Ever heard of the Secret Gospel of Mark? At a monastery near Jerusalem in 1973, a scholar named Morton Smith discovered fragments of a letter by a Christian writer named Clement of Alexandria. Apparently, this guy was quoting from a second edition of the Gospel of Mark written for the use of advanced Christians only. The quotes detail what actually went down in Jericho (10:46) along with some other juicy details. Debates have raged over how to understand this document, and some people have accused Morton Smith himself of forging the text—ouch! (Source)
Not everyone agrees that Mark's original ending was at 16:8, on a note of terror and failure. Clayton N. Croy has revived the thesis that Mark has been, well, "mutilated." He thinks that Mark's original ending was lost because of an accident. Oh yeah, and so was the gospel's beginning. If Croy is right, then we are dealing with a text that lacks some of its most important parts (its head and it rear end). Croy's argument is far from generally accepted. (Source)
The earliest surviving manuscript of the Gospel of Mark is the so-called "P 45" and was probably produced in Egypt sometime in the 200s. This means that our earliest access to the text of this gospel is more than a century (maybe close to two!) removed from the time of its original composition. P 45 is written on a papyrus that also contains the other three gospels plus the book of Acts. Field trip to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, anyone?
Who needs movies? The Gospel of Mark was probably originally read out loud in public. A recent wave of research into the second gospel is interested in how its performance value helps us understand the text and the impact it might have had on audiences. Part of this project involves actually memorizing the whole gospel and acting it out before live audiences. We dare you. (Source)
We at Shmoop love well-placed jokes. In fact, we can find the funny in pretty much anything. So does Mark also have a sense of humor? To us, his portrayal of the disciples—for example, 8:14-21—might be pretty hilarious. Slapstick, even. But it's important to keep a level head when asking this question, since humor doesn't always translate across time and cultures. Are we really supposed to split a gut when confronted with wayward disciples or is their plight a much more serious matter for Mark? (Source)