Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hilarious Moments in The Bible: Razis

Time for a new feature. Like most good atheists, I'm much more familiar with the actual texts that the major religions use than 95% of the folks who scream about how we should be taking them literally. (Note to these people: It is literally impossible to be a true fundamentalist. The Bible contradicts itself so often that you'd end up like those logical androids from Star Trek that self-destruct when faced with a paradox.)

This feature will have two main flavors. Flavor #1 will have ironic intent, showing the utter barbarity of the "Good" Book that shows us the true way of peace. Flavor #2 is more straightforward and will focus on the general absurdities in The Bible. Most people don't realize this but, in addition to being the most violent book you will ever read, it is also, in places, really very funny.

Today's installment is a #2, although it's violent too. It involves a poor schlemiel named Razis and comes from the deuterocanonical book of 2 Maccabees, which is basically a remake of 1 Maccabees but has it all over the original for its inclusion of this pants-peeingly funny tale. In this story, Nicanor is the current head honcho. Razis' fate is Pythonesque in its absurdity.

The translation is from the New Revised Standard edition, which is not as musical as the King James but does not rely so much on euphemism.

2 Maccabees 14.37-14.46

A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots and was very well thought of and for his goodwill was called the father of the Jews.

In former times, when there was no mingling with the Gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism, and he had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism.

Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him;

for he thought that by arresting him he would do them an injury.

When the troops were about to capture the tower and were forcing the door of the courtyard, they ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword,

preferring to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth.

But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly, and the crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall, and bravely threw himself down into the crowd.

But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space.

Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose, and though his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe he ran through the crowd; and standing upon a steep rock,

with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails, took them in both hands and hurled them into the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.

Ha! There are many funny bits in The Bible, but when I read this one, I had to stop reading for a while because I was laughing so hard. The dude tries to kill himself and misses. Then he falls for the old stage dive trick, landing flat on his face as the crowd parts. Then he does what everyone does when they've been humiliated in this manner: he tears out his intestines and throws them at the crowd. That'll teach 'em.

1 comment:

Mrs. Chili said...

Call me a heretic, but this sounds more like the plot of a Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon than a passage from a "sacred" text...