The Secret Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is thought to be the oldest surviving written Gospel. Over the years scribes have introduced some major expansions in the text most famously at the end. [Verses 9 through 20 in Chapter 16 of canonical Mark are later additions.]
The Secret Gospel of Mark is a version of Mark that was in use in Alexandria by at least the first quarter of the second century. It was unknown to the modern world until a fragment of it, barely a page in length, was uncovered in 1958.

The gospel surfaced in a fragment of an ancient letter written by Clement of Alexandria (circa 150-213 CE) A near consensus of Clementine scholars vouch for the letter's authenticity. The Gospel was apparently similar to canonical Mark but included extra passages intended for those insiders who had a higher degree of initiation into the church.

Many scholars suggest evidences that the authors Matthew and Luke did not use what we know as the Gospel of Mark as an aide in formulating their own Gospels but used instead The Secret Gospel of Mark from which some, but not all of the esoteric passages have been removed. Here is an excerpt:

"And Jesus got angry and went with her into the garden where the tomb was." … "Then Jesus went up and rolled away the stone…" " He went right in where the young man was, stuck out his hand, grabbed him by the hand , and raised him up. The young man looked at Jesus, loved him, and began to beg him to be with him." Then they left the tomb and went into the young man’s house." ... "Six days later Jesus gave him an order; and when evening had come, the young man went to him, dressed only in a linen cloth. He spent that night with him, because Jesus taught him the mystery of God’s domain." … … "The sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus refused to see them."

There is a puzzling phrase in canonical Mark that suggests something was edited out:
Mark 10:46 "Then they came to Jerico. As he was leaving Jerico..."
What happened in Jerico?

Apparently this short fragment from Secret Mark belonged there between the entering and the leaving: The sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus refused to see them.

If we reinsert the paragraph it makes sense and reads like this:

Then they came to Jerico. The sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus refused to see them. As he was leaving Jerico...

If you were to go to your bookcase and take down the King James version of the Bible and turn to Mark 14:43-55 you would read the following:

And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.
And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
And they laid their hands on him, and took him.
And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. And they all forsook him, and fled.
And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes.
And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.
And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none.

  1. Who is this strange young man who appears out of nowhere in the Garden of Gethsemane story following Jesus?
    "And there followed him a certain young man,"

  2. Why was he nearly naked?
    "having a linen cloth cast about his naked body"

  3. Why did the young men seize him?
    "the young men laid hold on him"

  4. Why did he take off his clothes?
    "And he left the linen cloth"

  5. Why did he run away naked?
    "and fled from them naked.

Doesn't this insert seem bizarre in the middle of the Garden of Gethsemane story? The young man's role in the narrative is utterly baffling. He is dressed in exactly the same way as the young man in secret Mark. He is not mentioned elsewhere in any of the other gospels. Could this be one of those esoteric passages that somehow escaped an edit?

Of course had Jesus really been gay, as a reading of the above text might suggest, history would have been different in ten important ways:

  1. The Last Supper would have been brunch.
  2. The beatitudes would start, "Fabulous are they....."
  3. Jesus' Triumphal Entry In Jerusalem would have been a drag number.
  4. The water at the wedding feast of Canna would not have been changed to wine, but to extra dry Bombay Sapphire martinis with a touch of Curacao for color.
  5. The temple would not have been cleansed of money changers, just redecorated.
  6. Mary's hair would have been flawless.
  7. The Gospels would be Matthew, Mark, Lance and Bruce.
  8. Priests would have affairs with altar boys......wait, never mind....
  9. Jesus would never wear white after Labor Day.
  10. The sermon on the Mount would have been a musical.

In forming conclusions about the "secret" gospel, one must realize that although at the time of discovery it was accepted by experts in the field as genuine; they were working with photocopies of the document using textual criticism and other validation methods of their time. The original seems to be lost somewhere in a monastery and has never been subjected to modern radioactive dating proceedures. The man who discovered the document was himself gay and seems to have had the means, method, and opportunity for forgery.

The complete Gospels, by Miller, which makes available all the principal texts required for critical study of the early Gospel tradition includes the complete fragment of The Secret Gospel of Mark.

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