That high mercury Jesus

LI has pursued, as one of the subthemes of our happiness project, the notion that alienation shows up in things like, oh, alterations in the song culture of the 19th century. We came across a strange instance of song and dance yesterday, in the Acts of John. This is a Gnostic gospel. It contains a story that is also referred to in a text we couldn’t find, The voyages of the apostles, attributed to Leuce Carin by Clement of Alexandria.

The story is that Jesus, after the crumbs had been wiped from the table of the Last Supper, had his disciples hold hands and dance around him as he sang a song. The song goes like this, according to the the translation made by M.R. James – the same M.R. James who wrote the classic Edwardian ghost stories, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

Now before he was taken by the lawless Jews, who also were governed by (had their law from) the lawless serpent, he gathered all of us together and said: Before I am delivered up unto them let us sing an hymn to the Father, and so go forth to that which lieth before us. He bade us therefore make as it were a ring, holding one another's hands, and himself standing in the midst he said: Answer Amen unto me. He began, then, to sing an hymn and to say:
Glory be to thee, Father.
And we, going about in a ring, answered him: Amen.
Glory be to thee, Word: Glory be to thee, Grace. Amen.
Glory be to thee, Spirit: Glory be to thee, Holy One:
Glory be to thy glory. Amen.
We praise thee, O Father; we give thanks to thee, O Light, wherein darkness
dwelleth not. Amen.
95 Now whereas (or wherefore) we give thanks, I say:
I would be saved, and I would save. Amen.
I would be loosed, and I would loose. Amen.
I would be wounded, and I would wound. Amen.
I would be born, and I would bear. Amen.
I would eat, and I would be eaten. Amen.
I would hear, and I would be heard. Amen.
I would be thought, being wholly thought. Amen.
I would be washed, and I would wash. Amen.
Grace danceth. I would pipe; dance ye all. Amen.
I would mourn: lament ye all. Amen.
The number Eight (lit. one ogdoad) singeth praise with us. Amen.
The number Twelve danceth on high. Amen.
The Whole on high hath part in our dancing. Amen.
Whoso danceth not, knoweth not what cometh to pass. Amen.
I would flee, and I would stay. Amen.
I would adorn, and I would be adorned. Amen.
I would be united, and I would unite. Amen.
A house I have not, and I have houses. Amen.
A place I have not, and I have places. Amen.
A temple I have not, and I have temples. Amen.
A lamp am I to thee that beholdest me. Amen.
A mirror am I to thee that perceivest me. Amen.
A door am I to thee that knockest at me. Amen.
A way am I to thee a wayfarer. [amen].


Anonymous said…
LI, what, no comment to this post, High Mercury Jesus getting no love!

"A way am I to thee a wayfarer". Indeed. Sweet HMG, instead of getting nailed on a cross, here's the door. Amen.

roger said…
Ah, I think I must have lost a good amount of poundage, dancing around to Gloria's song, back in the day. Although what was the deal with the roller skater/dancer?

Interesting to think of Jesus as just a messiah DJ. But that is some rap!
roger said…
ps - but I'd like to imagine, with all the knocking on the door after that supper was over, that the scene was something like this .