In this thread I am discussing the discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark in 1958. Or was it the forgery of the Secret Gospel of Mark? Entire books have been written on the topic. My first foray into the fields was in my book Lost Christianities (Oxford Press, 2003). Here is how I begin to talk about the matter there:
We need to begin with the tale of the discovery, as recounted by Morton Smith himself in his sundry publications on the “Secret Gospel of Mark,” especially the two books published fifteen years after the discovery – one for a general audience, a beautifully written piece that reads like a detective novel, and one for scholars, a detailed linguistic and philological analysis of the text and its significance.
In 1941, as a twenty-six year old graduate student, Smith had gone to the Holy Land on a traveling fellowship from Harvard Divinity School. Unfortunately, the Mediterranean was closed by the war, and he was stuck in Jerusalem. While there he became acquainted with a leader of the Greek Orthodox church, who invited him to services at the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre and, eventually, to visit the famous Orthodox monastery of Mar Saba, some twelve miles southeast of Jerusalem. Mar Saba was established in the fifth century of the Christian era and had been the scene of ongoing monastic activity virtually non-stop ever since.
While Smith was there on his visit, he