OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Sir Toby's -- Invisibility Cloak
“With interest I have been reading the stories told of your Jesus.” The Old Man occupied his usual place by the fire, the thin trail of smoke that rose from his pipe adding to the perpetual haze which enveloped the coarse yet voluble theologians gathered at Sir Toby’s. His long and bony finger hovered above the scroll, begrimed and creased and rendered flexible by much use, that lay spread open before him on the table. “Tell me, by what good fortune did this valuable piece of correspondence from Luke to Theophilus come into your possession?”
“What?” Returning from the kitchen with yet another flagon of beer, the Ethiopian hermit glanced over the Old Man’s shoulder. “Oh yes, the letter is widely distributed among the Christians.”
“Ah, of course, a copy.” His finger traced a line of text. “In this particular story Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. Though I am not yet familiar with his particular wisdom, apparently it provoked no small controversy among his contemporaries.” Leaning back from the table the Old Man squinted at the scroll. “After reading from his holy book Jesus offers a brief observation about the text. His listeners marvel at the words that proceed from his mouth. Then, immediately after this success, he recounts an incident from the days of Elishah the prophet – apparently the incident was well-known among the people, for Jesus calls attention only to certain very specific features of what must have been a far longer account. Now those who but a moment before praised Jesus are enraged by him. Luke writes that they dragged Jesus from the synagogue to a precipice at the margins of the village, their intent being to cast him down, to his death perhaps.”
“You must understand the historical context,” pronounced the Alexandrian scholar, his words strongly accented but precise. “Though the Book of Kings is not specific about the duration of the drought, the three years and six months specified here by Jesus and later by James assume a well-known oral tradition that…”
“Excellent, well said,” the Old Man interjected loudly; the Alexandrian, stunned, held his tongue for a change. “Now look here,” the Old Man said, jabbing the text with the long nail of his index finger. “Jesus survives this assault. Does the mob relent? Do other voices rise up in support of Jesus? Does Jesus himself elaborate on the words that had provoked his listeners to such drastic measures? No indeed. I quote: ‘But passing through the midst of them he went away.’
With surprising agility the Old Man sprang to his feet. “Passing through the midst of them! Powerful magic indeed. Of course there are distractions and subterfuges available to even the least gifted of wizards. But the more powerful means of enchantment, the spells, the cloaks… well it’s unusual, isn’t it? To have performed this feat in such trying conditions, witnessed by so many people… And he seems to have used neither words nor devices to achieve the effect. Remarkable. Tell me: did Jesus ever reveal this secret magic by which he rendered himself invisible? Perhaps he passed this knowledge on to his apprentices?” Still standing, the Old Man leaned with both hands on the table and swept his expectant gaze around the inn.