Mark Goodacre's academic blog. Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University, in the Religion Department. Visit my homepage, follow me on twitter, or contact me by email.
Although I agree with Scott Brown that the Mar Saba letter need not be interpreted as saying explicitly that the 'Other Gospel' is a 'Secret Gospel' rather than a 'Spiritual Gospel' Given that: a/ Theodore has apparently never heard of this Gospel.b/ The Carpocratians had to use espionage to acquire a copy. c/ It is practical to be 'economical with the truth' about its existence. d/ Apart from the Mar Saba letter there is no surviving reference to it. It seems almost certain that if the letter is authentic then the 'Other Gospel' was kept very secret indeed.
I'm also having trouble appreciating Brown's distinction. In my review I indicated why the gospel would have likely been kept secret in any case, according to the canons of honor-shame.But leave that aside for a moment. What's really the difference between the text being "unavailable to those of unproven character", "very securely kept", or "carefully regulated" (as Brown would have it), and being "closley guarded" or "kept secret"? As you say, that Carpocrates had to steal a copy of this gospel implies that the text was never widely published, but Brown doesn't seem to see a problem with this at all (see pp 29-30 of Mark's Other Gospel).Loren
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