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The Secret History of Mark


[From a post by larryc@teleport.com (Larry Caldwell), on 18 Feb 1996 on soc.motss]

The issue [ of homosexuality ] is certainly not a new one in the church. Here is an excerpt from a letter from Clement of Alexandria (150-215 ce.) dealing with exactly that topic:

"As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote and account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretations would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries."
[much deleted]
" ... The secret Gospel brings the following material word for word: 'And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me." but the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. 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.'
"After these words follows the text, 'And James and John come to him,' and all that section. But 'naked man with naked man,' and other things about which you wrote are not found."
From The Secret Gospel of Mark in The Other Bible, ed. Willis Barnstone, (HarperSanFrancisco 1984)

Larry Caldwell notes:

There was a general belief in the early years of the Christian era that Jesus and his disciples were a roaming band of homosexuals. This would have been natural in the remnants of Alexander's empire, but anathema to the Jews. Since at least one Zealot was a disciple, this is unlikely. However, some rites of the inner circle seem to have involved breaking the homosexual taboo. In some areas this got out of control, and some branches of the early church were vigorously homosexual.

Some of the early writings, like "The Secret Gospel of Mark" have been lost, but the surviving writings show that the controversy was both heated and prolonged.