View Article  Justin Martyr Apologia I Chs 1-6

Sue Laden and Harold Shanks were apparently still in Alexandria, pursuing the Morton Smith forgery issue.

We looked at the correspondance between Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Tarjan on the subject of arresting Christians. They were in agreement that Christians shouls be arrested, interrogated, and, if they would not recant, be sent to Rome if they were Roman citizens, or simply executed if they were not. However, anonymous denunciations were to be ignored.

The letters mention no specific charge -- to be a Christian seemed to be an offense in itself.

This was the issue taken up by Justin Martyr in the first of his apologia. Christians should only be punished if they were "evil-doers", not merely becaiuse they were Christians. To be a Christian should be seen as an indication of excellence. As to whether they were atheists, they did indeed worship no gods but one.


View Article  Secret Gospel of Mark

"The Secret Gospel of Mark"


The Secret Gospel of Mark continues to be in the news, with the imminent departure of Sue Laden and Herschel Shanks to Egypt to consult with handwriting experts about the possibility that Prof. Morton Smith forged the letter from Clement of Alexandria that quotes from, and denounces the "Secret Gospel of Mark".


Morton Smith claimed the have discovered the letter in the binding of a book while he was cataloging documents at the monastery of Mar Sabah.  The letter, which has been described as plausible by experts on Clement, accuses the Carpocratians of having added spurious material toe the Secret Gospel.  The letter in fact talks of an original gospel by Mark, while in Rome with Peter, and states that Mark then traveled to Alexandria to produce an expanded version, and then a "secret version" of the gospel.  Clement cites parts of the Carpocratian version, which is our only source for this material.


The idea that gospels were produced by compilation is confirmed by scripture, particularly the opening of Luke's gospel. Evangelicals such as F.F. Bruce follow Clement’s view that the original gospel was subject to amendment by various parties . It is, of course, commonplace that Matthew and Luke have material common with Mark, and is commonly accepted that they were based on Mark, with the addition of such sources as “Q”.   Smith reverses this position, and sees canonical Mark as the result of censorship by what became orthodox Christianity. His book “The Secret Gospel of Mark” is largely about his view that magic played a role in the early church, and this is developed further in his book “Jesus the Magician”.