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Mark’s Other Gospel

Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery

Scott G. Brown

Publication Year: 2005

Did the evangelist Mark write two versions of his gospel? According to a letter ascribed to Clement of Alexandria, Mark created a second, more spiritual edition of his gospel for theologically advanced Christians in Alexandria. Clement’s letter contains two excerpts from this lost gospel, including a remarkably different account of the raising of Lazarus.

Forty-five years of cursory investigation have yielded five mutually exclusive paradigms, abundant confusion, and rumours of forgery. Strangely, one of the few things upon which most investigators agree is that the letter’s own explanation of the origin and purpose of this longer gospel need not be taken seriously.

Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery calls this pervasive bias into question. After thoroughly critiquing the five main paradigms, Scott G. Brown demonstrates that the gospel excerpts not only sound like Mark, but also employ Mark’s distinctive literary techniques, deepening this gospels theology and elucidating puzzling aspects of its narrative. This mystic gospel represents Mark’s own response to the Alexandrian predilection to discover the essential truths of a philosophy beneath the literal level of revered texts.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Studies in Christianity and Judaism

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

A number of people contributed in important ways to the production of this book. Above all, I want to thank my family for all the encouragement and support they gave me. Without their patience and generosity, this book would never have come about. ...

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pp. xi-xiv

A few of my conventions require explanation. Most readers are struck by my aversion to the title the Secret Gospel of Mark. This title is a translation of the words mystikon euangelion, which Clement of Alexandria used in his Letter to Theodore to describe a longer version of Mark’s gospel that was used only in Alexandria (II.6, 12). ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xv-xvi

The Letter to Theodore

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pp. xvii-xxiii

Part 1: Rethinking the Dominant Paradigms

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1: A Longer, Esoteric Version of Mark's Gospel

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pp. 3-22

High up in the tower of the ancient desert monastery of Mar Saba, about twenty kilometres southeast of Jerusalem, is a small, dilapidated library where books and manuscripts centuries-old lie in various configurations under ever-deepening layers of dust. More like an attic than a library, it houses reading materials that long ago ceased to be of interest to the monks. ...

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2: The Question of Authenticity of the Letter to Theodore

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pp. 23-74

For decades, discussion of the “secret” gospel has been dominated by two notions: It is a highly dubious document. It is the predecessor of the canonical gospel. Not surprisingly, to the degree that liberal scholars endorse the latter idea, conservative scholars invoke the former. ...

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3: Longer Mark's Relation to Other Gospels

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pp. 75-120

The longer gospel’s version of the raising of a dead man in Bethany is strikingly different from the story in John 11. LGM 1a is much shorter, less elaborate, and frequently at odds with John’s details. Quite naturally, scholars have attempted to puzzle out the relationship between these two accounts. ...

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4: The Nature of the Longer Gospel

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pp. 121-143

The Letter to Theodore tells us a great deal about how Clement conceived of the origin and proper use of the longer Gospel of Mark. Elaborating upon received tradition, he informed Theodore that Mark had created this “more spiritual” gospel in Alexandria by expanding the gospel that he had created in order to strengthen the faith of catechumens. ...

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5: The Original Purpose and Later Use of the Longer Gospel

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pp. 144-162

In the preceding chapter I argued that the Letter to Theodore refers not to a secret, ritual text but to a gospel that developed the “spiritual” or concealed meanings of the Markan narrative; in Clement’s day it was being expounded anagogically to advanced Christians as a means of communicating the esoteric theological mysteries of the Alexandrian church. ...

Part 2: Analysis of Markan Literary Techniques

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6: Longer Mark's Use of Intercalation

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pp. 165-179

Clement’s description of longer Mark as a “mystic” or “more spiritual gospel” suggests that the added passages focused not so much on the outer facts of Jesus’ life (the “body” of the text) as on the inner theological significance (the “spirit”). To a careless or uninstructed reader, Mark’s most profound mysteries remained concealed behind a literary veil. ...

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7: Longer Mark's Use of Framing Stories

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pp. 180-197

Intercalation is not the only Markan framing device employed by the author of LGM 1 and 2. By adding these fifteen verses he managed to situate the final (Jerusalem) section of the gospel between two strikingly similar raising miracles. These stories share many distinctive features. ...

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8: Longer Mark's Use of Verbal Echoes

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pp. 198-214

The preceding two chapters examined the longer gospel’s use of two familiar Markan framing techniques: intercalation and matched pairs. This chapter will explore the additional interpretative moves encouraged by the numerous echoes of Markan phrases that exist within LGM 1. ...

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9: Conclusions

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pp. 215-238

The fifteen verses from longer Mark quoted in Clement’s letter elaborate the main discipleship teaching of Mark’s central section, namely, that whoever would come after Jesus must be willing to deny self in imitation of Jesus’ passion. Mark’s Jesus describes the way to salvation through...


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pp. 239-281


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pp. 283-312

Modern Authors Index

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pp. 313-317

Ancient Sources Index

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pp. 318-327

Subject Index

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pp. 328-332

E-ISBN-13: 9780889209237
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889204614
Print-ISBN-10: 0889204616

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Studies in Christianity and Judaism