Photograph provided by The Archives of the Jewish Theological Seminary

THE MAN, THE MYTH? Morton Smith was an accomplished Bible scholar and professor at Brown and then Columbia University. During a visit to the Mar Saba monastery library (visible behind Smith in the photo), Smith discovered a Greek manuscript containing passages from the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark—unknown passages not included in the canonical Gospel of Mark. For 15 years Smith studied the text before publishing it in both a popular book and a scholarly volume. The discovery dropped like a bombshell on the academic world, but scholars were quick to criticize Smith’s interpretation of the text. Many later accused him of forging the manuscript and planting it in the monastery’s library—an issue that is still hotly debated today, nearly two decades after Smith’s death.