The Histories by Herodotus – Book II, “Euterpe”

Rather than summarizing every passage (all 182 of them!), I’ll just put a few interesting stories & facts Herodotus gives in the 2nd book of the Histories. If you want every damned detail, I suppose you can read the entire text yourself (go here!)

The Histories by Herodotus – Book II, “Euterpe”

  • Egyptian Geography
    • boundaries – Arabian hills to the east, Libyan hills to the west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north & to the south, the Nile becomes impassable due to a series of cataracts as it approaches the Ethiopian hills
    • Arabian hills had quarries which supplied most of the stone used to build the pyramids
      • Arabian gulf separates Egypt from Arabian & goes out to the Erythaean Sea – now considered the Arabian Sea & Indian Ocean
    • Nile River – overflows every year, flooding the surrounding lands as far as 2 days of travel from the banks. The Egyptians never could explain it. Greek possible explanations:
      • Winds block water from flowing to the sea & it spills over the banks
      • Nile flows from ocean to ocean & delays cause backups which spill over
      • Melting snows in Ethiopia. Herodotus doesn’t believe this because Ethiopia’s too hot
        • MODERN EXPLANATION: Actually Ethiopian rain causes an immense amount of water that flows downhill, going North & floods over the banks once the river becomes level.
    • Egyptians have no concept of European style of rain
      • The only water comes from the Nile & its tributaries
        • They don’t know how long it is.
      • It goes south, bends a couple of times & goes to up to Ethiopia
        • Not many people have made the trip
        • Details on how far or high it goes are hazy

Phoenix

 

  • Egyptian Animals
    • not very many wild animals in Egypt
      • most are domesticated, often considered sacred
    • animals have designated guardsmen whose jobs run in the family from father to son – sacred jobs
    • Killing animals for food is quite an ordeal
      • people shave their kids’ heads, weigh the hair & take the same weight in silver to buy food from fishmonger, who cuts it up in a special manner
      • If you kill an animal in anger – punishment is death
      • If you kill an animal by accident – punishment is a decent fine
        • Killing hawks or ibises either on purpose or by accident – punishment is death
    • Cats are everywhere
      • When one dies, the family who tends to it shaves each member’s eyebrows
      • They are embalmed in Bubastis
    • Dog are popular too
      • When one dies, family shaves their heads
      • Dogs are buried in their own town in a special graveyard
    • Ibises are buried in Hermopolis
    • Hawks & shrews are buried in Buto
    • Crocodiles
      • Herodotus describes a crocodile – Most Greeks probably had never seen one or heard one described before
      • They can either be seen as holy or evil
      • They were kept as pets near Lake Moeris & often wore jewelry
      • They had special crocodile graveyards
      • Eaten in Elephantine
    • Hippopotamus
      • Herodotus describes a hippopotamus – Most Greeks probably had never seen one or heard one described before
    • Phoenix
      • Sacred & very rare bird – only known of in Heliopolis
        • Once every 500 years, old one dies
        • It had red feathers w/ gold edges & was about the size of an eagle
        • Its child flies to Arabia, takes the dead parent & covers it in myrrh, flies it back to Heliopolis to the Temple of the Sun & buries it there
    • Other sacred animals: snakes w/ horns, flying snakes, eels, otters & foxgeese

 

  • Egyptian customs
    • very different to the Greeks
    • Women went to the market while the men stayed at home & loomed
      • even the weave of the looms there are backwards compared to Europe
    • Women stand to pee while the men sit
    • They eat outside & only go inside to do private things
    • Very religious people
    • In many places, not allowed to eat fish.
      • Beans often frowned upon
      • No goats b/c they are symbolized in Pan – very high god
    • Pigs are seen as dirty
      • You must clean yourself even if you’ve gone near one
    • 3 days a month, they take enemas & emetics to clean themselves out
      • they bathe four times a day
    • Will eat just about anything so long as it isn’t sacred or unclean
    • Not open to foreign customs
      • But have similar poems/songs to the Greeks
        • There may have been some transfer of these from one to another
          • Probably from Egypt to Greece & not the other way around
    • Young men must prostrate themselves to older men walking by
    • They wear a linen tunic & woolen robe over it
      • But must take off woolen robe if going into a temple, as wool is not allowed inside
    • Doctors only treat one type of disorder or one part of the body, i.e. one doctor for the eyes, one doctor for the stomach, etc.
    • When a man dies, the women of the family cover their heads w/ mud or plaster & walk around outside with their tits out, beating them in unison
      • The men have to do the same but they do so separately from the women
      • The body is taken away to be embalmed…

 

  • Egyptian Embalming – The embalmer has 3 different methods
    • Expensive way
      • Take an iron hook up through the nose & remove the brain
      • Head is rinsed out
      • Cut out abdomen & remove organs
      • Rinse out the body w/ palm wine & aromatics
      • Dump mound of salt on the body & leave for 70 days
      • Wrap up the body in bandages held together w/ glue or tar
      • Put body in a wooden box & place it in a burial chamber up right
    • Cheaper way
      • take syringes w/ cedar tree oil & inject it into the abdomen
      • cover the body w/ salt for 70 days
      • organs dry up & only the flesh remains
      • body is returned to the family for burial
    • Cheapest way
      • give the body an enema
      • cover in salt for 70 days
      • return body to family for burial
    • Rich men usually are delayed in embalming for about 4 days after death
    • If you died from a crocodile attack, only Nile priests could embalm you & bury you

 

  • Egyptian Religion
    • Claim to be the first to discover the solar calendar
      • Gave it 12 months from observations from the stars
        • 30 days x 12 months w/ 5 extra days to round the year out completely
        • 12 months represented by 12 gods, similar to the Greeks’ gods
    • Priests shave their heads to avoid lce
      • the examine flocks for signs of uncleanliness
        • if unclean, marked accordingly
          • unclean animals may not be sacrificed
        • if clean, marked accordingly
      • Sacrifices – victim is marked, led to an altar
        • wood is burned & a libation poured over it
        • a god is invoked
        • the animal is killed, decapitated, chanted upon
        • the body & meat are sold
          • if not sold, it’s thrown into the river
      • Disemboweling
        • skinned the animal
        • abdomen removed
        • legs, shoulders cut off
        • body filled with bread & honey & cooked
          • during the cooking, people beat themselves, then eat
      • Only male bovine are used in sacrifices
        • cows are too holy/sacred
          • when they die, they are thrown into the river
    • Minor differences between Greek & Egyptian Gods
      • Names
        • Ammun = Zeus
        • Isis = Bacchus
      • Heracles was 1 of the 2nd set of 12 gods
        • First set gods had 8 gods, then 2nd had 12
        • Egyptian Heracles was older than the Greek Heracles
          • Temple in Tyre is proof of that
          • Greek one is a hero, not a god
            • The Greeks said that he went down to Egypt & the locals tried to sacrifice him to Zeus but instead he killed them all
            • Herodotus doesn’t believe that story
              • Egyptians don’t even sacrifice cows, never mind people
      • Estimated 17000 years between beginning of time to Herodotus’s time (5th century BC)
    • Greeks must have learned about Pan from Egyptian
      • Pigs sacrificed for Dionysius’s festival
        • no phalluses strapped on
        • only on 18 inch figures paraded around with the cocks as big as the body
    • Most Greek gods come from Egypt
      • Except Neptune, Juno, Vesta
      • Egyptians don’t worship heroes
    • The pre-cursors to the Greeks, Pelasgi, had similar rituals for the gods as the Egyptians but w/o names
      • They called the gods “Theoi” which means disposers
      • Oracles encouraged worship of the gods
      • Only by the time of Homer & Hesiod did the Greeks have names & powers for individual gods
    • Oracles may have actually been Egyptian women kidnapped & enslaved
      • One taken to Greece in Delphi
      • One taken to Libya in Cyrene
    • Egyptians may have started congregations, processions, litanies which the Greeks learned & used
      • Bubastis, Busiris, Sais, Buto – all had different rituals
        • Bubastis – the Festival of Diana
          • women & men sailed in boats up the Nile
          • some women played castanets & some men played pipes
            • others clapped & sang
          • Once ashore, they’d abused each other, dance around, eat & drink tons of wine
            • Est’d 700000 attendees

 

Interesting Stories from Egyptian History

  • Psammetichus’s Experiment
    • King Psammetichus wanted to know who the oldest race was & came up with an experiment
    • Took 2 newborn children to a shepherd who never spoke to them & rarely had contact with them
    • Listened to what the babies said & both said “becos”, the Phrygian word for “bread”
    • This made him believe that the Phrygians were the oldest race (from South Turkey)
  • Proteus’s role in the Trojan War
    • Alexander (aka Paris) took Helen from Menelaus & tried to go back to Troy
    • A storm brought them to Egypt
    • His servants heard that if they were able to reach the Temple of Hercules, they couldn’t be returned to their owner
      • They told the Egyptians that Alexander had raped Helen & wronged Menelaus
      • The priest/warden of the Nile sent a message to Proteus, the king about the situation
    • Proteus told him to bring them to Memphis to see what the whole story was
      • Alexander tried to lie but his slaves ratted him out
    • Proteus didn’t want to execute him but didn’t want to allow him to go free
      • Decided that he’d have to let Alexander go but w/o Helen or Menelaus’s money
    • Menelaus, after Helen had been kidnapped, took his army to Troy
      • The Argives besieged the city, demanding Helen back, along Menelaus’s money & some sort of penalty
      • Trojans didn’t have her b/c she was in Egypt
      • Menelaus didn’t believe them & took the city & burned it
      • Helen wasn’t there, so Menelaus went to see Proteus after getting word Helen might be in Egypt
    • He got to Egypt, got Helen & his money back
      • Couldn’t leave b/c of bad weather
      • He took 2 local children & sacrificed them to a god for better weather
      • The locals heard about this & chased them out to sea & the last anyone ever heard of them was around Libya
  • Rhampsinitus & the Thief
    • King Rhampsinitus ordered a treasury built for all his money & jewelry
      • One worker made one stone in the room moveable so he could come & go w/o ever getting caught
    • He told his sons about his secret on his deathbed
    • They went into the treasury a few times & helped themselves
      • The king eventually caught on to this & ordered traps to be set out in the treasury
    • The 2 sons went back in to get more money when one of them was caught in a trap
      • The brother caught in the trap told the other to kill him & cut off his head so he couldn’t be ID’d
    • The king had the body displayed outside with strict orders for it not to be buried or even mourned
      • The mother didn’t like that & told her son to get the body back or she’d rat him out
    • The song took a donkey w/ a few wine skins on its back & walked by the guards near the body
      • the skins conveniently leaked & the son bemoaned the fact
      • He decided that the wine would be gone before he could do anything about it & invited the guard to help themselves to as much as they wanted.
      • When the guards passed out, he took the body on the donkey back to his mother
    • The King found out & devised another plan
    • He enlisted his daughter to work at a brothel & asked her before doing any deed to ask each man what the worst thing he’d ever done was
      • Once she heard something she would call for the guard to arrest the thief
      • The thief suspected something & tucked a dead man’s arm under his cloak
      • He told her about the treasury, killing his brother & cutting off his head, as well as getting the guards drunk to steal the body back for his mother
      • The daughter yelled for the guards & tried to grab his arm but she grabbed the dead man’s arm & he got away
    • The king was furious but also really impressed by the thief’s cunning
      • He decided to offer him immunity if he turned himself in
      • The thief did & the king offered him his daughter in marriage

Lake Moeris w/ pyramids

  • The Labyrinth at Lake Moeris
    • Near the City of Crocodile (Crocodilopolis) by Lake Moeris, a giant labyrinth was built
      • Herodotus finds it more impressive than anything he’d ever seen in Greece
    • It had 12 roofed courts facing one another
      • 6 facing north & 6 facing south – all in a line
      • There was a wall enclosing all of them
    • There were double sets of rooms, 3000 total
      • 1500 above ground & 1500 below ground
      • Herdotus was only allowed to see the ones above ground
        • the ones below had sacred burial chambers for kings & others had crocodiles in them
      • The rooms had winding passages in & out of courts, very complicated pillared corridors from room to room, room to court, etc.
      • It was roofed by stone & the walls were engraved & pillars were made of white stone
      • At the end of the labyrinth was a pyramid 240 feet tall with animal engravings
    • Lake Moeris was beside the labyrinth
      • it had a perimeter of 420 miles
      • the deepest point was 300 feet
      • it was completely man-made
      • in the middle were 2 pyramids, 150 feet above water & 150 below water
    • The lake didn’t have any natural inflowing or outflowing channels as most of the country has no water apart from the Nile
      • The channels had to be built underground via an artificial channel connecting it to the Nile
      • 6 months of the year the water flowed in
      • 6 months of the year the water flowed out
    • Herodotus saw no trace of spoil (land/soil, etc. from the hole dug in the ground
      • Locals say they just let the first flow into the Nile which carried it away
      • Herodotus heard something similar happening in Nineveh w/ the Tigris River.

 

 

How Herodotus thinks the pyramids were built. Drawing taken from: http://www.hunkler.com/pyramids/r18_259.gif

“The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” Chapter 16 by Edward Gibbon (1776–1789)

“The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” Chapter 16 by Edward Gibbon

The Conduct of the Roman Government Towards the Christians From the Reign of Nero to that of Constantine

  • Christianity persecuted by the Roman Emperors – We don’t know why non-believers were so anti-Christian. But in the 80 years after Jesus’s death disciples were executed one-by-one by “amiable” and “philosophical” magistrates. Apologies came in claiming legal obedience but there was a lot of martyrdom and persecution.
  • Inquiry into Their Motives – We can’t really take their word for it but apparently, each emperor had his excuse. Christians often removed themselves from Roman society and tribute was a deciding factor in tolerance given to Christians.
  • Rebellious Nature of the Jews – From Nero to Antoninus Pius, Jews were impatient with Rome and disobedience resulted in in-fighting and massacres. It was immoral to pay taxes or tribute to idolaters. A prophesy promised a Messiah to deliver them from the oppressor. This was reason enough to resist.
  • Toleration of the Jewish Religion – After years of persecution, Antoninus Pius allowed freedom except to convert others. But synagogues sprout up everywhere but Jews began a practice of more tolerance for different beliefs within reason.
  • Jews were a People which followed, the Christians a sect which deserted, the Religion of their Fathers – Jews were a nation, while Christians were a sect. They had to preserve the laws, oracles and philosophy of their fathers. By claiming superiority, it meant others were inferior and to be avoided. Mosaic laws may be silly and frivolous but they were old and an example for all mankind. The early church was burdened but this attitude and the Gospels relieve them by breaking tradition but somehow, they still had a disdain for outsiders but welcomed them if they wanted in.
  • Christianity Accused of Atheism and Mistaken by the People and Philosophers – Pagans were surprised and then became resentful of Christianity. Accusations of impiety and Atheism flew for attacking the Roman religion. It was unclear to the Romans just what the Christians actually believed and worshipped since they avoided non-Christians. The Sages of Rome and Greece focused on the “First Cause” and uses of the senses to them any religion that avoided this was fanciful and fanatical. Through came from perception of human senses.
  • The founder of the faith was revered by his followers as a sage, a prophet and adored by God. Polytheists believed anything written about their various gods but didn’t understand why Christians would abandon the temples and monuments to heroes and gods who defeated tyrants and monsters for an obscure god who sacrificed his only song to the jealousy of his own people and Roman government.
  • They rejected Jesus’s offer of immortality and constancy throughout a shitty life, benevolence, sublime simplicity of actions and character. They chose the empire and its glory to “worship”.
  • The Union and Assemblies of Christians considered as a Dangerous Conspiracy – Their religion made them a target but so did hanging around criminals. Already an illegal sect, meeting at night and in secret. Also, claiming to have an authority higher than Rome worked against them. They had spread to almost every corner of the Empire. They broke up families and refused to participate and predicted disasters.
  • Their Imprudent Defense – Christians said there was no evidence against them and guilt would only be implied with any evidence. Believers in the Gospels could not evil while believing in such a good book. But heretical offshoots behaved in ways and Christians were lumped together, being indistinguishable to the untrained pagan eye.
  • Idea of the Conduct of Emperors Towards Christians – No excuses for tyrants though… But more modern rulers have been way worse. Avoiding Roman society and running a parallel nation made Emperors just want to enforce laws in order to avoid mayhem. We may conclude that:
    • It was a long time before the government saw them as a threat.
    • Persecution and conviction was often done with caution or reluctance.
    • Punishments were relatively moderate.
    • There were long stretches of peace and tolerances for them.
  • The Neglected Christian as a Sect – They blended in with Jews when it was convenient when the Romans had tolerance for them. But the phasing out of Jewish ceremonies made them stick out because they were now accepting Gentiles into the religion. Jews saw them as different enough to call them heretics. Since they had no control over public justice, they appealed to the Romans. The Romans were interested in maintaining peace and avoiding riots and strife.
  • The Fire of Rome Under Nero – In the 10th year of Nero, a major fire destroyed many monuments, trophies and buildings. Only 4 of 14 districts survived. There was some preparation but not enough. People lived in parks and temporary shelter. The city was rebuilt to be prettier and more prosperous. A rumor had Nero playing a lyre while it burned. Another rumor said that he set the fire himself.
  • Cruel Punishments of the Christians as Incendiaries of the City – Tacitus reported Christians were already unpopular but used as a scapegoat and torture and martyred for this. The places of torture and death eventually became pilgrimage sites, churches, cathedrals and papal palaces.
  • Remarks on the Passages of Tacitus Relative to the Persecution of Christians by Nero
    • It became famous because Tacitus claimed that Christians were blamed by Nero for the fire.
    • We’re not sure how much Tacitus saw or knew of it or what his sources’ intentions were.
    • Christians were small and obscure that it was more likely Jews were blamed and Jews pointed to the Christians.
    • The animosity for the fire ended with Nero’s death.
  • ­­Oppression of Jews and Christians by Domitian – It’s interesting that the fire in Rome was followed by the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem only a few year later. At this time, Rome also levied a tax on Jews. The moment the Christians saw that the Jews were being taxed, they made it clear that indeed they were not Jews and couldn’t be taxed. The Romans changed their mind and applied the tax to non-pagans. Neither group wanted to give money away to sinful idolaters. The Romans just wanted to preserve their form of order and the Christians found it convenient to emphasize their differences with the Jews. The Romans really couldn’t tell the difference.
  • Execution of Clemens the Consul ­– At first, Domitian seemed pleasant and harmless but then he started executing family members and Flavius Clemens, his cousin, was also executed for Atheism (Jewish or Christian). Domitian’s memory was condemned by the Senate.
  • Ignorance of Pliny Concerning the Christians – 10 years later, under Trajan, Pliny the Younger was governor of Bithynia and Pontus. There’s evidence that the Roman policy was not yet determined because there was a meeting between Pliny and Trajan where Trajan explained that typically anyone labelled as “Christian” was usually enough to convict but there were no explicit laws about them.
  • Trajan and his Successors Establish Legal Mode of Proceeding Against them – Trajan’s judgment was for protecting the innocent and not really to punish the guilty. The laws got on the books but were almost never enforced. It was required for accusers to declare their intentions and this prevented abuse and false accusations were punishable by death.
  • Popular Clamors – Sometimes expressing these laws resulted in Christians being placed into arenas and fed to lions to sacrifice a few particularly obnoxious Christians. But emperors rarely appealed to the public for any justice.
  • Trials of Christians – They usually didn’t show up with a pre-determined sentence on their heads. If Christians paid lip service to pagan traditions, they would be let off but only to reclaim traditions. Sometimes if they refused, it would mean death.
  • Humanity of the Roman Magistrates – Most later writing Roman magistrates were either exaggerated or made up. They were usually polished, well-educated and liberal men who respected justice and philosophy. Charges were often dropped or magistrates would even find ways for a Christian to escape punishment. In executing discretionary power, it was usually out of leniency. Very few were put to death – they more likely to be exiled, imprisoned or sent to work in mines. Martyrs were usually bishops and presbyters to scare others. Origen and Dionysus of Alexandria only recorded some 17 martyrs.
  • Example of Cyprian the Bishop – Around this time Cyprian the Bishop of Africa was popular with faithful but hated by pagans. In a span of 10 years, 4 emperors and their families had been murdered while he was Bishop. Angry and paranoid magistrates and pagans wanted him thrown to the lion but he was allowed to live in exile with regular communication with the Church. Some were upset that he had deserted them.
  • D. 257 – His Banishment – The African governor, Paternus, would allow him to come back if he’d switch back to paganism – he refused and was banished from Carthage for away but eventually was allowed to come back.
  • His condemnation – New governor, Galerius Maximus received orders to kill Christian teachers. Figuring that Bishops would be the first to go, he ran off for a while until he got the balls to face the music. He was held until he was taken to tribunal and was ordered to make a pagan sacrifice. He refused and was sentenced to death.
  • His martyrdom – Many Christians wished to die with him and tried to get in to the building. The presbyters were allowed to stay and scrounge for relics. His head was cut off
  • Various Incitements to Martyrdom – Cyprian had a choice between martyrdom and apostasy. If he’d chosen the latter, the Christians would have destroyed him for that. It also set an example for Bishops to bear the brunt of the Romans’ need to crack the whip.
  • Ardor of the First Christians – We wouldn’t like the fervor of early Christians because of their martyrdom. Ignatius tells of prisoners asking the executioners to hurry up, outrunning lions, jumping into fires and seeming to enjoy the torture. But magistrates were loath to try Christians with little evidence and no benefit to doing so, especially when they seemed to enjoy it.
  • Gradual Revelation – Church leaders wanted to scale back ardor in order to attract less attention and fewer martyrs. There were 4 main ways to escape punishment:
    • Magistrates often accepted certificates bought be the accused attesting a following of laws and sacrificing to pagan gods.
    • The accused was given time to settle personal affairs and prepare a defense – He could run away.
    • Christians could renounce their faith and later ask the Church for forgiveness.
    • Hope that you live in a time and place where magistrates weren’t too concerned about Christians. Warning of things like the 10 plagues of Egypt often scared magistrates.
  • Supposed Edicts of Tiberius and Marcus Antoninus – The Apology of Tertullian mentions suspicious examples of clemency. Alleged edicts from Tiberius and Marcus Antoninus may have had slight “admissions” of miracles and references to the Gospels. This doesn’t really add up when you look at everything else they have said. They both seemed to hate Christianity from a philosophical point of view.
  • State of Christians in the reigns of Commodus and Severus A.D. 180 – When Marcus Antoninus died, Commodus changed the policy on Christians. His mistress has a soft spot for them and with her patronage there were 13 years of peace for them. Severus started employing them and laws about them were ignored. During this time, regional strife began between Christians but this was ignored by the Romans.
  • Of the Succession of Severus – Churches were usually someone’s house. Now with acceptance, they started buying land, building churches and consecrating them. Asian princes were often friendly. Empress Mamaea thought of converting and her son began placing statues of Abraham and Jesus alongside Orpheus and Apollonius. But the successor, Maximin massacred some Christians.
  • Of Maximin Philip and Decius – The Bishop/Theologian, Origen was often brought in to explain Christianity to emperors and staff. Philp was receptive and nearly converted. But Decius was restoring the sanctity of the Roman religion. Many bishops were killed or exiled.
  • Of Valerian Gallienus and his Successors 253-260 – Valerian became fascinated and friendly toward Christians but after a trip to Egypt, became taken with Egyptian religion and followed Decius’s example. When Gallenius allowed Bishop to exercise power over their flock, it actually worse for Christians than Roman persecutions.
  • Paul of Samosata – Paul was Bishop of Antioch and made lots of money for the church and himself, extracting money from the faithful. They were more suited to civil service than the church and sinned a lot.
  • He is Degraded from the See of Antioch – He began to preach Monarchianism – that God is 1, not 3 like the Trinity. Other Bishops wanted him out for this. Emperor Aurelian listened to both sides and determined the best thing for peace for him to be removed from his post. Peace lasted for 40+ years.
  • Peace and Prosperity of the Church Under Diocletian 284-303 – Under Diocletian, Christians began to hold high positions in the government. His wife and daughter were patrons. The number of Christians was too much for the churches, so new ones were built and Christianity expended along with Bishops’ power.
  • Progress of Zeal and Superstitions Among the Pagans – The growth and zeal of the Church caused pagans to panic. They went from persecuting Christians to being overrun by them. Pagans worried about the claims of the Church. But at the same time, they emulated Christians with new ceremonies and sacrifices. Pagans turned against Philosophy and Philosophers. The Philosophers ran to the Church for a new home as Platonicians.
  • Maximin and Galerius Punish a Few Christian Soldiers – Maximian and Galerius had a complete to aversion to Christianity. Maximian was primarily a soldier and maintain their superstitions. At this point, every new Emperor meant some sort of change in policy towards Christians. He had Christian soldiers executed. Galerius had many dismissed and considered Christianity a danger to public safety.
  • Galerius Prevails on Diocletian to Begin a General Persecution – Galerus and Diocletian met in Nicomedia and discussed Christianity. Diocletian was annoyed by them but didn’t want to kill them. Galerius convinced him that it was necessary by claiming that the Christians were trying to create a parallel government of their own with their own officials and laws.
  • Demolition of the Church of Nicomedia (2/23/303) and Edict (2/24/303) – Galerius wanted instant blood but Diocletian thought it would be best if all churches were destroyed and only the meeting in secret killed. All Christian property was confiscated and Christians weren’t to be protected by the law.
  • Zeal of Punishment of a Christian – The edict was issued to the public and a Christian tore it down and later tried for treason and burnt to death. While they didn’t support tearing down the edict, they felt execution was going too far. They began to hate Diocletian.
  • Fire of Nicomedia Imputed to the Christians – 15 days later, the palace was set on fire twice. Christians were suspected and were tortured for information and confessions.
  • Execution of the 1st Edict – The edict was meant for the whole empire but since it took so long for news to travel, it couldn’t be forced quickly or uniformly. The executions of Christians were mostly about disobedience in Nicomedia. Other bishops and disobedient Christians were tried for refusing to hand over Bibles.
  • Demolition of the Churches – Copies of the Bible were everywhere and any real effort would be impossible to get them all. Some magistrates were happy just closing official churches. In a Phrygian town, there was a stand-off against the army and many were martyred.
  • Subsequent Edicts – A series of edicts were issued to arrest all clergy and force them to renounce Christianity or die. This applied to all Christians later. Many pagans thought this went too far and helped hide Christians.
  • General Idea of the Persecution – Diocletian retired from being Emperor and Christianity was on the run in general.
  • In Western Provinces Under Constantius and Constantine – As a governor, Constantius didn’t like all the killing an oppression and made many Christians officers. However, he couldn’t stop the destruction of churches, he could shield Christians from harm. Upon his promotion to Emperor, he adopted a system of toleration which eventually led to his son, Constantine, converting and making it the official religion of the empire.
  • In Italy and Africa – Maximian and Severus – Maximian enforce the edicts and hated Christians as an agent of Diocletian. However, after Diocletian, further persecution occurred in Italy and Africa.
  • Under Maxentius – Son of Maximian, Maxentius restored peace to the churches of Italy and Africa which got him a lot of fans. A high-ranking clergyman, Marcellus, pursued those who renounced Christianity under the persecutions, which led to a violent chaos. He was sent into exile. Mensurius of Carthage libeled Maxentius was only given a slap on the wrist. Christians began entering the favor of the government.
  • In Illyricum and the East Under Galerius and Maximin and the Edict of Tolerance – Galerius, who had been torturing and killing Christians, began to realize it wasn’t working and opted for a policy of tolerance. This may have been an old man regretting his past actions. Maximin was the new boss and kept it light for the first 6 months but ramped it up until he realized that the Christians were indomitable due to something about the religion. He stopped the persecution.
  • End of Persecution – Asian Christians were skeptical about this. A civil war broke up resulting in the death of Maximin and making Licinius emperor.
  • Probably Account of the Sufferings of Martyrs and Confessors – Gibbon doesn’t describe all the shit they went through because he doesn’t know what to believe. He thinks a fair amount of what was written had been exaggerated to glorify the Church and its martyred. 2 examples typify the punishments:
    • Confessors worked mines but were allowed to practice their religion in these mines.
    • Bishops were required to scale back the zeal of Christians who wanted to be martyred.
  • Number of Martyrs – Difficult to say because accounts weren’t well kept, exaggerated or made up. In the time of Diocletian and Galerius about 1500 martyrs (150/year).
  • Conclusion – Christians were and have been way worse to each other than the Romans ever were to them. Wars of Religion during the Reformation were way worse in one province in the Netherlands by Charles V than the Romans were in their entire history to the Christians.

Chapter 15 of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon (1776–1789)

Titties for Jesus!!

 

The progress of Christian religion and the sentiments, manners, numbers and conditions of the primitive Christians

Christianity is an essential part of Roman history because of its infiltration into Roman politics and power.

Difficulties in inquiry

  • Scanty and suspicious documents of church history make study of facts difficult.
  • Must reveal imperfections of church history and figures which may make the church look bad.
  • Theologians may look at their religion as divine revelations in purity but historians look at it as a mixture of error and corruption among weak degenerates.

How did Christianity really win out?

  1. Christianity came from Judaism but didn’t focus on ethnic purity from Moses’s line and had a broader social spirit.
  2. Doctrine of future life gave it an advantage over other religions.
  3. Miraculous powers ascribed to the Church.
  4. Pure and austere morals of Christians.
  5. Union and discipline of Christian world grew an independent and increasing state within the Roman Empire.

Christianity came from Judaism but abandoned racism and became more social

  • Jews refused join other religions or associate with them. They were usually at the bottom of empires but eventually rose during the time of Alexander.
  • They wouldn’t cave to violence or entreatment and Jews maintained a contempt for all non-Jews.
  • To them, God meted out punishment or rewards according to people’s treatment of his rules.
  • It was suited for defense but not for conquest.
  • Jews were constantly at war with their neighbors looking to annihilate any idol-worshippers. They were forbidden to marry, trade or associate with Gentiles. They didn’t want to share God with others. The religion was suited for just one country, Israel.
  • Even in complete defeat, they maintained an air of superiority about them. Their diets, clothes, weird customs kept them apart from others and turned off perspective converts.
  • This was Christianity’s foundation – exclusive God, zeal for truth and knowledge of God. The prophesies of a Messiah, a Conqueror/King and his expiatory sacrifice made it whole.
  • Divine favor brought in converts of all backgrounds since it was open to Gentiles. It was a duty to convert others and remove oneself from non-believing family and friends.
  • Early Jewish Christians wanted it to remain exclusive to Jews since Jesus was a practicing Jews and he never said anything about abolishing ceremonial laws.
  • Others claimed old laws didn’t apply because new ones were written by Jesus.
  • The first 15 Bishops of Jerusalem were Jews and held Jewish laws sacred. Eventually as other churches grew, focus shifted away from Jerusalem.
  • Strict Jewish Christians were annoyed by the entrance of pagan ceremonies and the phasing out of Jewish ceremonies. The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem but other ones were unaffected.
  • Jews left Jerusalem for Pella, about 60 miles away waiting to be able to come back to the Holy Land.
  • Under reign of Hadrian, Jews became fanatical and rebellious – Romans put a garrison on Mount Zion.
  • Christians elected an Italian, Marcus, to help circumvent the ban on Jews, establish the Catholic Church and acceptance in Jerusalem. Those who refused the changes were called heretics and were forced to leave. Eventually, Mosaic law was phased out of the conditions for salvation which meant a permanent split from Judaism.
  • All the murders, executions and massacres by Jews of heretics and non-believers were their attempt to implement God’s law.
  • There was some in-fighting within the young Church about which one was the Sabbath day, Adam’s rib, where the Garden of Eden was, the Tree of Knowledge, Forbidden Fruit, the Serpent, etc.
  • Gnostics believed that the Old Testament God was different to the one of the Gospels. The Jewish God was nasty, capricious and error-prone. The was a great deal of confusion over what was metaphor and what was literal.
  • Most converts had to surrender their possessions, money and personal opinion. Gnostics were the nicest, smartest and wealthiest Christians. They were originally from Egypt or Syria. They believed that there are various and infinite paths of error. They were responsible for giving the Church its penchant for philosophy.
  • While the Gentiles rejected Mosaic law, they kept all the same zeal and abhorrence of idolatry which were really just their pet peeves that they called sins.
  • Pagans seen as degenerate and evil-worshippers determined to pervert the faithful, even if the stories were similar. Their temples, feasts, oracles were a rebellion versus God. They wove deities and rites into all aspects of public life.
  • Christians had to remove themselves in order to keep pure. They left all pagan family and friends.

Doctrine of Future Life Give it an Advantage

  • Cicero and others used Metaphysics in stating that the mind/soul was other-worldly and immortal and had a past eternity and a part of the universe. This attitude was ideal for idle, extravagant philosophy without concern of anything other than here and now.
  • Defects of Greek and Roman Mythology:
    • No evidence for mythology
    • People only know of heaven and hell through art and poetry
    • Focus on what Gods’ whims wanted and how it affected life on earth
  • Jews didn’t talk about the soul or immortality. Only after living in Babylon did some Jews start talking about them.
  • Sadducees – very literal interpretation of the law and rejected immortality because it wasn’t in any holy text.
  • Pharisees – picked up elements of eastern philosophy – angels, immortality of the soul and liked them and suited Christianity later
  • With Christians – When Gospels embraced eternity, Romans liked it. The early church focused on Judgment Day coming very soon because it had been predicted by Jesus and the Apostles. Jesus was coming back soon and there was a real sense of immediacy.
  • Millennium – Elijah had predicted a Messiah coming 6000 years after the creation. Then after him, there would be a waiting period of 1000 years and he’d come back. This was popular because it was a return to the Garden. As the time passed, this fizzled out.
  • Conflagration of Rome – Romans were condemned for Paganism as an idolatrous religion as a sign of the end, along with a fire in Roman and Mt. Vesuvius which were all “prophesied”.
  • Pagans and Eternal Punishment – Early Christians saw pagans as doomed. Those who lived before Christ were given a pass if they had live good lives. But afterwards, it meant hell. Families and friends broke up because of it.
  • Conversion due to Fear – Many tried to convert pagans to have avoid hell and many converted because of this fear.

Miraculous Power of the Church

  • Supernatural gifts did a lot of convincing: miracles, gift of tongues, visions, prophesies, exorcism, healings and reviving the deal.
  • They were good with languages. This helped spread the religion around because they could talk to the potentially converted. Divine inspiration caused conversions along with possession by the Holy Spirit after prayers, fasts and vigils. The visions directed the Church’s activities as signs from God.
  • Exorcising demons were very convincing because it was a huge spectacle – driving out pagan demons and the victim was usually a quick convert. The spectators were impressed by the scene.
  • We can’t rely on testimony because there’s no evidence. We should remain skeptical about what qualifies as evidence in the early days of the church. It’s interesting that these things happen only when people weren’t very skeptical. We usually chalk these things up to natural phenomena these days because we understand it better.

Virtues of Christians

  • Effects of Repentance – The Christians brought in ex-convicts who were remorseful. Pagan would never offer redemption but Baptism did that. The Gospels focused on avoiding sin to the purity of the soul. Passions moved criminals from one extreme to another.
  • Care of Reputation – New converts were watched closely and expected to change behavior. The Christians were being watched closely and they were worried about their reputation. The virtues of the Gospels prevented further crimes and cause them to be honest.
  • Morality of the Fathers – Many problems came from excessive virtue and literal interpretation which exalted perfection not wisdom purity and patience. This slowed acceptance.
  • Principles of Human Nature – 2 qualities of virtuous and liberal dispositions:
    • Love of Pleasure – refined by arts and learning, improved by social intercourse, economy, health, reputation à for the benefit of private life.
    • Love of Action – when guided by propriety and benevolence and makes oneself useful and respectable.
    • Combined – perfect idea of human nature.
  • Primitive Christians Condemned Pleasure and Usury – Knowledge with reason and conversation makes a liberal mind. The early fathers rejected this because they hated anything without a direct course to salvation. They wanted perfection and hated anything involving worldly delight. Senses are necessary for survival and are only to be used as such. But they saw their first use as their first abuse. Followers had to reject sensual pleasures because they are signs of pride and hinder salvation. Luxuries were an affront to God because they are an attempt to improve his creation.
  • Sentiments of Marriage and Chastity – Anything gratifying the senses degrades the soul. If Adam had obeyed God, we’d still be in the Garden of Eden in a perfect, pure state. Marriage was seen as an imperfect solution in an imperfect world that suits the needs of the species and symbolized the union between Christ and the Church. Any second marriage was considered adultery and was an excommunicable offense. Celibacy was the closest to divine perfection. Rome could barely get their vestal virgins but the Church was tripping over people signing up for chastity, untempted by flesh.
  • Aversion to War and Government – It’s difficult to forgive people and maintain any defense of life and property at the same time. Christ told people to invite further abuse. They developed an aversion to war by forbidding bloodshed of world war and justice. However, they knew it was necessary in order to survive so they decided to free-ride off pagan government protection.

Christians Active in Church Government

  • While they wanted nothing to do with business and pleasure, their love of action made them establish a church government. They wanted an internal policy and ministers for spiritual functions and overall direction. It established safety, honor, growth and patriotism for the church and its members. With them, the ends justified the means. They dealt with heresy through excommunication by combining “wisdom” and “innocence”. It ultimately grew increasingly corrupt.
  • Primitive Freedom and Equality – The government was a source of contention. Its earliest forms connected churches through a network of charity and faith, although they maintained their independence. Large figures of all ages, sexes, ability and background made an impact, Eventually, they were replaced by bishops and presbyters.
  • Institutions of Bishops as Presidents of Colleges of Presbyters­ – There was a need for a supreme Church magistrate and a place for public deliberations – collecting sentiments and executing assembly resolutions. The wisest men would be making the decisions. The assembly was modelled after the Senate with presbyters instead of Senators and an Emperor executing law.
  • Provincial Councils – Each society was separate but eventually started meeting together twice a year in local meetings to exchange ideas. Decrees were issued and became canon. The links between individual churches grew stronger.
  • Progress of Episcopal Authority – The use of legislative authority waned and the Bishops began to rule with arbitrary executive power. They curbed the rights of the priests and the people. Also, they cited Scripture to justify their actions. The Church began to speak for God and considered itself above any worldly powers. Some provinces were more authoritarian than others.
  • Preeminence of Metropolitan Bishops – High clergy began to overthrow assemblies and collect power for itself openly. Many assemblies appealed to outside authority for help. The Bishop of Italy became a centralizing figure at this time.
  • Laity and Clergy – There was a line drawn between the clergy and laity where the clergy began granting itself special roles, rights and privileges.

Church Functions

  • Oblations and Revenue of the Church – The Church collected goods and property. Money was put in a collective pot. The communal style began to be phased out in favor of a Jewish style of tithing – 10% of income. This added up and began to corrupt the people and the priests. The church got a lot of land and money.
  • Distribution of Revenue – Bishops ran things like CEOs and presbyters were in charge of spiritual functions. Many higher-ups spent money lavishly on luxuries, private gains. Public feasts held public interest mostly to keep them occupied from the fact that the priests and bishops were spending so much. Some money was spent on the poor, sick, old, orphaned and widowed. Pagans saw the good and the bad.

Excommunication

  • Members were cast out for rejecting or violating established regulations. This was reserved for really bad sinners, murderers, frauds, heretics and idolaters. They were cast out, not talked to, not allowed to participate in the Church or Christian society. Some were given a few years of exile and allowed back in when the memory of their sin faded and were truly penitent.
  • Dignity of Episcopal government – There was a mixture of liberality and rigor, punishment and reward according to Church policy. The Bishop had paternal care and acted on a prerogative, using the cross as a pretext for action.
  • Skepticism of Pagan World Proved Favorable to the New Religion – Pagans were skeptical of the fantastical claims. They were more into logic and reason, as well as philosophy and conversation. On the surface, they accepted pagan institutions but in reality, they didn’t care. However, they maintained a love for the supernatural and were curious about life after death. They were fairly superstitious on the surface of things and Christianity brought those elements altogether.
  • As well as the Peace and Union of the Roman Empire – The conquest of the Roman Empire prepared and helped Christianity. All provinces were united under a common language, common legal system and a common culture. It was the perfect place to spread ideas around.
  • In the East – The locals really took to it and the allowance of Gentiles into the religion sealed the deal. People stopped going to pagan temples and started going to Churches.
  • Antioch – Numbers are hard to give with large cities. In spite of earthquakes in Caesarea, Seleucia and Alexandria, Christians were more numerous than pagans or Jews.
  • Egypt – Alexandria was a hot spot for Christianity since they were pre-disposed to celibacy, martyrdom, etc.
  • Rome – About 1/20 of Rome was Christian in a city full of foreigners coming and going with lots of trade and new ideas. There is some evidence that the Christians were trying to curb the Bacchanal feasts of Rome – and having some success.
  • Africa and Western Provinces – These lands copied all the Roman fashions. They may have been receptive to the religion but Gaul was too far to be reached. It didn’t pass the seas or Alps. There was almost none in Britain. St-James’s travels brought some influence but not very much into Spain. Africa was the most receptive. Every town and village had a fair share of Christians, including Carthage.
  • Beyond Limits – Barbarians may have heard tell of it but certainly didn’t practice it in any significant numbers.
  • General Reception – Until the time of Constantine about 5% of the population were Christian.
  • Were 1st Christians Most Favorably Received by the Poor and Simple? – The poor, sick and outcast were focus of Jesus’s speeches. They were usually the first to convert. However, missionaries succeeded in getting some rich families to join. Most of them were poor and sick because the religion openly speaks of favoring them. They were promised the highest positions in heaven – a complete reversal of stations of life in heaven – poor à rich, rich àpoor, etc.
  • Learned Followers – Aristide, Justin Martyr, Clemens of Alexandria, Julius Africanus and Origen, some of the most learned men of the era were believers.
  • With Regard to Rank and Fortune – Deserters of Paganism were often tried. Warnings from Pliny the Younger were to the Romans – don’t pursue them too far because they are among the ranks of the government and army.
  • Rejected by Eminent Men of 1st and 2nd Centuries – By name – Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Plutarch, Galen, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius either overlooked it, ignored it or rejected it. Some of them even called it a perversion because it focused on a text and not reason itself. Some may or may not have been aware of it and may have possibly accepted elements of it like compassion for the poor and sick. But they certainly would have rejected the superstitious aspects.
  • Miracles – Doctrine was confirmed by many prodigies at Jesus’s time. The lame walked, the blind saw, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, laws of nature suspended for the benefit of the Church. Sages turned away from the spectacled and preoccupied themselves with life and studying, turning away from the alterations of the physical and natural world. During the reign of Tiberius, there were 3 hours of night in the middle of the day and very few paid any notice to it. All sorts of natural disasters didn’t make anyone curious.

“Confessions” Books I-VIII by Augustine (397 AD)

"Lord, don't take my bitches away from me just yet."

“Lord, don’t take my bitches away from me just yet.”

“Confessions” by Augustine

Book I

I. [Addressed to God] You should be praised because of your infinite power and wisdom. Man is so little, sinful and proud. But at least we have the ability to look to you. You made us but you made our hearts restless. Should I call on you first or praise you first? Should I call on you to know you? There’s a lot to praise and believe about you. Faith is inspiring. I feel God because of Jesus and his teachings.

II. Is praising you bringing you into the room? Where would you be if you weren’t already there? Are you in me? You must be because you’re everywhere. I should stop looking then. What was going on with me before I didn’t believe? You were in me, because you’re everywhere, but I didn’t believe in you. I’m glad I’m not in hell but you’d be there too. God is everywhere at all times.

III. Are you in heaven and on earth? Can they contain you fully? If you’re infinite, then you must spill over into other places. If all things individually cannot contain you, then where’s the rest of you?

IV. What are you? What word could you use to describe God other than ‘God’? You are omnipotent, most good, most just, most hidden, most strong, most stable and unchangeable, all-changing, never new, never old, renewing, ever-working, ever-resting, always creating, nurturing, nourishing, maturing. You never grieve, always love but without passion. Always jealous but without anxiety. You always find but never lose, never need but always gain. It is good to have you around.

V. I’d like to take a nap on you. You’d come into my heart and inebriate me. I’d forget all the heavy shit of the world and embrace you. What is it about me that is actually you at work? I’d like you to teach me to know and to talk about it. What am I to you that you’d want my love? And when I don’t love you, why should that upset you? Speak to my soul about salvation and what you can do for me. Show yourself to me. I would give anything for that.

VI. Allow little ol’ me to ask for your mercy. I speak to you, not to shitty man. You might even hate what I am but you will do it anyway. You gave me life and nourishment through my parents. I realize now that you were working through them. You gave me everything when I was a baby, completely unable to understand you or even see you. When I was able to think and sense, I did not see you. I was barely able to think of anything other than what my bodily needs and desires were. You helped me to grow through the help of my parents and nurses.

Now my childhood has long since passed. But to you it must just seem like the blink of an eye has passed. You live through all time and it is nothing to you. But what was I before my infancy? What was before I was in my mother’s womb? Nobody’s been able to tell me anything about that. So, thank you, God, for allowing me to be born and grow up. Can a man truly be the maker of himself when you, the source of all life and wisdom, are around? Man must seem like a stream of short mortal nothings to you. What is time to you? We must be content just to know you exist, rather than know more about you because our brains are so tiny to understand.

VII. You made us but we humans are pretty sinful. But then who would remind someone of the sins of his infancy? What was my sin when I was a baby? That I cried when I wanted to be nursed? If I did something like that at my age, I’d be laughed at and ridiculed. What was it about my childhood that was so sinful? We don’t do that to child but at some point as a human grows, he is able to be criticized. As we age, we seem to throw away what is good. When we are infants, we are innocent but that is a weakness. I’ve seen babies get jealous and angry at those who do something to upset them. Some mothers and nurses know how to deal with this but I don’t. These evils might seem small but they tend to grow over time, as the child grows. So, you gave me childhood, senses and a tiny body. These were for my own good and commanded me to use them for my own good and to revel in your name and goodness and I did not do that. I can’t remember being this age so I have to rely on other people’s accounts of it. But if I was nasty as a baby, when was I ever guiltless and innocent?

VIII. On to boyhood. I don’t recall there being any discrete change from being a baby to being a boy. I remember learning to speak and learning new words. I wasn’t being taught explicitly but I learned from hearing others talk to me and talk to each other. When I was unable to understand things and unable to express myself, I reverted to my infantile behavior expressing desire, frustration, pain and jealousy the way a baby did. As I began to learn more, I was able to use language to communicate my needs, wants and emotions.

IX. But as I began to learn and master the science of the tongue, I began to use it for bad things – the praise of man and his accomplishments. When I was learning, I was praised when I succeed and beaten when I failed. This system is as old as time, all the way back to Adam. But when men called to you, they taught us to think of you, someone beyond our senses but that you could sense us. So, when I was a boy I learned to pray to you for help but mostly out of not wanting to be beaten at school.

Are we all just clinging to you and praying to you out of habit or are there really people so devoted to you that the thought of not having you is way more painful to them than any instrument of torture? We prayed to you to relieve us of our physical pain but so rarely do we do so for our spiritual pain. When we were children, we did not get any pleasure from prayer and your presence but from physical pleasure and playing. The pain is put upon us when we displease the elders. But when I was beaten for preferring to play ball instead of doing my studies, it only made me hate school more and enjoy playing more.

X. But I was a sinner. I sinned by not listening to my parents and teachers. Whatever their intentions were, I’m sure it was of some good. I disobeyed not because I had something better in mind but because I wanted to play, win in my games and hear stories rather than do work. Please forgive me for that. Please deliver those who ask for it and those who have not yet asked for it but help them to ask for it.

XI. As a boy, I had heard of eternal life offered to us by God, even stooping down to our pride, even in our mother’s womb. When I was born a cross was put on me with some holy salt. I was very sick as a child and my mother was about to rush my baptism when I suddenly recovered. It seems that because I had not been baptized yet, that the sins just kept piling up. Everybody in the family was a Christian at this point, except my father. Mom was definitely the more pious of the two. You helped her to prevail over Dad in my religious upbringing.

Why do you think my baptism was delayed? Was it good to expose me to a predilection to sin? Life was much better for me after my baptism. But I had a great deal of hangover from those times in my penchant for sinning. But Mom knew about this and it made me what I am today.

XII. I hated studying and hated even more to be forced to do it. It was for the best that I was forced because otherwise I would never have learned. It was good to be made to learn but that came from you rather than my teachers. They had requirements to fulfill and wanted to avoid the shame of failing at their jobs. But you actually wanted me to learn and helped the process along, didn’t you? When I was punished, I was done so justly.

XIII. I wonder why I hated studying Greek as a boy. I loved Latin but mostly for the grammar. I don’t think I hated anything more than Greek lessons. It must have been from sin and vanity. But once I was able to catch on to things, it got a lot better. I still remember the lessons to this day. I liked reading about Aeneas and but didn’t like reading that Dido killed herself out of love because that was very sad. It made me feel far from the joy of you, God. I feel a lot of shame of devoting myself so intensely to the Aeneid rather than to you. I suppose the grammar lessons went along with the reading but I probably shouldn’t have been such a little shit. I guess I’ll always be a sinner because I love the Aeneid so much. I guess the love for the book allowed me to overcome the sin of not doing my work by making me eager to do it.

XIV. I really hated Homer. I guess Greek kids would have a hard time with Virgil and would hate him as a consequence. Learning foreign languages is hard enough without the threat of beatings if I failed at it. How I really was able to master Latin, my native language, is through the day-to-day use of it. From my parents, nurses, friends and people around town. Very little of that was done in a class room and so there was less pressure on me. Usually force is a way to keep us from worldly pleasures and to maintain focus on God and his laws. So maybe the beatings were the only way to make sure I learned.

XV. Lord, listen. Please don’t let me collapse in your presence. Please don’t let me fail to bring myself away from all my wickedness, so I can love you as purely and completely as possible. Whatever your role was in my childhood it must have been you that really helped me to speak, read, hear and write. I’m sorry for reveling in my vanities. Please let what I have learned be useful to reach you.

XVI. I’ll bet you’re tired of people standing up to you. How long have people been trying to compare themselves to your greatness? I read about Jove (Jupiter/Zeus), the thunderer and adulterer. Our school masters told us that Homer wrote his stories to bring the divine to the people. But the problem with that is that gods seem to be imitating the wickedness usually found in men. But instilling wickedness in kids from the examples of the gods is the price we pay for drilling that crap into unwilling kids’ heads. If putting gods as lustful beings is really the only way to get kids to learn then we should rethink the school system.

XVII. Stay with me, God, while I big myself up a bit. But that’s mostly down to you giving me my talents (You see how that works? If I’m good at something it’s because you gave me that gift). One thing that bothered him was a speech that Juno gave in the Aeneid. I was able to remember that, with all the emotion and that. I won an award for that. I wonder why I was good at remembering that. But was there nothing else I could have used those talents for other than parroting the words of a bawdy poetry teaching kids that gods are wicked?

XVII. I must admit that I was very proud of myself for that. But isn’t it silly that the award was for being able to recite the text properly without any attention to horrible shit I was reciting? Something worthy of praise would be to speak the truth about God, how wonder you are. The only way that we really do ourselves any injury or pain is when we turn away from you, not speaking poorly. Some people pay attention to closely to rules and completely ignore the spirit of what is good and bad.

The focus on speech is a good example of that. We criticize people when they mispronounce words or use the wrong grammar. I know having speech all done nicely is a good thing but to reproach someone for slipping in his speech is out of line. Furthermore, you could say most hateful and horrible things but as long as they are said well, it seems that that is all that matters to people.

That was the world I lived in as a child. I was afraid of being seen as a barbarian, not being able to speak right, rather than concentrating on doing the right thing. I know you know all of this but it seems silly that I was so obsessed with being seen as a good boy rather than actually being one. Appearances were so important that I began to hide my sinful actions, like stealing envying others, lying to everyone around me, etc. When I was caught doing anything wrong, I chose to fight the fact rather than confessing what I had done and changing myself. But then again all of this sinful behavior was taught to me by everyone around me. I know that’s no excuse, but it’s good to get to the root of the problem to stop it from happening again.

I was as sinful when I was a kid as I am now. So, I won’t try to pass off all of this behavior as youthful follies. But the real point of all of this was that I did not know that what I was doing was sinful. Perhaps it was beyond my understanding. Perhaps I was just unable to see what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. But you gave me what I needed to change things. It wasn’t a bad childhood. The sin was in looking to understand things by looking everywhere else apart from you.

BOOK II

I. Let’s review how I’ve been a naughty boy. Not because I’m happy about what I’ve done but because I want to love you. I want to confess what I have done in my past in order to come clean to you.

II. What was it that I did that was so bad? I wanted to love and be loved. But the pleasures of the flesh definitely were more important to me than the joys of my heart. My wicked ways were mostly just about fornication. I wonder how it felt for you to watch all that and all the pain that it did to you. It was no way to live my life.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bad if I had gotten married. Marriage tends to calm young guys down. It also would have allowed me to do the same thing I was doing but without the sinning because I’d be having sex in the way you had meant it to be: for procreation. I should have listened to all the warnings about the pleasures of the flesh and how they are sinful but I didn’t. I turned away from you and broke your rules. I know I was only 16 years old but that is old enough to overcome the temptation of lust.

III. It was that same year, when I was 16 years old, that my studies were interrupted. The cost of studying was a bit too much for the family so I had to take a break while my father could rustle up some more money so I could carry on. My father sent me to school so that I could be a better speaker. He didn’t really care how chaste I was or how close I was with God.

That 16th year I spent back with my parents. I didn’t have a whole lot to do. That idleness led directly to my horniness. Dad caught a peak of me sporting wood at a public. He was pretty happy about it because he thought that it would lead to him having grandkids. He told Mom about it and that got her fairly upset. I hadn’t been baptized yet and she was worried that all that sinning was going to be a bigger problem than if I had been baptized.

I wonder what this whole period of my life was all about. My mother was upset and warned me not to defile another man’s wife. It might have been my mother actually saying that but I know that that was really you. My friends and I would try to one-up each other bragging about our sins. I seemed to get more pleasure out of the bragging and praise than the actual act itself. In fact, this led me to make up some acts to my friends in order to not to be thought not manly enough. The goal was to be the least chaste as possible.

My friends and I walked the streets of “Babylon” and really reveled in the whole business. I was easy prey to all the sinful behavior. My mother tried to point me away from all this but wasn’t able. I wish that she had been more forceful with her opinions to convince me to do otherwise. She was thinking that marriage, which would have gotten me off this path, would have slowed my studies down. She’s right but stopping the sinning was more important than my studies.

IV. I was also a bit of a thief. I was more into the thrill of stealing than actually getting the thing I was taking. I didn’t actually need the things that I stole. I used to take pears from next door’s pear tree. They weren’t even that good. My buddies and I would go by late at night, steal bushels full, take one bite and fling the rest to the pigs. That was pretty fucked up for us to do. I was attracted to the sin itself, not the fruit of the sin.

V. Gold and silver have a special attractive quality about them. But they’re not really the most important thing. In trying to get these things, we must not deviate from our course to follow your rules. In between the lowest, worldly possessions, and the highest, being with God and following his rules, is human friendship and relations. So often the higher order goods are put in a lower preference behind the desire for lower goods. So many terrible acts and sins are committed for the sake of lower things. Murder and stealing a committed in order to maintain a status in society or in order to improve it. But that doesn’t make sense because one’s status is not as important as being with God. By committing sins, we are turning away from God, the highest good, in order to improve the lower goods.

VI. I really loved stealing. But I think that love for stealing had something deeper behind it. I wasn’t after the pears themselves. The sin of theft has got something in common with all the other types of sin. Pride is another one. Pride is merely the placing of oneself up high up near God. Proud people wish to have the height and the power of God. But let’s be honest, they’ll never get there. Curiosity is the desire to know, to become closer to the omniscience of God. But we’ll never get there. In fact, curiosity is a trait that borders on pride because we are trying to place ourselves higher and higher. Prodigality (wasteful excess) puts us on a level with God but nobody could ever become as lavish as God. Covetousness is the desire to have more and more, to have the abundance that God has. Envy is the push for excellence. But who could be more excellent than you? Anger is looking for revenge. But who could have better and more just vengeance than God? Grief is longing for something that has been lost. But without God, we have nothing. With God, we can never lose anything.

All of these feelings, all of these sins are the human’s attempt to place himself at God’s level. Since we are so lowly and imperfect, we can never be at God’s level. All of these sins and feelings are to be avoided if we wish to be closer to God and in his good graces.

VII. The only thing that we can give God is our love. In return for our love and devotion, he will give grace – the forgiveness of our sins. Keeping ourselves away from sinful acts allows us to experience God in as close to a pure form as possible. Finding God prevents us from committing sins. Forgiveness of sins is like being cured of a disease by a doctor. We can still thank the doctor for our good health even when we haven’t had a disease.

VIII. I really liked stealing those pears. Like I said earlier, it wasn’t so much the pears themselves that I enjoyed so much. It was more of the camaraderie I experienced with my fellow thieves. Perhaps I wouldn’t have stolen at all if I didn’t have friends around encouraging me to do so.

IX. I guess that the real sin was enjoying the sin of stealing. Why was that such a joy to me? If we had all just stayed alone, I doubt very much any one of us would have committed the sin in the first place. Friendship’s usually a good thing but it can cause you to do bad things.

X. How can you untangle all the knots of sin and where it leads you? I suppose it doesn’t matter because a man who finds God will follow a great path in life.

BOOK III

I. I went down to Carthage, that cesspool of sin. I went there looking for love, emotional and physical. As I think back on it now, I really had a hole inside of me. Everything that I indulged myself in was detrimental to the health of my soul. The more love I got the better it felt to me. But I realize now that this wasn’t really love in the true sense of the word. These were just sexual desires based in sin.

II. I also liked going to plays. I particularly liked tragedies. I think that is because watching them made me feel a great sense of pity for the characters. This pity made me feel good because it made me feel like a good person for feeling bad for someone going through a bad time. But that doesn’t make sense. We all hate going through that shit. So, why don’t we hate watching other go through it? The contradiction of that must mean that these sorts of plays and probably theater in general are pretty wicked. That is because it makes us delight in awful things and corrupts our souls.

III. I’m pretty lucky that you are merciful because boy, I sure loved to sin. I even did my sinning inside the church. I did suffer from time to time because of that and I deserved it. The studies that I was doing at the time were in law. I was really good at my studies. The fact that I was good at my studies got me heaps of praise. And that inevitably led my ego to become very inflated. There was a group of youngsters in Carthage called “the Subverters” I knew fairly well. I longed to be in their fold as they spent a lot of their free time attacking strangers and mocking others. They were horrible but, boy, did I want to be one of them.

IV. During those days of sin, I studied many great books. I was studying these things to inflate my ego, to get myself more praise and more attention. While reading all these big books, I stumbled across a book by Cicero. I instantly fell in love with it. The book was “Hortensius”. This started me down my path to you. It was this book that made me realize that wisdom was immortal and my heart should be filled with warmth and not vanity. My mother was taking care of me then because my father had died 2 years before. It was this book that not just filled me with the ability to speak well but I took the subject matter to heart.

This work got me on the road of philosophy and the search for the truth. We seek knowledge and the ability to speak not to fluff ourselves up but to build ourselves to understand the truth in its various forms. That led me to search for the truth, which led me to Christ and to you.

V. I began to read the scriptures. I’ll be completely honest with you, I wasn’t really that impressed with them. The language was mysterious and having to dig for deeper meanings was a bit strange. It definitely was nowhere near on the level of Cicero.

VI. I began to get involved with people who were looking for the truth, but it was an empty sort of truth. It was dividing the world into light and dark, representing good and evil. They were giving me a dish that was called the “truth” but it was not nourishing in the way only the truth can be. They relied on the sun and the moon as real divine bodies. These were just fantasies that they were projecting good and evil onto. It was a bit of a reach, honestly. You are a spiritual substance and not something specifically manifest in certain physical characteristics. I wonder what you were thinking about me in that phase of my life. I was better off being tortured by my Greek teachers in school than listening to that shit.

I much preferred the stories from mythology that you could draw lessons from without having to believe every single little detail. The strong fixation on tales being true and real were drawn from the Greek mythology, as well as the Book of Proverbs. Something you’ve got to be able to spot a metaphor when it’s used.

VII. I did have a lot of questions about you. I didn’t have any answers when the deceivers asked me where evil came from, what your body looks like, if you had hair and fingernails and if you were any holier if you had more wives and sacrificed animals. Rather than running away from that craziness, I ran towards it. It was all very new to me and very strange.

I didn’t know how to deal with what I read in the Old Testament. What I read about your relationship with Isaac and Moses didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. But what I feel must be true is that as time moves on, your rules are like rooms of a house. When we pass from one room to another, the rules can change but that doesn’t stop it from being all one house. Justice itself doesn’t change over time but nations and society do. We must understand when the times change and the rules change.

Like I said, it was all very confusing to me. I didn’t see people following the laws of God but slavishly adhering to minor details that were often contradictory to each other as well as my perception of righteousness without the Scriptures.

VIII. Can you love your neighbor and love God completely and have that be unrighteous? That is not contradictory. But if the laws are established that they are contradictory, then the laws are wrong, not God’s laws. When earthly laws go against divine laws, the earthly laws are wrong. If a king changes the rules just to suit his own personal desires that doesn’t make them right. He’s fiddled with the definition of what’s legal but cannot change what’s moral.

Violence is also wrong. It’s not a direct attack on God and his laws but it is a form of lust and self-gratification because in acts of violence, we are feeding our desire to improve our status, our material wealth and we are harming the souls that God has created and given to others. It is an indirect attack on God by harming humanity. To love God is to love what he has created.

IX. God isn’t necessarily straightforward. That is, what he deems good or just may often conflict with our ideas of what is legal or moral in our society. It also works the other way around. What society allows us or even encourages us to do doesn’t necessarily fit into God’s definition of what is good and just. Every now and again, God will change what is good and just. When he does, we are now able to do some things weren’t allowed to do before and we are now forbidden to do things he was perfectly cool with before. God changes his mind and we just have to live with that.

X. The group I fell in with were a strange bunch. It was bad to them to harm trees and plants, even food. WTF? Only lesser members were tolerated for doing that. More mercy was to be shown to the fruits of the earth than to hungry men. That was really stupid of me to believe.

XI. At this point in my involvement with these characters, Mom became very upset with me. She had a dream that you came to her and listened to her and consoled her. You let her know that it was still cool to live with me and eat with me, even though she had begun to avoid me. She was sitting on a ruler and a man came to talk to her. He told her she was where she was and I was there too… Was this you trying to calm her down?

At first, I didn’t quite understand the meaning of this but, hey, dreams are weird and it seemed to make sense to Mom. It did the trick and she began to connect to you more strongly.

XII. Mom went to a bishop to ask him to talk to me about the weirdos I was involved with. He was to set me straight about all the bullshit I was starting to believe. I was still young and impressionable and he was supposed to dispel all that. He used to be in with the same group and eventually found out that they were full of shit. It was possible for him, why not for me?

He told her that because she was the type of mother she was to me that all of this would probably just be a passing phase and I’d come around after I woke up from it.

BOOK IV

I. I stayed with those nut jobs for 9 years! From 19 to 28. We managed to fool a lot of people into our fucked up shit. But this religion allowed me to carrying on with my previous hobbies – going to theater and entering poetry contests. I must admit that I was on the lower rungs of this organization, which allowed me to pick fruit, something the higher ups weren’t allowed to do.

II. At the time, my job was teaching public speaking. Basically, what that meant was studying the laws, teaching people reason and how to apply the laws. Then they would be able to argue for or against something on that basis. Most of the people I taught were good, honest people. At the same time, there were a few bad apples among my students.

III. After those fuckers, I started hanging out with some astrologers. These guys believe that our destiny was written in the stars years and years ago and we’re all just living through that. I knew an old guy around the neighborhood, a doctor. He tried to warn me about hanging out with these characters. Did I listen? Of course, I didn’t. He said that I’d be better off doing medicine. It was his view that if the astrologers got anything right, it was purely out of luck. He started to convince me to leave but I wasn’t ready just yet.

IV. Back in my hometown, Thagaste, I had a very close friend. We were into the same crazy nonsense as each other. He had a fever and was at death’s door. When he was seemingly out of it, he was baptized. Eventually, he pulled through and I would razz him all the time about being baptized. But it turned out that after being baptized and his getting better, he actually turned into a Christian. Thought that it would pass after a while. It didn’t. His sickness came back and he died. This was a horrible experience for me. I can’t really explain how sad I was about his death. My soul just ached about this and I couldn’t figure out why. I realize today that it wasn’t until my soul started to trust God and stop grieving for my friend’s absence that I was able to move on.

V. What is it that makes us sad and grieve about life and loss? Are the tears about our experience or their loss?

VI. This whole episode in my life got me thinking about death a lot. If we know people and care about them, we will experience the loss of someone. It’s inevitable. Unlike Greek heroes, I am afraid of death. It stirs up a lot of other emotions. I feel angry because I was robbed of my friend. I felt so angry about his death toward to the stars or to God or wherever. It stirred emotions of hopelessness and unfairness. I still don’t understand it.

VII. All of these emotions created a need in me to get out of town. I needed a change in order to heal. I wasn’t looking for a retreat into nature or someplace to be alone with my thoughts. I also believed that part of my problem was that I was following the wrong religion. Astrology didn’t give me any comfort or healing. I began to realize that I was worshipping the wrong God. I decided that Carthage would be the best place for me.

VIII. Time has such a strange power over people. As time rolls on the heavy shit in life seems to have less of an effect on the mind and soul as when the grief initially hits. Time was a huge part of my healing process. Friends also helped. They distract you and help you talk about things. They replace the pain in your heart with love, laughter and fun.

IX. Friendship is really great. I think we all know that. But what makes friendships even better than what they are alone is having friendships while having God in your life. You can never lose your friend if both you and he have God in your lives. You can’t because, while you can lose your friend, you’ll always have God.

X. Time passes. Things change. People come and they go. We have things come into our lives and eventually they leave for one reason or another. There is one thing that never changes, never dies, and never leaves you: God. Holding onto things outside of a relationship with God will only leave us with sadness. Having God in our lives takes the ephemeral things in life and makes them permanent with us through God. Not having him will leave us with sadness of the changes and death.

XI. God puts everything together. Parts are made to be a part of the whole. When you put your trust in God, you are not limited in time or in body. Your experience is whole when you are with God. Ordinarily it is syllables uttered here and there. But with God, those syllables are put together in a whole sentence to make sense.

XII. You need to be careful about getting very attached to people and things. You have to see everyone and everything as an extension of God. When people die and things fall apart, they don’t truly disappear. Remember, in the frame work of God, these things are only changed and moved around because he wants them to. Also, when you cling, your focus is on the person and the thing, not God. People who think highly of themselves, their words and their actions, they are unjustifiably putting themselves at the same level as God. We need to be humble to keep ourselves grounded. Furthermore, you are a creation of God. If you’re so great, it’s only because he made you that way.

XIII. When I was younger, I didn’t really think about these things. I thought about beauty all of the time. That was the only thing of any importance. I even wrote a couple of books about that. Even beauty is temporary. Even my writing was temporary. I seemed to have lost my work and I don’t know how.

XIV. I’ve dedicated my book to Hierius, a Roman orator. I’ve never met the fellow but I’ve been inspired by him to write. I’m sort of struck by how much I like the guy even though I don’t know much about him personally. Everybody seems to think that he’s a good guy, so why wouldn’t he be? I do like some actors that I see on the stage. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to be them or be like them. I just enjoy their work and like to see it as often as I can. That’s pretty much why I think that Hierius is so great. In a roundabout sense, I admire him out of my own pride. I suppose that I wish for the greatness in him and the admiration people have for him for myself.

XV. All the physical beauty that I see around me clouds my vision. Because of it, I’m not very able to see the real truth, you. The more my focus is on these things; the more my feel for the truth is disrupted. True things have a sense of unity about them. The truth is interconnected. So, all the true things have something in common with the others. Untrue things do not have that sense of unity. They err from the truth in so many different ways that they don’t connect.

XVI. I was able to choke down Aristotle’s The Ten Predicaments in one gulp. I enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. I was really proud of myself for getting a lot out of it. But there I go again. It’s all pride going to my head. I am a fairly smart guy but I’ve been thinking about intelligence. It is really only useful if you can use it for God. Any tool or gift that you are given or acquire should be used to understand and be with God. Otherwise it is a waste of the gift because you aren’t using it for its highest good.

BOOK V

I. I hope that you accept my confessions. It really helps me out because nothing will really help me out like getting all this shit off of my chest. It’s not good to keep all that to yourself. When you don’t confess, you have all that heavy shit and you carry around with you. It slows you don’t from having a clear mind, open heart and a good relationship with God.

II. The bad and restless try to run from you. They run to the seediest places all to keep their shittiness from you and to themselves. But it’s impossible to do. You’re God. You are omniscient and omnipresent. You are everywhere and you know everything. So, it’s not like these fuckers can hide anywhere and keep their sins to themselves.

III. At the age of 29, I met the bishop, Faustus. He came to town and had a lot to see. Needless to say, I was pretty enthusiastic to hear what he had to say. The Manichæans were the first group I was involved in. This Faustus was one of their leaders. I still had sympathies toward them but wasn’t completely sold on them. It was at this point, I began to suspect that both he and the Manichæans were full of shit. But I had an open ear. I was leaning toward science but there were problems with that. Science is probably more on the path of truth but most scientists aren’t open to God. You can use science to understand the world but when you completely shut out God, you aren’t open to the absolute truth. Rather than using their science to understand God and his universe, they use science to build up their vanity and pride. That’s a sure-fire way to go away from the truth.

IV. Does people’s knowledge please you and bring you closer? It seems like people who learn a lot and know a lot seem unhappier. They might even not know it but it has to be the case. Because when a man learns and it inevitably builds up his pride and vanity, he must be moving away from you. That must make him less happy. All the knowledge and all the wealth in the world cannot make you as happy as when you are with God.

V. Manichaeus was the founder of the Manichæans. You’ve always said that a man ought to have piety and wisdom together. However, Manichaeus had neither of these. He was spouting bullshit and had absolutely no sense of piety. Whenever someone proved his teachings to be wrong, he would claim that he wasn’t wrong because everything that he said was when he was the Holy Spirit. Not very wise or pious. Whenever I hear someone spewing out random bullshit, I try to be patient with him. That’s usually because the person is not harmful. As long as these people aren’t blocking my path to God, I don’t really mind what they say. That’s my definition of harm.

VI. So, I sat back and listened to what the guy had to say. He seemed to me to be a good speaker and nice enough. But what was all that eloquence for if all he had to say was horse shit? Still, hearing a speech isn’t quite the same as a conversation with the guy. That was what I was really after. When we got to speak to the guy, we got the sense that he really didn’t know too much about the liberal sciences. In fact, the more he talked and answered our questions, the more I was convinced that the guy was talking out of his ass.

VII. One thing that I liked about Faustus was his admission of his ignorance. Many people get caught in their own ignorance and lie their way out of it. I liked him very much because of this. It’s not really that terrible to be ignorant. The real crime is being ignorant of your ignorance. There he was open to his lack of understanding. I think we were both happy to help each other fill our ignorance with knowledge. But because I challenged his beliefs systematically, I think he got nervous that we were trying to tear his beliefs apart. I think because although his ideas don’t really fit together, he keeps them because he doesn’t have much to replace them with. I think that if he were really convinced that he should explore knowledge and truth, that would have happened anyway. That’s mostly because he believed a bunch of shit. I suppose, God, that you can play a role in all this?

VIII. All of this debate got me thinking that it was high time that I went to Rome. Carthage isn’t the best place to learn. Rome really has that highly scholarly appeal to it. I figured that God pushes me to go where I need to go. Since I needed to educate myself religiously, I might as well go into the lion’s den. Mom wasn’t really cool with this. Rome is about a million miles away from home. I had to lie to her to get her off my back. I gave her the slip when I could. Mom lost it when I left. Maybe she forgot that this is all a part of God’s plan for me. I was going further and further down the path of Christianity by going.

IX. The moment my feet touched the ground I got some sort of illness. It nearly carried me off with it. I’m glad it didn’t. Not just because I’d have died but because my conversion wasn’t complete and I’d probably have gone to hell as a sinner. I pulled through. Hell, I wouldn’t have been here to write all of this. I’m also glad not to have died so that my mother didn’t have to go through the pain of my dying as a sinner.

X. Even when I got to Rome, I hung around with the Manichæans. Their belief is that the person is not the sinner but what is physically within them that controls their actions, which leads to sin. It was a nice thought that I was not a sinner but it was just what was inside of me. It just seemed a little too convenient. They began to try my patience. I started seeing guys called the Academics. Their idea was that people can’t really know what it is exactly that causes people to sin. Our minds are small and aren’t really equipped to understand it. One thing that puzzled me is that idea that God isn’t physical. I think I needed to understand this more before I started understanding the nature of sin. To my mind, God needed a physical presence and so did evil. If God is good, why did he create evil to undo all his good? The concepts of good and evil, in my mind at the time, were the stumbling block to me buying into Christianity. Also, the idea of Christ being related to God but not exactly God was weird. Never mind the virgin birth…

XI. It was interesting to hear the debates between the Manicheans and those who had a strong understanding of the Bible. A guy named Elpidius was someone who loved getting into these intellectual bouts. The problem he and the Manichæans had in public debates was that they tended to lose on a regular basis to other religious groups.

XII. Before I got to Rome, I had the impression that Carthage was a shithole… Fine, students in Rome weren’t as obnoxious, but boy did these Romans ever have the habit of stiffing me in my lessons. They really got to me. I began to hate them. But then I stopped myself. It wasn’t them whom I hated as such. It was the greed and the theft of my services that got to me. It was the sinning in these respects that really pissed me off.

XIII. I read somewhere that a teaching gig was open up in Milan. I snatched that up as soon as I could. It was also at this point where I lost touch with the Manichæans. When I got up to Milan, I got to meet Bishop Ambrose. My religious beliefs were beginning to follow the mainstream while I was out of touch with the whackos. I began to fall under the influence of Ambrose, not just because he was such a good speaker but because of what he said.

XIV. Ambrose’s wisdom began to have an effect on me. He began to answer my questions about the Old Testament. They weren’t literal stories as I had understood them before. They more allegorical. This basically killed any lingering effect the Manichæans had on my understanding of the Old Testament. Christianity had a bit more sense to it. I wasn’t totally on board yet but I was moving that way. I stilled had some things in common with the Academics. But anything I had with the Manichæans was long gone at this point.

BOOK VI

I. Mom just couldn’t stand to be away from me, so she made her way up to Milan. She found out that I wasn’t with the Manichæans anymore and was a bit open to something else. She wasn’t as happy as I was expecting. She figured that it was just her prayers being answered. She was expectant of it, although it was only half of what she wanted. She wanted to see me make the full conversion over to Catholicism.

II. Back in Africa, Mom would bring food and wine to the Saints’ shrine on their feast days. I didn’t like the idea of her doing that here in Milan. People tend to use feast days as an excuse to get pissed up. I wasn’t sure if that’s what Mom was doing. Ambrose was also against the idea because it smacked of pagan rituals. We’re supposed to be getting away from all that.

III. At this time, Ambrose was getting to be very popular. I found it very difficult to get any time to talk with him. One of the things about Ambrose that blew me away about him is how he read. He read silently. Most of us read speaking. Not Ambrose. He looked like he was staring at the book, not speaking. Apparently you can read without speaking! It must have given him much more peace which is useful to understanding what you’re reading and thinking about. I would have done anything to get more time with him. As it was at this point, I had to get my time with him listening to his sermons on Sundays. I began to make peace with the purely spiritual aspect of God.

IV. It was also at this point where I began to understand how the Church functions. It was nothing at all like what I thought it was. It was really stupid of me to “know” everything about the Church because apparently I just invited it in my head. I am ashamed of that presumed knowledge, which was just jumping to conclusions. I wasn’t totally on Christianity at this point. I was still on a scientific bent and I wanted to be 100% sure about it. One of the things bothering me what was I could do with my soul in order to be a good person and do God’s will.

V. One of the main differences between the Church and the Manichæans was that the Church wanted believers to believe things that weren’t completely provable. Many things in life and things in the Church’s doctrine had to be accepted as a matter of faith, rather than proof. At first this was a bit hard to do, being scientifically oriented. But as I thought about it more and more, it didn’t seem like too much trouble at all. We believe all sorts of things outside of religion based on faith and not on proof.

VI. I was composing a speech about the Emperor. It was a praise to him but I knew it to be a lie as did anybody who was going to hear it. It was a huge moral conundrum for me. Here I was lying about something and then I was going to get heaps of praise from people who also believed it to be a lie. To take my mind off of this, I decided to go for a walk around town. I bumped into a beggar who seemed quite pleased with himself. I wonder why he was so happy and hopeful when it was as plain as day that he was a bum and didn’t have much to be happy about.

VII. One buddy of mine whom I taught back home, Alypius, was completely mad about the gladiator matches. His father and I didn’t really see eye to eye on everything so he stopped being one of my students. He would sneak away from his father and come listen to me at one of my public lectures. You’ll never guess where he ended up… As a Bishop! I may have had a small part in this because one time when he was at one of my lectures, I used gladiator matches as an example to go on about something in the Bible. I think he was thinking that I was directing this comment to him and it seemed to have struck a chord with him. He turned from gladiators to Biblical things.

VIII. Alypius went to Rome before I did. When he was there, some buddies of his goaded him into going to a gladiator match but he decided to stick to his guns. He ended up going anyway but kept his eyes closed the whole time. Every once in a while, the crowd would gasp or roar in response to whatever was going on in the ring at the time. The sounds made him open his eyes to see what he had been missing. Wouldn’t you know that he fell back into the worship of the fights?

IX. This wasn’t something that would totally be unproductive for a later use. Back in Carthage, while Alypius was out walking around some fellow was breaking into a silversmith’s shop. The owner hear something going on in his shop and sends some guards around to see what’s going on. Meanwhile, Alypius happened to be walking by and trips over the thief’s axe. He examines it and in come the guards to see him. He is arrested. An architect buddy of his find out that he’s been wrongly put in prison. He rounds up a mob to look for the criminal around his house. The thief’s slave rats him out.

X. In Rome, Alypius worked for the government. Unlike a lot of people in his position, he happened to be completely honest about his work. When people wanted him to look the other way or forge some document, he wouldn’t take any bribes. Some pretty high up people offered him big time cash to try to get him to be corrupt. The only thing that was remotely close to that was getting people to copy papers out for him to save himself time and getting recognition out of it. I suppose that it wasn’t that good but for the most part, he resisted the really big temptations thrown his way. I aspire to be so good.

Another guy I knew, Nebridius, came with me from Carthage to Rome. He also was on a quest for truth and knowledge. When the three of us get together we have a tough time trying to make sense of the world.

XI.  So, all of this time, I spent going over my own life and examining it. Before, my quest for truth and knowledge was mostly about vanity, pride and greed. It was getting my knowledge and wisdom up so I could show it off to other people or just keep it to myself just to make me feel better. I knew that wisdom and knowledge came into play at any stage of my life and with any people in my life. The reasons for the search changed but the search itself kept on going. All the while, I knew that Christianity was hard to get around to. Because I was not really keen on the idea of celibacy, I kept delaying my conversion to it.

XII. Alypius and I talked at great length about marriage and wisdom and all that. Alypius had his own personal reasons for talking me out of marriage. While his outward reason was that he thought that it would distract me from my quest for knowledge, I really believe that he felt that my marriage to a lady would slow him down in fulfilling his own desires. It is always easier to go out and have fun when you’ve got a buddy to go along with you. It would slow him down in partying as well as having a conversation partner to discuss things. Really both of us had our own selfish reasons for wanting what we wanted. My lady friend and I had been together for 10 years at this point. I wanted to make this right in the eyes of God.

XIII. I finally got engaged. My mother was happy about the idea. Interestingly enough, the reason why she wasn’t absolutely over the moon about it was because she had never had any prophetic dreams about me getting married or me being married. The girl was two years too young to be married, so we decided to wait it out until everything was above board.

XIV. At this point, many people in the same group as me thought that it would be a good idea to get about 10 people together so we could all live together. There were some in this group with quite a bit of money. We had all the rules and ideas planned out but it eventually fell apart and nothing ever came of it.

XV. Talk about racking up the sins on the old sin-ometer. I was having a problem with my marriage being set up because of my mistress. That’s not unusual. My mistress left me and went back to Africa. However, she left our son with me. This wasn’t easy for me. So sad about this breakup, I decided to take on another mistress. I just couldn’t live without sex. However, I couldn’t really get over losing my first mistress.

XVI. All the sadness was mystifying to me. I was getting what I wanted physically, but it just didn’t seem to satisfy me. These emotions were clouding my mind. I began discussing the nature of good and evil, as well as mortality and immortality. All of this discussion was nice and all but I really couldn’t figure out what was truly bugging me.

BOOK VII

I. It was still bothersome to me to talk about you as if you are there spiritually but you aren’t here physically. And then how can you be everyone and at one specific place all at once? I suppose that it’s like how air is everywhere and some specific place all at once. That might not work, now that I think about it. When you think about it, big things have more space than smaller things. But because they are bigger, they have more God in them than smaller things do. You can apply that to humans. Do larger people have more God in them than smaller people? Is God divisible?

II. Then I began to ponder the question whether you were corruptible or not. I was finding myself reverting to my Manichæan explanations of things. I couldn’t help myself. I just hadn’t had enough training outside of their bullshit. Eventually, my buddy, Nebridius was able to put all my theories to rest. He was able to explain that God was not corruptible. He is the source of all things and was completely benevolent. It made sense to me. Straying from God is the source of all corruption and malevolence.

III. I was having a hard time understanding where evil came from. My question was that if God is all that is good and he makes up everything, where does evil come from, if not from God. I figure that I do make my decisions and I have a free will. Whenever a person’s will strays from the will of God, it ends up in sin. Although I’m not sure what the point in making sinners in the first place. Is it a question of God allowing evil or man making it?

IV. God must not be corruptible. It’s in the definition of who you are. God is the source of all good. Moving away from God is the corruption of good. If you are in what is wholly good, moving away from it is a move away from perfect good. So, anything that is not good does not come from God.

V. Now the question of God and evil comes up. We see all the good that he creates. We experience them and in doing so, we experience God. But why does he allow evil to exist? Since he is all powerful and infinite, why should he allow evil to ruin all the great things he’s done? These questions I’ve been asking are the line that my search for truth and knowledge has taken me. They are something that I would like to find in Christ and the Church.

VI. While thinking about my astrologer buddies, some things come to mind. Many of my friends think that whenever astrologers get anything right, it’s purely by chance. I have a friend, Firminus who’s definitely fully gone with this. His father was deep into it too. He made records of the date and time of whenever anything happened and had a log of it. That sounds silly. But think of it. Two people born at the same moment. There are loads of people in the world and two of them must have been born at the same moment. There is no way that they could live the same lives, so it must be bullshit.

VII. The search for truth is a daunting task. I think that faith is something that allows the quest for truth and knowledge to carry on strongly. God is so constant, it is really me who is the biggest impediment to my own progress. Whenever I learn something or find something I have said to be smart or wise, it never goes toward my knowledge or wisdom but fuels my own pride. That doesn’t really help in my quest.

VIII. It’s amazing how God’s not constantly pissed off at us. It is always with your help that we move closer to the truth even though we probably don’t deserve it.

IX. You always help those who follow the right path but don’t necessarily shit on those who don’t completely stick to it. The Platonist books were a great source of pride for me. When thinking about the Bible, I am brought to the Word of God. Comparing the two is quite different. There is a difference between the act of worshipping idols and worshipping a concept of a wholly good God. To worship the idol is to worship one’s own pride. The concept, so long as it is pure, is the worship of all that is good and that is God.

X. When I think of God in the sense that I have recently got to know, I consider God to be the Unchangeable Light. You are my helper and the eye of my soul. You, God, are the eternal truth. I tremble with love and fear just at the thought of you.

XI. All things on earth are lesser than God. But then again, they are included in God. So how could he be something and be greater than it?

XII. Let’s think of things in the world that are good. All things are fairly good but these things are able to be corrupted. The fact that they can be brought down to a lower level shows that they are indeed at a high level. Evil isn’t actually anything in particular. It is the relative absence of good.

XIII. Everything that God has created is good. What is important to remember is that good is not all or nothing. Something that is considered evil could very well be considered less good than something else. Since evil is the absence or the relative absence of good, it is missing something of God in it.

XIV. The idea of two substances originally is an interesting one because the question will arise: which one is the originator and which is the subservient? That is to say, that if there was God and some other thing in the beginning, then there’s just God who’s one thing, not two. But there’s God and this other thing but God is in everything. So are both things God or is God really just one thing, unique?

XV. I think the way out of this conundrum is not to think of things in those terms. Rather, we should be looking at things existing not with God but in God. This allows for things to exist simultaneously and not have the issue of their godliness be a problem.

XVI. People who tend to gravitate toward the inferior parts of God’s creation are actually turning away from God. This is exactly what makes them lower and bad. Moving toward is what makes them higher and superior.

XVII. I was standing in wonder of you. I didn’t deserve the wonder or the beauty that you give but you gave it anyway. But your great things were being taken away from by my desires for baser things. It was out of carnal habit that I was unable to get very close to you. The lesser things began to get to my soul. When I did ponder the great things I was able to get to the truth which is through you. It was like this that my senses could get to the truth and to you. That is the connection between the physical world and the spiritual truth, you. This proved to be too much for me to do for too long.

XVIII. I wanted to get close to you but was unable until I accepted Jesus. I wasn’t really able to wrap my mind around him. Jesus seemed to be the physical connection between you and us.

XIX. I didn’t really see him as all that holy. He seemed more like a wise man born under unusual circumstances. He also appeared to be a fairly good leader and his teachings were pretty sound. One thing that troubled me is the saying that “the word was made flesh”. Here was a man prone to all sorts of problems of all men but he was the holy representative of God and the only way to connect to God. Alypius thought that Christ had a human brain and Catholics are wrong for actually calling him God.

XX. My goal is to be wise. I must confess that my pride is running this desire. As much as I have enjoyed the books of the Platonists, they say nothing about how to be charitable. That’s where they sort of leave me in the lurch. I want this because this is one of the major necessities of accepting Christ. I’m glad that I did read the Platonists before I read the Scriptures. Because there was that hole in their instruction, I would not have needed the Scriptures and it wouldn’t have led me to you.

XXI. I have to say that I enjoy reading the works about and by Paul. His words and all of his ideas about Jesus and you are touching to me. Also, his story includes a lot of introspection which is important to me in my conversion. Watching his process is inspirational to me. I also like his style and subject matters.

BOOK XIII

I. By the time I was 32, I was fully convinced by the Scriptures about you. However, at this point, I wasn’t able to commit myself fully to the life necessary to be a good Christian. I consulted a man named Simplicianus about this. He was much older than me and much wiser. I asked him for advice in this predicament. I saw that life in the Church would be full and that secular life wouldn’t be very nice. Life basking in your greatness would be much better than being further away. But I didn’t want stop having sex. On the other hand, I really didn’t like the idea of getting married.

II. Simplicianus helped Ambrose out when he was younger. Ambrose would consult him on matters. He told me a story about a fellow named Victorinus, who translated the Platonists from Greek into Latin. He was from Rome and really well connected. As was the fashion of the time, he worshipped Egyptian gods. He started getting into Christianity, but on the sly. Simplicianus told him that unless he participated in the Church, the belief wasn’t good enough. That got him worried that Christ would reject him if he didn’t start believing in public. That led him to come out about it.

III. One thing that Jesus harps on about in the Bible is the recapturing of lost souls being more important than those who had always been faithful. What is the meaning behind all that?

IV. With the example of Victorinus, there seems to be a bigger deal about the conversion of nobles. Take the example of Paul. It was a great thing when the biggest persecutor of Christians became the biggest proponent of them. That conversion not only got an eloquent speaker and writer in Christianity but he also was great in converting others.

V. I come back to Victorinus. I would love to follow his example of giving up all worldly possessions and follow God. One of the major stumbling blocks in this is my problem area of sin, lust. I find it curious that I have trouble giving up the one thing that is keeping me away from being closer to you. Why is it that I’ve fixated on lust when it’s so harmful to me?

VI. Nebridius landed a teaching gig that allowed him the time do Philosophy. Alypius and I would sit around talking when up comes Ponticianus. He saw Paul’s teachings on a table in front of us. He told us about the monastery in the countryside. Then he talked about two of his friends who visited a monastery and saw a book by Antony, a monk. One of them read it and thought that being an agent to the emperor must not be very much when you could do the same thing for God. Working for the bigger master would be a better job. They all stayed at the monastery, even their betrothed.

VII. I kept thinking about myself while listening to the story. I began to think of what a piece of shit I’ve been ever since I can remember. I started off on this path after reading Cicero. I began to search for truth and to be near you but my vices always got in the way. I prayed for chastity and continency but I didn’t want them then and there. I kept running into people who offered me ways to allow me to continue sinning and all in the name of being wise and knowledgeable. I’d been dicking around for over 10 years and I still haven’t been able to commit.

VIII. During my conversation with Alypius, I began to lose my shit. I flipped my lid and ran off. I had an absolute conniption. My body and my mind were fighting it out as to what we were going to do.

IX. Why is it so possible for us to control what our feet and hands do just on command but we can’t do the same with our minds and our wills? The internal struggle is fairly plain to see. Part of us wants to be good and part of us wants to be bad. The stronger one wins out.

X. There are those who say that we actually have two wills in us, good and bad. This idea isn’t very good. I think that it’s much better to admit to ourselves that we are the ones who must serve God. When we refuse to do so, we are engaging in a fight either to be near God or further away from him. I don’t think there are two wills.

XI. So, inside me are the two figurative sides pulling me apart. The worse side of me wonders if I can really give up sex and lust. The other, better side of me says that it’s completely within my abilities to do so. I really can get closer to the truth and please God by doing so.

XII. This conflict inside me makes me emotional and antsy around Alypius. I ran off to sit under a fig tree. When I began to cry, I heard singing off in the distance, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” This changed my feeling immediately. It seemed like this was a sign to go read Paul and see how he dealt with the conversion. This was the final straw. This is what pushed me completely into Christianity. He read a passage to Alypius and told him that he was ready to convert. Alypius was ready too. We went to tell Mom and she was over the moon.

The New Testament: “The Acts of the Apostles” (80 AD)

“The Acts of the Apostles”

"My horsey"

“My horsey”

1

“Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven”

Jesus did all of his stuff until he went to heaven after giving instructions with his boys. He made his point with his words and actions, fulfilling prophecies. He stuck around for 40 more days. “Don’t leave Jerusalem. Wait for God to give you a sign. We’ve talked about this. John the Baptist may have baptized you, but wait till you see what God’s got in store for you.”

The guys asked, “Are you going to take Israel from the Romans and give it back to the people?” Jesus: “Never you mind that. You should concentrate on getting right with God. He’s running things anyway.”

Just like that he went up past the clouds. They looked up and two guys in white rolled up and said, “Why are you staring at the sky? Isn’t this the Jesus we all know? Don’t you think he’ll come back sometime?”

“Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas”

The guys went back to Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives. There were 11 of them, joined with Mary and Jesus and his brothers. Peter addressed the group, “All right. We’ve got to deal with the vacancy that Judas left.”

Judas had bought a field where he fell down and his guts blew the fuck up all over the place. The field is now called the Field of Blood.

He’s gone but we’ve got to get another guy who’s been with us since John the Baptist met Jesus. Two candidates came up: Barsabbas (Justus) and Matthias. They all prayed then voted. Matthias won.

2

“The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost”

Pentecost came and they were all gathered together. In came a wind from heaven and filled their house. Tongues of fire came down and plopped down on them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and they began to speak in strange languages.
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Jews from all over the place came to Jerusalem to be together. They asked how it was possible that so many of them could understand each other when they all came from different places and spoke completely different languages. “What’s up with that?” Too much booze.

“Peter Addresses the Crowd”

“All right, Jews, I know what’s going on. Listen up, because I’m only gonna say this once. Nobody’s been hitting the sauce. As Joel said, ‘God will be sending out the Holy Spirit to all the people when the end of the world is coming. The sun is going away and there’s going to be some wild shit.’
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“We all know Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. We all saw the miracles. We all saw him die. We all saw him alive afterwards. Like David said, ‘God’s around and won’t leave me. I’m super happy to have God on my side to see me through all the shit in life.’

“David died and was buried and here he is today. God made promises to his descendants. Remember Jesus is that descendant. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise. So, let’s be happy about this.

“So, now that we’ve been left behind. We’ve got fulfill Jesus’s orders. Repent, get baptized and pray that we are forgiven of our sins. Let’s spread the word around. We still have the chance to make it right with God.

“The Fellowship of the Believers”

They focused on the important things: bread and prayer. People saw the apostles’ signs and miracles. People began to sell off their property and give the money to the needy. They ate together and hung out together, praising God.

3

“Peter Heals a Lame Beggar”

Peter and John were going to the temple at 3 in the afternoon. There was a lame man at the ‘Beautiful Gate’ begging for money from the temple goers. Peter told the man to look at them. “I haven’t got any money but I can sort your legs out through the power of Jesus.” The man was doing back flips down the Temple halls.

“Peter Speaks to the Onlookers”

People came to them at Solomon’s Colonnade. Peter addressed them: “Why are you surprised by this? Jesus has done this in the past and now he’s given me the same power. This is the same Jesus that you had arrested and killed. You denied him and had him crucified but you all know deep down inside that it was the power of Jesus that sorted this guy out.

“You guys didn’t know. But now you see what the power of God can do. So, we’ll draw a line under all of that and let’s start over again. You’ve got to repent and turn to Jesus and God. If you do this and make your children do this, you’ll be all right with God.”

4

“Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin”

A bunch of men (“The Man”) approached Peter and John as they were talking to the people. They didn’t like them talking about Jesus and the resurrection. They had them thrown in jail. The priests and elders began talking about the situation the next day and asked the pair: “In whose name and power did you do that?”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter answered: “Jesus, the one you had crucified. He is the only way to be saved.” The priests examined them and then realized that they looked grubby and were surprised that Jesus would want to be in their company. However, there’s no denying that the man had been healed. They huddled around privately and wondered what they would do with the two. “The man is healed but we can’t let them carry on about Jesus… All right, boys, would you come here? Nice one about the lame man but stop talking about Jesus.'”
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Peter asked them what was best, for them to listen to God or them… The priests didn’t know how to respond to that. People were praising God and the man was healed.

“The Believers Pray”

Peter and John were released and went back to their people. They recounted the discussion and the people decided that God was doing this. The Holy Spirit must have been involved. Herod, Pontius Pilate and the Gentiles must have been in cahoots in having Jesus killed. But that must have been fulfilling Jesus’s predictions of his own death. They asked God to help them spread the word about Jesus. They felt the Holy Spirit fill their hearts.
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“The Believers Share Their Possessions”

Everybody was on board. They began to share everything they had. The apostles continued to talk about Jesus to everyone. Because they were so holy, nobody was needy among them. New recruits sold all their shit and put their money into the kitty. Joseph from Cyprus (Barnabas) sold a whole field and gave it to the cause.

5

“Ananias and Sapphira”

Ananias and Sapphira were a couple who sold their property and gave it to the cause. But he kept a little bit for himself. Peter saw right through this (apparently he was up on the real estate market of the time): “Why has Satan caused you to lie to us and the Holy Spirit and keep some for yourself?”
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Ananias died on the sport. People saw this and began to quake in their sandals. He was buried. Sapphira had no idea that this happened. Peter interrogated her. She continued the lie. Peter: “You’re a fucking liar, just like your husband!” She dropped dead too and was buried.

“The Apostles Heal Many”

The Apostles healed people and performed miracles. People began to get afraid of meeting at Solomon’s Colonnade because of the incident with the priests. This didn’t stop new followers joining up. People brought in sick and lame people to get fixed.

“The Apostles Persecuted”

The priests and elders of the Sadducees got pissed off at all the attention Peter’s crew were getting. So, they had the apostles arrested. An angel came to them at night and busted them out. They were told to go to the temple court and continue preaching.
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The next morning the priests and crew (called the Sanhedrin) called the prisoners to be seen. Nobody was there in the cells!! One observant person told them the prisoners were out preaching in the courtyard. They brought in. Priests: “We told you to stop talking about Jesus and you won’t fucking stop it! All your converts are going to start calling for our heads.”

Peter: “God told us to. We’d rather listen to God than some numb nut. We’ve seen too much and have been too filled with the Holy Spirit to stop.”
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This really pissed them off. The Pharisee, Gamaliel stood up to speak to the priests. “We’ve got to be careful with these nut jobs. Remember what happened to Theudas? He had a ton of supporters and when we killed him, they dispersed. Afterwards, Judas, the Galilean started a revolt and when he was killed, people packed it in. So, let’s not bother the people. If all of this shit is made up, it’ll fall apart soon enough. But if it actually is from God, we don’t want to be on the wrong side.”

They seemed convinced. The priests whipped their hides and let them go. Everybody was happy.

6

“The Choosing of the Seven”

The numbers started piling up. The Greek Jews complained that the Hebrew Jews weren’t looking out for widows. The 12 got together to address the issue. They decided that some of them should responsible for the ministry and some of them should be responsible for taking care of the needy. This allowed them to preach and take care of those who need it.

“Stephen Seized”

Stephen began preaching but ran into some trouble with the Synagogue of the Freedmen, Jews of the Cyrene and Alexandria. They got into an argument. The Synagogue members claimed he blasphemed about Moses and God. Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin. False witnesses were brought in to testify that Stephen was using Jesus as an excuse to change Moses’s laws. Everyone looked at him and he had the face of an angel.

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7

“Stephen’s Speech to the Sanhedrin”

Stephen answered the accusations: “God showed himself to Abraham and told him to wander. So, he moved. God sent him to another land and he moved. He had nothing and lived a hellish life. They would live like strangers in a strange land. They would be slaves but eventually God was going to make things right. He told Abraham to mutilate baby boys’ penises. Abraham’s line led all the way down to Jacob.

“Eventually Jacob’s line led to Moses. Moses was sent away and became a part of the Pharaoh’s family until God called him to lead the Jews out of Egypt. Moses led them around for 40 years and many began to question his divine authority. Some even began to worship false idols. God sent those people to Babylon in exile. David reorganized everyone. Solomon built a temple. God’s been giving us guidance all along. Those who don’t follow it are doomed to be killed or exiled.”

“The Stoning of Stephen”

The Sanhedrin didn’t like this explanation. Stephen was so full of the Holy Spirit that he stopped them from gnashing their teeth and said, “Don’t you see heaven open? There’s God and there’s Jesus right next to him.”
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They covered their ears to this and dragged his ass out of the city and started to stone him. There was Saul to approve of this killing. While he was being stoned to death, Stephen spoke to God: “Please receive my spirit. Don’t hold this shit against them.” He fell asleep.
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8

“The Church Persecuted and Scattered”

That day the church broke up. People scattered around Judea and Samaria. The apostles were left to bury Stephen. Saul began to destroy what was left of the church, throwing people in prison.

“Philip in Samaria”

Philip spread the word in Samaria and said that the Messiah was there. People came to listen to him. He exorcized demons and healed the sick.

“Simon the Sorcerer”

Simon was a wizard in Samaria. He had quite the following because of all of his sorcery. But when Philip came along, people started getting baptized. Simon wanted in on this action too. He followed Philip wherever he went and was amazed by the miracles happening.

The Apostles liked what they heard about Samaria. Peter and John went to check it out. They prayed that these newcomers would receive the Holy Spirit because they hadn’t received it yet. They placed their hands on the people and one by one, they received the Holy Spirit.
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Simon offered them money to receive the Holy Spirit and be able to give it to others. Peter told him he hoped his money would kill him. He would have no place in the church because his heart was in the wrong place. Simon prayed that he wouldn’t die and burn in hell.” Peter and John went back to Jerusalem hitting some villages along the way for some preaching.

“Philip and the Ethiopian”

An angel told Philip to go the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. He went along and met a ballless Ethiopian, official of the Ethiopian queen. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship and was reading the book of Isaiah in a chariot. The Spirit told Philip to go to the chariot. Philip asked him about the book and they began chatting about it.
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Philip explained the meaning of a passage that had bothered him. The Ethiopian asked about being baptized. So, Philip baptized him. They both went into the water and only the Ethiopian came up. The Spirit had taken him away. Philip showed up in Azotus and preached all the way to Caesarea.

9

“Saul’s Conversion”

Saul was busy trying to put the kibosh on Christianity. He was working with high priests, writing to places as far away as Damascus to find people loyal to Jesus in order to throw them in jail. On his way to Damascus, he saw a light in the sky and a voice booming, “Why don’t you leave me the fuck alone?”

It was Jesus. He told Saul to go into the city await further instruction. The people with Saul were understandably shaken. Saul got up but he couldn’t see a think. He had to be led to Damascus. He wouldn’t eat or drink a thing for 3 days.

There was a disciple there named Ananias. Jesus called him to go see Saul of Tarsus. He was to put his hands on Saul and give him his sight back. Ananias was unsure because he had heard so many stories about Saul harassing and imprisoning Jesus’s followers.

Jesus said, “Don’t worry. He’s going to be our biggest supporter, especially in the Gentile towns. Ananias sorted Saul out. He told him that he was the instrument of Jesus. He went to get baptized and get some grub.

“Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem”

He stuck around in Damascus with some disciples. He began to preach in synagogues about Jesus. People did double takes. “Wasn’t this the ball breaker running us into the ground?” But there he was taking up the cause. Later there was a conspiracy to kill him. Saul caught wind of this. The gates of the city were guarded looking for him. He was able to sneak through an opening.

Back in Jerusalem, he tried to meet up with disciples but they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Barnabas was the first one to extend a hand to him. He told the guys about Saul’s experience on the way to Damascus. He still had trouble convincing everyone that he was on their side now. He was sent to Tarsus (S. Turkey). Word was spreading.

“Aeneas and Dorcas”

Peter went to visit people in Lydda. He ran into a fella named Aeneas, another paralytic. Peter sorted him out. That was enough to convert the people of Lydda and Sharon.

There was a woman in Joppa named Tabitha (Dorcas). She took care of the poor. She was sick and died. Her body was taken and put upstairs in a room. Peter was in the area and went to see the woman’s body. He went into the room and told her to sit up. She sat up and people were astonished by this.

10

“Cornelius Calls for Peter”

There was a centurion called Cornelius. His family were devoted to the Christian cause. He had a vision and an angel called his name. “What?” Angel: “All your prayers and gifts to the poor have been appreciated. Send some people for Peter in Joppa. Here’s his address.” Cornelius sent servants to get him.
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“Peter’s Vision”

Peter went to the roof of a building to pray. He got hungry and went down for lunch. While waiting, he went into a trance. The sky opened up, he saw birds and reptiles. A voice called to him: “Kill and eat.”

Peter explained that he doesn’t eat impure food. The voice snapped back at him “Are you calling God’s food unclean?!” They went back and forth 3 times like this. Cornelius’s men found Peter’s house and were at the door. The voice said: “Peter, 3 guys are downstairs, go with them.” They explained why they were there and he invited them in.

“Peter at Cornelius’s House”

Peter and a couple hangers-on went with them to Caesarea. Cornelius brought his family around for Peter’s arrival. When Peter showed up, Cornelius dropped to his knees. This embarrassed Peter who told him to stand up. Peter attracted a large crowd. He reminded them that it was illegal for Jews to associate with Gentiles but God told him that there are no impure people. So, why am I here?”

Cornelius told him the story about the voice. Peter told him that he realizes that God accepts people from all backgrounds into the Christian camp. Peter and his crew saw Jesus speak to all the people of Israel but God has now allowed non-Jews into the fold. As Peter was talking, all listeners were filled with Holy Spirit. They celebrated by butchering the non-Jews penises. Everybody started speaking in tongues. Everybody was then baptized.
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11

“Peter Explains His Actions”

The new message about Jesus and God was getting around. Peter went to Jerusalem to check in on things. He got an ear from people without foreskin on their penises about hanging out with people with foreskin on their penises.

Peter explained his trance in Joppa where he saw a sheet being dropped from heaven. He saw wild animals, reptiles and birds. Then he heard a voice telling him to get up, kill and eat. He complained to the voice that he didn’t want to eat impure things. The voice responded that God doesn’t make impure things.

He told them about his trip to Caesarea to visit the Roman living there. God told him to baptize non-Jews in order to bring them into the fold. God wanted Gentiles to join in the business.

“The Church in Antioch”

The faithful had scattered after Stephen had been martyred – Phoenicia, Cyprus, Cyrene, Antioch. A lot of people were converting. The news got back to Jerusalem. Barnabas went to Antioch to help continue the conversions. Then he went to Tarsus to find Saul. They got together and toured around for about a year. The name of ‘Christian’ started in their time at Antioch. Prophets went to Antioch. Agabus was possessed by the Spirit and predicted a famine all over the Roman world. The church began to grow in size and $$.
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“Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison”

King Herod began to arrest people involved in the church. James was killed by a sword. He saw that this was popular with some Jews. He got a hold of Peter during the Festival of Unleavened Bread (the worst kind of bread). He was arrested and guarded heavily for a trial after Passover.

The church prayed for Peter. The night before the trial, Peter was a sleep in chains between two guards. An angel showed up and smacked Peter and his chains fell off. “Grab your gear, wrap up tight and follow me” said the angel. They walked out of there unnoticed and suddenly the angel disappeared. Peter knew that God had something to do with this. He went to Mary’s house, John’s mother. The servant Rhoda answered the door and told the people of the house. The people of the house didn’t believe him and came out to see him. “Keep quiet about this but tell James and all his people.” Then he fucked off. Herod was livid that Peter got free, so much so that he had the guards on duty executed.
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“Herod’s Death”

Herod went down to Caesarea. He had had some trouble with Tyre and Sidon. Blastus, the king’s servant supported the push to get some help about food. Herod showed up wearing his kingly clothes and gave a speech. Since Herod did not glorify God, he was struck dead and was eaten by worms.

“Barnabas and Saul Sent Off”

Barnabas and Saul wrapped up and went home, taking John with them.

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In Antioch, the big wheels there at the time were Barnabas, Simone, Lucius, Manaen and Saul. The Holy Spirit showed up and asked for Barnabas and Saul to continue on the road.
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“On Cyprus”

They went Seleucia and went off to Cyprus. At Salamis, they preached at the synagogue along with John. They went around until they got to Paphos. They ran into a false prophet named Bar-Jesus, attendant to the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul wanted to talk to the guys because he wanted to know what they had to say. Elymas, the sorcerer tried to stop this meeting. Saul (also named Paul) became filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk with Elymas and called him a devil child and pretty shitty in general. “You’re a liar and a cheat. Stop blocking God because you’re really going to get it. Just for annoying me, I’ll make you blind. The Proconsul was converted based on that.
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“In Pisidian Antioch”

They went on to Perga in Pamphylia (S. Turkey) where John left them to go to Jerusalem. They went to Pisidian Antioch. They went the synagogue there and preached. Paul addressed them: “All right, listen up. God chose the people of Israel to be the best. They survived a lot of shit thrown at them in Egypt, the wilderness and Canaan, and finally got them to the Promised Land.

“He gave them judges until Samuel came around. The people got the king, Kish. After Saul, they got David. God really liked this move. David’s line passed down to Jesus and he was the gift to the people from God. But the people of Jerusalem don’t realize this. They had Jesus killed and he still managed to prove he’s the real deal. He is the fulfillment of tons of prophecies. In spite of the fact that all the people are turning away, they can still change their tune.”

They began to leave after the speech and the people invited them back next Sabbath. Many people followed them wherever they went. The next weekend, a lot of new convert showed up. So much so, that the “Establishment” got very jealous at their numbers. They began to heckle Paul. They answered that they are talking about God and the critics aren’t worthy of going to heaven. God told them to convert Gentiles on top of Jews. The more success they got, the more it ruffled the Man’s feathers.

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“In Iconium”

Paul and Barnabas show up to the Jewish synagogue in Iconium. They gathered a bunch of converts and pissed off a lot of the people the converts were turning away from. The city was essentially split in two between the old guard and the new religion. Paul and Barnabas got out of town before things got too hairy.

“In Lystra and Derbe”

In Lystra a lame man listened to Paul speak. Paul asked him to stand up and boom! The man jumped up and started to walk. The locals were astonished and called Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes. The priest of the temple of Zeus came out to see this and brought gifts.

Barnabas and Paul didn’t like this. They meant to convert the people to Jesus not confirm their beliefs in the pagan gods. The Jews that came in to town from to heckle them began to stone Paul. They thought he was dead and dragged him out of the city. The disciples went to check him out and brought him to Derbe.

“The Return to Antioch in Syria”

They went to Antioch, having way more luck there. They went back to Lystra and Iconium to finish their half-assed job of converting the masses. Paul and Barnabas appointed elders to help run the church locally. They did a small tour of area and went back to Antioch. They had finished their missions.

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“The Council at Jerusalem”

People came down to Antioch claiming the salvation was dependent on circumcision. Paul and Barnabas came in to debate this. They went down to Jerusalem to talk about this issue. Believers that belonged to the Pharisees agreed that new-comers must be circumcised to get into heaven.

Peter addressed this question: “God told us to go out and get Gentiles. He said that Gentiles are just as able to be saved as Jews. What matters is not the state your dicks are in but whether or not you’ve accepted Jesus.”

Paul and Barnabas told the people of all the Gentiles that had converted and all the wonders God had provided to Jews and Gentiles alike. James spoke: “Peter told us of how God spoke up for the Gentiles. If we want this thing to grow, we can’t shut them out. The idea of circumcision and keeping out foreign blood and ridiculous dietary restrictions is going to hinder our cause, not help it.”

“The Council’s Letter to Gentile Believers”

The Apostles and elders decided to send Judas (not that one) and Silas with Paul and Barnabas up to Antioch. They also sent a note with them addressed to Gentile believers:

“If you could please abstain from the following that would be super: food sacrificed to idols, blood, meat of strangled animals and sexual no-nos. Thanks.”

They went to Antioch and read the letter out to followers. People seemed to like it. Paul and Barnabas stayed there to continue their work.

“Disagreement Between Paul and Barnabas”

Paul wanted to check up on the progress of the towns they converted on their little tour of Turkey. Barnabas wanted to take John (also called Mark) but Paul was still upset with John for having abandoned them when they were in Pamphylia. They fell out with each other over this. Barnabas and John took off for Cyprus and Paul took Silas and went around in Syria and Cilicia (S. Turkey).

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“Timothy Joins Paul and Silas”

Paul rolled up to Derbe and then Lystra. He met with Timothy, half Jewish and half Greek. He had a good reputation in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted him for his travels, so he mutilated his penis to make him proper. They continued to press the issues the Jerusalem crew wanted broadcasted.

“Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia”

Paul and company went around in Phrygia and Galatia. They got to Mysia near the city of Bithynia but the Holy Spirit stopped them from entering. So, they went down to Troas. That night, Paul had a vision of a fella in Macedonia asking for help. The next morning, he picked up and made way for Macedonia.
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“Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi”

‘We’ (switches from the 3rd person narrative to the 1st person) went from Troas to Samothrace and then to Neapolis and then to Philippi, near Macedonia. On the Sabbath, ‘we’ went to the river outside the gate and talked to a woman there. The woman was named Lydia and she sold purple cloth. Paul’s message seemed to strike a chord. She agreed to have her family baptized and she invited them in to their home.

“Paul and Silas in Prison”

We ran into a slave who predicted the future. She followed us telling everyone that Paul was a man of God trying to save us. Paul got annoyed by her after a few days and she seemed to stop predicting the future. Her owners were pissed off because she wasn’t able to make money off of it anymore. They brought us to the magistrate claiming they were trying to convert Romans. The magistrates agreed that this wasn’t on and had them stripped and beaten. They were put in chains and thrown in jail. Trying to keep their spirits high, Paul and Silas sang songs about God. There was an earthquake that shook the foundation of the prison. The doors flew open and the chains came loose. Paul warned the guard not to harm himself because they hadn’t left. The jailer was a quick convert. They went off to the jailer’s house. The magistrates ordered them to be released but just to leave town. Paul wasn’t having it. They were about to escort them out until they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and couldn’t be ordered to leave. They hung out with Lydia and then left.

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“In Thessalonica”

Paul & Co. went to Thessalonica and checked into the synagogue. Paul spent 3 Sabbaths trying to convince the locals that Jesus was the Messiah and that he did everything that they say he did and he’s the only way to go to heaven. He managed to do well.

In come the ‘Establishment’ Jews getting upset. They convinced many to start a riot and went looking for Paul and Silas. They grabbed Jason (not that one) and shouted “Look at these dickheads. They’re claiming Jesus is king, not Caesar.” This caused a ruckus but they managed to come out unscathed.

“In Berea”

That night Paul and Silas escaped to Berea. The Jews there were a bit more upper crust than the ones in Thessalonica. They read a lot and were taken in by what Paul had to say. The nasty ones in Thessalonica heard about them down in Berea and sent mobs down there to stir things up. Paul escaped to the coast but Timothy and Silas stuck around. Paul was brought to Athens. Timothy and Silas were meant to join him there.

“In Athens”

When he got to Athens, Paul saw lots and lots of people worshipping idols. He would try to talk to people in the synagogue and the market there. He ran into Epicureans and Stoics there. They realized that he was pushing a foreign god on them. They brought him to a meeting of the Aeropagus (part of the Acropolis) and asked him more about what he had to say. Athenians were genuinely curious of foreign concepts.

Paul addressed them. “I realize you guys are fairly religions. I see that you even worship ‘unknown gods’. The god who made the world doesn’t live in temples. He isn’t served by human hands. He gave you life and breath. He wants us all to become one nation.

“As we all are God’s children, we shouldn’t think of him as living in some gold or silver image. God wants you to knock it off. One day the end of the world is going to come and won’t you all feel like twats doing things he doesn’t want you to do. Jesus’s life, ministry and death are the proof of all this. Now you know and it’s up to you to make the changes.”

Some just walked away from him. Some seemed interested in his speech. Dionysius (not that one) and Damaris were the ones largely interested in this.

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“In Corinth”

He headed down to Corinth. He ran into a Jewish couple from Turkey named Aquila and Priscilla (that would look good on a marquee). He hung out with them and he took them down to the synagogue, where he tried to preach to Jews and Greeks.

Silas and Timothy joined up. By this point, Paul had pretty much written his sermons aimed at Jews trying to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews didn’t take too kindly to that. He became really angry at Jews in general. He decided he was just going to stick to the Gentiles because they seemed more receptive. He got some followers and even scored a synagogue leader.

The Lord came to Paul in a dream and told him to keep at it. God was sure that Corinth was going to be good to the Christians. But the next day, Jews went crying to the local proconsul that Paul was spreading an unofficial religion in the area. The proconsul didn’t really give a shit because he didn’t care about some internal struggle within in the Jews.

“Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos”

Paul felt safe and stuck around for a while but felt the need to get back to Syria. He took Priscilla and Aquila. He stopped to get a holy haircut (devotional do) in Cenchreae. He dropped the two off at Ephesus. He told them he’d check back in if that was what God wanted. Down to Antioch, Galatia, Phrygia, seeing all his old haunts.

A Jew named Apollos went to Ephesus and he ran into Priscilla and Aquila. He scored some big victories against naysayers in the area.

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“Paul in Ephesus”

Apollos was in Corinth. Paul went to Ephesus and asked disciples about receiving the Holy Spirit. “What Holy Spirit???” they asked. He asked what type of baptism they got. “They gave us the ‘The John'”.

“Ahh, you see. ‘The John’ is for repenting. You need the ‘Jesus’. That’s for the Holy Spirit.” And they got the Holy Spirit.
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He stuck around for 3 months doing holy stuff, which started to rub some people the wrong way. So, he ran off. He bopped around for two years doing all this. Miracles abound, sermons, demons sorted. People saw that Paul was on to something so they changed from their old ways to join up. Paul’s plan was: Macedonia, Achaia, and Jerusalem. But the big one on his to-do list was Rome.

“The Riot in Ephesus”

A silversmith in Ephesus, named Demetrius, brought round his buddies to talk: “Paul’s been doing well around here. But he’s been convincing people that pricy idols are effective. In fact, he says they’re sinful. We’re going to go tits up before we know it with this guy around here.”

They started bigging up Artemis (Diana) and it all started to spark from there. Paul was called in on an emergency. He was warned not to go near it because it could spell trouble. Back and forth went the crowd and on and on it all went.

The city clerk got up to quiet everyone down: “All right you fuckers. We all know Artmesis is the city’s guardian. We’ve got to calm down before things get out of hand. You can’t go pushing around Demetrius and his pro-Artemis people. If they feel like they’ve been hurt, they can file charges. As it is now, all of you need to fuck off home.”

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“Through Macedonia and Greece”

Things cooled off. Paul left for Macedonia, down to Syria, back to Macedonia with a fuck load of his crew. They continued up to Troas. But Paul went down to Philippi for the Festival of Unleavened Bread. They back up to Troas for 7 days.

“Eutychus Raised From the Dead at Troas”

The first day they were there, Paul started giving a speech. That fucker went on until Midnight. In the back was a youngster named Eutychus he dozed off during Paul’s snooze-inducing sermon. He fell out of the window from the third story. Dead. Paul went to him and held him. Not dead.

“Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders”

They went to Assos and then on to Mitylene, Chio, Samo, Miletus. He asked the elders from Ephesus to join him in Miletus. He told them about how humble his accommodations have been on all of his voyages. He reminded them that Jews and Gentiles were equally welcome in the Church. Also, in every city in every region he goes to he risks imprisonment and death. Such is the life that the church leaders have chosen. He was sad in his speech because he reckoned that he’d never see them again. He rushed back to Jerusalem for the Pentecost.

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“On to Jerusalem”

They went to Kos, Rhodes, Patara, Phoenicia, Cyprus and back to Tyre. They stayed there for 7 days. The disciples told Paul that the Spirit told them he shouldn’t go to Jerusalem.  From Tyre to Ptolemais, Caesarea with Philip the evangelist. He had 4 unmarried daughters who could prophesy.
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There they met a prophet called Agabus from Judea. He took Paul’s belt and tied his own hands and feet saying “The Holy Spirit says this is how the Jewish leaders do it. They tie you up with your own belt and give you over to the Gentiles.” They tried to convince him not to go but Paul couldn’t be swayed. He stayed in Caesarea in Mnason’s house (His name is from Cyprus, not a typo).

“Paul’s Arrival at Jerusalem”

He rolls into town with a warm welcome from his friends. They went down to see James and the old gang. He gave them a report of all his work. They told him: “Nice one… But Jews are really fucked off about you getting people to turn away from Moses’s law toward Jesus’s law. They don’t like you talking down penis mutilation and not adhering to the old ways. Our Gentile believers are well on board our shit.” They did some holy stuff the next day.

“Paul Arrested”

Some of the Jews he’d run into up in Asia saw him there. They raised a mob to try to get Paul. They thought he was defiling the city and the temple. This really set the whole town in commotion. They got Paul and dragged is ass through the streets. Roman officers came down to see what the fuss was. They took him in chains and asked who he was and what he’d done. They couldn’t even understand the responses, so they took him into the barracks with a crowd behind them.

“Paul Speaks to the Crowd”

Paul asked to talk to the commander. “Aren’t you that Egyptian who kicked off a shit storm a few years ago and fucked off never to be seen again?” asked the commander.

Paul: “No… I’m a Jew from Tarsus and a citizen. I’d like to speak to the people…”

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“Right, listen up. I’m a Jew from Tarsus but I grew up here. I studied with Gamaliel and know all about the law. I was a big zealot just like you. I chased and hounded these Christians to the end of the earth. I had them thrown in prison and put to death. Ask them, they’ll tell you.

“On the way to Damascus to continue my work, I heard a voice call my name and it was Jesus. I was blinded by a light and taken to Damascus and I sat around for a few days until Ananias sorted me out. He told me that God has chosen me to do his will. I had to get baptized and start working. I followed the voice wherever it told me to go and did whatever it told me to do. I was abused and ridiculed in about half the places I’ve been to. And I’ve been to a lot of places.”

“Paul the Roman Citizen”

The crowd started booing him and calling for his blood. The commander brought Paul into the barracks. He was to be flogged and interrogated about the shouting. Paul then whipped out the Roman citizen card on them. He was born one. This was embarrassing to the commander.

“Paul the Roman Citizen”

Still, the commander wanted to get to the bottom of all the hubbub. He brought in the Sanhedrin to see what was going on.

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Paul looked at the Sanhedrin and said “Come on guys, I’m doing all this for God.” A priest smacked him in the mouth and said “If you think that’s bad wait till you see what God’ll do.”

Paul tried to recoil a little bit, apologizing. He knew that some of them were Sadducees and Pharisees. He tried to play the Pharisee card on them. “I’m a Pharisee too, you know. I’m just here because of the resurrection of the dead. Pharisees were on board with this but the Sadducees didn’t like the idea of the resurrection of the dead or angels or spirits and that.

Pharisees came around to his side but the Sadducees wouldn’t budge. The commander took him away so he wouldn’t be ripped to shreds. That night Jesus came to him and said: “Good job. You’ll have to do the same in Rome.”

“The Plot to Kill Paul”

Some Jews were dead set on getting Paul killed. 40 of them. They weren’t going to eat until he was dead. Paul’s nephew was hip to the plot and found a way to tell him. The centurion didn’t like this but told him to keep quiet about it.

“Paul Transferred to Caesarea”

They got 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen and 200 spearmen to go to Caesarea at night. Paul was going to be taken there for his own safety to see the governor, Felix. He wrote a letter: These Jews were about to tear this man apart. He claims to be a Roman citizen. I want to know what the Sanhedrin have against him. I don’t know what these fuckers do about their ‘law’s, but he can’t stay here and survive.”

They took him up to Antipatris and then on to Caesarea. Paul was to be kept in Herod’s palace while the Sanhedrin were arriving.

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“Paul’s Trial Before Felix”

5 days later, the high priest and some lawyers showed up to Caesarea to talk about Paul with the governor. The lawyer spoke: “Thanks for doing this Felix. We think you’re great and would like you to hear us out. This man is a troublemaker stirring up all kinds of shit among the Jews. He’s the ringleader of the Jesus people and they’ve been fucking with our temple.”

Paul answered: “Felix, you’re a good guy. I’ve only been in town for 12 days. How much trouble could I have caused? I wasn’t arguing with anyone or fighting or stealing, etc. Sure, I’m a Jesus guy but everything I do is in accordance with Jewish laws. We just differ about Jesus. I help the poor, I’m a tidy guy. You may hear of shit coming from up north but it’s purely out of jealousy because I attract attention and admiration. The Pharisees are on my side. It’s just the Sadducees who are pissed off.”

Felix decided to wait until Lysias the commander arrived to hear the case again. Paul was allowed a bit of freedom but was under constant protection. Felix showed up a few days later with his Jewish wife. He listened to Paul talk about Jesus. He also talked about being righteous, self-controlled and about the judgment day. Felix sent him off but secretly he was hoping for a bribe. This carried on for 2 years until Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus.

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“Paul’s Trial Before Festus”

The Sanhedrin pressed Porcius for some trial against Paul. Paul defended himself again: “I’ve done nothing against the law of the temple or against Caesar.”

Festus was trying to be good to the Jews and asked Paul if he was OK with doing the trial down in Jerusalem. Paul: “I’m in Caesar’s court right now. Shouldn’t I be tried here? I’ve done nothing wrong and I appeal to Caesar.” Festus agreed and told him this will go to Caesar.

“Festus Consults King Agrippa”

Agrippa and Bernice show up to see Festus. He asked Agrippa about Paul’s case. He explained everything that had gone on between the Sanhedrin and Paul. Agrippa wanted to hear what Paul had to say.

“Paul Before Agrippa”

Quite a display was put on for the arrival of Agrippa, Bernice and Festus. Paul was brought in and Festus explained that Paul had pissed off a lot of Jewish priests and he doesn’t know what to do. Paul appealed to Caesar and Festus doesn’t feel right refusing a citizen this request. However, it was silly to send him to Rome with any real charges against him.

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Paul spoke: “Thanks for hearing me out. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve been a Jew here in the area and even a Pharisee. I’ve been preaching about Jesus and this seems to wind the other priests up. I’ve talked about Jesus rising from the dead which seemed to irk many of these people. I spent a great deal of time fighting the Jesus people until God himself appointed me to take up the cause. Since then I’ve been talking to anyone who will listen, Jews, Gentiles, whatever.”

Festus spoke: “Paul, you’re fucking nuttier than squirrel shit.”

Paul: “No, I’m telling the truth. Agrippa will understand what I’m saying. All the things I preach are fulfillment of the prophets.”

Agrippa: “How do you think you can convince me that Jesus is the guy in charge?”

Paul: “It might take a while but I’m standing here in chains.”

Agrippa decided that Paul hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact he would have already been set free if he hadn’t already appealed to Caesar.

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“Paul Sails for Rome”

So, Paul was off to Italy. He was under the care of a centurion named Julius. He was put on a boat and they sailed all over: Sidon, Cyprus, Myra, Cnidus, Lasea. It was getting late in the year and that meant the seas were rocky. They approached Crete.

“The Storm”

A big storm came over the island and they sailed along the coast. It was quite the battle. The lifeboat was causing a ruckus so it was brought on board. They sailed on for days and things seemed pretty hopeless.

At this point they had run out of food. Paul reminded the sailors that they probably shouldn’t have left Crete but since they went on anyway, to be brave. He told them that an angel told him that they would make it safely to Rome. But in the meantime, they have to run aground somewhere.
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“The Shipwreck”

After 14 days, they went on across the Adriatic Sea. They were approaching land. Paul told everyone that they had to stay with the ship in order to survive. The angel was very clear about that. Food was in order. They were going to crash soon and they probably wouldn’t be eating for quite a while. “Cheer up boys, we’re going to make it. Let’s go.”

The next day, they were stuck on a sandbar. The ship was pretty much stuck ashore. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners in order to stop them from escaping. The centurion made sure that Paul wasn’t killed. They swam ashore.

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“Paul Ashore on Malta”

They found out that the island they were on was Malta. The locals were extra nice and put everybody up with food and shelter. Paul helped out with the firewood and a snake crawled out from under the wood and bit him. The islanders took this as a bad sign about Paul. But Paul didn’t feel any effect from the snake. Then they thought that he was a god.

They made their way up to the local lord, Publius. They were put up there for 3 days. Publius’s father was sick with dysentery. Paul went in to see him and pray. Dysentery gone. Every sick person on the island was healed. The locals gave them everything they need to go to Rome.

“Paul’s Arrival at Rome”

It was 3 months they spent on Malta. They sailed to Syracuse and stayed there 3 days. Then onto Rhegium and Puteoli. They stayed there for a week and then went to Rome. When at Rome, Paul was allowed to do as he pleased as long as a guard was on him.

“Paul Preaches at Rome Under Guard”

3 day later he got together with some local Jews. He addressed them: “You know I have done nothing wrong. I had some grief in Jerusalem and made an appeal to Caesar. It’s certainly great to be here but it isn’t exactly under the best circumstances.”

The people responded: “We haven’t heard a thing about you out of Judea. We’ve been wanting to know what your ideas are and what’s going on.”

They met up on another day and there were masses of people there. He explained about heaven, the laws of Moses and the laws of Jesus. Some bought into it and some didn’t. Paul spoke: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah. God has allowed Gentiles to become saved. They are saved because they listen!!”
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Paul stayed there for 2 years in his house and did a lot of praying and speaking.

The New Testament: “The Gospel According to Saint Matthew” (80 AD)

“Gospel According to Matthew”

For my next trick, I will turn this ordinary, everyday piece of bread into my own flesh. I will also take this ordinary, everyday glass of wine into my own blood. You will drink it and become flesh-eating zombies.

“For my next trick, I will turn this ordinary, everyday piece of bread into my own flesh. I will also take this ordinary, everyday glass of wine into my own blood. When I snap my fingers, you will drink it and become flesh-eating zombies.”

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“The Genealogy of Jesus”

Abraham to David -> 14 generations
David to the Exile to Babylon -> 14 generations
Exile to Jesus -> 14 generations

42 generations between Abraham and Jesus.

“Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son”

Mary and Joseph tied the knot but hadn’t yet done the deed. However, Mary was well and truly knocked up. Joseph didn’t want know at this point. He didn’t want cause a scene but he was convinced that Mary had been stepping around on him. He thought: “Maybe a quicky divorce?”

Then God haunts his dreams and told him “Yep, that was me. He’s gonna be called Jesus and make up for everybody’s sins.” This fulfilled some prophecy that God’s son would be born to a virgin.

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Joseph woke up and decided to stick around, since you don’t really say “no” to God. A few months later, Jesus was born.

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“The Magi Visit the Messiah”

Jesus was born in Bethlehem and King Herod was in charge of things. Three Magi show up in town looking for the ‘King of the Jews’. They followed a star to find him. Herod got wind of this and had the Magi brought round to his place and asked what this was all about.

They answered “The ruler of the Jews was born in Bethlehem”. Herod asked them to come back to him and let him know where he was once they’ve found him. They went back to following the star and they found him with Mary. They gave him three of the weirdest gifts you can give a baby: gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were wise to Herod’s request and ran off without letting him know where the baby was.

“The Escape to Egypt”

More God dreams for Joseph. This time it was a warning. “You’d better fuck off to Egypt quick like because Herod’s gonna start killing babies. Another prophecy fulfilled.

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Once Herod realized that the Magi gave him the slip, he ordered any boy under 2 years old to be killed.

“The Return to Nazareth”

Some time passed and Herod died. God showed up in another dream to Joseph. “It’s all right to go back. Herod’s croaked.” So, the Jesus family went back to Israel. Rather than going back to Bethlehem, they went to Nazareth in case Herod’s successor was feeling the same urge to kill Jesus. Another prophecy was fulfilled.
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“John the Baptist Prepares the Way”

John the Baptist was a guy living out in the weeds preaching. He fulfilled another prophecy.

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He wore really grimy clothes and ate honey-covered locusts. There were some people who came out to see him and confess their sins to him. He would then baptize them in the River Jordan.

The Pharisees and Sadducees (the baddies from here on out) came and talked to him and he didn’t take too kindly to that. After flinging a slew insults at them, he splashed them in hope that they would repent whatever bad shit they had been up to.

“The Baptism of Jesus”

Jesus showed up at John’s. “I need to get baptized.” John said, “No, no, no. You’re supposed to be doing me.” Jesus replied, “Well, do me first so we can get some of these prophecies so I can get started doing my thing”. John dunked him. The sky opened up – light, doves, etc. God said “let’s do this, Jesus.”

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“Jesus Is Tested in the Wilderness”

God led Jesus into the back of beyond to be tempted by the devil. The devil was fucking with Jesus. “If you are who you say you are, turn this rock into bread.” Jesus responded that the word of God was more important than bread. The devil took him up to the top of a temple and said “Fly, boy!” Jesus responded that God is not someone to be tested. The devil took Jesus to a mountain top and promised him everything he saw if he’d only worship him. Jesus said he only worshiped God. The devil left in a huff.

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“Jesus Begins to Preach”

When Jesus heard that John had been thrown in prison,  he went to Galilee. He decided that since it was in a prophecy that he was preacher, he decided to take his magical God act on the road.

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“Jesus Calls His First Disciples”

He walked up on two brothers, Simon(Peter) and Andrew who were fishing. “Put down that net and let’s fish for people.” They left with him. Then they met brothers James and John, also fishers. They left with them too.

“Jesus Heals the Sick”

They went around teaching God stuff. He began healing people with all sorts of gross stuff: pain, demons, seizures, paralysis. People showed up from all over the region to get treated by Jesus.
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“Sermon on the Mount”

story time

“Beatitudes”

Poor on earth -> rich in heaven
Mourning on earth -> comfort in heaven
Meek -> inherit the earth
Hungry/thirsty for righteousness -> filled
Merciful on earth -> get mercy
Pure in heart -> see God
Peacemakers -> children of God
Persecuted -> ticket to heaven
Sticking with Jesus -> ticket to heaven

“Salt and Light”

Believers are the salt of the earth. The ground needs salt or else it’s useless. Believers are the light of the earth. They need to be put up high for all to see.

“The Fulfillment of the Law”
“I’m not here to come up with new rules but to fulfill them. These laws are eternal so get used to them if you want to go to heaven. There’s no other way.

“Murder”

“If you murder, not only will you not go to heaven, you will go to hell. If you are in a position where murder might happen, make amends with those who are pissing you off. Do it before you have to get judged here on earth and later in the afterlife.

“Adultery”

“Don’t do it. Don’t think about it. Thinking about it is just as bad. Make your mind and heart pure. It ain’t worth it.

“Divorce”

“No divorces unless one of you has been playing away. Any unauthorized remarriage is adultery.

“Oaths”

“You’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t break an oath. Don’t even make one. Not to yourself, not to someone else, not to God. Just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and that should be enough.

“Eye for Eye”

“‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ is bullshit. If someone slaps you, turn the other cheek. Don’t fight back when someone gets aggressive or thievy with you.

“Love for Enemies”

“The old expression ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ is bullshit, too. Make sure that you find a way to make up with your enemies so that you don’t have anymore. Nobody’s perfect.

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“Giving to the Needy”

“When you are ‘being righteous’ make sure you are doing so for God, not the attention of others. If you give to the needy, don’t broadcast that shit out to everyone. If you do that, you’re not really doing it to help the poor, you’re just doing it for the attention. God knows what you’re up to.

“Prayer”

“The same thing goes for prayer. It’s to be done privately, otherwise it doesn’t count. Prayer should be a quick and honest thing, like: ‘God, you’re the tits. I’ll do whatever you want. Thanks for the food and good shit in my life. Forgive me of all the shit I’ve done and I’ll do the same to anyone who’s done anything bad to me. Help me keep on the straight and narrow.’ That should be enough.

“Fasting”

“Again, same thing goes with fasting. You can’t be fasting for show. If it’s some holy thing you’re doing, keep that shit to yourself or else it doesn’t count.

“Treasures in Heaven”

“Stockpiling shit here on earth doesn’t do you any good. People can steal it. Moths can eat it. If you build up your soul into something great, nobody can take that from you. Also, God knows what you spend your time on. You can’t have two masters, so it’s either God or someone or something else. You know which is the right one.

“Do Not Worry”

“Don’t let the details in life get you down. Clothes, food, drink. The birds, grass and flowers don’t worry about that. They just do their thing. God will provide for you. Worrying will only make you miserable. Just devote yourself to God and he’ll take care of you on earth and in heaven.

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“Judging Others”

“Be careful not judge others because you will be judged in the same way. If you criticize someone, you’re going to get it in spades. Some of them will be even more vicious than you.

“Ask, Seek, Knock”

“Ask and you’ll get. Seek and you’ll find. Knock and the door will open. You are God’s children and a father will give to his children what they ask for if they’ve been good boys and girls.

“The Narrow and Wide Gates”

“The Gate to bad shit is wide and the gate to good shit is narrow. Careful.

“True and False Prophets”

“There’s a ton of false prophets out there – wolves in sheep’s clothing. You can tell them by what they say because what they say is against what I preach.

“True and False Disciples”

“Just because people use my name doesn’t mean they will get to heaven. If they’re full of shit, I’ll know and they will be barred from heaven.

“The Wise and Foolish Builders”

“There are two men building houses. The wise man, like those who listen to me, builds his house on a rock: a strong foundation. The dumbass, like those who don’t listen to me, builds his house on sand. Don’t be a dumbass.” </Sermon on the Mount>

Jesus won a lot of followers after this sermon.

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“Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy”

Jesus healed a leper. “Shh! Don’t tell anybody! Just go to a priest and he’ll know what to do.”

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“The Faith of the Centurion”

Jesus got to Capernaum and a centurion came up to him asking him to heal his servant whom he left at home. Jesus asked if he wanted him to go to his house. The centurion was embarrassed of his place (probably because the malingering servants ‘has got paralysis’, the lying sack of shit) and asked if he could do it from a distance. Jesus was touched by this man’s belief that Jesus could be so powerful that he healed from afar. Boom, another miracle, this one long distance!

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“Jesus Heals Many”

Jesus went over to Peter’s house where his mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. He put his hand on her head and boom. Another miracle. A whole slew of people, some demon-possessed were healed by him. More miracles. More prophecies fulfilled.
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“The Cost of Following Jesus”

Jesus saw that he had attracted quite a following. One said he’d follow him anywhere as long as he could bury his dead father. “Careful, now because we just go wherever we please. We don’t stay in one place. You don’t even have time to bury your father.”

“Jesus Calms the Storm”

They got in a boat and it started rocking in the middle of the storm. Jesus was having a nap and his buddies woke him up because they were stupidly afraid of drowning. Jesus scolded them for not having enough faith. Another miracle! Jesus lifted his hand and everything calmed down.
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“Jesus Restores Two Demon-Possessed Men”

They got to the other side of the lake in the area of the Gadarenes. Two demon-possessed men came out to see them. He exorcised the demons into nearby pigs and the pigs ran into the lake and drowned. People who saw this went into town to tell everyone about this and they asked him to leave.

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“Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man”

Jesus got back into the boat and they went to his own town. People brought a paralyzed man out to see him. Jesus forgave him of his sins. Just as he said this, some holy rollers accused him of blaspheming. Jesus told them that he did have the authority to forgive the man of his sins which was easier than to say ‘Get up and walk’. So, he told the man to get up and go home and so the man did. That seemed to impress the crowd.

“The Calling of Matthew”

Jesus walked up to a guy in a tax collecting booth, named Matthew. He told him to follow him and so he did. Jesus came over to his place for dinner and the place was filled with tax collectors and sinners. Pharisees saw this and asked why such a holy man should eat with rough company like that. Jesus threw a bit of an analogy on them. “Healthy men don’t need doctors. Sick men do.”

“Jesus Questioned About Fasting”

John’s people asked why the Pharisees were fasting all the time but Jesus’s people didn’t. Jesus said that they were in the presence of the holy and they should be relishing in it, not mourning.

“Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman”

A synagogue leader told Jesus that his daughter had just died and asked him to revive her. As they were on the way to the synagogue, a woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years asked to touch the hem of Jesus’s cloak in order to be healed. Miracle done.
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The got to the leader’s house and it was surrounded by a much of mourners making a fuss outside. Jesus told them not to carry on so because the girl was sleeping and needed more sleep. He went in a brought the girl out alive. Miracle performed!
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“Jesus Heals the Blind and the Mute”

Jesus ran into two blind guys asking if he would cure them. They were no longer blind. Miracle!

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Then he ran into a demon-possessed mute. Jesus sorted out the demons and made him talk again. Two miracles for the price of one!

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Pharisees said that a man who could drive demons out must be the prince of all demons.

“The Workers Are Few”

Miracle after miracle all over the place. He called his journey around the area a harvest and he needed more workers to help in the harvest.

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“Jesus Sends Out the Twelve”

By this time, Jesus had accumulated 12 disciples: Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaeus, Simon and Judas (the betrayer).

He sent them out. “Don’t go see Gentiles or Samaritans. Focus on the strays within Israel. Tell them the end of the world is coming. You can raise the dead, heal the sick, clean up lepers and sort out demons. Don’t take any money from them and don’t take any money with you. Stay with any friendly person who’ll put you up for the night. Leave town if no one will listen to you. I’m sending you out into danger because there are some real fuckers out there who will try to put you down, abuse you and even harm you. Don’t worry too much because God’s looking out for those who do his work. There are no secrets among those who are believers.  But remember, the real danger is losing one’s faith, which is way worse than death.

“I’m here to break up families. I’m not here to bring peace but a sword. If a man loves his mother more than me, he’s going to hell forever. If a man doesn’t follow me and do every little thing I ask of him, he’ll go to hell forever.

“If these people welcome you, they welcome me. They will receive a great reward for the hospitality they give you and me.”

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“Jesus and John the Baptist”

Jesus had sent out his peeps to do his dirty work. John the Baptist’s people went out on his behalf (because he was in jail) and asked Jesus if he was the one they had been expecting or if it was someone else.

Jesus came back at them: “Go tell him what I’ve been doing: healing the sick, giving senses to those who had lost them and raising the dead.”

Jesus gave a speech about John: “What did people go out into the wilderness to see? The reeds? Some guy in fancy clothes? You went out to see a prophet. There are a lot of fuckers out there talking about God and heaven but none of them fulfill prophecies like John and because he isn’t all happiness and cheer, they want to throw him in prison. Because I’m dining with sinners and tax collectors, I’m considered an asshole.

“Woe on Unrepentant Towns”

Jesus saw that some towns just wouldn’t repent as he asked them to. “Chorazin, Bethesda, Capernaum. You’re going to hell. If you thought what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah was bad, wait till you see what I’ve got in store for you.”

“The Father Revealed in the Son”

Jesus praise God because the wise and learned couldn’t see what a child could see. He claimed that you couldn’t know the father without knowing the son because that is how the father reveals himself. Jesus is going to take the burden off the shoulders of the weary.

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“Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath”

Jesus and his disciples were wandering around. Some of his people got hungry and went to pick grain in the fields. Pharisees saw this and complained that this violate the laws of the Sabbath.

Jesus said that it was stupid to complain because David and his people did that and they didn’t catch and shit from it. Sabbath is supposed to be about mercy not following ridiculous rules.

He went to the synagogue and began to heal a man with a shriveled hand. Miracle!

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More shit from the Pharisees… “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus told them that doing God’s work was more important than their silly rules. This annoyed the Pharisees and they began to plot his death

“God’s Chosen Servant”

Jesus understood what the Pharisees were planning. He warned others not tell about him when he healed the ill. This fulfilled a prophecy by Isaiah that a healer would be the chosen servant of God.

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“Jesus and Beelzebul”

Another demon-possessed man was carted out before Jesus. This time he was blind and mute. Pharisees told him what they thought of this, that only a demon could talk to other demons. Jesus lashed out at them, “It’s shit like this that is causing us Jews problems. Anyway, what the fuck do you know? I’m the son of God and this shit I’m doing is good. If you don’t like it, you can suck a lemon.”

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“The Sign of Jonah”

The Pharisees thought they’d get smart with him. “Can you give us a sign that you are who you say you are?” Jesus responded, “What a load of assholes you are. The only sign you’re going to get is the sign of Jonah. Three whole days in the belly of a big-ass fish. That’s all you get and that’s all you deserve.”

“Jesus’s Mother and Brothers”

Jesus was out talking to a crowd and guess who comes up. Mom and his brothers. Someone point this out to him and he said “Who’s my mother? Who are my brothers?” “They are.” Jesus said, “The only brothers are my disciples. Anybody who does the will of God is brother, sister and mother.”

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“The Parable of the Sower”

story time

Out come the parables. The sower put seeds in a few different places, a path, rocks, thorns and good soil. Only the good soil had any good result come harvest time. Do that with your people.

A disciple asked him, “What’s with the parables?” Jesus answered, “these numb nuts know nothing about God and heaven and so the only way they’re going to get it is by me telling them little stories like the sower.” This was another prophecy fulfilled.
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“The Parable of the Weeds”
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“If the weeds grow among the crops, don’t waste your time weeding them out. Make sure you treat all the plants the same. At the end of the harvest, we’ll pull everything and see what’s what. We’ll keep the good crop and burn all the weeds.”

“The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast”
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“Heaven is like a mustard seed. It’s the tiniest of seed but it grows to be the largest tree in all the garden.” Another prophecy fulfilled.
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“Heaven is like yeast mixed into dough. It’ll cause the dough to rise and rise way bigger than before.” Another prophecy fulfilled.
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“The Parable of the Weeds Explained”
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“Remember the weeds are those who have rejected heaven and God. They belong to the evil one. After the world ends they will burn in hell forever.”

“The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl”
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“Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. If you find it there, sell all your shit and buy the field to get it.”
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“Heaven is like a pearl of great value. If you find it, sell all your shit to get it.”

“The Parable of the Net”
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“Heaven is like a net thrown out and catching a bunch of fish. At the end of the fishing, we keep the good fish and throw out the bad ones. The good ones go to heaven and the bad ones weep and gnash their teeth (whatever the fuck that means).”

“A Prophet Without Honor”

The parables ended and he left. When he got to his hometown, he went to the synagogue to teach them shit. Hardly anyone could believe that he was a local boy, the carpenter’s son, Mary’s boy, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas’s brother. Jesus was fucked off by their lack of faith and he left. Apparently prophets won’t be believed in their hometowns.

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“John the Baptist Beheaded”

Herod had John arrested and thrown into jail because John was saying that it was against the law for Herod to be with his brother’s wife. He wanted to kill him but was afraid of the flak he’d get from it because of John’s status as a prophet. Herod’s wife’s daughter danced for him and his guests at his birthday party. He promised her a gift for this and she said she wanted the John’s head on a platter. Boom. Done. John’s people buried what was left him and then told Jesus about it.

“Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand”

Jesus was upset by what happened to John and went off on his own for a bit. Crowds gathered, waiting for him to come back. When he did, he healed the sick. The disciples complained that they were far from the villages and nobody had any food. Jesus took 5 loaves of broad and 2 fish and made a feast for 5000 people. Miracle performed.

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“Jesus Walks on the Water”

Jesus needed some more me-time and sent his people on ahead of him in a boat. The people in the boat were spooked a bit when they saw a man walking out towards the boat in the middle of the lake. It was Jesus walking on the water. Peter jumped out of the boat and get scared for a bit and started to sink. Jesus shook his head at his lack of faith. Miracle! They got to Gennesaret and did some healing and some preaching. Miracle!
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15

“That Which Defiles”

Pharisees started bitching again about Jesus’s crew. They weren’t washing their hands before they ate. “For the 40 billionth time, God and I are like two peas in a pod. They are doing my will and aren’t doing any harm. What’s bad about a man is not what goes into his mouth, it’s what comes out of his mouth. If badness goes into a man’s mouth, he’ll just shit and piss it out. If badness comes out of his mouth, it comes from his heart.”

“The Faith of a Canaanite Woman”

They went up to Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman came out asking help with her daughter possessed by a demon. She knelt in front of him begging for help. The woman showed him faith and the daughter was healed. Miracle!

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“Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand”

They got to another place without any food. Again, he took 7 loaves and a few fish and made enough for 4000 people. Miracle!

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“The Demand for a Sign”

Pharisees and Sadducees wanted a sign from heaven. “You guys know how to read the signs in the weather but you can’t read the signs of the times? You’re not gonna get one. Like I told those other fuckers, keep on asking and you’ll end up in the belly of a giant fish.”

“The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”

When they were out on a boat, he told the boys, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They mumbled something about not having anything to eat. “You idiots. Remember the thing with the bread and the fish? Don’t you think I can do it again? Like I said, the yeast thing wasn’t really about bread but warning you about the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

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“Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah”

Jesus asked his guys who they thought the ‘Son of Man’ was. Some said John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. Simon (Peter) said “You are the son of God, the Messiah.” Jesus liked this and said, “I’m gonna call you Peter from now on because you will be the rock of my church. You will hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. But don’t tell anyone that I am the Messiah.”

“Jesus Predicts His Death”

“Not to be a downer guys but things are going to get shitty from here on out. A lot of these Pharisees and their ilk are going to have me killed. But I’ll rise from the dead 3 days later, so it’s all good. Don’t worry about that. Just follow me in whatever I do and I promise the next world’s going to be waaaaaay better than this one.”

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“The Transfiguration”

Jesus took Peter, James and John up to a mountain alone. His appearance changed in front of them. His face was like the sun and his clothes turn white like light. Then they saw Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah.

Peter said that he would knock together some place for the three of them to sleep. Suddenly, a bright cloud appeared and it spoke: “This is my son. He’s pretty good. Listen to him”. This caused the three disciples to drop to the ground. Jesus told them to get up. When they did, there was just Jesus there. They went down the mountain and Jesus told them to keep quiet about this. When asked about Elijah being the one coming first, Jesus told them that Elijah has come and gone. John the Baptist has been put to death. This is what people do. Ultra-Mega miracle!

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“Jesus Heals a Demon-Possessed Boy”

They went down to a crowd and saw the rest of the disciples trying to sort out a demon-possessed boy. Jesus was upset because the disciples had so little faith that they couldn’t even do a minor thing like ridding a boy of demons. Jesus finished the job. Miracle!

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“Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time”

Jesus reminded his of his earlier prediction of his death and resurrection.

“The Temple Tax”

They got to Capernaum and a tax collector asks Peter for a 2 drachma a head entry fee for the temple there. Peter asked him about this. Jesus said, “Yeah sure. You are my children and I’m supposed to look after you guys. Go down to the lake and put out your line. The first thing you catch will have enough money in it to pay our entry.”
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“The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”

Disciples asked who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was. He called a small child toward him. “You’ve got to change and be little small children because the one who is the smallest in the world will be the greatest in heaven.”

“Causing to Stumble”

If anyone causes those who believe in me to stumble will have a large millstone hung about his neck and dropped into the deepest part of the sea. Bad shit comes to those who fuck with me and people. You’d better look out!”

“The Parable of the Wandering Sheep”

“Our job is as shepherds. If we’ve got 100 sheep on our land, most of them will stay in the flock. But a few of them will stray. It’s more important to us to chase after those who have strayed than the ones who have stayed with us.

“Dealing With Sin in the Church”

“If your brother or sister has sinned against you, try to work it out with them. If they listen, you both win. If they don’t, try to get some help in getting them to listen. If they still don’t, get the church involved. If they still don’t, then just treat them as some foreigner. What goes here on earth is what goes up in heaven. Wherever there are people who are gathering in my name, I’m there too.”

“The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant”
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In response to a question of how many times someone should forgive his brother sinning against him:

“There was a king who had a servant who owed him a shit load of money. The time came to pay it up and the servant couldn’t. He begged for patience. The king was touched by this and forgave him of all his debts. The servant went home and saw one of his fellow servants who owed him money and the creditor refused any patience or forgiveness. The master had him tortured because he didn’t pass on the kindness. That’s a lot like God wants you to do.”

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“Divorce”

Pharisees decided to test him on something. “Is it against the law for a man to divorce his wife?” Jesus responded, “When a man and woman get married, the two become one under the eyes of God. You can’t separate them. The only way this bond can be broken is as a result of sexual immorality.”

“The Little Children and Jesus”

Jesus wanted kids to get involved and have them allowed to pray. Kids can get into heaven too.

“The Rich and the Kingdom of God”

He was asked about what it takes to get eternal life. “You’ve got to stick to the commandments. If you’re already doing that, sell all your shit and take care of the needy. It’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to enter the eye of a needle. You can only be saved by God.”

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“The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard”
story time
A vineyard owner hires a couple of guys to help out on the farm. He sees that he doesn’t have enough and so he finds some more later in the day. Still not enough, he gets some more. At the end of the day the ones who showed up at the beginning get paid the same as the ones who show up later in the say. The early ones get pissed off that they get paid the same for different amounts. The owner says, “That was the deal. I can pay whomever whatever I want.” Jesus makes the link to his followers. Whether you get in with me early or you’re a late-comer, you’re all good with me. The last shall be the first and the first shall be the last.”

“Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time”

Jesus predicted his death for a third time, as well as the resurrection.

“A Mother’s Request”

A mother approached Jesus and asked him to take her two sons with him to heaven as his right- and left- hand men. “Sure.” The disciples were thinking, “What the fuck?!? We were here first helping you with all your conversions and miracles.” Remember the story about the workers in the vineyard, fuckheads. I’m here to help everyone equally.

“Two Blind Men Receive Sight”

As they were leaving Jericho, two blind men asked Jesus to heal them. He touched them on their eyes and boom. A Miracle!

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“Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King”

They were approaching Jerusalem and got to Bethany. He asked two disciples to go get a donkey there with its colt and bring them and if anybody asked, say something about fulfilling a prophecy. They came back and he sat on top of the donkey and rode into town where people praised him as the son of God.
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“Jesus at the Temple”

He showed up at the temple courts and freaked the fuck out. He overturned tables of money changers, saying it was a place of worship, not a den of robbers. Blind and lame people showed up at the temple and he healed them. Miracle!

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Children were singing his praises high, from the lips of children to God’s ears. He crashed in Bethany.

“Jesus Curses a Fig Tree”

Jesus got up the next and was heading back into town. He saw a fig tree, saw there was no fruit on it and cursed at it “Fucking fig tree. I hope you never have fruit again.” It withered right away.
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“How did it wither so quickly, Jesus?” his disciples asked. “You really are a bunch assholes. I’m God’s son. If I want something done, it gets done. If you want something, you ask me and it gets done.”

“The Authority of Jesus Questioned”

Jesus entered the courts of the temple and elders asked him who gave him the authority to do what he was doing. “John’s Baptism? Who gave that authority?”, he answered. “Jesus, you’re trying to trick us. If we say ‘heaven’, you’ll ask why we didn’t believe him. If we say ‘man’, then we should be afraid of the people because they all believed him. So, we don’t know.” Jesus answered, “Well, if you don’t know, then you won’t know whose authority I’m working under.”

“The Parable of the Two Sons”
story time
“A guy’s got 2 sons. He asked one to go work in the vineyard. ‘Bullshit, dad.’ But he changed his mind and went. He went to the second one and he agreed right away. Which of the 2 did what his father wanted?” Disciples answered. “The first”.  Jesus said, “Holy fuck, you people are stupid. Tax collectors and whores are better than you. At least they bought into what John the Baptist was saying by realizing they were sinners and repented.”

“The Parable of the Tenants”
story time
“A landowner planted a vineyard, put up walls, made a press and a watchtower. He rented it out and moved away. His servants brought in the tenants to harvest the grapes. The tenants killed the servants. The owner then sent his son because he thought he would be respected. They killed his son because they thought they’d get his inheritance. Then they started to worry about what the owner would do.” He asked the disciples what he would do. “Kill them and find nicer tenants.” they said. Jesus said, that’s right. The builders reject what’s become the cornerstone and it’s only right. If you don’t treat God right, kill his only son and his servants, you’ll find yourself no longer living on the land. I’m talking to you, Pharisees.”

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“The Parable of the Wedding Banquet”
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“Heaven is like a wedding banquet that a king gives his son. The servants are invited but refuse to come. He told other servants to tell everyone to come because all the food is prepared. But nobody paid any notice of it. Some invitees killed his messengers and this pissed the king off. He sent an army to kill the messengers’ murderers. He told his servants that the banquet was ready but the invitees don’t deserve to come, so just invite any old fucker down the corner of the street, good, bad, whatever. The banquet hall was filled with guests. He saw a man at the banquet not wearing wedding clothes and asked him how he got in. No answer. The king had the man thrown out in the darkness. Many are invited, few are chosen.”

“Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar”

The Pharisees tried to stitch Jesus up. They dressed incognito asking, “We know that you say God’s the only way to the truth. You aren’t swayed by others. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus saw right through that. “No you don’t assholes. I’m on to you. Let’s see your coin. It’s a denarius with Caesar’s face on it. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is his.” They left after this.

“Marriage at the Resurrection”
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Sadducees, who don’t believe in resurrection, asked him something: “Moses said that if a man died without children, his brother must marry his widow and raise children. There were 7 among us. The first one died without children, as did the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th. Then the 7-time widow died. At the resurrection, whose wife will she be?”

Jesus said, “You’ve got it all right. The resurrection will happen in heaven and there won’t be a wedding. But of the resurrection of the dead, God is the God of the dead but of the living”.

“The Greatest Commandment”

Someone among the Pharisees, “Yo, Jesus, what’s the greatest commandment?” Jesus answer, “Yo, love God with everything you’ve got. Secondly, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'”

“Whose Son Is the Messiah?”

The Pharisees had a powwow and he asked them whose son he thought the Messiah is. They answered, the son of David. He said, “How is that David refers to the spirit as ‘Lord’ when talking to it. How could a son refer to his father as ‘Lord’?” No answer.

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“A Warning Against Hypocrisy”
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He coached his disciples about who to deal with the Pharisees. “You’ve got to be careful around these fuckers. They don’t do what they preach. They pack on everyone but don’t help them along the way. It’s all about show with them. The ceremony, the words, the banquets, love of all the respect they get in the community. Don’t call them ‘Rabbi’. You only have one teacher and that is me. Everybody else is your brother. Don’t call anybody ‘Father’ because you’ve only got one in heaven. Don’t call anyone ‘Instructor’ because you’ve only got one instructor, the Messiah. Those who big themselves up will be brought down. Those who remain humble will be bigged up in heaven.

“Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees”

“Woe 1: You are hypocrites trying to keep people out of heaven. You are assholes.

Woe 2: You travel all over the place to convert one person and when that works you make them hell children.

Woe 3: To you, swearing by the temple means nothing but swearing by the gold in the temple is everything. Is gold more important than what the temple means? What’s more important the gift or the giving of the gift?

Woe 4: Sacrificing 10% of spices is important but justice, mercy, faithfulness don’t mean shit to you.

Woe 5: Your cups are full of greed and self-indulgence. But you only wash the outside of the cup and not the most important part, the inside.

Woe 6: You are whitewashed tombs. Nice on the outside but dead and unclean on the inside. You appear holy but you are wicked inside.

Woe 7: You build tombs for prophets and decorate the holy’s graves. You claim to revere prophets and here you are, busting my balls.

Anybody who follows the Pharisees is completely fucked. They teach the wrong things, they make my life shitty and they completely misrepresent what the religion is all about. You can change at any time if you want, but you probably won’t”

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“The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times”
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Jesus, in his anger claimed “one day this temple will be nothing but a pile of dust.” They went up to the Mount of Olives to hang out and Jesus predicted the ‘end times’. Jesus gave them a list few signs when it happens.

“Watch out for fuckers coming around saying that they speak for me. There’s going to be a lot of ‘Messiahs’. There are going to be a lot of rumors of wars. Keep your cool. These things happen but it’s not the end. Nations will fight each other. There will be famines and earthquakes. You guys who follow me are going to be hounded to hell and back but don’t let that bother you. There’s going to be a lot of hate, false prophets, evil and just generally shittiness. Just pull through it all. When the shit really hits the fan, you can see me in the clouds. When all the world is falling apart around you, you still have my words to keep you going.”

“The Day and Hour Unknown”

“When and how this will happen, only God knows. Even I don’t know. God keeps his cards close to his chest. Since you guys don’t know when this all will go down, you’ve got to be ready for anything. Don’t be caught doing shittiness because you don’t know when the end will come.”

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“The Parable of the Ten Virgins”
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“Heaven will be like 10 virgins going out to meet a groom with their lamps. 5 were stupid, 5 were smart. The idiots didn’t put out in their lamps. The smart ones brought extra oil with them. The groom was taking a long time and everybody started falling asleep. Up he comes and the stupid ones saw they ran out of oil and asked the smarties for some. Nothing doing, so they went to buy some. While they were gone, the smart ones went to the banquet and locked the doors. Be prepared for shit like that.”

“The Parable of the Bags of Gold”
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“There was a fella going on a trip and he asked servants to keep bags of gold for him. One got 5 bags, one got 2 bags and one got 1 bag, according to their ability. The 5 bag man, took the money and made 5 off of it. The 2 bag man made 2 bags off of it. The 1 bag man buried it. The master came back and each showed him what they had done. He was happy with the 5 bag guy and the 2 bag guy. He didn’t like that the 1 bag guy just buried it . ‘You lazy dick. You didn’t make me any extra money.’ And he threw the guy out in the dark.”

“The Sheep and the Goats”

“When I get up to heaven and sit on my throne, I will separate the goodies from the baddies like separating the sheep from the goats. Sheep on the right. Goats on the left. The sheep get to go to heave because they were the ones who helped me whenever I wanted it. If it wasn’t me, it was someone in need. If you help them, then you’re helping me. Those who didn’t help me, you all will go to hell to burn forever.”

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“The Plot Against Jesus”

Jesus: “All right, boys. Passover is 2 days from now and soon one of you fuckers is going to stitch me up.” The chief priests didn’t want this to go on during a religious festival so they decided to wait a bit.

“Jesus Anointed at Bethany”

Jesus went to Bethany to Simon the Leper’s house. A woman brought out a jar of perfume and dumped it on his head. The disciples wondered why she would waste it. It could have been sold and the money could have helped the poor.

Jesus said: “Leave her alone, she’s nice to me. You’ll always have the poor but I won’t be around for much longer. This is in preparation for my burial. Tell everybody what a nice thing she’d done”.

“Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus”

Judas Iscariot went to one of the priests and asked them “What’s it worth to you to hand over Jesus?” They gave him 30 pieces of silver. Then he waited for the ideal time to do it.

“The Last Supper”

Jesus told his disciples to go to ‘a certain’ man’s house to set up a Passover meal. Everything was setting up and Jesus told them that one of them would be betray him. They all were amazed. Jesus said, “the one who does this is a real fucker.

“Anyway, take this bread and eat it. This is my body. Take this wine and drink it. This is my blood. Doing this over and over again is the only way to get into heaven.”
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“Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial”

Jesus said “Tonight, one of you shit stains is going to deny me.” Peter said he would never do that. Jesus: “Before the rooster crows 3 times tomorrow, you will disown me 3 times.” Everybody swore they wouldn’t.

“Gethsemane”

Jesus told his crew to hang out a bit while he went and prayed. He took Peter and the Zebedee boys with him and told them that he was feeling really shitty and they would help keep his spirits up. He moved over a bit and  prayed aloud. He prayed three times about a cup being filled. Between each one he checked in with the three amigos. After the last one, they were asleep. “Up and at ’em, you fuckers. Here comes trouble.”

“Jesus Arrested”

Judas approached him and kissed him. This was the agreed upon signal to identify Jesus. Three guys with swords and clubs grabbed him and arrested him. One of Jesus’s boys took a sword and cut off one of the guards ears. Jesus: “Be cool. If you live by the sword, you’ll die by the sword. There are 12 of you to do what I want. Everything’s fine.”

He addressed the crowd, “Why now are you having me arrested? Is what I’ve been doing so bad?” Then everybody cleared away.

“Jesus Before the Sanhedrin”

The guards brought him to Caiaphas, the high priest, and teachers and elders were there too. They all tried to find a way to put him to death. They called in false witnesses. One guy said that Jesus said he was able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in 3 days. Jesus didn’t respond. The high priest got all uppity and told him, “If you are the Messiah, just say so.”

Jesus said: “You said so. I’m just the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Big Cheese.” That was blasphemy and it was enough to put him to death. People started spitting on him and punching. Some even slapped him.

“Peter Disowns Jesus”

Peter was in the courtyard and a girl asked him if he was with Jesus. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” More people said that he was with him and Peter said “I have no idea who that is.” Your accent is similar to Jesus’s. “Aii dooon’t kah-noooo hooo theees Yeezoos eees.” Then a rooster crowed three times. Peter left and started crying.

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“Judas Hangs Himself”

The priests brought out Jesus to Pilate, the governor. Judas saw the Jesus was going to be killed. He gave back the 30 pieces of silver and asked the priests for forgiveness. They didn’t really give a shit. He left and hanged himself. The priests were annoyed because they couldn’t take the blood money back. They threw it out in the Potter’s field and it later was named the Field of Blood. Prophecy fulfilled.
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“Jesus Before Pilate”

Pilate asked if he was the king of the Jews. “That’s what you say.” He was accused by the priests and he had nothing to say back. Pilate offered to talk to him about the testimony and Jesus wouldn’t say anything.

Pilate wanted to offer the crowd at the festival a token of peace by releasing a man named ‘Jesus’. There was another prisoner name Jesus Barabbas. Pilate asked if he was the one the crowd thought was the Messiah, or him.

The priests and elder convinced the crowd to push for Jesus Barabbas, not THE Jesus. They convinced the crowd to ask for the Messiah’s crucifixion. Pilate was turned off by the crowd and washed his hands in front of them, saying the Messiah’s crucifixion is their call, not his. The crowd told him Jesus’s blood is on them and their children. Jesus was whipped and sent to be crucified.

“The Soldiers Mock Jesus”

The soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium (head soldier’s office). They took off his clothes and put a red robe on him. They put a crown of thorns and gave him a staff and laughingly knelt and said “Hail the king of the Jews.” Then they spit on him and beat him with the staff. They led him to be crucified.

“The Crucifixion of Jesus”

They met a Cyrene man named Jesus and made him carry the cross. They got to Golgotha and offered Jesus with wine but it was spike with bile and Jesus spit it out. They popped him up and ripped his clothes off. Over his head they made a sign saying “This is Jesus, king of the Jews”.

“The Death of Jesus”

They left him up there all day and night. The next day, he screamed up “Why have you forsaken me, God?” People watching were being a bit shitty mocking giving him vinegar to drink and wondering whether Elijah was going to come and save him. He cried out again and got really depressed.

At the same time, temple curtains tore and the earth began to shake. Tombs opened up and long-dead holy people awoke. The centurion guarding him was frightened and converted on the spot. Mary Magdalene, Mary and the mother of the Zebedee boys were all watching.

“The Burial of Jesus”

That night, a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, asked Pilate for Jesus’s body. Pilate said, “Sure, whatever.” He buried Jesus in a linen cloth and put him in a cave dug out in a rock. He put a giant stone at the entrance of the cave and left. Mary and Mary Magdelene sat watching the tomb.

“The Guard at the Tomb”

The next day, the priests and elders went to Pilate asking to secure the tomb because they remembered that Jesus predicted that he would rise after 3 days. They wanted to put a guard on the tomb so that Jesus’s people couldn’t pull any bullshit and start claiming that Jesus had risen from the dead. Pilate allowed it.

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“Jesus Has Risen”

After the Sabbath, there was an earthquake. Mary and Mary Magdelene went to check out the tomb. The earthquake was caused by an angel coming down from heaven. He was dressed in white and the guards began to freak out at the sight of this. The angel told the ladies, “Chill out. Jesus isn’t here anymore. He’s alive and gone on ahead in Galilee. Go on ahead and see him.”

The women ran to tell all the disciples. All of a sudden Jesus pops up and asked everybody to go back to Galilee.
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“The Guards’ Report”

The guards went back to the city and reported to the priests. The priests paid them to lie and say that his people stole him while the guards were sleeping.

“The Great Commission”

The 11 remaining disciples went to Galilee to the mountain were he told them to go. “All right, you fuckers. Everything I said was true. Now you’ve got to go out to everybody everywhere baptizing people and teaching them what to do. I’ll always be around.”

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P.S. Bonus clip from Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian”

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