Geoffrey S. Smith and Brent C. Landau, "The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Controversial Scholar, a Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, and the Fierce Debate Over Its Authenticity" (Yale UP, 2023)


In The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Controversial Scholar, a Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, and the Fierce Debate Over Its Authenticity (Yale University Press, 2023), Geoffrey S. Smith and Brent C. Landau present the background and historical context to a groundbreaking account of the Secret Gospel of Mark, one of the most hotly debated documents in Christian history. 

In 1958, at the ancient Christian monastery of Mar Saba just outside Jerusalem, Columbia University scholar Morton Smith claimed to have unearthed a letter written by the Christian philosopher Clement of Alexandria and containing an excerpt from a previously unknown version of the canonical Gospel of Mark. This excerpt recounts a story of Jesus's apparent sexual encounter with a young, resurrected disciple. In recent years, an influential group of researchers has alleged that no Secret Gospel or letter of Clement existed in antiquity, and that the manuscript that Morton Smith "found" was a modern forgery--created by none other than Smith himself. 

Smith Landau enter into the controversy surrounding this document and argue that the Secret Gospel of Mark is neither a first-century alternative gospel nor a twentieth-century forgery by the scholar who announced its discovery. Instead, this account is intimately bound up with the history of Mar Saba, one of the oldest monasteries in the Christian world. In this fascinating work, Smith and Landau present the realities and misconceptions surrounding not only the now-lost manuscript but also its brilliant, enigmatic, and acerbic discoverer, Morton Smith.

Your Host

David Kunsman

View Profile