Gospel is a road trip story, a buddy novel. Easy Rider meets the Gospels. Part picaresque, part polemic.
In a series of near-misadventures unfolding across the ancient Levant, the Devil, Jesus and his thirteen disciples meet with lions, lepers, prophets, prostitutes and God himself as they struggle to free themselves from the strictures of duty and fate: Jesus chafes no less under the conventional, Pauline construction of his actions than the Devil under his ontological dependence on God.
In pushing the other past personal boundaries, each arrives, finally, at a deeper iteration of himself whilst fulfilling his duty, all the same.
THE GOSPEL OF SATAN | Iambic Books, ISBN: 979-821809412, Paperback: $12.99 eBook: $5.99
If Jesus had some idea where he was headed, he didn’t know how to get there yet.— A funny thing about fate, my friend, it hides from us even as it seeks us out.
The answers Jesus sought lay outside Jewish teaching. Its conservatism, its insularity, its stolid adherence to the will of the fathers, only impeded him. His was a creative urge, his desire neither to quarrel with G-d, nor reconcile, but to remake the world according to an intuition. (The enormity of it only occurred to me by degrees.)
No Hebrew School, no Qabalah, no lost years studying Buddhism in India, (honestly!), indeed nothing outside a direct experience of the world in- formed Jesus’ thought. Jesus’ ideas took shape in brilliant flashes of anger, quite often in response to the daily exigencies of his life, not as metaphysical musings.
And so he roamed. The roaming helped him think. In these later years this roaming became more frequent, more manic, more concentric, like a comet falling out of orbit … or prisoner pacing a cell.
We roamed without a plan, though I soon spied a chance to roll the plot forward an inch.
We’d left Mary Magdalene and Jerusalem with that peculiar Sunday regret one feels fleeing back home after an eventful weekend with many scenes and incidents yet to be assimilated. City lights winked out as we travelled into the distance, and a vast silence came down from the night sky. Camp- fires burned in the valley below. And in the midst of our solitude a feeling of peace settled upon us— and that connection with all the world one feels reading late into the night of white whales and mountain crossings and old men’s winter nights….
We’d rounded a steep dune and come upon an encampment. Smoke rose from cook fires, and a patchwork of tents fluttered in the evening breeze in the dale below.
“Fuck! These blisters bro.”
“You’ve always been a bit of a pussy, Beez.” “Yeah, well.”
“Come on, we’ll stay the night.” And Jesus set up a racket as he ran down the side of a dune, leaping and sinking into the sand as he went.
“Wait for me,” I yelled, gamboling—yes, the Devil gamboling—after Jesus.
Camels snorted and kicked at clods of dung. “Why don’t you grab some of that gold, maybe we can trade it for food.”
Jesus laughed and chucked a handful of shit at me. I leaped adroitly aside. (Whatever else, the Devil is fastidious in his appearance.)
Shadows lengthened and night came swiftly upon the desert as we ran toward the tents.
“Quo vadis?” came a voice from the darkness.
“Quo vadis?” came a second voice in the popular thieves’ Latin.
A group of thugs blocked our way.
“I am the way,” came a voice behind me, and as I turned to look, Jesus slipped past me into the breech. A knife flashed in the hand of one of the hoods and my heart leapt up, and all my preternatural strength came rushing into my limbs.— Understand, my friend, I’d committed body and soul to Jesus.
Jesus pulled up short to show he harbored no bad intentions, then he did that thing, clapping his hand around the back of this fellow’s neck and pulling him close, forehead to forehead.
A gasp came from the group. Figures moved uneasily in the background. The fellow in Jesus’ em- brace shifted his weight; Jesus shifted his, holding firm. After about a quarter of a minute, the guy broke free.
“Bro, come with us,” he said excitedly, like a kid anxious to show off a new trick. “Come, come!”
We followed the little gangsters into camp, eyes all around us from edges of campfires and tent flaps.
In the middle was a great tent lit from within. Two centurions stood guard. Roman guards before a Jewish tent.
Some kind of big-wig stepped out into the night. He had a great belly and that peculiar grace- fulness given to certain large men. He wore green eye shadow.
“Come in,” he said.
Pretty boys and pretty girls lay on silk cushions, frankincense smoldered in a brass urn and the sound of an oud echoed in the night.
“You two managed to get past my dogs, that’s something. Sit, sit, you’re not on trial.”
Jesus threw himself onto a couch and stared back at our host.
“And you,” he said, eying me narrowly. “What have we here?”
“Knowest me, Abba?”
“I think not.”
“Old Hathakriel?” I said, arranging myself on a pillow next to a dark-eyed thing. “Who?”
“Abbadon … of late.”
“Doesn’t ring a bell.”
“I plucked it off along with my tail.”
“I can’t make heads or tails of that.”
“None the less, Caiaphas, we’re here to collect.” “Collect what? do tell.”
“Justice or injustice, it’s all the same.”
“Oh, I dare say there’s a great deal of difference.” “Not to us … All’s ordained; render however you like.”
“I don’t think I like that.”
“I’ve made no arrangements. No deals….”
The man was clearly nonplussed; not, however, being the kind of man who likes to let his discom- fiture show—the kind of man for whom lack of sophistication is the most cardinal of sins—he played along, hoping to catch on to the game.
“Well now, I think I see. You’ve information….” “Nothing the prophets haven’t already told.” “That being?”
“Why the future, man.”
“Oh, this is a wicked game.”
“That’s a word.”
“Verter zol men vegn un nit tselyn.”
“And yet your words do seem to float up to heaven.”
“Not so near or far as that.”
Jesus sighed, tired of the jibber-jabber.
“Something you wanted to say?” Caiaphas in- quired.
“No … it’s like my friend here says: it’s written.”
“Funny, so many brought here before me would accept their fates without objection.”
“What’s the use objecting to fate?
“It makes for a livelier proceeding, I’d think … for to wrestle with fate, dear boy….”
Here I interrupted: “Memorize the board, old man, we’ll be back. For the nonce we require lodging. These blisters is killing me.”
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