A Gospel Story

For David Norton.

1At that time Jesus, who was a student of the scriptures in Bethlehem, said unto his mother, “Who are you to say I am a prophet?” 2And Mary, who was his mother, and proud, had her sons beat him saying, “I am your mother, but who art thou, boy, to me?” 3Then the young man, finally, scorning her for her wrath, threw down his scholar’s robe and went outside Bethlehem, onto the roads of Galilee, to discover the wilderness and to write his parables. 4And in time he called himself a prophet, for he knew not what else to call him, saying unto travelers, “Do you know the lily?” 5And, “Look at that which the farmer sows.” 6And though his bruises healed, and parables greatly improved, also he grew ragged and dusty, and so he went to the river to wash and pray. 7And it was there he met John, a keeper of goats, and a holy prophet, who had heard of the prophet from Galilee and was curious, saying, “Boy art thou Jesus the student from Bethlehem?” 8To which Jesus replied “No, I am Jesus, son of Joseph a humble carpenter”. 9And John did smile at such a subterfuge, telling him, “Aye, and what do you make of this stool?” 10And Jesus told him, “It is a good stool”, and for some time neither spoke again. 11Then John, seeing the boy was furtive and hurting, said unto him, “Lay here tonight by my fire, but mind the dog for he will bite.” 12And Jesus thought upon it, being wary, but did agree. 13John that night touched his knee tenderly, saying, “I am not the prophet you seek.” 14And Jesus did strike the man’s chapped hands briskly from his knee, and John made no more advances that night. 15In the dawn, when Jesus arose, John had bathed naked in the river and now stood before him on its bank. 16And Jesus did avert his eyes. 17And John did wave and smile shouting, “Come prophet, so that I may be baptised by your soft hands!” 18And Jesus, being not thus inclined, was deeply ashamed. 19And he did flee into the hot wilderness where he dined on locusts and wild honey. 20And to think more upon his parables.

2And at that time Jesus was far from the river, and his tongue grew dry, and his mind did wander more than his feet, and he grew ill. 2Several nights hence a hooded man came unto him, his robes unusual black. 3And the man said, “Art thou the son of the lord thy god?” 4And Jesus, confused, spoke, “No, I am Jesus, and there is pain in my breast.” 5And the hooded man did lay hands on Jesus’s breast in the manner of a healer, and Jesus saw the man had not fingers but the heads and necks of serpents dark as blood. 6Then Jesus, thinking it was John, and a demon, did beg, “Please do not ravish me!” , for he had no defence in his weakness. 7And the hooded man laughed, saying, “Who is it you think I am?” 8Then Jesus grew fresh and light, and he felt the breeze upon his face as though he were at a great height, for indeed he was on a pinnacle of the temple and could see all the kingdoms. 9Then the devil, for indeed this was the man, said unto him, “See what the lord, thy god doth condemn? See there the women with child? See there the men building the temple? See there the goodness of the flower and the snail?” 10However Jesus was not tempted, and he said angrily, in condemnation, “See there, the thief! See there, the lecher! See there, the glutton! See there how the snail feasts greedily upon the flower!” 11And he spoke some time, feeling a great wariness of the earthly world. 12Then counselled the devil to Jesus that his examples were rather anomalous, to which Jesus replied, “Get thee hence, Satan.” 13Then the devil, sensing his defeat, did depart.

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3 Responses to A Gospel Story

  1. paarsurrey says:

    I don’t get it. It is not in the Bible. Who is this David Norton? Please

    • oilymud says:

      Sorry if it’s a bit obscure. What I’ve done is rewritten an incident from the Book of Matthew drawing on more accurate historical texts than the Bible itself, and adding some silliness in for good measure. A N Wilson’s “Jesus” was influential for grappling with what a historical Jesus might have been like if he existed. I’ve also given Jesus’ attitude a bit of a twist, given I’m a philosophical materialist and see the goal for humanity as improving this world, not longing for an afterworld.

    • oilymud says:

      Oh, and sorry. David Norton was a lecturer of mine here in New Zealand, he teaches a course on the English-language Bible as English Literature.

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