Apparently the garbage dump at Oxyrhynchus continues to disgorge its secrets. After giving us unknown gospels and new copies of canonic scripture, another bombshell find has emerged. This fragment, from the 1st century BCE, has been waiting patiently for an English translation for several years, and now, at a liturgically opportune time, it has been released to the public, where, I imagine, it may raise a few eyebrows, but it will certainly add to our knowledge of Roman rule in ancient Palestine. And, given that its subject has never been known to speak for himself, it will help us form a more complete picture of the events surrounding the birth of one of history's most famous figures and the founder of a major religion. As Mark Twain observed when introducing some letters that he claimed were written by the devil himself, we never get to hear his side. So, just to be fair and objective and give equal time to all sides, which rarely happens with this story (so much partisanship!), here are some lines from the Gospel According to Herod....
[ the first part of the scroll is lost] ...best administration in the history of Palestine. And we're building. So much building. People have never seen anything like it. First we built the biggest fortresses. You can't attack these places. They're impossible. Even the Roman generals said we wouldn't even try to get into one of your fortresses. They should have your fortresses in Rome.
Then we built a temple. Some temple. huh? When I got here the temple was a total mess. They didn't know how to build a temple. People said it wasn't as good as the first one. They called it Zubbel's rubble. What a dump. He wasn't born here, you know. A lot of people don't know what. He wasn't born in this country. He's from Persia. That's what you get with a guy from Persia. Don't let the Persians build anything. They don't know. But we're making the temple Great again.
And our economy is booming. It's the best ever. When I took office Lebanon was ripping us off. Total rip off. I said, what do you want? They said Cedars from Lebanon. I said done. Now we have so many Cedars, and the metal for the nails is the best. Before they said we can't get the nails into the wood because they're too short. By the time you pound it through a guy's wrist there's no room to get it into the wood. I said, you want longer nails I can get you longer nails. It's easy. Hundreds of years, nobody could get longer nails. I got longer nails. Now they can't put the crosses up fast enough.
And crime is down. I put Herod Jr. in charge of crime. Hasn't he done a great job?
But they're still not happy. You know who I'm talking about. You know who I'm talking about.
They're trying to get rid of me, folks. They've been at it for a long time. They are very bad people.
The other day these guys came to me from the East. I said, where are you from? They said we're from the East. That's what they said.
I said, what are your names? And they had these funny foreign names. They were talking and nobody could understand them. I said its because they're speaking another language. They had to get a translator so everybody knew what they were saying. They have people listening in, did you know that? Not me. I don't need one. If you're a genius that's how it works. But they couldn't understand these guys. I said, Why can't everybody just speak Roman? And you know they were up to no good. That's how you know. I said to the palace guards, nobody can pronounce these guy's names. They said not even you? I said, well I can pronounce some very difficult names. Nobody else can say them. The last king couldn't have done it. He wasn't very smart. Total puppet.
But these guys were from the East. That's all they said. And then they gave me these weird names that nobody would recognize. They wanted to fool everybody. But they weren't fooling me, not for a second. I said, these are not very nice people.
And they said, we're looking for a king. I said, I'm a king, are you looking for me? They said no, there's another king. Can you believe that? Another king. It's crazy.
And they were looking for him. They came to me asking where the other king was. How stupid do you have to be to look for another king in front of the first king? I said I'm right here. They said we don't want you. We want the other guy. I said what guy. They said the one who is to come.
How stupid is that? They're an embarrassment.
And by the way our poll numbers are better than anybody ever could have predicted. They didn't think we'd last for a second. But here we are. The best king in the history of Israel. David was OK, too, I guess. But people say to me, you know you are better than David and Solomon combined. That's what they tell me.
And these guys wanted somebody else. They said there's a prophecy. I said what prophecy. They said there's going to be a king over Israel. I said what do you need a king for, you've already got a king. The best king. Everybody says so.
They said there is going to be another one. And he hasn't been born yet. And we don't know where he is.
This is how stupid they are. They're trying to replace me, folks. And they can't even find a guy who is actually alive to do it. They want to do it with a baby. He'll come along eventually. A baby. Nasty people.
So we got our people together and they said the king is going to be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem. It's a total dump. What a shithole. Nobody goes there.
But you know, it could have been somewhere else. I mean, who knows? What if it's in Samaria [Sebastia]? Or Galilee? They don't know.
So we sent them to Bethlehem. I said, hey, if they're in such a hurry to go to Bethlehem let them go to Bethlehem.
Then I called my people together and said let's kill all the children in Bethlehem. They said everybody? I said everybody. What do you think we're gonna do? knock on the door really nice and ask are you plotting to replace the king? What are they going to say, yes we are, come in and kill us?
Prophets, you know, are not very bright people. I'm much smarter than my prophets.
So we had them all killed. But I hear people say, but Herod, your visitors from the East got away! They didn't get away. I know where they are. I know where they are. And I want them to tell us who they really are. I have a right to know that. Everybody has a right to know that. Don't you want to know that? But I know where they are. You'll see. Trust me.
Then they told me you just fulfilled a prophecy. I said, our administration has fulfilled more prophecy than all the previous ones combined. We keep setting records for the most prophecy. It's really amazing. It's one of the best things that ever happened in the history of Israel. You'll see.
So this low-ratings loser evangelist wrote about us. Tried to make us look very bad. Very bad. Matthew is a nasty guy. Fake gospel. Nobody reads it. Mean Matthew. He's even worse than Loser Luke.
He says we did something terrible, folks. Does he not understand sarcasm? It was sarcasm. We didn't kill any children. It was all the Pharisees, folks. Really bad people. They killed everybody. I didn't want to kill anybody. They said, we're going to do it. I said why would you want to kill all those kids? They said we're going to do it. So, you know, that's the way that went. And now they're out there trying to make it look like the most horrible thing ever. They want to embarrass me, but it's the best thing that ever happened in Israel. But I'll tell you, with all the negative press co[the rest is missing]...