In the summer of 2019, two dry, decaying scrolls are discovered in a cave outside of Jerusalem, the door blasted open by a rocket flown astray. Preliminary research dates them to the first century Anno Domini, and—upon closer inspection—they are revealed to contain the Bible’s first and only book reviews.
Both are damning. The first, by a previously unknown Greek playwright, bemoans “the startling factual inadequacies and inconsistencies of the authors, the drab, dull characters, and the often stilted dialogue throughout.” He later writes that “this ‘God’ character’s constant meddling in the plot serves only to deprive the author’s characters of any and all agency in their own doings. This, at least, is well done, demonstrating that the author is current on today’s literary fashion.” Though he is willing to admit the cult following that the book has garnered since publication, he gives it a damning Ϫ+.
The second, written in Antioch by a Roman commentator, laments the damaging social and political implications of the work, calling it an insult to the state, to the family, and the social fabric at large. Its empowerment of women and the poor is seen as entitling those undeserving of wealth. The insistence on the existence of a singular God is described as “silly, subversive, and downright unpatriotic, an attempt by minorities who don’t even speak Latin to undermine the columns of this gods-fearing nation.”
News of the discovery spreads quickly, from the A.P. to the Times to the evening news to Buzzfeed. The texts are dissected letter by letter by all the usual suspects—scholars, theologians, bloggers, plumbers, and your fifth cousin Gladys from Branson, MO. They pick at each clause like so many birds of the air, each seed of thought swallowed, digested and finally expelled.
A week passes, after which the reshares have exhausted themselves and the world finds other things to argue about. The scrolls are stashed in an archive at a stable temperature of 65° Fahrenheit, only occasionally read, prevented even from turning into dust.
Quinn Ramsay is a native Oregonian graduate of the University of Glasgow. His prose and poetry have been published in Paragraphiti, From Glasgow to Saturn, Santa Clara Review, PLUM, and Gemini, and he has been a recipient of the Amy M. Young Award in Creative Writing. He was recently a co-editor and designer of Williwaw: an Anthology of the Marvellous.