- Iscariot: Chapter 1 – In which we meet Pontius Pilate and learn about an obscure Goddess.
- Iscariot: Chapter 2 – In which we meet Jesus of Nazareth, his brother James, Simon the Zealot, and Donny, one of King Herod’s slaves
- Iscariot: Chapter 3 – In which Judas splits a bottle of wine with Mary Magdalene, daughter in law of the almighty.
- Iscariot: Chapter 4 – In which we learn that Jesus is not scared of lightning. Also Kelsey, the formerly barren lady from Chapter 2, has become fertile and now it’s a whole thing.
- Iscariot: Chapter 5 – In which we learn that just because you have love for all things, doesn’t mean you can’t get annoyed by certain peoples antics.
- Iscariot: Chapter 6 – In which Menahem asks, “Are you there, God? It’s me, Menahem.”
- Iscariot: Chapter 7 – In which Pontius Pilate learns who King Herod is and what King Herod do.
- Iscariot: Chapter 8 – In which we meet Martha, wife of Judas, and she’s a delight.
- Iscariot: Chapter 9 – In which we meet the remaining apostles at the Passover feast.
- Iscariot: Chapter 10 – In which Pontius Pilate reminisces about the good ol’ days.
- Iscariot: Chapter 11 – In which there’s a bit of exposition until the angel Lucifer shows up and has a brief chat with Judas.
- Iscariot: Chapter 12 – In which we are made aware of the political situation in Rome.
- Iscariot: Chapter 13 – In which the Passion of the Devil.
- Iscariot: Chapter 14 – In which we meet the rice goddess Inari and a fox named Mrs. Noodles.
- Iscariot: Chapter 15 – In which Mary, Martha, and Kelsey meet a Behemoth and the story passes the Bechdel test.
- Iscariot: Chapter 16 – In which Judas and Jesus travel through India and learn about road building.
- Iscariot: Chapter 17 – In which (much like in Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 8) there’s a wedding.
- Iscariot: Chapter 18 – In which crucifixion shmoosifixion. Jesus and Judas are back, baby!
- Iscariot: Chapter 19 – In which we extrapolate upon the Ascension a little bit.
- Iscariot: Chapter 20 – In which Judas and Mary have a pre dinner drink, and we leave them there.
Since, God willing, this will be the last time I write a gospel, I’m putting all of my cards on the table. (So that later, nobody can call me a snake in the grass.)
1. I do not believe in God.
a. I had heard the truth about Santa Claus on the playground, as one often does. When I asked my father about it, he told me the truth and bought me a cherry Coke. (This was at an Irish Pub in Marshfield, Massachusetts. A bar which had a surprising number of children in it at any given time. Because that’s how we New England – Irish do.)
b. With Santa went a belief in a bunch of stuff. Ghosts, monsters, tooth fairies (And fairies in general), etc. Also the whole God thing.
c. “Always look for proof,” my father said to me. “See with your eyes, think with your brain, the simplest solution is probably correct, etc.”
2. I do believe in Jesus.
a. I do not believe he’s the son of God. (See 1 and 2.b)
b. Why make a person up when you have a perfectly serviceable and actual human who did things. He’s right there in the records.
3. I believe that Jesus had some royal1 blood in him.
a. Kings showing up to births with gifts is apparently a tradition as old as time. But they only do that to other royals.
b. His mother Mary was where the royal blood came from.
i. She’s mentioned a lot in the bible.
ii. Joseph is barely acknowledged.
iii. People pay more attention to royals than carpenters.
4. I believe that Jesus was a populist. He wanted to help the poor. He wanted to help the sick. He believed that there was a lot of corruption in the church. He didn’t like the Romans. And he sure as hell didn’t like the person that the Romans put in charge.
5. Rome saw a popular leader with a populist message, who told the masses that they vastly outnumber the 1 percent and that these lowly peasants deserved a little gravy.
6. Rome in conjunction with their appointed king in Jerusalem (Herod) and with a church who also had a strong interest in keeping the peasants in line, shut that the hell down. They arrested Jesus, put on a show trial, and nailed him to a cross as a warning to anyone else who roused up the peasants. Uprisings are bad in the eyes of any government.
7. I don’t think Jesus died on the cross.
a. Oh I think he was nailed to it, but I don’t think he died. It takes a long while to die on a cross. It’s a torture tactic after all.
b. I think his friends got him down and tried to hide him away for a little bit and heal him up. Maybe in a cave outside of town?
c. I think his wounds, however, were too much to overcome and after a few days, whoever was hiding him. (His brother James and his wife Mary, perhaps?) informed the rest of the apostles that Jesus was up in the cave, they couldn’t move him, and if you want to say goodbye, now’s the time.
d. And they did just that. Three days after being crucified, the apostles come to the cave. And, there, surrounded by his friends, Jesus died.
Now to me. This set of ideas gels everything in the Bible together in a nice and logical way. But it’s actually kind of a boring story at its core. So I wrote this instead. Enjoy the chapter everyone!
In which crucifixion shmoosifixion. Jesus and Judas are back, baby!
Eleven people sat in a dimly lit room arguing about the future. Although Mary, James, and Simon the Zealot had yet to forgive Peter for his coup, they were there. The message, they thought, and the sacrifice which they had all endured, was of far greater consequence than a squabble about who would actually be delivering the message to the huddled masses.
They knew that in order to actually deliver their flocks from evil a head-on assault of the church leaders, the Romans, and Herod was impossible. They were but eleven, and despite the fact that people had come to listen to Jesus, and despite the fact that they had seen miracles with their own eyes and were desperate for some amount of reform within the church, the masses had been freshly reminded of the consequences for stepping out of line.
The apostles debated on how best to continue the work which Jesus had started. They argued. They drank. They ate a delicious array of snacks which had been provided by Andrew. Unfortunately, they hadn’t gotten very far, vis a vis, an actual plan.
Peter sat at the center of the table they were gathered around and spoke.
“Moving on the next item of the agenda; I think it would be confusing if I were the leader but we all wore the same outfit.”
“We don’t wear the same outfit. We all have different colored robes,” said Bartholomew.
“Well, yes,” Peter replied. “But I think that my robes should stand out, is all. You all should keep wearing your casual robes, but I should wear robes of the ephod designed by gifted artisans and filled with the spirit of wisdom.” (As described in Exodus 28:31-35) “A return to the days of yore, when it was a better and simpler time.”
“Whatever, Peter. If you want to wear priestly vestments, go ahead. Have fun trying to keep them clean while we wander around preaching,” Simon responded.
Peter looked across the room at him. “I’ll need a secretary or two in any case and that can be one of their jobs. Simon, I think that it would be a perfect job for you. All in favor of Simon the Zealot becoming my personal secretary and being in charge of my laundry, say ‘aye’.”
A chorus of “ayes” came out. There was one nay from Simon, and Mary just rolled her eyes. She and James had abstained from this vote, as they had abstained from almost everything which had been brought up that day.
“The ayes have it,” Peter said. Before Simon could make a formal protest, Peter raised his voice and moved on. “Next point of order, is hats. We have to merge the past with the present. I think I should have a huge hat. A pointy one. A hat that says, ‘This guy is clearly in charge and we should listen to him and follow him to the depths of hell if he asks.’”
James could keep quiet no longer. “What on God’s earth are you talking about hats for. The whole point of this was to reform the church. We’re not trying to start some new cult. We’re just trying to make it easier for the poor and sick. How the hell do hats do that?”
“More people will show up to listen if they know we mean business!” Peter cried. “They’ll say. Hey. This guy’s hat game is fucking on point. I better listen good to what he says.”
“People want to lead a life out from under the hands of tyranny, is what they want. Hats won’t help them in that regard.”
“I will have a pointy hat and if you don’t like it, you can find a new church!” Peter screamed. “End of discussion. Next point of order. I’m thinking that it would look good if I had a really ornate sash. Oh, and a cool staff…”
But before Peter could finish describing his accoutrement, and James could yell at him about it, a burst of light filled the room. Everyone yelled out, covered their eyes, and were momentarily blinded.
The wood of the table splintered, crockery crashed to the floor, wine was spilled and all of the snacks met a dreary end. A chorus of people shouted and tried to blink away the huge spots in front of their eyes. The clamor of destruction was followed by the sound of two voices.
“Ow!” Judas yelled.
“Hi everyone!” Jesus said.
“Baby!” cried Mary, and through tears, ran up and tackled her husband to the ground.
Slowly and cautiously all of the apostles stood up to see their lord. There was a moment of silence before Jesus stood up again with Mary still holding him.
James came up and hugged him, as did most of the rest of the apostles, all asking questions over each other while Jesus tried to calm everyone down.
“Steady on, guys. Simmer down.”
“You’re back. You came back to me,” Mary said, wiping tears away from her face.
“Hi honey,” Jesus said, embracing her while all around him the apostles fawned or yelled. Arguments were breaking out. Using the chaos as cover, and despite there not being an Ireland at the time, Judas slipped into the shadows and performed an Irish exit.
(That is to say the island existed but it wasn’t called Ireland. By all accounts the island first saw human traffic in the Palaeolithic era, 11,000 years earlier than the events herein. Although actual settlement didn’t happen until Mesolithic period a couple thousand years later. The Greeks called the island Iwernia until eventually Tacticus called it Hibernia in “Histories” which he wrote sometime around 100 AD. That settled the matter for a while2. In any case, the island wasn’t called Ireland, but there was a rich culture there which at the time of Jesus which had existed for almost 10,000 years.
One of their many great achievements was inventing an “exit strategy” for gatherings which you didn’t want to be at anymore. How it works is you slip out without telling anybody you’re doing it, and thus avoid any sort of awkward conversations about how it’s early, but you have to be up tomorrow morning because of some family thing. Besides, you’ve mostly been talking to some rando, and they don’t want to hear about your shit anyway. You only just met this guy, and the only reason you did is because a different person in your group always chats with strangers whenever he gets drunk. Which is fine, I guess, except that now the new guy is there and you’d feel bad if you just left him out of the conversation…but come on man. This stuff is personal. How polite do I have to be, exactly?
Meanwhile, a brief thought occurs that maybe, and with minimal effort, you could convince the redhead who’s been hanging out to come home with you and your girlfriend. But that would require a separate conversation with your girlfriend which you don’t want to get into. On top of that, you want a cigarette, but you’ve been trying to quit. That makes you grumpy, so the conversation with your girlfriend would probably turn into a much different discussion about swinging, which you absolutely don’t want to have right now. Plus, that conversation would happen even if you didn’t bring the red head home.
So you just avoid the whole thing and you and the lady slip out without saying goodbye to anyone. When done right, nobody notices a thing and they all go on with their night, while you get to watch TV at home, happily snugged next to your girlfriend on the couch.
But I digress. In the context of the story, cuddled next to his partner whom he hadn’t seen in weeks was exactly where Judas wanted to be.)
Judas was out the door and a few paces down the street before he heard his name called. He turned around to see Mary running after him and almost barreled him over with a charging hug coupled with sloppy tears.
“Oof,” Judas said. “Hi, Mary. Why are you crying, you goof? I’m just nipping off to see Martha and the kiddo. Go hang out with your husband.”
“He’ll keep. I missed you!”
“I know you did, honey. I missed you too,” he said, smiling. “But really. I have no intention of leaving for that long, ever again. Seriously. Go in and tend to Jesus.”
“He’s being mobbed right now. As I left, Thomas was demanding to put his fingers through the holes in Jesus’ hands.” (John 20:27)
“Good lord. Well that proves that I left at the right time. Listen. I have to go but I promise you can come over and we’ll drink and catch up soon. Ok?”
Mary dried her eyes and let go of him. “Ok,” she said. “I’ll be over once this madness calms down. See you soon. Oh! I almost forgot. Your house was burned down by the mob while you were gone. Martha’s at your parent’s apartments.”
“Of course it was,” Judas replied. At the moment he didn’t care, so he thanked Mary, and double timed it back home to the warm, and very much missed, embrace of his wife.