In 1958, Bible scholar Morton Smith announced the discovery of a sensational manuscripta second-century letter written by St. Clement of Alexandria, who quotes an unknown, longer version of the Gospel of Mark. When Smith published the letter in 1973, he set off a firestorm of controversy that has raged ever since. Is the text authentic, or a hoax? Is Smiths interpretation correct? Did Jesus really practice magic, or homosexuality? And if the letter is a forgery . . . why?Through close examination of the discovered manuscripts text, Peter Jeffery unravels the answers to the mystery and tells the tragic tale of an estranged Episcopalian priest who forged an ancient gospel and fooled many of the best biblical scholars of his time. Jeffery shows convincingly that Smiths Secret Gospel is steeped in anachronisms and that its construction was influenced by Oscar WildesSalom, twentieth-century misunderstandings of early Christian liturgy, and Smiths personal struggles with Christian sexual morality.

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