The International Association of Bible Writers recently gathered for its once-every-thousand-or-two-years International Council in Timaru.
It was a historic (and slightly hysteric) occasion for two reasons:
a) It was their first meeting since the Council of Hippo in 393;
b) The Council had not previously met in Timaru. (In fact, the Council had never even heard of Timaru.)
The Council is pleased to announce the pending publication of The Even Newer Testament (TENT), with the alternate title The Third Testament (to be used exclusively by scholars and intellectuals). The Council herewith offers a teaser as to what you can expect to find in TENT, on a broad canvas.
Following the pattern set by the previously most recent Testament, The Even Newer Testament begins with a series of Gospels. Yes, the usual four, but with a bonus Gospel at no extra charge. In a departure from the common practice for bonus extras, the Gospel According to St Santa has in fact the pride of place, at the front end of the Testament. For that placement, the Council wishes to acknowledge its platinum sponsor.
The Gospels are followed by the Ax of the Epistles, thereafter a selection of correspondence from a selection of correspondents, using variously papyrus (which nowadays costs a fortune), pen and ink, typewriter, email, Facebook, Twitter plus a range of as yet unheard-of social media platforms. The Council skipped any form of Revelation, noting that the various apocalyptic (and acopalyptic) horses and other interesting characters and happenings from the previously published Revelation have in general not yet happened. Thus, that particular book of Revelation still holds sway. Once various recreational drugs are more widely approved and freely available, an updated Revelation may well be offered.
The Gospel According to St Santa
His account majors on the Christmas story and the gifts brought to the baby Jesus on that first Christmas Day. Retail establishments, of course, were closed for Christmas, but on the first Boxing Day, the various gift stores in Bethlehem had an absolute bonanza. You couldn’t get gold, frankincense, or myrrh for love or money. Or shekels.
The Gospel According to St Murray
Murray originally worked with the Inland Revenue Department in Timaru, a small ancient city – or city of small ancients – located, well, somewhere that isn’t here. This Gospel is significant, because it is the first time Timaru gets recorded in a Gospel, and they’re quite proud of that. It also includes the lyrics of an early Christmas song, Sweet Caroline.
The Gospel According to St Mary
A first-hand account of what it was like being the one who actually gave birth to the Holy Child, and then raised him over the subsequent years through kindergarten, primary, and intermediate school before he began his further education with the scholars in the temple. Includes a list of his favourite school lunches.
The Gospel According to St Lucy
Lucy was a health professional for her day job but had grown up with a passion to be a writer. Her second cousin was a donkey trainer and Good Samaritan (part-time), so she included his feats in her Gospel. Caution: May contain Peanuts.
The Gospel According to St Josh
Born on the Feast of Stephen (a little-known fact), Josh spent significant portions of his life on islands, other than Patmos. He was a professional sheepherder, and could hold a good key when singing to himself in the shower (or when opening doors). In later life, he disappeared to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Ax of the Epistles
A brief history of the processes and procedures involved in deciding what was in and what was out in the compiling of the correspondence submitted as possible entries in the previous New (now slightly older) Testament, as published a while back. An accompanying spreadsheet shows the number of shekels included with each submission, giving an indication of the greater likelihood of inclusion of items submitted by the greatest shekel contributors.
And now to the latest Epistles themselves:
A significant historic location known for its hot pools and whiffy atmosphere. Its most famous previous citizen was its six-foot six inch Emperor Julie, every inch a ruler.
All about growing more healthy communities. And various herbs of interesting usage possibilities. While this publication contains just epistles 1 and 2, some Coromandellians hazily think, in their befuddled state, that there could have been another two or even three. Whatever!
While recognised as the first ones to see the light of day, they are nevertheless encouraged not to flaunt their privilege. The writer gives them many instances of flaunting – of which he is clearly well experienced. Of the many examples of flaunting of which he is familiar, he lists the ones of which he will not flaunt.
NZ Post advises that it has been unable to locate this epistle. It wishes to apologise for inconvenience caused and wants to assure its customers of its determination to maintain the highest possible standards at all times. [Editor’s note: Except this time].
Members of this newly developed community, widely known for its widely known (and wide) Jonah Lomu Drive, are encouraged to contribute to the development of faith-based rugby. Whatever.
They have a particular link, nomenclaturally-speaking, with the founder of Christianity. They were therefore keen to have their very own epistle. This is it.
A series of instructions to budding preachers, giving tips on gaining, inspiring, and holding an audience. In the second epistle (which, it goes without saying, is a sequel to the first), the writer advises the same budding preachers to avoid inappropriate humour and strong language.
As l already noted, Timaru was the birthplace of St Murray, writer of one of the Gospels. And, of course, the venue for the International Council. 1 Timaru is a critique of the church’s taxing of its members to render to Caesar whatever Caesar wanted rendering. 2 Timaru offers advice to its readers on generosity.
The writer warns against being restrictive with sharing of their resources. And against excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. (Scholars are curious as to why eight syllables are used when just ‘grog’ would do.)
Phil the Greek
Some wisdom on inappropriate jokes, quips, and witticisms. Known for walking two paces behind his third cousin, hence he sought priority (for the first time in 70 years) in terms of Testament sequencing.
HM the Q
Although known more for her Christmas messages, HM the Q was a frequent correspondent, particularly for those celebrating their 100th birthdays. In this epistle, the writer explores the perennial question, “Have you come far?”
The anonymous writer, considered by many to be Martha, sister of Jesus’ mates Mary and Lazarus, has perfected her recipe for olive-based beer.
Plain stuff about being an ordinary everyday real Christian.
Words of wisdom from a Jordanian rockstar and retired TV presenter.
An exotic dancer from Australia. The only threesome in this Testament.
Judy the Obscure
The writer is believed to not be the 19th Century novelist Thomas Hardy.
©All reverses righted