The Secret Gospel of Mark

In 1958 at the Mar Saba Monastery southeast of Jerusalem, Professor Morton Smith made an amazing discovery while cataloging the library there. He found a letter written to someone named Theodore. The letter is believed to be by Clement of Alexandria. In this letter, the author makes mention of a "Secret Gospel of Mark". The author of the letter goes so far as to quote two sections from the gospel. The author also alludes to a complete text which is in the possession of the Church at Alexandria but is kept secret. Below are the two sections (and where they belong in the Gospel of Mark) that we know about, followed by the fragment of the letter thought to be from Clement.

The Secret Gospel of Mark

The first fragment is to be found between Mark 10:34 and 10:35 -

And they came into Bethany and a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she knelt down before Jesus and said to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus got angry with them and went off with her into the garden where the tomb was. Right away there was a loud cry from inside the tomb. Then Jesus rolled away the stone from in front of the tomb. He went in where the youth was and stretched forth his hand and raised him up. The youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beg him to be with him. They they left the tomb and went to the young man's house, for he was rich. Six days later, Jesus gave him instructions of what to do and in the evening the youth came to him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body. He remained with him that night, for Jesus thaught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And when Jesus woke up, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.

The second fragment is to be found between Mark 10:46a and 10:46b -

And the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus did not receive them.

The Letter Attributed to Clement

To Theodore.

You did well in silencing the unspeakable teachings of the Carpocrations. For these are "wandering stars" referred to in the prophecy, who wander from the narrow road of the commandments into a boundless abyss of the carnal and bodily sins. For, priding themselves in knowledge, as they say, "of the deep things of Satan, they do not know that they are casting themselves away into "the netherworld of the darkness" of falseness, and boasting that they are free, they have become slaves of servile desires. Such men are to be opposed in all ways and alltogether. For, even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, even so, agree with them. For not all true things are the truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be prefered to the true truth, that according to the faith.

Now of the things they keep saying about the divinely inspired Gospel according to Mark, some are altogether falsifications, and others, even if they do contain some true elements, nevertheless are not reported truely. For the true things being mixed with inventions, are falsified , so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor.

As for Mark, then, during Peter`s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord`s doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former books the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue , lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautionously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initated into the great mysteries.

But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them and using deceitful arts, so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the secret Gospel, which he both interpreted according to his blasphemous and carnal doctrine and, moreover, polluted, mixing with the spotless and holy words utterly shameless lies. From this mixture is withdrawn off the teaching of the Carpocratians.

To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way ; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath. For, "For not all true things are to be said to all men". For this reason the Wisdom of God, through Solomon, advises, "Answer the fool with his folly," , teaching that the light of the truth should be hidden from those who are mentally blind. Again it says, "From him who has not shall be taken away" and "Let the fool walk in darkness". But we are "children of Light" having been illuminated by "the dayspring" of the spirit of the Lord "from on high", and "Where the Spirit of the Lord is" , it says, "there is liberty", for "All things are pure to the pure".

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:

"And they came into Bethany and a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she knelt down before Jesus and said to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus got angry with them and went off with her into the garden where the tomb was. Right away there was a loud cry from inside the tomb. Then Jesus rolled away the stone from in front of the tomb. He went in where the youth was and stretched forth his hand and raised him up. The youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beg him to be with him. They they left the tomb and went to the young man's house, for he was rich. Six days later, Jesus gave him instructions of what to do and in the evening the youth came to him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body. He remained with him that night, for Jesus thaught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And when Jesus woke up, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."

And these words follow the text, "And James and John come to him" and all that section. But "naked man with naked man" and the other things about which you wrote, are not found.

And after the words,"And he comes into Jericho," the secret Gospel adds only, "And the sister of the young man whom Jesus loved was there, along with his mother and Salome, but Jesus did not receive them." But many other things about which you wrote both seem to be and are falsifications.



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