The Secret Gospel of Mark
The 'Secret Gospel of Mark' describes a strange night-time encounter between Jesus and a youth. Professor Craig Evans discusses whether it is an ancient text or a modern forgery. Secret Mark consists of a couple of quotations from a letter by Clement of Alexandria, copied into the back of a printed seventeenth century book. We have no original manuscripts of Secret Mark, nor of the supposed letter by Clement. And now, even the seventeenth century book has disappeared. All we have are mid-twentieth century photographs. Seventh video in the 'Conspiracies and Secret Gospels' series.
When we first published this video, someone objected, on Youtube and Facebook, to some mistakes in what we said. These mistakes don't affect the central point of the video, but for the sake of accuracy, we're happy to correct them here:
- The book in question has not 'disappeared.' It can still apparently be found, but the two end pages on which the supposed letter of Clement were copied are missing. These pages have been torn out, and are apparently lost. So what the video says about the book is technically not correct. But the main point is still true: we don't have the supposed copy of Clement's letter - we only have the twentieth century photographs.
- More importantly, the 'Secret Mark' quotations do not say that the youth was naked. What they actually say is that he was wearing a linen cloth over his nakedness. It is a matter of debate whether this is intended to emphasize his essential nakedness, or to contradict the idea that he was naked.
- In the video, we talk loosely about someone copying Clement's letter into the back of a printed book in the 17th century. The book is dated 1646 (which makes it a 17th century book). The person who objected to what we said claimed that all the experts agree that the letter was copied in the 18th century, not the 17th, based on the style of writing. Given that some of the experts think that the letter is actually a 20th century forgery, I am not sure how this objection could be valid.
If you want to find out more, the Biblical Archaeology Review has carried extensive and even-handed coverage of the debate about the Secret Gospel of Mark.
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