In an archaeological find expected to surpass the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, academics have unveiled the what they are calling ‘The Gospel According to Mark – Uncut’. Complete with scribbled footnotes – described as an early equivalent of a DVD commentary – the new manuscript sets out Mark’s original vision for his work and details complaints about the Vatican’s ecumenical system ‘Hollywooding up’ his gospel in an effort to get ‘bums on pews’.
The battle with the Vatican had apparently started after they showed an interest in his story of a good man who discovers his father isn’t his real dad, and leaves the family carpentry business to hang out with his friends at parties and on fishing trips while living a spiritual life. ‘The pitch was going well,’ explained Mark in his notes, ‘until this Bishop turned to the Pope and said in a gravelly deep voice ‘A Father, a Son, a Man, a God…He had the secret to eternal life, and They wanted him DEAD’. Well the Pope’s eyes lit up and he started talking about my Gospel ‘coming to a church near you Easter 145AD’.’
Swayed by the vast sums the wealthy Church was able to offer in exchange for distribution rights and a final edit on the manuscript, Mark agreed to work with the Vatican and consented to its use as part of a ‘quadrilogy’. However, a reading of ‘Mark – Uncut’ shows striking differences to the Catholic Church’s final draft. Mary Magdalene, who was ‘softened’ to appeal more to nuns, is now a ‘hooker with a heart of gold’, and there is what Mark describes as ‘lots of really cool, hip dialogue’ where Jesus and his friends riff on the Pharisees and pop culture while eating tuna subs or drinking wine at weddings, which replaces the ‘Disneyfied moralising and special effect miracles’ of the Church release.
The most striking difference however, is the ending. Mark’s original ‘ambiguous and mysterious’ denouement had been considered ‘boring and depressing’ by test congregations and was replaced with a trial scene and violent death intended to appeal to the widest possible pagan demographic.
In his footnotes Mark writes of his distaste for the happy ending of the resurrection ‘tacked on to clear the way for a sequel’, before embarking on a lengthy rant about the failure of his agent to secure a deal on residuals and a share of the lucrative merchandising income.