Historical setting: 563 C.E. Bragda
There is a sense of apprehension in Nic as I have asked the Bragda librarian to turn to a particular passage in this one hundred year old copy of the Gospel of John. My own sense of its source was confirmed when I first saw it, but Nic is hoping not to see proof that it was, in fact, the gospel I delivered here myself nearly one hundred years ago. We can all see it is very old.
I’m particularly interested to observe the lettering used in the places where “The Jews” was really referring to the Sadducees rather than the whole community of Jews. I ask to see John 1:19. Nic and I can only watch as the assigned monk turns the pages for us. The monk seems surprised.
“This is the testimony given by John when THE JEWS sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’”
“That’s odd. I’ve never noticed that before. The lettering for the words ‘the Jews’ seems different.”
The monk flips through the pages and finds it again and again. “I guess I just haven’t noticed that before. Perhaps the bishop will know what this means.”
The monk assures us we can ask about it ourselves. We have an appointment with the bishop already scheduled. But Nic excuses himself. I know he doesn’t want to hear a declaration that this is the exact book I brought here 100 years ago. He says he wants to go outside and practice with The Rose, mounting and dismounting from the soldier’s saddle. I know he has a yearning to be a soldier again. I understand.
I think I was here before I returned to Portiers … to Portiers? Oh, yes. Now I remember, I was sent from Portiers to the port of Arles on the Great Sea to deliver one gospel, and then I went on by ship to Hispania. I didn’t arrive here at first. I was shipwrecked, and I arrived many months late – after a long healing and repairing the damage of the sea to the gospel. It took finding a scriptorium and then many months of re-inking of the gospel. I was two years late. There was a different bishop then, but the same need. I can recall these things now. I’m sure I was not here for any recent Council of Bragda in 561.