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.

Mark's text is the most uncertain for the gospel ending, the resurrection story, is missing and how you cannot prove it is all there. As Erhman tells us in Lost Christianities, "It is worth observing that the Gospel of Mark itself is hardly ever cited in the early centuries of Christianity, even in the writings of the proto-orthodox.” And “the archaeological finds of early Christian manuscripts bear out the conclusion that the Gospel of Mark was not widely read.”

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.

Clement transcribed portions of Mark's Gospel in this letter.  These portions were deliberately kept secret by the Church. We do not know if the early Church and the Church of his day was doing that with the other gospels too. It had to have been though.  Many authors have authenticated it too.  Many say it was an early addition to the gospel.  It is consistent with being in the original.

The texts were kept secret for suggesting Jesus was gay. It is clear from it that he had to have been and using homosexuality in a religious context but does not say it outright. Clement complained about such interpretations among heretics.

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 man." The way the letter complains mostly about the heretics and devotes only a third to the hidden text argues for it being authentic.

It is important to note that Clement gives no evidence, only a bare assertion, his own opinion, that the gay sex material was fake.  This is telling.  If something like that happens you need to point the reader to the real texts but he could not.

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. Jesus took him by the hand and he was alive. 

[He was clearly alive all along for he hadn't rotted.  Tombs were unclean if they had corpses in them.  And the man was not in his burial bandages.]

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 reads, "And the sister of the young man that Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and with Salome. And Jesus would not receive them".

Anyway there is no doubt that Jesus was in a relationship with the young man.

You cannot be blamed for wondering if Jesus raised a man from the dead to have sex with him. 

Why the mention of the man being rich?  Was Jesus selling his body? 

The mystery of the kingdom of God seems to indicate a night of sex. 

Jesus gets rid of the man and resumes his ministry. 

God's law in the Torah demanded that magic workers be slain without letting them use any excuse.  In terms of Jewish law, the gospel would provide verification of the persistent Jewish allegation, older than the New Testament itself, that Jesus was not a miracle worker but was doing evil magic.  The law of God would see raising a man from the dead for homoerotic reasons as a terrible abomination and proof that it was evil witchcraft.  Raising a man for the purpose of illicit sex is one abomination.  The sex is another.  The sex is taking place with a formerly dead man which is another.  Jesus treats him like a one night stand so it keeps getting worse. 

A resurrection for a vile purpose is casting doubt on whether God really did raise Jesus from the dead.  If Jesus rose then he only seemed to or Satan raised him.  The alarming thing is these interpretations fit how the standard text of Mark has Jesus objecting severely to being called good teacher.  He was not called good man but good teacher.  This is a man who is very conscious of doing wrong.  The demons are the first to say Jesus is God's son so he lets them say it when he could stop them in the first place.  He even sends demons out of a man into pigs who go mad and drown themselves leaving the demons free again to look for a new home and pigs are dead in the process!   He was no true enemy of the demons!  A bad Jesus with a dubious resurrection like the girl in the gospel who was supposedly dead  but who Jesus said was sleeping fits how Mark ends on a note that does not want to discuss Jesus' resurrection and hints at there being nothing theologically or spiritually special in it.


Clement goes, To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel. For example, after "And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem" and what follows, until "After three days he shall arise", the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word-


They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.

Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

"And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, "son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’

Nothing apart from the letter indicates that the text was in ever in Mark.  There is only silence from the manuscript witnesses. 

They came to Bethany in the Secret Gospel is an error for the apostles were going in the direction of Jericho.  Bethany lay beyond Jericho so there was no way they could have reached it first,. 

The Carpocratians were not around until the mid-second century and how could a new fringe group have such a private gospel? 

"Even if we accept the authenticity of the letter of Clement and grant that he knew a ‘Secret Gospel’, it suffices to posit a mid-second-century date for its composition.’, Klauck, ‘Apocryphal Gospels: An introduction’, p. 35 (2003).  ‘If the jury is still out, it is seeming more and more likely that their verdict will be that the work is a modern forgery or hoax.’, Collins, & Attridge, ‘Mark: A Commentary’.

ANSWERS: There is no Jericho until Mark 10:46.  It is not relevant in this discussion.  There was Bethany near Jerusalem and Bethany beyond Jordan which is in the Jericho region.  The Bethany was not out of the way when Jesus said they were going to Jerusalem. The Bethany linked to Lazarus in the gospel of John was near Jerusalem.  There seems to be link between Bethebara or Bethany beyond Jordan and baptism rites as we can see in the John gospel.

If they were heading to Jericho when a crisis, an alleged death, had taken place that Bethany was not out of the way.  They detour on their way to Jericho.  That is the "far away" Bethany.  But which Bethany? 

The mystery of the kingdom reads like Jesus taught the youth in the cave he would die and rise again.  You have two mysteries - the one in the cave and immediately after the one about his death and resurrection.  The regular text has him telling the apostles that this would happen.  So there is a link. 

If Clement had the gospel why could the Carpocratians not have it?  He said they got it from a priest.

The Secret Gospel goes out of its way to say Jesus was enraged at being called Son of David or Messiah by a woman.  This fits the whole ethos of Mark where Jesus tries to keep it private until the end of his ministry.  It would make you ask if that if the material has been tampered with if that bit is real.  The notion that Jesus was angered at the disciples makes no sense.  They tell her off and Jesus is angry means he was angry with them at her.

The text without the secret portion has people following Jesus and some are afraid and others are astonished and we are not told why.  The text shows there is something missing there that can be supplemented by the secret gospel story.

An early date is favoured for the text Clement gives.  This is not saying Mark wrote it but it may as well say it.  He could have done.  And to say the text was around in the mid second century is to proclaim the letter authentic.  As for the jury saying it is a hoax that is too extreme.  That cannot be said when the gospel text fits an early origin.

 We have Jesus saying he would rise and then we learn from Secret Mark that resurrection may not really mean somebody coming back from the dead.  Then we have Jesus teaching the lad a mystery of the kingdom in the Secret Gospel and then we have James and John coming to ask for a place in glory.

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