New translations of ancient scrolls make the Book of Revelations sound like a Sunday School lesson
Of great interest today in both the scientific and religious communities is the recent discovery near Haifa, Israel, in the cellar of a somewhat disreputable drinking establishment called The Dedsi, of a collection of scrolls (or, rather, fragments thereof) that purport to be a portion
of the Bible. The book in question, which is either the Book of Peseta or the Book of Dolin depending [quoteright]on which interpretation of the fragmentary Aramaic script used in the writ is accepted, has never been mentioned in either the old or the new testaments, or in the Apocrypha. If these scrolls are indeed part of the scriptures, biblical scholars should have enough fuel for discussion to last for many years to come.
Unfortunately, the scroll fragments are in very poor shape indeed, having apparently been used as coasters, and for other, still more base purposes, in the saloon above. In point of fact, scientists decided to use the alcohol dating method (using the rings left on the scrolls by beverage vessels) as the most accurate way to determine the age of the relics. They test out at 2200 and 2300 years old, and 84 to 86 proof.
Of special interest are those portions that seem to be prophecies of times to come. A scroll that has caused a great deal of excitement is designated Chapter IV: Admonitions to the Watchful. Regrettably, both the beginning and the end of the chapter are missing. The text of the remaining portion, as translated by the author, is reproduced below:
17. And in those days there shall arise cut of the west a great leader, whose name shall be called Napoleon. And many shall be called after his name; and they shall dwell together in one house, and men in white robes shall exercise authority over them. And the walls of their habitation shall be soft, and no sharp thing shall be given unto them.
18. And they shall babble and say, "Blipple grops of wocker, Fliddle krains of gand, lake the heighty goshen, And the mezant kand. License shall be given unto poets to provide new words, but they shall abuse the privilege.
19. And it shall come to pass that man invents a box that can talk. But it shall wax worse, for it shall begin to sing about soap. And men shall fail to learn from this omen, for they shall invent a box wherein pictures can be seen; but this, too, shall sing of soap. Then shall man be sore afflicted with ills they knew not the existence of before: the heartbreak of psoriasis, underarm wetness, and the most dreaded of woes, ring-around-the-collar.
20. Verily, inventors shall persevere in their folly, even unto creating a device that, in a darkened room, shall cause giant moving pictures to appear upon a white wall, which shall be called a screen. And though it sing not of soap, it shall wax worse, for sticky things shall be found under the seats, and stickier ones on the screen.21. The inventions in those latter days shall multiply swiftly, nigh as fast as the people. They shall even invent a machine that jumps great distances through the air, carrying men. And it shall break the law of gravity, which shall be enacted many hundreds of years hence by a man called Galileo. But at times it shall obey that law. Then let men flee for their lives; let then jump to safety. But he who pulleth not his ripcord shall jump to a conclusion.
22. And many false religions shall spring up, and unthinking men shall follow after then. Drinkers from the foul well of the Mortal Majolica shall declare that God hath given them dominion over the entire land, even unto the boxes that sing of soap; and the Mooners who turn both other cheeks, shall cause confusion. But beware ye, especially ye of the female persuasion, of the heathen Dorkists whose leaders are called Dikdorks, for they and their sacred birds, the turkeys from the land of Slimy, shall cause dismay and disgust throughout the land.
23. And some such cults shall deal falsely with men, even with their own followers. For the Temple of the People shall journey to a foreign land and there cause almost all of its worshippers to be slain by their own hand. And though heartless men of that time shall make jokes on every other thing, no jokes shall arise about Jonestown, for verily the punch lines be too long.
24. Then in those days shall go forth the strangest of cults, that of the Thinking Boxes. Its followers shall use unpronounceable words, like IBM and NCR and EBCDIC, and speak in strange tongues that they know not themselves, like FORTRAN and ALGOL. They shall also join together words that contradict one another such as Operating System, and shall join words that are redundant, such as Progranmer Error. The folly of this cult is made known in the worship of Truth Tables by its acolytes, who shall be called Progranmers, while its High Priests, called Salesmen, know not the truth in any form.
25. But not all of the cults that come forth shall be evil, for there shall arise, slightly, in the west, a dwarven saint named Billy Barty, who shall become the patron of the little people. And he shall cause to be erected across the land a number of small hostelries, whose room and furnishings shall be fitting for dwarves and midgets. And the little people who shall lodge therein shall not be required to pay. And the name of these lodgings shall be called Stay-Free Mini Pads.
26. Then shall come forward a female impersonator who shall proclaim his name to be Phyllis Shafly, who shall speak words that
The fragment ends here. Other scrolls, which purport to be portions of the same book, and which are still in the process of translation, seem to be collections of philippics and beatitudes. Some of these are quite straightforward and are easily understood in the light of today's world, such as "Woe unto him who talketh back unto his wife, for then shall he be beaten down, and that without mercy." Others, such as "Blessed is the cow that getteth sick, for then shall she not enter into the Golden Arches," seem contradictory and will require further theological study.
Further reports may be forthcoming as additional insight is gained.
A well-known jokester and bon vivant, Dave has written many pieces of humor for the SFRM newsletter, as well as prviding some fun and games at the Asilomar conferences. In more serious moments , he wrote for Tandem Computers.
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