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Wherein Yahweh stammers out the history of his righteous smiting of Israel and scattering of them around the globe, and his subsequent decision (once he's realized how unutterably cool the Diaspora is) to have the Bible translated into Greek.
II. The Olympians
Wherein Zeus and Company realize there's a problem: Yahweh is moving onto their turf, translating his book thingy into Greek. And here they were thinking this whole literacy biz was just a passing fad.
Wherein Ptolemy I finds the Torah scrolls in the back room of the Temple in Jerusalem when he conquers it, takes them back to Alexandria with him, decides to translate them into Greek (even though that weird naked god guy with the sword coming out of his mouth appeared in his carriage to tell him not to), and gets his men to capture LXX Jewish boys and bring them to Alexandria to learn Greek well enough to become his translators.
Wherein the Greek historian Theopompos is struck by a derangement of the senses by Yahweh for quoting a passage from the Hebrew Bible in one of his histories.
Wherein the Greek playwright Theodektes suddenly goes blind while contemplating using in his new play a weird little catchphrase he found in some old papers.
News: Yahweh and Zeus: Secret Meeting in City?
Wherein it is reported that Yahweh and Zeus met secretly to hammer out their differences.
Wherein Yahweh comes storming into Ptolemy II's palace to demand that he have the Bible translated into Greek, ransom 100,000 Jewish slaves, and change the year-counting system to a backwards one, counting down from, say, 281 B.C. to zero.
News: King to Renovate, Develop Pharos; In Related News
Wherein work on the translators' condo and the new backwards year-counting system are announced.
Wherein King Ptolemy has sent a delegation to ask Eleazar, High Priest of Jerusalem, to send LXXII learned men to Alexandria to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Eleazar smells a rat why does the king want the Bible in Greek? Why does it have to be done in Alexandria? But Ptolemy's the king, so.
VIII. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein a New Agey god-type being tells the story of Eleazar recruiting translators for Ptolemy's Bible project. The first installment in a series of six chapters presenting the idealized version of the translation.
News: Recruitment News
Wherein one of the hopefuls for Eleazar's translation team is interviewed.
Wherein six members of each tribe gather on the east side of the Jordan for the trek across the "midbar," the land between Israel and Egypt traversed by Moses in the other direction. These "men" are dead, spirits called back from Sheol by Eleazar to do the translation.
Wherein the seventy remaining souls called back from Sheol arrive at the west bank of the Red Sea and find Eleazar waiting for them. They are mightily puzzled not only that he didn't bring buses for them, but that he doesn't even know what a bus is.
News: Interview with Reb Eleazar
Wherein an Alexandrian radio journalist asks Eleazar a series of probing questions, such as: "Is there any substance to the rumor that you brought these translators back from the dead?"
XI. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein the translators arrive in Alexandria, meet with the king, attend the seven-day banquet he throws for them.
Wherein Dorotheus mutters darkly about the king sleeping with his (Dorotheus's) sister Hypatia.
Wherein one of the original LXXers, a bandit pulled out of jail and dressed up as a Jewish Torah scholar, years later tells the story of the translation in an Alexandrian dive, then sings a kind of trinitarian song dedicated to his pet crow, Corvy Ignatius. Well, Corvy lets Zeke think he's a pet crow.
Wherein Alexandrus is visited with strange dreams/visions about the translation and the vengeance the Lord would wreak upon them were it not done properly.
XV. Ergoto Pan Psilocybe-Mysticus
Wherein the beginnings of the ergot cult are described.
News: New Year Count Causes Concern
Wherein the greatest mathematicians in the land seek an audience with King Ptolemy to convince him that this backwards year-counting system may well suck all the numbers out of the world and undermine the cosmic mathematical firmament, bringing about the end of the world. Ptolemy assures him that the god of Israel has told him about a special realm called "zero" which somehow magically restores numbers.
XVI. The Holy Ghost
Wherein the Ghost dictates the Bible translation to the seventy zombies that Eleazar brought back from the dead. They ain't much to look at, but at least they aren't bitching and moaning every minute of the day.
XVII. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein the higher power waxes grandiloquent over the beauties of the natural setting in which the Seventy do their translation.
Ad: Sefer Cushion
Wherein a special bread-filled cushion is advertised.
Wherein one of the LXXers, made to remain alive until the coming of Jesus, sees Yahweh on the path to the Temple, about five years old and growing rapidly younger. When Yahweh is about three months old he grabs a baby out of a passing woman's arms, throws it in a dumpster, and jumps in her arms, demands to be taken into the Temple to be blessed.
News: Year "0" Might Come in Year IV B.C.
Wherein Ptolemy's mathematicians come to warn him that, according to their calculations, the year 0 might come four years early.
Wherein are sundry fragments about divine visions.
XX. Dorotheus and Hypatia
Wherein dissension arises among the kitchen staff when the ergot bread doesn't turn out just right.
Wherein many are smitten most grievously when the Torah scroll is not handled with proper respect.
XXII. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein the higher power makes many rapturous exclamations over the miraculous ease with which the Hebrew Bible is turned into Greek.
Wherein two translators in their cell after lunch (grayish bread, thickish water) experience first some rather nasty nausea, then vomit, then see flames everywhere. Before they can rush for the water bucket, the Holy Ghost appears out of the flames and tells them about the major changes coming down the pike in the old religion (three gods in one). When he happens to mention that he and Jesus have emanated out of God the Father, Steve guesses Gnosticism and the evil demiurge Ialdabaoth, but the Ghost says no, no, that's not the guy.
News: Ialdabaoth Not Yahweh
Wherein Ialdabaoth appears in the Alexandria marketplace and denounces the translators out on the island for spreading slanderous rumors about him.
XXIV. In Our Midst, the Vth Column
Wherein two translators threaten to expose each other, one as a Buddhist, the other as an Arab; once they realize that they're both in jeopardy, they decide nothing would be gained by going to the authorities with their knowledge. Besides, they aren't the only spies; they realize that Yechud ben Lakota, who keeps talking about some angel named Moroni, probably is one too.
News: Arabs Want Holy Book
Wherein what is described in the title takes place, and anyone needing further explanation is an idiot.
XXV. Yahweh's Corporate Struggle
Wherein the Angel Gabriel brings Bacchus to Yahweh, who asks him to become Satan, and Bacchus refuses.
News: Strange Man Addresses Crowd at Forum
Wherein the Angel Gabriel announces a new war on drugs.
Wherein appear fragments arguing that this is the second translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek; the first was made before Moses was born, and taught by Moses in Egypt to his student Orpheus.
XXVII. Boruch the Kosher Inspector
Wherein Bacchus appears to Dorotheus and Hypatia to enlist them in his struggle against Yahweh; while he is there a kosher inspector arrives to inspect the food being served to the Jewish Torah scholars.
Wherein the Holy Ghost returns with Jesus in tow, an 18-year-old kid waiting to be born of a virgin. Jesus is just the nicest guy. He'd be welcome in any Rotary Club in the world, probably. He tells the translators that they are going to make his virgin birth possible by translating the Hebrew word almah "young woman" as parthenos "virgin." "Like hell we are," the translators snort.
XXIX. Love is a Many Splintered Thing
Wherein Hypatia, at the doctor to get an abortion, notices the doctor just finishing up a hymen restoration operation on a patient named Miriam.
Ad: Looking for a New Cult?
Wherein disgusting things happen that we don't want to tell you about.
XXX. Sunny Days in Alexandria
Wherein Sosibius tells the story of the translation and how he was cursed by the priestesses of Isis to being covered with scarab beetles for the rest of his life.
News: Literacy: The Silent Plague
Wherein a roving reporter warns strongly against the dangers of literacy, and encourages his readers to kill a teacher.
Wherein Jerome and Epiphanius appear to the translators, each man thinking it all a dream, and seeing it differently: Jerome sees the translators all together in one big room and conferring, Epiphanius as isolated in two-man cells and inspired by the Holy Ghost (the versions of the legend that the two men would propagate seven centuries later). As if to prove Epiphanius right, the Holy Ghost appears and gets into a nasty argument with Jerome.
XXXII. Demetrios of Phaleron
Wherein the president of the library relates some of the arrangements he's made to get the Jews to agree to this translation and to ensure accuracy now that it's underway.
News: Eleazar Meets With Arabs
Wherein Eleazar, uh, meets with Arabs.
Wherein Jesus returns to chat with the translators again, and finds them working on Leviticus 11, where an animal called the arnevet is described as unclean because it chews the cud but doesn't have a cloven hoof. Jesus tells them it's a jackrabbit, says the Greek is lagoos. The translators say first of all that they never say a jackrabbit that chewed the cud, then that it's impossible to translate the word as lagoos, because the king's grandfather was named Lagos. Jesus is visibly upset at the thought of his dad's book being translated according to local politics.
Wherein a translator chained to the floor and kept drugged up tries valiantly to spice up the Bible stories the Holy Ghost keeps dictating to him, but the Ghost won't let him change a word.
Ad: Hellenic Anxiety Reduction Workshops
Wherein help is offered to the hellenically anxious.
XXXV. The Holy Ghost
Wherein the Ghost dictates Maccabees to the zombies, who don't notice that the historical events described in the book won't even happen for a century and a half.
Wherein the king's sister/wife has discovered that there is no original Hebrew Bible; that Yahweh is having his Ghost dictate the book in Greek and is planning to have them write up a Hebrew "original" afterwards.
News: Street Protests Turn Violent
Wherein protests against the LXX are led by a man of the people named Demos Moussos.
Wherein the Greek goddess Sophia appears in the night to talk one of the translators into including some erotic poetry in the translation, like the Song of Songs (she has it for him in Greek, urges him to translate it into Hebrew so it'll look plausible), and to put a passage about her into Proverbs.
Wherein the king complains about the burdens pressing upon him. On top of everything else, Dorotheus needs a Greek translation of an old Egyptian recipe book, and Ptolemy has to send for "learned men" from the far corners of the kingdom. The two guys they find are southern Egyptian rednecks carrying a chicken.
News: Bloody Man in Market
Wherein an event is reported that makes no sense.
Wherein late one night a crow brings Manny a piece of bread and says "Take, eat." Manny eats, and sees a vision of a ladder made of naked baby boys stretching up into the heavens. The boys talk to him; it turns out they're all the Baby Jesus. They urge him to walk up them to the top, where Yahweh is waiting with a cool surprise. Manny goes back to sleep.
Wherein, convinced that Dorotheus and Hypatia are trying to poison the translators with bad food, Barry stops eating and sneaks around gathering proof. He finally has it he watches the wild dogs and cats that eat the scraps from their lunch die painful deaths when Dorotheus and Hypatia catch him spying on them.
XLI. The Egyptian Translators Earn Their Bread
Wherein Bacchus turns up to warn Dorotheus and Hypatia to look out for the Holy Ghost, and Dorotheus goes out to the island to make sure the Egyptian translators are finishing his recipe translation as promised.
News: Local Grad Student Invades Church Picnic
Wherein Bill Kaul, in 1993, studies the ancient bread recipe a little too interactively, and wreaks havok on some Mississippi Baptists' Sunday picnic.
Wherein, now that "paranoid" Barry is dead, the translators are suspicious, and Eleazar writes them an encrypted letter with detailed analyses of biblical passages about psychotropic drugs.
XLIII. Letter of Aristeas to Philokrates (Restored)
Wherein Aristeas, one of the king's bodyguards, writes to his brother Philokrates about the translation project.
Wherein the inveterate joker Buzz figures out the mystery that Eleazar couldn't reveal to them in his letter: the ultimate psychotropic bread was manna.
XLV. At the Real Estate Offices of Lot and Daughters, Inc.
Wherein the Holy Ghost and Jesus go to a Jerusalem real estate office in disguise, trying to buy the Gehinnom trash dump to use as hell. The realtor, named Lot, says the owner won't go as low as the Holy Ghost wants him to, so they steal the deed.
XLVI. Local Gods, Local Trouble; Global Gods, Global Trouble
Wherein Yahweh has taken Bacchus prisoner, and Zeus struggles to understand this bizarre culture of "law" and the "book" that Yahweh is broadsiding him with.
XLVII. The Holy Ghost
Wherein the Holy Ghost "negotiates" with Ialdabaoth's people (actually, hyperactive monkeys) over the deed to hell.
XLVIII. In the Copy Room at Pharos
Wherein Philokrates and Eumikides haggle over the price of illicit copies of the Septuagint.
XLIX. Jesus vs. Bacchus: Battle of the Titans
Wherein Yahweh, who has taken Bacchus prisoner, offers a deal to Zeus, who has taken Jesus prisoner: let them have a little competition. Bacchus will have forty days and forty nights to tempt Jesus into sin. If Jesus falls, Bacchus goes free and Yahweh stays out of Greece; if Bacchus fails, he serves Yahweh forever.
L. The Proof in the Pudding
Wherein Dorotheus checks up on his recipe translators out on the island.
LI. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein the New Agey higher power reveals himself to be Manna, the Bread of Life, and rhapsodizes over the divine powers of the translators who partake of him.
LII. Letter of Philokrates to Aristeas
Wherein Yahweh has charged Philokrates with the illicit copying and distribution of the Septuagint, and P writes to his brother to ask for more in the way of exonerating details. His last letter only made things worse! What is he, in cahoots with Yahweh?
LIII. Threads of Weaving in Alleys Stoned
Wherein Dorotheus, finally bringing together the ingredients, machines, and instructions that will enable him to make Manna and so to rule the universe, is struck down by Jesus and converted to Christianity. His disgusted sister Hypatia, rather than convert as well, kills him.
LIV. Temptation in the Wilderness
Wherein occurs the competition in the wilderness. Bacchus can taste victory, as after only fifteen minutes Jesus has already surrendered to temptation, when the Holy Ghost steps in to stop the contest and proclaim Jesus the winner.
Announcement: Make Plans
Wherein appears an invitation to Pharos for the reading of the translation.
LV. A Non-Denominational Higher Power
Wherein is given the rapturous account of the finishing of the translation.
News: Jewish Translators Finish Translation
Wherein the Jewish translators finish the translation. Well, why are you still reading the table of contents, if you think they're so boring and uninformative?
LVI. The Holy Ghost
Wherein, having finished dictating to the zombies, the Ghost wants to know what to do with them. Does Eleazar want them back? He doesn't. Finally he tells them to march into the sea, two by two; they do. But afterwards the Holy Ghost starts thinking: maybe if they could just teach the next batch of zombies some social skills, and get them to go to church and tithe and vote Republican, they wouldn't have to march them into the sea.
News: LXX Translators Coming Home
Wherein the Jerusalem Post reports the triumphant completion of the translation.
LVII. Letter of Aristeas to Philokrates
Wherein Aristeas denies everything.
News: Roundup of Oddities from Around the World
Wherein many strange things are told, but perhaps not as strange as many of the other strange things that are told in this book.
LVIII. Heaven and Hell
Wherein two former LXXer zombies on the bus to heaven discuss the change brought about by Yahweh in this creation of two places to go after death, heaven and hell.
LIX. Demetrios of Phaleron
Wherein the president of the library in retirement recalls his life, expecting Ptolemy to kill him at any moment for supporting his older brother Ptolemy Keraunos for the succession, back when their father Ptolemy I Soter was still alive. When he lifts the cover off his dinner and finds an asp there, he thinks, why postpone it? and presses the asp's fangs to his wrist.
LX. What Am I Doing Here? Well, I'll Tell Ya
Wherein another ex-LXXer, doomed to wait until Jesus is born, gets in trouble with the temple police for hanging around the temple entrance accosting women and small children.
Wherein a midwife called to verify Mary's virginity after Jesus is born sticks a finger into Mary's vagina, and her hand burns off. She prays to God to restore it, and an angel appears and tells her to touch the stump to the Baby Jesus. She does, and the hand grows back, so she worships him. (This story is from an actual Christian text from 150 AD.)
Wherein are fragments refuting Paul's teaching on the Septuagint, to a follower of Paul.
LXIII. The Holy Ghost
Wherein, asked by God to come up with an "anti-divinity" substance that will destroy the other gods, the Holy Ghost first comes up with an anti-penuche, but that doesn't work. Finally, though, he gets it right, and Yahweh ends up the only surviving deity.
LXIV. The First Arabic Bible Translation
Wherein a scholarly disputation is waged over who was the first to translate the Hebrew Bible into Arabic, Hunayn ibn Ishaq from the Septuagint in the ninth century or Saadya Gaon from the Hebrew in the tenth.
Wherein, after eating some bad bread at lunch, Sir Thomas More vomits and then begins hallucinating that his house is on fire. Jesus appears to him and tells him to stop resisting the translation of the Bible into the English vernacular. When More won't cave, Jesus brings the Holy Ghost, who uses rougher tactics.
News: World Roundup of the Weird
Wherein more strange things happen, though by this point in the book, hardly anybody notices.
LXVI. The Crows, the Stories, God and LXX
Wherein you will find three strange parables about crows, funny bread, and the Septuagint.
News: Wittgenstein Son Born
Wherein Ludwig Wittgenstein is born with a birthmark on his chest shaped like the outline of a red boot. With a sidebar on famous birthmarks in history.
LXVII. Giwargis M. Lamsa
Wherein the twentieth-century Assyrian translator of the Bible into English from the "original" Aramaic lies on his bed, waiting for inspiration. When that doesn't come, he gets up and turns on his TV, watches the Senate hearings in which Joseph McCarthy claims the US Council of Catholic Bishops is infested with communists. Lamsa knows that his translation is all that can save America from the red menace now.
News: Jesus Sanctioned War on Drugs
Wherein new translators of the Bible discover evidence that Jesus Christ wanted us to say "no" to drugs.
LXVIII. Powdered Scrolls
Wherein is collage art pasted together from scraps of the translation.
News: Family Traumatized by "Weird Christmas Story"
Wherein a local Lutheran pastor strips naked before his congregation and raves about being abducted by the Holy Ghost and taken to ancient Alexandria to appear before the LXX.
LXIX. Gods, Antigods, and the Fall of the Olympians
Wherein it is argued, based on the latest archeological findings, that Yahweh wiped out all the other gods with some sort of anti-divinity substance and then, perhaps, was himself destroyed by his own technology by Allah, who is rumored to be holding Mohammed and Jesus prisoner inside a mountain.
LXX. Basic Crow
Wherein two crows munching
on a huge piece of divine roadkill they're not sure what god it
is, but it's some dead god seem to be suggesting that they're the
only true gods. Of course they don't believe it themselves.