a letter (in Greek) in the blank pages at the end

--A letter of St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200 C.E.

--Describing two gospels of Mark, one for everyone and one for the "spiritually advanced" with quotes from the second one

--That are not in the gospel of Mark we now have

What Smith did:

Photocopied the three pages but did not translate them

What the text says:

Letter is responding to questions about the Carpocratians, a Christian sect that claimed that "anything goes" (kind of like the Corinthians in Paul's letters)


--All things are to be possessed in common (property, bodies)

--Souls trapped in bodies until bodies have every possible kind of experience

--Claim authority for these teachings in Mark, but Clement claims they have falsified and misinterpreted Mark

Clement's claims about Mark's gospel:

Mark based his gospel based on his acquaintance with Peter in Rome

In Alexandria Mark composed a second, "more spiritual" gospel

Carpocrates had a copy of this gospel, and had added some things to it

Three versions of Mark in Alexandria: canonical Mark, "secret" Mark, and Carpocratian Mark

Clement quotes two passages from "secret" Mark

The Significant Quote:

Jesus raises a young man from the dead, who comes to him later naked "with a linen cloth" and Jesus spend the night teaching him "the secrets of the Kingdom"

Relevant Data:

--There was a book containing letters of Ignatius

--Smith photographed the three pages at the end

--The letter is written in 18th century Greek script

--The writing style is like Clement

--The quotes are like Mark

--The letter was later cut out of the book and is missing