Religion: The Secret Gospel

The orthodox view of Christianity is that Jesus preached the same doctrine to all men—there was no inner circle of "initiates" with special knowledge, as in Gnosticism and the mystery religions. The minority, which holds that Christianity was originally esoteric, with secret teachings hidden from the masses of the faithful, received some surprising support last week from a meticulous scholar, Dr. Morton Smith, assistant professor of history at Manhattan's Columbia University and a specialist in ancient religions. Professor Smith read a paper to the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis describing his discovery of evidence that the author of the earliest...

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