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In the summer of 1958, Morton Smith, a newly appointed historian at Columbia University, journeyed to an ancient monastery near Jerusalem. There, he claimed to have stumbled upon a lost gospel in the monastery’s library. His revelation captured global attention, sparking extensive debates among Bible scholars about its implications for Christian history.

The original manuscript was later moved to the library of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. However, it was reported missing sometime after 1990. Since then, subsequent research has relied on photographs and copies, including those documented by Smith himself.

Smith also proposed a theory regarding the “Secret Mark,” suggesting that it depicted a private baptism conducted by Jesus exclusively for his closest disciples. According to Smith, Jesus would individually hypnotize all of his male followers in the middle of the night, leading them to believe they had ascended to heaven and were released from the obligations of the Mosaic laws. Smith further suggested that Jesus and his disciples might have concluded this spiritual experience with a sexual act, symbolizing the fulfillment of their spiritual union through physical union.

In a letter addressed to a person named Theodore (Theodoros), Clement discusses the origins of the Gospel of Mark. He mentions that after the martyrdom of Peter, Mark, also known as Mark the Evangelist, arrived in Alexandria with his own notes as well as those of Peter. From these notes, Mark incorporated suitable content into his existing Gospel, which became known as the Gospel of Mark. Clement suggests that Mark left behind an extended version of his Gospel, referred to as the Secret Gospel of Mark, which he entrusted to the church in Alexandria.

This secret text was carefully guarded and only read to those undergoing initiation into the church’s mysteries. Clement quotes two passages from this Secret Gospel of Mark, including one where Jesus allegedly raises a rich young man from the dead in Bethany, a story reminiscent of the raising of Lazarus found in the Gospel of John.

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