Secret Gospel of Mark
Additional Information


Additional Online Resources



The label Secret Gospel of Mark designates two passages which are supposed to be part of an ancient, expanded version of the Gospel of Mark. The secret passages were only intended to be read by those who had been thoroughly initiated into the mysteries of the ancient Alexandrian church, not by all Christians. Information about the secret passages comes from a letter of Clement of Alexandria which was first discovered by Morton Smith in 1958 at a monastery in Mar Saba, Israel. The question of whether the letter is genuine of not has never been completely resolved, although many Clementine and New Testament scholars have accepted it as genuine.

There are at least three different theories about the origin of the Secret Gospel of Mark. Various moden scholars have asserted that the text is: 1.) a modern forgery engineered by Morton Smith (or someone else); 2.) a medieval forgery by an unknown individual; or 3.) an authentic fragment from antiquity. If the Secret Gospel of Mark is authentic, then two other possibilities are reasonable: 1.) it was written by the same person who wrote the Gospel of Mark, as Clement argues; or 2.) it was added later by some unknown writer, presumably from the Alexandria Church. Unfortunately, the present location of the manuscript containing this text is unknown (lost?) and none of the arguments denying or confirming Secret Mark's authenticity is conclusive.



Manuscript Information

  • Handwritten on the back of 1646 Edition of the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch
    (Greek, Eighteenth century)


English Translations

  • Cameron, Ron, ed. The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Texts. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982.
  • Ehrman, Bart D., ed. The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Elliott, J.K., ed. The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993.
  • Miller, Robert J., ed. The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version. Rev and enl. ed. Sonoma: Polebridge, 1994.
  • Schneemelcher, Wilhem, ed. Gospels and Related Writings. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. Vol. 1 of New Testament Apocrypha. Rev. ed. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1991.
  • Smith, Morton. The Secret Gospel: The Discovery and Interpretation of the Secret Gospel According to Mark. Clearlake: Harper and Row, 1982.


Ancient Language Editions

  • Smith, Morton. Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973.
    • Greek Text
    • Manuscript Photos