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Unread 12-12-2016, 07:27 AM   #1
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The Naked Guy in the Gospel of Mark

Here is an interesting blog post on the naked guy near the ending of Mark.

I've wondered about this before, and some of the more interesting explanations I have read speculated that this is connected to the supposed Secret Gospel of Mark (the, alleged, missing version that is homoerotic in nature, including some, ahem, strange practices occurring between Jesus and followers in order to receive enlightenment), namely that the person mentioned here was a lover of Jesus's, or something like that.

But, this seems more probable to me.

Mark's Linen Sheet - Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath

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Unread 12-12-2016, 08:15 AM   #2
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I'm not against speculative theology. This seems like a decent account, all things told. I think any view that tries to connect the scene with a point made in the larger narrative will be preferable to any reading that implies homoeroticism.

That said, I wonder what the copy variants have for this passage. Is it dropped in later texts? Is it amended? Is it moved? If it is fairly stable, I wonder if we read more into it and think it is more controversial than the majority of readers (historically).

That also said, if the event depicted is simply emphasizing (by specific stark example) how in the appearance of Judas and the arrest party everyone was figuratively caught with their pants down (except, say, Jesus; and this fleeing man, in that it was literal), then that seems adequate enough without further explanation as to how he got naked. That may be radically irrelevant to the story, and in some degree only renders the gospel narrative more plausible. (If fake, why include that detail, which may be taken as shameful? If fake, why be distracted right before the climax of the story by some irrelevant detail? The fact that it is there leaves far more to be explained if the gospel is fiction than if it were recounting actual events)
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Unread 12-12-2016, 02:56 PM   #3
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I always heard the tradition that this is Mark's insertion of his briefless part of the story. That he was perhaps a direct witness of part of the events and his em-bare-assing part of the story. Also, while it seems like a non-sequitor, I think it emphasizes the chaos of the moment and presents a very plausible and human vignette in the story.

I don't really think there is a reason to read too much into it. Losing clothing or cloth to authorities would not have the same indication as today. Goods like that were far more precious. Nakedness also carried dramatically different meanings in the ancient world. Abject poverty and shame less than sexuality. (Consider that early baptisms were naked as well.) I don't think it has any homoerotic connotations.

And sorry for the bad puns, In my job I deal with lots of naked people.
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Unread 12-12-2016, 03:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSPrestonEsq View Post
And sorry for the bad puns, In my job I deal with lots of naked people.
I think your post was an excellent exposť on your ability to make puns.
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Unread 12-13-2016, 08:41 AM   #5
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Secret Mark is a forgery.
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Unread 12-13-2016, 09:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Secret Mark is a forgery.
I don't doubt that at all!

Though, from last I had read there were still some scholars who were actively investigating it (mostly attempting to date the writing).
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Unread 12-13-2016, 09:23 AM   #7
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To elaborate, Secret Mark is mentioned in a letter supposedly written by Clement of Alexandria to Theodore. It's handwritten in Greek into a 17th century printed edition of the writings of Ignatius. The letter asserts that Mark wrote a second version of his Gospel for more fully-sanctified believers, which delves into the mystery of the kingdom of God. He says that the Carpocratians (a heretical group) had a false version of this secret Gospel that was full of falsehoods. The letter then supplies quotations from the supposedly authentic version of Mark's second version of his Gospel.

James D.G. Dunn's review of the most recent book I know of that addresses the question puts it well:

Either "Secret Mark" is
1. A forgery by its "discoverer" (Morton Smith)
2. A 3rd centery forgery of a letter of Clement
3. An authentic letter of Clement reflecting a forgery attributed to Mark
4. An authentic letter of Clement reflecting an authentic second version of Mark's Gospel

Dunn argues that the fourth option is untenable, and that the third accounts for the evidence best. Clement of Alexandria, he notes, was sympathetic to mystical and gnostic thinking and thus would not have rejected the idea of Mark penning a second version of his Gospel for "those being perfected."

I am still inclined to believe that Smith was the forger. The handwriting has been dated by some at 1750, but others note that it has idiosyncracies (e.g. odd ways to write eta and theta) that match Smith's own writing of Greek but are not noted in 18th century Greek. Additionally, two pieces of circumstantial evidence can be put forward in support of the theory that Smith was the forger: The location, nature of the discovery, and contents of the letter match a 1940 novel, The Mystery of Mar Saba; Smith had already put forward theories about the origins of Christianity and had claimed that Jesus was a sexual libertine - a fact later sanitized by Paul and James the brother of Jesus - before he discovered a document which would support his theories. I'm not very sympathetic to the circumstantial evidence though.

I remember reading Secret Mark about twenty years ago when I was reading through all the non-canonical gospels. One thing that I think helps Dunn's case against option 4 is the fact that when you read the non-canonical gospels alongside the canonical ones, there is no question that it belongs in the company in which it is found - with snippets and drivel composed by deceived deceivers. There's no comparison between Secret Mark and canonical Mark, or between the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of John. The Dialogue of the Savior and the Gospel of Luke don't belong in the same league.
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Unread 12-13-2016, 09:28 AM   #8
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I had one professor make mention of it in Gospels class but didn't reveal much outside of the fact that it is not authentic.
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Unread 12-13-2016, 09:32 AM   #9
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I'm down with Judas going back to the house and thus alerting (unintentionally?) Mark to the coming danger. It's more plausible than any other speculation on this point that I've heard.

Actually, the almost-naked-dude who happens to be in Gethsemane has always been the one piece of information that made Secret Mark almost plausible to me. If you take gnostic narratival tendencies for what they are, the previously-dead, linen-shrouded man raised by Jesus in Secret Mark would almost have to show up still only wearing the linen sheet if he is to show up again at all.
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