Monday, January 14, 2008

More pages of the Melvin Gospel uncovered

Sorry about the long gap here at the lab. I've been translating the latest page of the Gospel of Melvin, and his--um--uncoventional method of colloquial prose made it pretty difficult. Anyway, because I know that you all want to keep up on the latest scholarship available on this fascinating document, here is the latest fragment.

And when Jesus turned 12, he was bar-mitzvahed, and come Passover time, he went with his folks to Jerusalem to celebrate that holy week. Passover: yet another holy day that ignores the plight of the melon merchants! Lamb, herbs, unleavened bread, and wine, but no melons!

For that matter, consider the rest of our holidays! Chanukah--no melons needed! Yom Kippur--no melons needed! Purim, Rosh Hashanah, Shavuot: no melons, no melons, no melons! Sukkoth comes close, with the lulav bundle, but still no melons! Don't people know that melons improve your memory and spirituality?

(This rant goes on for three more pages)

As I was saying, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem for that wonderful-yet-melonless feast. When the week was over, they left town without him. That's right! They left the kid in the big city, alone! Just flat* forgot him! I might add, here, that Joe and Mary were not exactly big melon customers, if ya know what I mean, so it's really no wonder that they left him behind.

Anyway, they figure out where they left him, point the donkey back toward Jerusalem, and find him in the temple playing twenty questions with the rabbis. "Is it bigger than the ark?" they asked.

To which he replied, "Have you never read in the Scriptures that Noah built an ark of exceeding great size with which to save his family and also many animals in the days when the great flood came upon the earth? And again, that Moses was instructed to build an ark, and no man could ride within, yet the Spirit of HaShem did dwell upon it? Thou blind Pharisee, you did not specify which ark, and thus are no closer to an answer! If you cannot properly play a simple game of twenty questions, how do you hope to escape the coming Wrath?"**

And with many other words he did stun the leaders into an awed silence, as well as an odd silence, all the while munching upon a honeydew which he snitched from a melon merchant named Amos.

* I think this is what the text says. The copyist's handwriting is very uneven, and there appears to be watermelon seed stuck to the parchment here, which I dare not remove for fear of tearing the fragment and obliterating the underlying text.
**Observe a similar conversation in the Talmud, in which Rashi applies the same principle to a question about whether or not a Levite might study the Torah by the light of the menorah on Shabbat. His student failed to include whether he meant the original menorah in the tent of meeting, or one of the ten in the temple of Solomon, or the one that was in the second temple, which had been destroyed by the Romans. In true Jewish style, though, the story is actually being told by a later rabbi, who is in fact quoting the story as having been told him by his teacher.

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