Identifying the Range of Possible Dates for the Composition of the Secret Gospel of Mark

Mike Koke continues his series “The Dating Game” by turning his attention to the Secret Gospel of Mark.

In thinking about a work, it is indeed important to have a clear sense of what the range of genuinely possible dates for its composition are, and then proceed from there.

As the terminus post quem, the earliest possible date, we have perhaps AD 40 or so, if the work is authentic and Smith’s suggestion that it represents an earlier version of Mark is correct.

As the terminus ante quem, the latest possible date, presumably 1958 is the absolute latest we can date it, if Morton Smith not only forged the work but did so while at the Mar Saba monastery.

So we’ve narrowed the range of possible dates for Secret Mark to roughly 40-1958. Hopefully this information will be helpful in contextualizing the work!

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01119080394574322124 T. Michael W. Halcomb

    hahahahahahahhahahahaahah

  • Secret Mark

    James Cameron and Simcha Jacobovici are rumored to be releasing a new book based on comparative limestone inscriptions found in subfloors under men’s rooms in ancient libraries from Rome to Alexandria recording variously, “secret Mark was here … call Mark in secret for a good time.” Physical chemistry analysis of the patina of these inscriptions shows them to be a work in progress, however, including DNA traces matching Smith’s overlain as late as 2010 by Cameron’s.

  • Mike K

    Ha, thanks for the laugh James.

  • http://mikew1584.wordpress.com/ mikew1584

    I've actually just got done reading "The Secret Gospel" a couple of months ago. I've been familiar with the "Secret Mark passage earlier. I find it hard to work with a passage that is both so profound in its would be importance and non extant. it would have a lot of meaning on the formations of the early gospels if authentic, but we have no way of demonstrating that. Having read the arguments against it, and now having read the book that introduced it, I'm on the side of those that say it is a forgery. It's a shame because I think Morton Smith had a lot of good ideas. I've been looking into his theory of Jesus as a magician or mystic and his work on the religious parties of ancient Israel is very good. I think Morton had an ax to grind with Christianity though and that outweighed his commitment to history. Secret Mark is just so awfully convenient. I may have a horse in the race on this one though. I've been leaning toward John Mark as the Beloved Disciple of Jesus in John but Secret mark would really imply that it was Lazarus. What is your opinion on the validity of 'Secret Mark"?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    mikew1584, I honestly don't know what I think about the authenticity of the Secret Gospel/Clement letter. I was sure it was a forgery after I read Stephen Carlson's book, but then read criticisms of some of his arguments that put me back on the fence. But since I think Lazarus is a more plausible candidate to have been the author of the Gospel of John than John Mark is, we're clearly on opposite sides of the fence on that! :)