I am providing here a thread of posts on Morton Smith’s discovery, in 1958, of the “Secret Gospel of Mark,” a longer version of Mark’s Gospel in a letter allegedly written by Clement of Alexandria who attacks a group of nefarious Gnostics.  Smith argued this really was an authentic letter, that the Secret Gospel really did exist in antiquity, and, yet more intriguing, that IT was the older form of the Gospel of Mark.  Our Gospel of Mark *today* is an abbreviated version, edited to rid the Gospel of a couple of potentially scandalous passages.  Whoa.  Could that be right?  Here’s a summary of Smith’s argument:


There are some interesting features of the shorter version – the one found in the New Testament – that can be explained if the longer version were the original, and this is some of the evidence that Smith and others have adduced for their view.  To take the second quotation first.  Clement indicates that it appeared after the first part of Mark 10:46:  “And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples….”  The is a strange verse for several reasons.  Why does it say “they came to Jericho” but then not indicate what happened there?  In other words, why would Mark mention their arrival in town if they leave without doing anything?   And why does the text say that “they” came but that “he and his disciples” left?  Why not just say “they” came and “they” left?  These may seem like minor issues; but they are the kind of small details that should give one pause.


Notice what happens when the second passage cited by Clement is inserted into the account.  They come to Jericho.  Jesus encounters three women there but refuses to see them (this is not the first time in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus might seem a bit rude; see Mark 3:31-35).  Then he and his disciples leave.  The passage seems to make better sense and the tiny problems with the details disappear.

Or consider the other of Clement’s two quotations of the Secret Gospel.  One passage that has always perplexed students of the canonical version of Mark’s Gospel occurs near the end, when Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.  When the soldiers seize him, all his disciples flee.  But there is someone else there, “a young man” who is “clothed with a linen cloth over his naked body.”  The soldiers grab this unnamed man, but he escapes, nude, leaving them with the linen cloth in their hands (Mark 14:51-52).  Who is this person, this follower of Jesus who has never been mentioned before?  What is he doing in Gethsemane?  And why is he wearing only a linen garment?   Interpreters have propounded a host of possible solutions to these questions over the centuries; but there has never been any consensus.[1]

Once the longer passage of the so-called “Secret Gospel” is inserted, however, suddenly it makes sense.  For in that story too there is a young man who comes to Jesus wearing nothing over his naked body but a linen cloth.  This is a person Jesus has raised from the dead.  He became Jesus’ follower.  He is the one grabbed in the garden.  Maybe this was

originally part of Mark’s Gospel.

Smith, however, went even further.  Not only was this passage originally in Mark.  It is a key to understanding the ministry of the historical Jesus.  Smith spins out an interpretation of the text, which, at the end of the day, left most scholars breathless and many incensed.   According to Smith, this passage reflects an actual practice of the historical Jesus.   We know from other ancient sources that Jesus was widely considered to be a “magician.”  In an ancient context, that did not mean someone who, like David Copperfield today, can perform illusionist tricks with mirrors and sophisticated contraptions.  A magician was someone who could, in reality, manipulate the workings of nature through mystical powers connecting him to the divine realm.


For Smith, Jesus really was a magician.  In fact, Smith wrote another book devoted to the subject, called, appropriately enough, Jesus the Magician.[2]   And this identification of Jesus has a lot to do with this text.  Smith is struck, quite understandably, by the fact that the young man comes to Jesus wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his nakedness.  That sounds like someone coming forward for baptism, since in the early church, people were baptized, as adults, in the nude (after taking off a simple robe worn to the ceremony).  Now the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not indicate that Jesus baptized people.  But the Gospel of John indicates that he may have done so (John 3:22; 4:1-2)[3].  Moreover, the apostle Paul talks about baptism, and indicates that at baptism a person is somehow “united” with Christ (Rom. 6:1-6).  Did Paul, after Jesus’ death, make up such a view himself?  No, argues Smith, it was a view known to Jesus’ followers before his death, because it was Jesus’ own view.  Jesus himself baptized people and in that baptism they came to be united with him.


This being united with Jesus is somehow connected with the Kingdom of God – since the text from the Secret Gospel indicates that this young man spent the entire night with Jesus being taught about the Kingdom.  Smith thinks this conveys a historical datum about Jesus: whomever Jesus baptized experienced a spiritual unity with him that involved a magical, visionary journey with him into the Kingdom of God.  Moreover, this was not simply some kind of spiritual ecstasy. No, this mystical experience of the kingdom allowed the person, says Smith, to be “set free from the laws ordained for and in the lower world.”  Indeed, “freedom from the law may have resulted in completion of the spiritual union by physical union.”  In other words, when Jesus baptized a man, their spiritual union culminated in a physical coupling.  Smith expresses some uncertainty concerning the ceremonies involved in this unification of Jesus and the man he was baptizing; but he does indicate in one of his footnotes that physical “manipulation, too, was probably involved; the stories of Jesus’ miracles give a very large place to the use of his hands.”[4]

The hands of a healer here take on a whole new meaning.  In this fragment from Clement, Smith discovered that Jesus was a magician who engaged in sex with the men that he baptized.


I do not want to go into a prolonged discussion of every aspect of Morton Smith’s interpretation of the Secret Gospel.  Most scholars found his explication unconvincing at best; some were predictably outraged.  Smith appeared to love it.

It has been pointed out, with some justice, that the text in fact says nothing about Jesus using magic, it does not mention baptism; there is no word about an ecstatic vision or a spiritual unity with Jesus, let alone about anyone having sex with the Son of God.  Some reviewers concluded that Smith found in the text what he brought to the text, and noted that he had been interested in ecstatic visions, heavenly journeys, law-free morality, and Jesus the magician years before he published his books on the Secret Gospel.[5]   And, predictably, other scholars have interpreted the text in other ways.  Some, for example, have seen it as a simple pastiche from other Gospel accounts – for example, borrowing phrases from the Gospels of Mark and John (rich young man; raising of Lazarus) – and interpreted it as a later story wrongly thought to belong to Mark’s Gospel, a story that simply gave another account of Jesus raising someone from the dead and then giving him instructions in the mysteries of the Kingdom (cf. Mark 4:10-12).[6]

And yet one does need to take into account some of the peculiar details.  Why would the text stress that this fellow was completely naked under his linen garment and that Jesus spent the night with him?


I’ll pick up on these rather unusual queries in my next post.



[1]Most people I’ve met are either totally confused by the passage or else have a solution they heard that makes so much sense to them they’re not interested in learning any of the others.

[2]San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978.

[3]John’s text says that Jesus did baptize, but then goes on to correct itself to say that Jesus himself did not actually do any baptizing.  It may be that the earlier statement is the (historically) correct one, and the later “correction” is in fact incorrect.

[4]Smith, Secret Gospel, p. 113, n.12.

[5]See the review of Quentin Quesnell cited in note 22.

[6]This view can be found in the sober analysis – somewhat unusual for this particular controversy – of Raymond E. Brown, “The Relation of ‘The Secret Gospel of Mark’ to the Fourth Gospel,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 36 (1974) 466-85.

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2023-04-21T13:16:45-04:00April 20th, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|

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  1. giselebendor April 20, 2023 at 7:20 am

    “We know from other ancient sources that Jesus was widely considered to be a “magician.” In an ancient context, that did not mean someone who, like David Copperfield today, can perform illusionist tricks with mirrors and sophisticated contraptions. A magician was someone who could, in reality, manipulate the workings of nature through mystical powers connecting him to the divine realm”.

    Isn’t this last sentence disingenuous? We here,today,don’t believe in this “magic”. The “workings of nature” nowadays can indeed be manipulated by Science,but not by “mystical powers”. Many of us don’t believe in a “divine realm either.

    So how can such a definition of a magician be relevant to us at all?

    How is Jesus’ “magic” different from either Copperfield or any contemporary entertainer?

    Secondly,with so many “magicians” transiting the Land back then,weren’t these “metaphysical manipulations” known, and some of them perhaps debunked?

    I read Smith’s Jesus the Magician twice. He doesn’t answer the questions. In fact, as far as I know, to this day no one has tackled Jesus’ miracles and magical deeds with any depth, showing us exactly how these things worked. Apparently, unless all were made up, these actions “worked” on the people.

    Why isn’t there a sober and comprehensive volume bringing us to Jesus’ time to see things as the crowd saw them, and telling us how these things were actually done? Even if the conclusion is that, if any if this happened at all, it were indeed tricks that created the illusions?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:11 pm

      Ah, right! I’m talking about how magicians were *perceived* in antiquity — which is that they were manipulating nature. We today would definitely not say so. Well, so long as “we” means me and you! And yes, there have been books like that, explaining what “really” happened. It was very popular in the 19th century among German rationalists, esp. Read Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus and you’ll see all about them, including, say the classic by Hermann Reimarus — who gives the “natural” explanatoin for what disciples understood to be “supernatural” events. (What *really* happened when he walked on water, multiplied the loaves, and rose from the dead?) Schweitzer shows why these naturalistic explanations are bogus because they don’t take the text seriously enough and assume the stories really happened in one way or another — the main argument of one of Schweitzer’s heroes, David Friederich Strauss, in his book Das Leben Jesu in kritischen Bearbeitung (translated by a very young George Eliot [Maryann Evans] before she began writing novels!)

    • sLiu May 1, 2023 at 8:00 pm

      When I was in high school, I used to sweat like drops of blood.

  2. giselebendor April 20, 2023 at 7:30 am

    How can anything related to a naked youth, or a baptism , or sex, or instructions on the Kingdom have occurred that night at Gethsemane?
    Our best assumption has to be that Jesus was in a high state of anxiety, fearful of his coming suffering and death, even if he wasn’t sweating blood, perhaps depressed, and therefore not in any state to be engaged in any of the actions above here?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:12 pm

      Ah, now you’re asking a *historical* question. Ancient Gospesl usually didn’t do that….

  3. charrua April 20, 2023 at 10:48 am

    I think it works the other way around, the oddities in Mark 3:31-35 were used by Morton for his forgery,
    look !!! It matches perfectly well in that passage of Jesus coming and leaving Jericho !!!

    But if the allegedly “original ”passage discovered by Morton was linked to Mark 14:51-52 why the ones who completely erased the passage did not also erase Mark 14:51-52????
    Why Mark 14:51-52 is STILL part of Mark being one of the most controversial and disturbing passages of the NT????

    About Jesus being a magician , I think Morton was a magician and his greatest trick was to make the 18th century letter vanish into the air … now you see it now you don’t !!!

    How he did it?

    He simply bribed some people as early christians did to perform their miraculous jailbreaks (think in Peter and Paul in Acts …)?

    Or was he sure that after his suggestion “ Jesus was a magician who engaged in sex with the men that he baptized ” the letter will logically “disappear” (without spending half a dollar) ?

  4. forthfading April 20, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Just finished your latest book. I enjoyed it very much. I do have one question that is not really related to the content of the book, but to the research pertaining to it. You give credit to Darrell Bock in the acknowledgements. I have read plenty of Dr. Bock’s works. A great source of information if you want a conservative opinion. I value his contributions to the field, but I can’t help but wonder how he came to contribute to your work. Is that something you can discuss?


    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      Ha! Yup, it’s a bit of a siurprise, huh? He and I are on good terms anbd have been for years. I asked him to read my section on dispensational pre-millennialism, since he’s an expert on it (as a believer in it) but can easily deal with it in my language in which I try to describe it rather than promote it. I wanted to make sure that my views from 50 years ago (when I held the view) were not wrongly influencing my description based on more recent expressions of it.

  5. Stephen April 20, 2023 at 1:46 pm

    Smith’s hypothesis seems too good to be true.

    Do you suppose Mark’s “young man” in the garden has any relationship to the “young man” at the tomb? I understand the latter is generally associated with an angelic appearance, but I do wonder.



    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:18 pm

      That’s sometimes argued. The same Greek word is used for both fellows (it’s a common word though). Many commentators have argued it can’t be teh same guy, since the two display different reactions to Jesus’ passion, so they may be meant to be *contrasting* figures (how a young man should react to Jesus’ death)

  6. Serene April 20, 2023 at 2:32 pm

    On the question of whether Jesus baptized, I’d lean towards no, because if baptism replicates the practice of Elijah baptizien Naam the Syrian, Jesus would vastly outrank Elijah in the ANE hierarchy. That’s if his father of the Kingdom of the Heavens was the descendant of king-of-kings Babylonian Nabonidus, who merged his household with Arabians to resettle Petra.

    Elijah, afaik, was Jewish nobility (it’s the ‘El theophoric for me) who escaped the Israelite king and was a resident alien in an Araby land, Gilead, and who ascends to Paradise. (Imo , high-up Petra is the walled garden described.)

    Then Mishnah reports Elijah returning to Jews occasionally dressed as an “Arab in the desert.”

    As far as the Secret Gospel of Mark and the guy dressed in essentially an under garment, while I’m all for men appreciating men if they want, isn’t Jesus written to be also wearing only what would present as an undergarment?

    And I think the Essenes took off their outer layer when they declared themselves to be “at work.” But also Strabo notes the simplicity of attire in Petra; there’s multiple possibilities and someone deserves to get their undergarment back.

    • RICHWEN90 April 30, 2023 at 9:43 am

      I’ve wondered sometimes about what people wore in those days and what their “sanitary” practices might have been, in terms, say, of bodily functions. I’m sure they didn’t have mass produced jock shorts or panties, and I don’t think toilet paper existed, and I doubt that ancient Palestine had sanitary sewer systems. Were washing and bathing common practices? Would Jesus have visited a Roman bath? Would Jesus have bathed at all? Lice? BO? Surely there was no Teen Spirit, or Old Spice Swagger. Certain inquiring minds, like mine, would like to know.

      • BDEhrman May 1, 2023 at 1:08 pm

        YOu may want to look at my colleague Jodi Magness’s book on Stone and Dung, Oil and Spit. Among other thngs, she’s really into toilets.

        • RICHWEN90 May 2, 2023 at 10:17 am

          I ordered it! Thanks! I’ll be reading more of Jodi’s books! Fascinating!

  7. brickleytre April 20, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    Wow! I’ve never heard this before. It seems like Smith was making a whole ton of unjustified leaps from the data in both gospels.

  8. Moshe25 April 20, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Hey Dr Ehrman, unrelated, but I was recently listening to your interview about the gospel of Mark. You said that the son of god to the romans/greeks may have been someone who was born through the union of a god and a mortal, was appointed as such by the gods, or was a god who incarnated as a human. Is there anywhere I could find a list of demigods in these 3 categories?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:23 pm

      I don’t know of a complete list anywhere. I give some key examples of each in my book How Jesus Became God.

  9. ktn3654 April 21, 2023 at 3:38 am

    I always thought the implication was that the young man of Mark 14:51 was so poor that a linen cloth was all he could afford by way of clothing. I notice you speak as though he wasn’t actually one of the disciples–is that what you think the text means to indicate? I just looked up the passage, and it seems like it could go either way there.

    On another point: Are you aware of any Biblical commentators in ancient or medieval times who noticed things like the odd little skip in Mark 10:46? Or is that the sort of thing only modern scholars pay attention to?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:35 pm

      Yup, I can see how you think that. But linen indicates and expensive garment. On Mark 10:46, you mean the coming and leaving Jericho in the same breath? Yup, it’s well known. The one thing everyone agrees on is that it’s kinda weird. Is it the combination of two sources that oddly haven’t been fully included leading to a transitionless entrance and exit?

  10. giselebendor April 21, 2023 at 7:03 am

    Jesus’ potential homosexuality was has various aspects.

    . The naked youth(s)-

    Why mention the state of nakedness at all? In Mark’s case,if Clement’s letter is genuine,Mark already knew its content as he was writing his Gospel.Thus, including the naked youths in the Gospel felt natural.

    . The beloved disciple (is “the disciple that Jesus loved” more intense sounding?”)

    It’s implausible that this disciple would have taken Mary to his own home. The Beloved Disciple being unmarried,it would have caused a stir bringing Mary to live with him. And what about the many sons and daughters Mary had? Would they be more appropriate candidates to be their mother’s custodians? Would Mary have known that her son was gay?

    . The Apostles

    Did they in fact cruelly abandon their families at Jesus smallest hint?
    Should we think of some or all these disciples as homosexuals?Would this be tacitly assumed from their living together? Would they have women in their midst?

    Greek ways

    Jesus may have known the severe prohibition against homosexuality in the HB .Imagine it a theme for a Shabbat sermon.
    Close enough was Tzippori (Sephoris),a Helenized city where practices forbidden to the Israelites were allowed.

    . Clement’s letter

  11. Bennett April 21, 2023 at 7:56 am

    You and other scholars often discuss the literary beauty of the Gospel of Mark, unique among the gospels. Would it not be unlikely that this literary masterpiece could emerge if Mark is actually a redacted version of a longer work?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      It would completely depend on how thoroughly he decided to redact it. Many of Shakespeare’s plays are based on earlier versions by others.

  12. giselebendor April 21, 2023 at 11:52 am

    PS: none of these myriad of questions – and there are countless others- expects to be answered! They just show in how many directions this ” Pandora’s box” ( in a good way) would go. Domino effect.😊

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      Yup, lots to talk/think about. And a lot of scholarship on it….

  13. AngeloB April 21, 2023 at 6:07 pm

    If Morton Smith made these claims today, he would have been cancelled by the Religious Right and his book would have been banned by Ron De Santis and other hard right governors.

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      I imagine his book Jesus the Magician wouldn’t go down well further to my south….

      • dankoh April 23, 2023 at 6:31 pm

        How are your books doing down there?

        • BDEhrman April 24, 2023 at 12:19 pm

          My sense is that they are seen as more threatening than crazy. (Smith, of course, was a hugely erudite scholar; but down here that wouldn’t be recognized broadly among general readers)

  14. nicolausaldanha April 21, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    I would find it very interesting if you went over the explanations for the young man in Mark 14:51-52.
    Which explanations do you find more plausible?

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:40 pm

      Ah, that would be a good post. Thanks. I’ll add it to the list (short answer without providing the numerous proposed soluteions. I prefer the view that this person does the oppostie of what Jesus calls for, as an example not to observe. Instead of leaving everything and following him, this [ficticious] young man leaves everything to leave him.)

      • charrua April 25, 2023 at 2:22 pm

        It would be great an article about Mark 14:51-52

        I’m not sure about the figure of the naked young to be “the opposite of what Jesus calls for”.

        Marks introduced him just after “Then everyone deserted him and FLED”, so he was the only one who stayed with Jesus after the disciples had FLED….
        but WHEN THEY SIZED HIM also FLED.

        I see Mark’s Jesus’s passion not as an historical account but as a model for the early christians to face Roman trials.

        It all begins with somebody’s betrayal , like that of Judas.

        Jesus play the role of the christian that knowing what he was to endure (Mark 14:35-36) faced the trial and did not deny his condition of christian even under torture until he was finally killed.

        The disciples are those christians that boasted they would not not give up (Mark 14:29), but they finally avoided the arrest by fleeing.

        The young man was a committed christian that gave away everything (he is naked) carrying only his christian faith (the linen cloth) , but under torture he finally deny being a christian ( “he fled naked, leaving his garment behind” ), so he finally lose everything.

    • BDEhrman April 23, 2023 at 3:40 pm

      Ah, that would be a good post. Thanks. I’ll add it to the list (short answer without providing the numerous proposed soluteions. I prefer the view that this person does the oppostie of what Jesus calls for, as an example not to observe. Instead of leaving everything and following him, this [ficticious] young man leaves everything to leave him.)

  15. 1SonOfZeus April 21, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    Dr. Ehrman, this is amazing. Can you post more about the bibles mysteries? It is fascinating.

  16. brenmcg April 22, 2023 at 4:21 am

    “Why does it say “they came to Jericho” but then not indicate what happened there? In other words, why would Mark mention their arrival in town if they leave without doing anything? And why does the text say that “they” came but that “he and his disciples” left? Why not just say “they” came and “they” left?”

    Isn’t the explanation for this strangeness that Mark is combining Matthew and Luke and gets befuddled?

    Matthew 20:29-30 “As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside.”

    Luke 18:35 “As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.”

    • BDEhrman April 24, 2023 at 12:03 pm

      Yeah, it’s a big mystery. It’s usually thought that Mark has combined a couple of sources here awkwardly and Matthew and Luke realizing the problem got rid of it.

      • brenmcg April 24, 2023 at 1:49 pm

        But then we have evidence of Mark combining a couple of sources where the two sources look like Matthew and Luke – why not just say they are Matthew and Luke.

        • BDEhrman April 25, 2023 at 8:07 pm

          Because there’s lots of reasons that are very compelling that indicte Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark. As I’ve said for years now, you should read the scholarship on it, becuase 99% of everyone I know, even people like me who, in the end, don’t actually care one way or the other, find it completely convincing.

          • charrua April 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm

            On this point, my opinion is that for us not -scholars the best way to understand “Markan priority” is to do the so-called “parallel reading”, I have in spreadsheets the Markan,Lukan and Matthean versions of Jesus’s baptism by John, Jesus’s miraculous healings,the cleansing of the temple, Jesus’s arrest and so on , putting side by the three versions you can see (even in ones native language although with a basic understanding of greek is even clearer) how Mark was the first and then Mathew and Luke changed what they found uneasy , it’s a hard work to do but it helps a lot in starting with the “synoptic” puzzle !!!

        • BDEhrman April 25, 2023 at 8:07 pm

          Because there’s lots of reasons that are very compelling that indicte Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark. As I’ve said for years now, you should read the scholarship on it, becuase 99% of everyone I know, even people like me who, in the end, don’t actually care one way or the other, find it completely convincing.

          • brenmcg April 26, 2023 at 12:23 pm

            Yeah I know, but the evidence for Mark borrowing from Matthew is much better. We can at least say that there’s evidence here of Mark borrowing from and combining a couple of sources and that these sources look like Matthew and Luke.

          • BDEhrman April 27, 2023 at 4:41 pm

            As I said, it doesn’t much matter ot me one way or the other. You’re welcome to think what you’d like!

  17. R_Gerl April 23, 2023 at 12:47 am

    Thanks for the great post, Dr. Ehrman. This post got me thinking about a television documentary I saw a couple of years ago that suggested Gethsemane wasn’t a garden but a cave that contained an olive press. The documentary suggested that Jesus was arrested there, instead of a garden, because there would have been no other way out of a cave (unlike an outdoor garden where Jesus could easily have escaped when he saw a mob coming for him). The documentary also suggested that a cave is a much more historically likely place for Jesus and a few followers because it would have been much warmer inside a cave, at that time of the year, than outside. Also, the documentary filmed the inside of a 2000-year-old cave, discovered by archaeology on the mount of olives, that was used for olive press during the time of Jesus. And the documentary suggested this was the very cave Jesus was arrested in. What do you think of the idea that Gethsemane was a cave and the idea it was a garden was a later tradition? Thanks again for the terrific posts.

    • BDEhrman April 24, 2023 at 12:11 pm

      My sense is that this is one of those documentaries that is just makin’ stuff up so it’ll have something different to say. It must have been a mighty large cave if Jesus left 9 of his disciples, went off privately with three of them, then separated from the three of them so he could pray alone! Nothing like that is in the vicinity that I’m aware of. But there are olive orchards, and Gethsemane does refer to the production of olive oil…

      • R_Gerl April 25, 2023 at 10:07 pm

        Thanks for the information. If serious scholars are unaware of this then you’re probably right. Out of curiosity, I did some browsing on the web to see if there is anything about it online. I only found the one link:


        In looking at this link, it does seem to cover the same stuff in the documentary from a couple years ago, but I’m certainly not qualified to evaluate it. Apparently, the cave is quite large but from the paucity of stuff online about it, it seems this idea hasn’t gained much traction.

  18. dabizi April 25, 2023 at 6:03 am

    How about this Guardian headline asking who was Shakespeare(2005):
    ‘He was a gay Catholic from Lancashire…’ [like me]

    This is the anachronistic absurdity of the postmodern-world, interpreting history according to our-own modern-day thinking…
    “A young-man in a mediterranean-climate was not wearing much on a warm night; along comes a slim-celibate-man-who-loves-his-mother… i spy homo-eroticism, therefore, we can conclude Jesus was a gay outsider (like me).” (And wasn’t Jesus of the line of David-who-loved‐Jonathan?!?)

    Smith was not even on the vanguard for this sort of feather-ruffling. Fielder did this in 1948 with “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!”… of course Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was a gay man… his work is pure, thinly-suppressed, homoeroticism!
    Hwaet! Jim with a boy on a raft!… can only mean one Thing! Of course someone has done the same to Taylor’s The Cay in a review at Goodreads: “…it was difficult to ignore the homoeroticism of the hurricane scene.”(link-below)
    But oh boy, Hemingway did not help his case by publishing Men Without Women, and in 1927… you KNOW what he was trying to tell us! So it goes with Basilikon Doron, Moby Dick, Great Gatsby… yes it’s all true, every great man in history was secretly gay (like me).


  19. JoeWallack April 25, 2023 at 11:33 pm

    “10:20 And he said unto him, TEACHER, all these things have I observed from my YOUTH.
    21 And Jesus LOOKING upon him LOVED him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in HEAVEN: and come, follow me.
    22 But his countenance fell at the saying, and he went away sorrowful: for he was one that had GREAT possessions.”

    Followed by:

    “But the youth, LOOKING upon him, LOVED him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the YOUTH, for he was RICH. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus TAUGHT him the mystery of the KINGDOM of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.[19]”

    Jesus, there are a lot of parallels here. It sure looks like the SM excerpt was written to coordinate, either originally or subsequently. After dying the youth would have lost all possessions.

    • BDEhrman April 27, 2023 at 4:32 pm

      Yup, some have thought there is a connection. But is it by Mark or Smith?

  20. mechtheist April 29, 2023 at 7:05 am

    It really needs mentioning that a hallmark of a LOT of the cults that have popped up over the last few decades involved rampant sexual exploitation, often of young girls, by the cult leader. Considering the reverence followers have for their leader, how many would resist taking advantage of their followers when many might be eager for that to happen? I mention last few decades because that’s my personal recollection, someone more knowledgeable about cults historically might tell us if it’s a near universal trait.

    • BDEhrman April 29, 2023 at 8:52 pm

      It’s certainly a near universal accusatoin against cults! (In the ancient world, the accusations against an otherwise “suspicious” group was often that they were involved in wild promiscuity, infanticide, murder, and cannibalism. It became a standard claim…)

  21. timothychambers April 30, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    I’m not a scholar in biblical studies but I read several authors who are. I was interested in knowing more about the prophet, Isaiah, who supposedly walked around naked. I didn’t believe that. The best explanation that I could find was that when a person removed his outer garment down to his tunic, he was considered “naked.”
    Also, considering the significance of the “linen” garment, I don’t believe that it automatically means the youth was “wealthy,” He could have been a priest if he was 20 years old. Perhaps he was a Nazarite who, with instruction, was able to enter Jesus’ tomb if he was the same person.
    The possibilities are endless and nobody really knows.
    Finally, has anyone seriously considered James Tabor’s theory on who the young man was?

    • BDEhrman May 1, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      I can’t remember his theory.

  22. john2603 October 18, 2023 at 12:46 pm

    An explanation of the young man in the linen cloth incident in Mark 14:51 that I heard in Catholic school sometime in the 1950s or 60s is that the young man was Mark himself, and since all the other disciples had fled, only he would have been aware of this incident and his description of it was his “signature”.
    Has anyone else on the blog ever heard of this? In view of everything I have learned about the Bible in the last 50 years, this seem preposterous, but I am sure that there are countless people who believe it.

    • BDEhrman October 19, 2023 at 8:43 pm

      Yes, that’s a very popular explanation, probably the most popular one among lay folk, but not overly popular among scholars of Mark. One more common one among scholars is that it’s not a historical event but symbolic tale. Jesus thorughout the Gospel has been telling peole that they need to give up everything to follow him and to take up their cross. Here is someone who gives up everything *not* to follow him and refuses to suffer with him. It’s an example of what the readers are NOT to do.

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