Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Nine 


About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the

mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus

Sayangon, Mountain Province


The mother and daughter served them a large chicken dinner with a number of bottles of San Miguel beer and then left for the night half an hour later, leaving the fridge unlocked and packed with cold beer. They ate as if they hadn't touched food for weeks, Hellmantle quaffing the liquid bread like a sponge. Upstairs D'Aqs eased back on his cot in the corner of the room stretching his weary legs, and flipping through the booklet with blistered hands. Hellmantle had a smoke sitting at desk in front of a big window overlooking the storm brewing in the valley, hunched over a map without his eyeglasses in the dim light.

"This is the highest church in the Philippines," he said finally, lifting his head from the map.

"You mean closest to God."

"Yes! Closest to God!"

"This booklet is full of things said during the ordination process," he said, looking at Hellmantle with interest. "It records what was said during the ordination of someone by the name of Reverend Elpido D. Silug."

"Unfortunate name." Hellmantle grunted, keeping his eyes on D'Aqs.

"On the opening page it says:

The Times Are Bad.
You Are There To Make It Better.
A Wise Man Will Make More Opportunities Than He Finds.
You Are The One Path To Lead Others To Find The Path,
You Are Chosen! Carry On!

Hellmantle took a sip of his beer and sighed.

"I like this one:

Not In Our Heads
But In Our Hearts
Lies The Strength
That Carries Us
Unto Great Deeds.
"And following the heart theme:
God Is A Friend Who Knows The Song
In Your Heart Who Will Sing It Back
To You When You Have Forgotten The Words.

The night air between gusts was quiet when Hellmantle asked for the booklet. D'Aqs gave it to him with the same page open. He read:

You are the greatest of all God's earthy creations.
Now, make the most of your wonderful gifts.
Rouse your mind and discover the powers that God has given you.

When the winds calmed down, Hellmantle could hear a waterfall from behind the café. Perhaps the air was a bit thin here in the mountains because with the amber nectar and the rev of the engine still in ears, the booklet struck a chord. He went on:

God's chosen are not only a glory to His name.
They are grace and blessing to His people.

"It says here the priest reads these words to a newly ordained priest and to the people there in attendance:

A young man lives in the future,
An old man lives in the past;
For youth, time is moving too slowly,
For the aged, time is moving too fast.
A young man dreams of the glory
The before him will bring;
An old man dreams of the timelessness
When life held the magic of spring.
No matter how young or how old
The present alone can convey,
The only time we can harvest
Our blessings as fortunes unfold.
Therefore, once and for all, this short command is given to you:
Love and do what you will;
If you keep silent, keep silent by love;
If you speak, speak by love;
If you correct, correct by love;
If you pardon, pardon with love.
Let love be rooted in you,
And from the root nothing but good can grow.

"I like that one." A strange tingling sensation rippled up D'Aqs' spine that produced a shiver right from his center.

"That was written by our Dutch friend Vande Winkle," said Hellmantle, face flushed, something stirring within him. "He was here just after the Battle of Dien Bien Phu."

"Yes, I noticed that. Do you remember that guy Barnes in the next grade?"

"Yeah, the tall guy, always had a purpose."

"I know what you're saying. Well he died during that Nato war against Serbia. He became a pilot."

"That's a shame; a real shame." Hellmantle thought if those early mornings he used to get out to bed to sneak into the library to do work, and Barnes was there, quiet but with purpose. He and his twin brother used to laugh about the Barnian porpose and the firm step he had inheirted from his ancestors, Barnes being a descendent of one of the main men in the Sixth Crusade, the last the most terrible of all the Crusades.

"One of the few Canadians to be shot down." Hellmantle sighed.

"You probably know this but the ordination ends with:

You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Psalm 110, verse 4.

Wasn't Melchizedek one of the Three Wise Men who were present at the birth of Jesus?"

       "Yes, I believe so." He put the booklet down and closed his eyes, exhausted from the ride.

"He was a Magi, part of the West Manasseh Magi - a priestly caste of Samaritan philosophers headed by the disciple Simon Zelotes, who was also known as Simon Magus, or Simon the Magi."

        "Simon Magus? The disciple?"

"That's right. He was known as the greatest Magi of his day, and was the oldest and most socially prominent disciple to follow Jesus. The word Magi being the root word of the word we know today as magic. Compare being the head of the ancient Magi to Peter and Andrew who were fishermen." That look of surety came over Hellmantle again. "You know, the lion and the unicorn, the arrows and the oak leaves, he ended up dying in Britain. Simon Magus was also the disciple who revived Jesus after his crucifixion with a hundred pounds worth of myrrh and aloes, after he had put Jesus to sleep on the crucifix with the sponge spiked with snake venom. He was the agent provocateur to ensure Jesus survived the cross." D'Aqs looked down for a moment, deep breath calming him for the maelstrom about to be unleashed.

"Can you explain to me why you think Jesus survived the crucifixion?"

        "If you lend me your Bible I will, but are you sure you want to?" D'Aqs took out his Bible and handed it to Hellmantle.

        "No I'm not sure but I do want to hear what you have to say, just...just be gentle."

        "Did he die on the cross? How many times have I asked myself that question? But how could he have died on the cross is the better question to ask. The crucifixion happened on a Friday. Then the disciple Simon Zelotes gave Jesus the sponge with ‘gall and vinegar' just before Jesus passed out. Indeed it is believed that the gall and vinegar was actually snake venom, which is like taking a serious Valium in today's parlance. So it looked like Jesus was dead, but he was just severely drugged."

        "So you think there was some...tampering."

        "Yes, there was some serious tampering. But the bottom line here is that how can a 37 year-old man, who spent his time walking and moving around the towns and the countryside preaching, have expired so quickly? He wasn't stabbed deeply nor did he have his legs broken. By the way, how does a man die on a crucifix?"

"He- Um, he dies of dehydration? That's strange, I never thought about it."

"The way someone dies on a crucifix is when he has his legs broken, he suffocates to death. But if you remember the Romans didn't break Jesus' legs. Only the guys beside him." D'Aqs nodded, knowing this was plain to read in all four gospels. "So He was given a slice with a blade and bled in the abdomen but that wasn't enough to kill a grown man in good physical shape. That poke or slice was administered to see if he was still alive but he was conked out from the snake venom concoction given to him by Simon Magus. The ugly holes in his hands and feet didn't kill Him, nor did the cuts around His forehead from the Crown of Thorns. It was James, his younger brother, who is known in history as Joseph of Arimathea, who demanded the dead-looking, unconscious Jesus be taken down from the cross on the Sabbath - which happened to be the next day at daybreak - because it was part of the Jewish law not to have unburied dead on the Sabbath. James actually held up the scriptures to the Roman guards and demanded Jesus be buried immediately according to Jewish custom. It was because they stirred up this ruckus to bury Him on Saturday morning that they were able to get Jesus off the cross alive.

"According to the story, he was revived by Simon Magus with aloe and myrrh and used these ingredients as a diuretic and purge. Once revived, Jesus then left the tomb on his brother's property. His tomb was discovered empty but this was after he left on his own two feet. Think about it: what better way to drop out of a failing rebellion than by being presumed dead? And he dies a martyr. So some time later, when the dust has settled he leaves Palestine."

"Why though? Why would He do that?"

"To fulfill the prophecies of the coming of the New Messiah. All the Hebrews were waiting and expecting Him. And since Jesus was from the Royal Line, why wouldn't He?"

"I don't know. It's all a little far-fetched."

"Not if you think it through. Ask yourself why He rode into Jerusalem on an ass rather than walk?" D'Aqs shrugged his shoulders. "To fulfill what was written in the Book of Isaiah. It's clear in the New Testament how Jesus as a young man spent so much time in the synagogue reading the Torah and lecturing the scribes and rabbis! He knew the first five books of the Old Testament like the back of His hand! He designed it so He would fulfill the prophecy by riding into Jerusalem on an ass after gathering His disciples, and after He was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist in the River Jordan."

"And the miracles? How did He walk on water?" Compassion appeared in Hellmantle's eyes as if he were looking at a neophyte.

"Walking on water is not literal. It means applying your knowledge. The New Testament is loaded with metaphors and parables because at the time Rome was breathing down the neck of the Hebrews. Rome conquered them in 70AD after the failed rebellion from 66 to 70. And as you know the New Testament was written way after 70AD."

"And miracles, like bringing Lazarus back from death?"

"The resurrection of Lazarus was not literal either. It was the spiritual rebirth of Lazarus. But His ability to heal I think was learned during what is known as the Lost Years of Jesus, after His Bar mitzvah when He left Palestine when He was thirteen years old. It is believed He went to India and learned the ways of his Indo-European ancestors." D'Aqs hadn't moved an inch since Hellmantle had begun on this tangent.

"Yeah, something like that. Listen, there's obviously a lot of historical inertia at play in this discussion. The Catholic Church has decided what happened so this chat is essentially mute."

"But it doesn't stop us from speculating what actually happened."

"That's my point. There's no way of knowing."

"But from diligent research and studying the canon one can certainly have an informed opinion that can be defended by rational argument." D'Aqs threw up his hands.

"So then what do you think really happened?" Hellmantle took a big swallow of the amber liquid, and sat up in his chair happy to have a chance to say his piece.

"I think Jesus was strong as nails actually, not weak, meek and humble. Likely ticked off that He wasn't accepted by the ruling Pharisees because of He wasn't born in September, I think He was a rebel and zealot, which is why He had so many zealots as disciples, like Judas Iscariot. He was the most fervent zealot. ‘Iscariot' means he who uses the knife, a known rebel group at the time. Jesus must have had tested mettle from all the walking, traveling and preaching He did. I bet that when He was put up on the cross, He was a man with firm and able muscle and clean lungs so when He took those spikes through the wrists and feet, adrenaline was high and man's great instinct to survive kicked in. He didn't die of thirst in less than 24 hours. He didn't die from a thin blade slice in his side, which as I said was likely a token swipe from a handy Roman guard to see if he was alive. It was barely deep enough to draw blood. And he didn't asphyxiate because when the Roman guards came around to break the legs of those on the cross, Jesus was spared because he looked dead. But he was merely unconscious from Simon Magus's potion." He opened the Bible in his hands.

"In John's Gospel they describe it:

Then the Jewish authorities asked Pilate to allow them to break the legs of the men who had been crucified, and to take the bodies down from the crosses. They requested this because it was Friday, and they did not want the bodies to stay on the crosses on the Sabbath, since the coming Sabbath was especially holy. So the soldiers went and broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs.

At about three o'clock Jesus cries out with a loud shout: ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' which means, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?' Some people standing there heard him, and said: ‘He is calling for Elijah.' It is here that one of them ran up with a sponge soaked in cheap wine, put it on an end of a stick and gave it to Jesus to drink. Others said: ‘Wait, let us see if Elijah is coming to save him.' Then Jesus gives out a loud cry and breathes his last.

"So Joseph of Arimathea, who was actually James His younger brother and James the disciple, took Him, wrapped Him in a new linen sheet, and placed Him in a tomb on his family's property. The tomb was apparently recently dug out of solid rock." Hellmantle lit a cigarette and leaned closer to the Bible. "It says:

When it was evening, a rich man from Arimathea arrived; his name was Joseph, and he also was a disciple of Jesus. He went into the presence of Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate gave orders for the body to be given to Joseph.

"The next day, which was a Sabbath, the chief priests, or rabbis, and the Pharisees meet with Pilate and decide to make the tomb as secure as possible to guard against Jesus rising from the dead. They seal the tomb but it is unclear whether they see the body of Jesus when they seal it."

"You would think so."

"It isn't mentioned specifically."

"So that cheap wine, or snake venom, knocks Him out like a sleeping potion for...how long again did you say?"  

"That was Friday evening. Right before Jesus drinks the ‘wine' when He's on the cross, in John's gospel, it says:

Jesus knew that by now everything had been completed; and in order to make the scripture come true, Jesus said: ‘I am thirsty.' A bowl was there, full of cheap wine; so a sponge was soaked in the wine, put on a stalk of hyssop, and lifted up to his lips. Jesus drank the wine and said: ‘It is finished!' Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit

        "Being an expert at potions and medicines, Simon Magus slips Jesus a very strong tonic, which as you can see is mentioned in the Gospels. Drinking the potion from the Magi knocks Him unconscious but ultimately saves His life."

"If Simon Magus supplied Jesus with some sort of potion that was strong enough to render him out of it, so much that he could feign death, it must have been pretty strong."

"Very limp body for a day."

"He would have to had to be unconscious to feign death," said D'Aqs.

"There's no way he could pretend to be unconscious."

"So what about the other two Gospels? What do they say about drinking this wine?"

"In Mark it says the wine was ‘mixed with a drug called myrrh.' In Luke it says the wine was given to Jesus by Roman soldiers. But what's interesting about Luke is what the two angels tell the two Marys after they discover his empty tomb:

Why are you looking among the dead for one who is alive? He is not here; he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was in Galilee: The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and three days later rise to life.

"That's pretty blatant language isn't it? Now, doesn't that read differently, as if He had it all planned? And note the ‘Son of Man' reference." Hellmantle snuck a long sip of his beer and went on:

"Luke and John have the most suggestive endings in the Gospels in my opinion. Luke has a unique account of Jesus after leaving the tomb. In this story it is Sunday and just after He has spoken to the two Marys - so He hasn't seen His disciples yet. He meets two of his followers on the road about seven miles from Jerusalem, who don't recognize Jesus. They talk of the crucifixion but only come to recognize Jesus at night as they eat dinner. The way I see it, Jesus woke up and then left Jerusalem and bumped into these guys by accident.

"And when he does finally see his disciples, they are terrified. He says to them:

Why are you alarmed? Why are these doubts coming up in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet, and see that it is I myself. Feel me, and you will know, for a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you can see I have.

"It reads like he's still very much alive," said D'Aqs, surprised at this re-reading of the New Testament.

        "Exactly!" Hellmantle enthused at his cousin's change of attitude. "Then he tells them he is hungry. Since when did Holy Spirits say they are hungry and ask for food?"

"Good point."

"Spirits are never hungry!"

"So then Jesus leaves and sends his directives to his disciples?" said D'Aqs, exasperated and becoming cranky.

"Not quite. He commits to His faked crucifixion, retires from the Messiah business and lets history take over."

There was too much on the table, and D'Aqs rubbed his head to try to alleviate the growing pain in his temples. The wind whistled across the windowpanes, but after the gust there was only silence in peace and good fellowship.



TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                  
          The Family of the Bible
1.       Concerning the famous Hellmantle's position, character and way of life
2.       Concerning the ingenious man's visit with his uncle Jack Grosseteste
3.       Which relates to how Hellmantle is given his first adventure
4.       About what happened to our adventurer when he goes to the Philippines
5.       In which the story of our crusader's journey begins in earnest
6.       About Hellmantle's time in the city of sin on Christmas Eve
7.       About the brave Hellmantle's success on his adventure to Baguio City worthy of happy memory
8.       In which the courageous Hellmantle of Normandy journeys north into the Cordillera Mountain Range
9.       About what happened to Hellmantle in the mission in the mountains and the crucifixion of Jesus
10.     Concerning Hellmantle of Normandy in the land of the headhunters
11.     About the required riding techniques to reach the destination of Sagada and the church organist
12.     In which the German artist is tracked to the Shamrock Café and dangers of the northeast of Luzon Island
13.     In which Catharine is tracked to the Shamrock Café and an eery coincidence of a reoccurring dream
14.     About Hellmantle reaching the rice terraces and finding a way to the northwest
15.     About what happened to our intrepid philosopher in the middle of the Sierra Madre Mountains
16.     In which a record is given about the brave Hellmantle through uncharted territory on his trusted dirt bike
17.     Which relates to Hellmantle of Normandy reaching the northern coast and the rubble of Aparri
18.     About the final day of the motorcycle journey and discussing the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel in Vigan
19.     About the sermon in Agoo Basilica and what they find at the church with the rouge bell tower
20.     Concerning the Dutch Padre and what he knows about the hidden map
21.     About the return to Manila and the coup that causes the Great Man from Normandy grief
22.     Which brings Hellmantle of Normandy back to Hong Kong to re-evaluate the next step in his quest for truth
23.     In which their journey is related to Jack Grosseteste and a new task is set before the Man from Normandy
24.     Concerning the journey to northern Vietnam to track down the map hidden at a French prison
25.     About how Hellmantle and D'Aqs compare notes on their task at hand in Hanoi
26.     In which an account is given of the beginning of the journey of Hellmantle in Vietnam
27.     About how Hellmantle and his brave squire ride north to the place where the four rivers meet
28.     Concerning the French prison and what Hellmantle finds there
29.     Concerning the discovery of the bottle and what lies inside of it
30.     Concerning the journey to Dien Bien Phu in honor of their grandfather the Great Dane Hellmantle
31.     About what the motorcyclists see on the fields in Dien Bien Phu
32.     Concerning the motorcycling required to reach Hanoi via the other side of the Da River Valley
33.     Which tells of the final stage back to Hanoi and the discussion after their most beautiful ride
34.     Concerning the visit with the knowledgeable Jack Grosseteste and the sally to India
35.     Concerning the arrival and journey to Kashmir Valley
36.     In which the journey begins in earnest through the checkpoints to the foot of the Moghul Fort
37.     In which Srinagar is reached and how the houseboat was as it was hundred years ago
38.     In which Hellmantle reach their houseboat on the lake below the fort and beside the mosque
39.     In which Hellmantle sets out for the Tomb of Thome and his brother Joshua beside him
40.     Which relates to the agreeable history of the journey north to the monastery on horseback
41.     In which Hellmantle returns to Srinagar and finds the first translations of the black stones
42.     Which concerns the deciphering of the discovery at the monastery and the need to go to the Ganges River
43.     About Hellmantle of Normandy's meeting with the holy man after taking a dip in the Ganges River
44.     About Hellmantle's meeting at Jack Grossetests's place with D'Aqs and Catharine the artist from Sagada
o       Chronology of Historical Events

For this intense ride,
Collective Soul's "December"
You might want to listen to
this one a few times.


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