I made some postings on the JesusMysteries-list where I commented upon a summary of the arguments in favour of forgery which Stephan Carlson presented in The Gospel Hoax. The summary was done by Jake Jones IV, and I might publish also my superficial refutation of Carlson’s arguments, as this would be in line with a blog post. (Update: I have now posted Refuting ”The Gospel Hoax”).
However, Michael Turton, the author of Historical Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, commented upon my arguments by saying:
“Roger, your other points are sound, but this one is wrong. The reflection of sexuality is obvious to anyone in our culture (one reason it reeks of forgery).”
Before I fell to sleep last night I started wonder why it is that some people find this homosexual reading of Secret Mark while I do not. Earlier that day I had read Stephan Huller’s blog post “Why Scholars Often Don’t Get Dirty Wrestling with the Truth” and I thought that he hit it spot on, when it comes to the reason for why so many refute the genuineness of Clement’s letter to Theodoros and especially the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark:
“The truth is that even those arguing for the forgery proposition do not deny that the letter sounds like it was written by Clement. What they seem to have an issue with is the fact that the end result of all these words, phrases and sentences that sound ‘Clementine enough’ to pass as Clement’s own come together in a portrait of Alexandrian Christianity which ultimately seems ‘out of step’ with the orthodoxy of Irenaeus of Rome.”
The real reason why so many refute the letter would then be that it is not promoting orthodoxy. But then Clement was also not promoting orthodoxy but a more gnostic Christianity, so why would it come as a surprise that there was this more “esoteric” gospel in Alexandria?
This could explain part of the reasons why many are so reluctant to accept the letter as a genuine letter by Clement. But still there is this issue with the proposed homosexuality. I present Clement’s first quote from the Secret Gospel of Mark in Morton Smith’s translation:
“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.”
I for one (though I am not an atheist) do not believe that dead people can be resurrected into their physical bodies and continue to live on. Therefore I consider any story where Jesus raises people from the dead as pure fiction. This includes naturally also the story in Secret Mark. It never happened!
But if we have this young man who was not raised from the dead (since this could not possibly happen) and then this same youth (who then was not there and perhaps then did not even exist) took Jesus to his house and after six days stayed with Jesus during the night, dressed in only a linen cloth while Jesus taught him the Mystery of the Kingdom of God – why would we believe that this then happened?
It is obvious that the resurrection is only symbolical and not a story of an actual event. This can also be seen from the parallel story of the raising of Lazarus in the gospel of John (which is the same story) where Thomas instead of helping Jesus to raise Lazarus “said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (John 14:16) Thomas also wanted to die along with Lazarus and urged the rest of the disciples to the same thing, in order that also they and not only Lazarus would be raised from the dead. So the story of the raising could then reasonably only be a symbolical story.
And if the raising of someone from the dead was a symbolic metaphor for something else, why would then Jesus’ teaching of the Mystery of the Kingdom of God to the same non-existing symbolically resurrected youth be seen as an actual homosexual act? To me this is quite illogical. I can realize that the apologists, who claims that Jesus walked on the water and raised people from the dead get all upset and shouts – HOMOSEXUALITY!!! Especially since many Christians are so obsessed with this issue. But once you realise that this is not a story about an actual event, there is no reason why you would consider this scene to depict Jesus and the youth involved in some sort of sexual activity.
As I said at the opening, I thought about this last night before I went to sleep. I wondered why so many people find this homosexual connection, while I have never seen it? Even when this is emphasized and I am trying to refute the idea, I still cannot imagine why someone being taught the Mystery of the Kingdom of God would mean that this person was making love with his teacher? I then realised that the reason must be that people think of this scene as an event that actually took place, while I have never seen it as anything else than a metaphor for the evolution of the human mind – an act of initiation!
Once you read the story as pure fiction, there is no reason to interpret the scene as two gay people making out with each other.
Roger Viklund, 2011-01-29