The Secret Gospel of Mark (also called “Secret Mark”) has been controversial for some time (click here for an overview). Aside from purporting to be another gospel, the controversy is primarily about a passage in it that has dialogue between Jesus and an unnamed disciple that is interpreted by some as having homosexual undertones.
At the conferences I attended last week, an entire session was devoted to Secret Mark. Recent work by Stephen Carlson has called the text’s authenticity into serious question. Carlson believes the discoverer, Morton Smith, forged the document. (Incredibly, Bart Ehrman is on his side – let’s give Bart points where they’re due). Others, however, think it’s genuine, at least in terms of the text. Since Secret Mark actually never says anything sexual happened between Jesus and this disciple, and the language used is not euphemistic for sexual activity, real scholars who accept Secret Mark as genuine don’t support the “archaeo-porn” crowd’s1 “interpretation” of that passage. I thought readers might be interested in a couple summaries of the Secret Mark session to get an idea where the debate is at the moment. Here’s one and a second.
- I speak here of pseudo-researchers like Simcha Jacobovici, Michael Baigent, and Dan Brown who, for sake of material gain, rape ancient texts and manipulate archaeological work by titillating readers with bogus data and wacky interpretations of data. ↩