There has been a lot of discussion lately on the “Miracle of Sharing” and the result of “biblical higher criticism”. The Jesus Seminar reminds me of that classic Marx Brothers film “A Night at the Opera” where Groucho and Chico are going through the terms of a proposed contract. In the scene every time Chico rejects a clause from the contract, Groucho tears out that part until there is nothing left. I recently found this transcript which details the conversation between Dr. Hugh Manist and Dr. Maude Dernest at the Jesus Seminar. This transcript is used with permission from the Washington Post-Modernist.
Dernest: We might as well start with the gospels and the virgin birth.
Manist: This part was added later on by an sexually-repressed disciple who read a bad translation of Isaiah.
Dernest: Fine. (They rip out that part of the bible) What about the Angels announcing the Messiah?
Manist: An auditory hallucination caused by sleep deprivation. Long hours of guarding the sheep combined with the sound of the sheep combined to cause this.
Dernest: I concur. (They rip out that part of the bible) What about the presentation at the worship space?
Manist: Also added later to try to show that Jesus was recognized as the messiah from the very start.
Dernest: True, also we have no historical evidence of Simeon and Anna. (They rip out that part of the bible) Now we get to John the Baptizer.
Manist: He was a homeless person of the essene faith community who had very low self-esteem and a tendency to attach himself to stronger personalities. This is evidenced by his statement “I must decrease, he must increase”. He was also very judgmental and criticized the marriage arrangement of the politician Herod. Anything that he would have to say is highly suspect.
Dernest: And when given a chance to tell soldiers to turn in their swords and to be pacifists he told them instead “not to do violence to any man, nor falsely to denounce anyone, and to be content with their pay”. (They rip out that part of the bible) Now we come to the “tempting in the desert”.
Manist: Since it references Satan, who doesn’t exist, it can not be historically correct. Fasting for 40 days obviously caused him to hallucinate and imagine the supposed dialog with a mythical creature.
Dernest: Plus he quotes from the highly suspect Pentateuch. (They rip out that part of the bible) What about the marriage feast at Cana?
Manist: It’s problematic because of the “M” word.
Dernest: “M” word?
Manist: Yes, miracles cannot happen. A God who created the whole world out of nothing could not possibly interact with the world and cause water to change to wine, preposterous.
Dernest: Exactly. (They rip out that part of the bible) And we don’t even need to discuss demon-possessed people. (They rip out some more)
Manist: True, true – and all of the examples of medical healing were just coincidence and the placebo effect. (They rip out some more)
Dernest: And of course Jesus walking on water was the result of a freak storm that caused the top layer of water to ice over. When Peter also attempted to “walk on the water”, that patch of ice finally gave way and he ended up in the water. The patch of ice Jesus was on was a little thicker and he was able to help Peter out of the water. It’s all so reasonable!. (They rip out that part of the bible) Now we get to the so called “Miracle of the loaves and fishes”.
Manist: Jesus taught a sermon on communism and about the liberation of the proletariat. The people were so overjoyed that they could have “heaven on earth” that they shared what they had. In fact when the bourgeoisie Pharisee and San Hedron heard of this they immediately plotted to kill Jesus. It wasn’t till modern times that the apostle Karl Marx was able to bring back this gospel.
Dernest: Yes the symbolism of bread always refers to the downtrodden working classes. (They rip out more) The transfiguration was the result of the sunlight reflecting off of the mountain snow causing Jesus to appear to shine. What about Peter’s statement of faith and Jesus’ “On this rock” speech.
Manist: An easy one, at a later time this was added so that men could impose a male hierarchy church on later generations. Jesus never intended to start a church but to have people be nice to one another. Now we get to the crucifixion, and I believe it was historically true except for the parts about forgiving others, sweating blood, joining the thief in paradise, etc. Maybe he did talk about God abandoning him but everything else was added.
Dernest: Don’t you just love that we are so much smarter than all of those other ignorant generation?. (They rip out more) I am not sure what to make of the resurrection story.
Manist: Spontaneous Human Combustion fits all the facts and should be the accepted explanation. The appearance of Jesus after his death could be mass illusion caused by the people longing for someone to save them from the rule of the Romans and their consciousness projected this hope. But I personally think that Jesus’ twin brother, who had a psychological induced stigmata, came on the scene and took advantage of his brothers death to further spread the God-Man myth.
Dernest: Yes, that makes a lot more sense. (They rip out a lot more) What about the Trinity?
Manist: Jesus had a Multi Personality Disorder possibly brought about by being a refugee (flight to Egypt) early in his life and the probable death of his father Joseph at an early age. This longing for his father brought about the confusion of “The Father and I are one” and all the other references he continued to make about his father.
Dernest: Well that eliminates the Gospels and most of the book of Acts. The Pauline epistles can be explained away from the fact that Paul suffered a brain injury when falling off a horse. The swelling of his brain even brought on the symptoms of blindness till he recovered. But even after the accident he couldn’t remember that his name was Saul and he mistook his name as being Paul. He also had the problem of thinking that he had authority over other churches and could tell them how to run their liturgy. He even went so far as to train his assistant Timothy in the same errors, it was as if he believed in Apostolic Succession or something.
Manist: And what did Peter think he was doing in evangelizing the Jews, he obviously hadn’t read Reflections on Covenant and Mission.
Dernest: Well that leaves the book of Revelation, but the language in it must have been the result of some bad mushrooms on the island of Patmos. Lets start with the Old Testament. The Pentateuch. is the first to go since it is a political polemic written to justify killing people and stealing their land with some kind of deity approved manifest destiny.
Manist: The same goes for Judges, Samuel, and Kings. Elijah mocked the Baal faith community and because of his religious intolerance killed all of their ministers. King David wanted to break the teeth of his enemies but at least he brought us the practice of liturgical dancing.
Dernest: And since there can be no true prophecy, I figure that there must have been about 59 Isaias living in about a three hundred year period. No miracles and no prophesy eliminates most of the Old Testament. We can take out Ruth since it infers that you must give up your own God for your mother-in-law’s God, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
Manist: How intolerant. All of the prophets were highly judgmental intolerant people that spread their message of ethnic hate. The book of Judith approves of assassination, and Maccabees has the doctrine of purgatory in it.
Dernest: Well that’s it, there is nothing left. I think we should leave in the business about “Do not Judge”, besides it’s the only bible verse that liberals have memorized.
Manist: OK, we will leave that in. The advantage is now we can print the whole bible on a postage stamp.