Historical setting: 584 C.E. Ligugè
This time I paint the dove from the back. Triangular, yes, but its head is forward with legs extended for the landing on the head of Jesus. Maybe it’s a more awkward position than a nestled dove but it is true to nature and yet a triangular wingspread is discernible. I’ve achieved compromise.
Today it’s the master of the scribes who comes by my bench. “Scrape it clean Brother Lazarus. Brother August will finish this. You do well with the pen, we thought you would be able with the brush also. But for now, we need you more for copying exactly.” So I’ve been demoted, sent back to scribe.
St. Jerome’s translation is really quite similar to my own since he chose to work from the ancient Hebrew, so I appreciate the cadence. Of course, John was always in Greek, at least since the Jewish stories of Jesus were morphed into Gospel by the new emergence called “Christian.” And the master of the scribes doesn’t seem to notice my own little edits with an all-cap lettering style for the places where Roman up-dates once changed “Sadducees” to “The Jews.” No one who is a capable reader seems to slow down and ponder a lettering style, so it goes unnoticed among scholars. But those student readers who pick through the letters one-by-one might notice. My hope is that readers who come with fresh eyes and will see that “THE JEWS” are different from “the Jews” who were all of us, and it was only “THE JEWS” who were making the politics of hate into Roman prejudice against our own people. Shouldn’t it mean something that Jesus was Jewish? In these times Jesus isn’t even known as a man; he is of some other “substance.” My indelible hope is that this gospel won’t be fodder for prejudice. Wishful thinking perhaps, but still…
Dear God may it be so that this gospel does not become a forever tool for human hatred. So be it.
The days are shorter now and with the afternoon thunder storm rising we are very nearly working in the dark. Some are moving our benches at angles to windows to capture whatever light overcomes the dark. Some light lamps. The shadows are danced onto walls with only the slightest light — lamps with lightning flashes nearly constant.
The rain pours down, drenching, cleansing, quenching a thirsty earth. A sweet fragrance of earth anoints us.
(Continues Tuesday, September 21)