BAR 35:06, Nov/Dec 2009
“Secret Mark”: A Modern Forgery?
In true BAR fashion, we wanted to present the case for a forgery, a position numerous scholars hold. After being turned down by three major scholars who embrace this position, editor Hershel Shanks undertook to summarize the evidence himself.
An increasing number of scholars are concluding that the Clement letter containing excerpts from Secret Mark is a forgery and that Morton Smith is the forger, according to University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman. Among those reaching this conclusion are senior scholars such as Ehrman, University of California professor Birger Pearson, Yale University professor Adela Yarbro Collins,1 Acadia Divinity College professor Craig Evans2 and Peter Jeffery, Princeton musicologist and author of The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Imagined Rituals of Sex, Death, and Madness in a Biblical Forgery,3 as well as less-prominent scholars such as one of Ehrman’s Ph.D. students, Stephen Carlson, author of The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark.4