In the first excavations of the newly discovered tomb of Jesus a marble bust and a missing chapter of the Gospel of St. Thomas have been found. The bust, according to the accompanying text is that of none other than Jesus. It bears a strong likeness to the face depicted in the Shroud of Turin and also closely resembles Mel Gibson. It's authenticity therefore cannot be doubted. Excitement among archaeologists at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem where the tomb is situated is in tents... er... intense.
"U-R-Busted" magazine managed to get exclusive access to the first translation of the text, excerpts of which are here published for the first time. It solves one of the biggest conundrums in the gospel narrative... the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot.
"And Lo, on the night before the Passover Jesus didst assemble his followers in the upper room in Jerusalem where he had planned to celebrate the feast. All were present except Judas Iscariot. He had left the group earlier in the day telling no one whither he was bound, but returned to the room after midnight carrying an object wrapped up in cloth. He summoned all around the table in the centre of the room and thereupon didst reveal the present he had brought. It was a marble bust of Jesus. Judas stood back and waited for his Master's response.
"It's not me," said Jesus with a smile.
"What!... What do you mean it's not you?" exclaimed Judas taken aback. He had made many busts and had earned a good living as a sculptor before joining the Apostles and he was proud of his craftsmanship. His reputation as an artist in his home town was great. "Thomas... is that not him?"
"I...t....t....th... think so," said Thomas who had a bad stutter.
"Think? Think!!? " cried Judas who was growing angrier by the minute. "Peter?"
"Dead ringer," said Peter to everyone's relief. "There's no mistaking that nose and the big ears. Sorry Jesus... it's you. Definitely. Could be nobody else."
"It's not me," said Jesus quietly as he poured himself a cup of water.
Thereupon, Judas wrapped up his gift and fled the room.
During the Passover he remained sullen and silent until the Master handed him a piece of bread dipped in oil. For him it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Pay-back he figured, for an imagined insult. Once again he left the room, this time not in anger but with a resolution in his heart. It is not known where he went but later reports say that he went to a tavern and got blind drunk accosting one of the barmaids and causing a riot. Roman guards had to be called in. Arrests were made.
Although the Master's behaviour towards him puzzled us all greatly we did not discuss the matter. We next saw him when he led a posse of soldiers to Jesus on the Mount of Olives, betraying Him into their hands.
Many years have gone by since the Lord ascended to Heaven; but now it can revealed what happened with Judas Iscariot. The Sanhedrin upon hearing of his falling out with Jesus approached Judas. Ishmael Alterman of advanced years and head of the council committee drew Judas aside and sayeth onto him.
"Judas, you are a great artist. Everybody knows it. Jesus is jealous... he couldn't draw an egg if his life depended on it, let alone carve one out of stone."
"But he can raise the dead... "
"Lazarus? Gimme a break! Lazarus was dead again within the week. Complications. Did he go back to raise him a second time? Well?"
"Maybe he figured it was overkill."
"The fact is," said Ishmael. "Many here doubt his miracles. You are his donations officer are you not?"
"I was. I can't figure it out. I got the ears nailed. Even Peter admitted it."
"If he can change water to wine and catch fish at will and multiply loaves of bread and whatnot... what the hell does he want money for?"
"Never thought of that," said Judas scratching his head. "Come to think of it, never saw him multiply a single mite in the three years I've known him. It's beg, beg, beg from morning to dusk. Sick of it! There's no future in it."
Judas was having a bad time. Ishmael had busted him out of jail where he was being held indefinitely for causing a bar room brawl. He knew he had to behave himself or go back in the slammer.
"Here's the offer my good man. You take us to his hideout and we will take care of the bastard once and for all. You have my word."
Judas fell to thinking. He had the weeks takings on his person and knew if he betrayed his Master he would get to keep it. The Passover week was always the best week of the year for alms. And he needed the money to pay off his gambling debts. Ishmael reading his thoughts said:
"How does thirty shekels sound?"
"Okay... how about this? I will get Pontius Pilate who is a good friend of mine to commission a bust from you... a bust of the Emperor Tiberius."
"Done!" said Judas.
This was the break he had dreamt of all his life. He already had a nickname for himself when he became famous... "Left Banksy". He had never been to Rome either and to be a guest of the Emperor... and get to carve his mug... goodbye Jesus!
After the crucifixion, the Sanhedrin had a Jewish rebel killed and claimed it was the body of Judas who, they put abroad, had committed suicide. It is now known that the Sanhedrin kept their word and Judas was sent to Rome to carve a marble bust of the Emperor with a letter of recommendation from Pontius Pilate. Tiberius was so pleased with his portrait, even though he felt the ears were a bit on the large side, that he made Judas his chief sculptor. And there he lived, happily ever after, basking in the glory of his fame as Rome's greatest living artist.