While scanning the bible one day, I ran across the odd little story described below. It was a strange, seemingly innocuous account that seemed out of place and one that I had never heard mentioned before. The more I thought about it the stranger it seemed. Now I have come to think that this bizarre little story may hold the key to the entire christian fable. Below is the account I originally wrote, followed by the surprising conclusion which I have deduced from the available information.
Jesus (assuming for the purpose of this argument that a traveling evangelist by that name once existed) lived in a time of great gullibility and religious fervor. Superstition was deeply ingrained into the everyday lives of the millions - literacy and critical skepticism were not - certainly not in regards to vengeful and unpredictable gods whose ire could be unleashed upon the unwary for no apparent reason. The average citizen was entirely powerless; questioning authority seldom evoked an enlightened and compassionate reaction. The people of that region have a history of extreme susceptibility to any and every new superstition that came along.
So anyway, this particular itinerant preacher had a gang of 12 guys who followed him around. That raises the question - what did these guys do all day? Were these 12 mouths he had to feed just mindless adoring sycophants, following him around, hanging on every word, (though never writing any of it down), and receiving food like manna from heaven, or did they have to earn their keep and deal with daily pressures, necessities, and irritations? Like traveling preachers of today, his staff might have had the duties like those of advance men and roadies who go on ahead, carry the bags, find accommodations, gather firewood, cook, put up posters, manage public relations, grease palms, call in favors, arrange permits, find venues, and a thousand other ad hoc chores.
Or were some of their duties more like those of Medicine Show crowd plants who were miraculously cured anew in every town. (We do know that some of their tricks of the trade, like bringing dead people back to life, might have played to the country peasants in those days but don't fly anymore. And faith healing? Petty magic and the stuff of tricksters and charlatans - it only works on the ignorant and superstitious, and even then it doesn't last.)
At any rate, one could easily believe that at least parts of their days were filled with sometimes mundane duties involved in the support of a traveling faith healing show - things like finding and preparing food for his posse, collecting and handling money, managing transportation, security duties such as screening access to the son of the creator of the universe, etc. Apparently, sometimes those duties included "special ops". While searching for a bible passage, my eyes fell upon a most curious account in Luke 19, verses 29 - 36.
What are we to glean from this sparse account? Looking at this with an eye on known human behavior modes, here is what it looks like to me. Jesus and his crew stopped outside a small town to scope it out and make some plans. Apparently these plans involved the removal of a horse (colt) from the town without prior approval or notification of the owner. Today, this is known as 'theft' and is a hanging offense. Jesus told two of his men to go into the town and where they would find a horse. He told them to get the horse and bring it to him without being seen, but if they were seen, to inform the guy that they were taking his horse to their boss, a guy who apparently had enough of a rep (and 12 mindless "followers", work hardened and ready to do whatever the "son of god" might require of them) that people would simply hand over their loot without a struggle.
So they went to town, located this guy's horse, and started to make off with it when the guy spots them and comes running out to find out what the hell they think they are doing. So, they 'splain to the guy how it's gonna be. I guess you could say they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Long story short, the guy caves and they depart with what, for many people in that part of the world in those days, would have been a large and indispensable part of their net worth. Sounds like he was acting out of fear.
Lastly, they made a riding blanket out of their clothing - so far so good, although it is a little surprising that the alleged son of god would require either a horse or padding for his own butt - but then it just got weird. Why they were spreading their clothes in the way is not addressed in following verses. Sounds like something that a petulant young medieval prince might have had his minions do out of boredom. Makes me wonder how many miles they kept that up.
Boiled down, this has conspiracy,
coercion, and grand theft written all over it. I'm not sure exactly how
the ancients viewed such questionable activities as horse thievery, but
where I come from, that would have gotten a person hanged a lot faster than
And that is exactly what happened. It turns out that local constabularies of the day viewed thievery very harshly. Imprisonment, torture, and cruel executions were common even for petty offenses. It seems to me that there is a likelihood that this traveling preacher simply ran afoul of the law, got caught and got hung, so to speak.
Now the large number of people who actually believe the jesus fable will tell you that he was tortured and crucified like a common criminal for his beliefs. The adamantly religious are rarely objective, and are sometimes plain ol' dishonest in their public assessment of their figureheads. Looks to me like his followers and the biblical revisionists who came later may have glossed over any illegalities committed by this pack of unemployed religioneers, and painted his incarceration as if he were an innocent, unjustly imprisoned, and badly treated religious/political prisoner, Luke 19 notwithstanding.
It's like an old TV show I saw where a Howard
was telling Bob about a guy who had parked illegally and was now in prison.
|©The Assertive Atheist||