[Note: This page will look best if you have a unicode-compliant browser]
Peter Jeffery, The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006)
Library of Congress classification BS2860.S42 J44 2006
Dewey Decimal classification 229/.8 22
Publisher's description: "Jeffery unravels the answers to the mystery"
The Library of Congress is, as usual, non-committal.
"a learned and lively book" -- Stephen Goranson
"fascinating" -- Stephen C. Carlson
"definitive debunking of the Secret Mark hoax" -- Loren Rosson III
"discusses many interesting aspects of the cultural construction of homosexuality" -- Wayne R. Dynes
"*****" (from those who read it); "*" (from those who didn't) -- Amazon.com
(no comment) -- вселенский трамвай
"The Agony of Morton Smith"
"Really, it is time for 'CSI: Academia.'" -- Peter Steinfels, New York Times (March 31, 2007, p. A12)
Comments on the Times story:
"a hermeneutics of desperation" -- Scott G. Brown
Comments on the Brown review:
My initial response to Brown (first installment). It is unlikely that I will complete this one.
A more concise reply to Brown, which the Review of Biblical Literature refused to publish.
Comments on my reply to Brown
"Jeffery’s weighty volume has eleven page-turner chapters . . . . This superbly packaged book, lovely to read, hold, fondle, smell, and contemplate as an aesthetic object, is completed with sixty-nine pages of endnotes containing 830 entries . . . ." -- J. Harold Ellens
Comments on the Ellens review:
A "Secret Mark feast" which took place at Claremont Graduate University, Institute for Antiquity and Christianity:
"Secret Mark after 50 Years" at the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston, November 24, 2008.
http://www.ntgateway.com/weblog/2008/11/some-more-sbl.html, by Marc Goodacre, who chaired the session.
http://www.hypotyposeis.org/weblog/2008/12/sbl-session-on-secret-mark.html, by Stephen C. Carlson, who was on the panel.
"The Secret Gospel of Mark, Sex, Death,and Madness; The Psychodynamics of Morton Smith's Proposal," session 21-330 ("Psychology and Biblical Studies") at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans, November 21, 2009, 4:00-6:30 PM.
For papers see http://psybibs.revdak.com/2009/_sessions09.htm#mark
Note: Some bloggers have objected that this panel included no one who argued in favor of the Secret Gospel’s authenticity. However, that was not the topic. The subject of the panel was "The Psychodynamics of Morton Smith's Proposal." To competently discuss this subject requires people who have both Biblical expertise (to understand the scholarly issues) and clinical psychology experience (to understand the psychodynamic issues). The pool of such people is not large, and the only place to find them is the Psychology and Biblical Studies group at the SBL. Like it or not, Smith’s memoir, The Secret Gospel, is full of elements that imply Smith was struggling with serious psychological issues, and though these elements would not be noticed or understood by a casual reader, they are unmistakable to people with clinical training. There was no litmus test involved in choosing speakers for this panel, and it was the leadership of the Psychology and Biblical Studies group that chose them, not me. I did make suggestions, some of whom turned us down. Once the panelists were selected, I did not know what some of them would say until they actually said it during the session. However, it would not have been possible to find someone with both Biblical and psychological expertise who believes that Smith’s memoir reveals an honest personality with no discernible psychiatric symptoms, whose account of his discovery should be taken at face value. No such expert exists. I challenge anyone who questions this statement to find one.
"This careful work . . . provide[s] an extremely damaging case against Smith and his Secret Mark."
Robert L. Webb, Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 5 (2007) 216. http://jhj.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/5/2/205.pdf
". . . there is indeed more to consider and maybe the pendulum has moved slightly in the negative direction."
Paul Foster, "Secret Mark Again," The Expository Times 119/1 (October 2007) 50-51. http://ext.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/119/1/50
"Peter Jeffery is probably the cleverest of Smith's assailants to date."
W. V. Harris, "A Bible Fantasy," Times Literary Supplement No. 5455 (19 October 2007) 23. http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25371-2649536,00.html
"Students and teachers of liturgical history . . . need to read this book and to do so soon! . . . From this point on it will be difficult to say anything about early Lent and Christian initiation without reference to this book."
Maxwell E. Johnson, Worship 82/1 (January 2008) 85-89.
"il reste à démontrer que le rite décrit par l'évangile secret s'accorde ou non avec . . . ce que l'on sait des affirmations anciennes relatives aux «traditions secrètes» des apôtres et du judaïsme." [It remains to be demonstrated that the rite described by the secret gospel agrees or not with . . . what is known about ancient affirmations relating to "secret traditions" of the apostles or of Judaism.]"
Jérome Rousse-Lacordaire, "Bulletin d'Histoire des Ésotérismes" in Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 92/4 (2008) 849-50.
"both challenging and infuriating to read . . . well-written and exhaustively researched . . . it is difficult not to be impressed . . . ."
Nicole Kelley in Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 4/1 (Summer 2009) 114-117, quotes from p. 116. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/magic_ritual_and_witchcraft/v004/4.1.kelley.html
"Clement may simply be referring to a general growth in intimate knowledge of God, and not to baptism or the catechumenate per se, or the text's forger has mistakenly used technical sacramental vocabulary anachronistically."
Nicholas V. Russo, "A Note on the Role of Secret Mark in the Search for the Origins of Lent," Studia Liturgica 37 (2007) 181-97, quote from 190-91.
"Klemensin kirje lienee aito aleksandrialaisen kirkkoisän teksti, mutta Salaisen Markuksen evankeliumin alkuperästä voi olla montaa mieltä" [Clement's letter is a genuine Alexandrian ecclesiastical text, but the Secret Gospel of Mark could be better understood].
Timo S. Paananen, "Kuka kirjoitti Salaisen Markuksen evankeliumin? Osa 2: Morton Smith vs. Peter Jeffery," [Who Wrote the Secret Gospel of Mark? Part 2: Morton Smith vs. Peter Jeffery; in Finnish only] Vartija [Watchman] 4 (2008) 123-32, quote from 131.
"Zuletzt hat Peter Jeffery . . . sich in einem hoch gelehrten Werk mit dem Geheimen Markusevangelium beschäftigt. . . . Meinem Eindruck nach neigt sich die Wage doch mehr und mehr Fälschungsthese zu" [Last of all, Peter Jeffery has devoted himself to a highly learned work on the Secret Gospel. . . . To my mind, though, the odds are leaning more and more toward a forgery thesis].
Hans-Josef Klauck, "Endlich die volle Wahrheit? Neue apokryphe Evangelien III: Skandalöse Riten bei Nacht? Das Geheime Evangelium nach Markus,"Die apokryphe Bibel: Ein anderer Zugang zum frühen Christentum (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008) 62-94, quote from 91.
". . . but note again the important critiques by Brown . . . ."
Jeff Jay, "A New Look at the Epistolary Framework of the Secret Gospel of Mark," Journal of Early Christian Studies 16/4 (Winter 2008) 573-597 quote from p. 575 n. 7. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_early_christian_studies/v016/16.4.jay.html
"There is rather too much of such speculating [about Smith’s psychological development] in Peter Jeffery’s recent book."
Francis Watson, "Beyond Suspicion: on the Authorship of the Mar Saba Letter and the Secret Gospel of Mark," The Journal of Theological Studies 61/1 (2010), pp. 128-170, quote from p. 131 n. 10. http://jts.oxfordjournals.org.proxy.library.nd.edu/cgi/content/full/61/1/128
"Jeffrey [sic], in the course of an intricate, minutely detailed analysis, argues that Smith deliberately made his case by indirection, distracting readers from his true purpose as a magician distracts the members of his audience."
Anthony Grafton, "Gospel Secrets: The Biblical Controversies of Morton Smith," The Nation (January 26, 2009). On-line at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090126/grafton?rel=hp_books
Letters to the editor, including one from me:
"musicologist/liturgiologist Peter Jeffery has 'sung' like [turncoat mafioso] Joe Valachi."
"stupid stupid stupid . . . I am sorry people but Jeffrey's [sic] argument is stupid."
A discussion of the ritual possibilities of the Mar Saba text
The bad news is: the Secret Gospel isn't doing very well. The worse news is: the only people who still believe in it are the Bible scholars . . . .
Tired of the Secret Gospel of Mark? Maybe you'd prefer The Secret Gospel of Maxwell Lord. You read about it here first!
Return to Peter Jeffery's Home Page