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Chapter Twenty-Four


A Vision of Home




Enough wine and food and a feather-filled mattress allowed me to have my first good night’s sleep in weeks.  As I dreamed, which I most always did, I was carried back to my home in Nazareth where I saw, as an invisible phantom, Jesus at work in the carpentry shop.  He was alone this time, which struck me as peculiar.  Despite the implicit warning in the absence of my father and brothers, I was not yet alarmed.  I was just glad that there were no frightful images or voices warning me to beware.  From this point until I awakened, I slept soundly, almost dreamlessly.  I was exhausted both mentally and physically from the nightmare I had suffered, and I was still asleep when they began breaking camp.  The following morning, when the sun had not yet risen, was a busy affair.  I was told to stay out of the way, as the tents were struck, the campfires extinguished, and the caravan prepared for travel over the northern desert.  When I thought about all the supposed prophetic dreams I experience in my life, including my recent visions and the voice in the desert, a question swept over me those moments: what if I was merely addled in the head?   I was tired of those fearful sights and sounds plaguing my sleep.  I had enough danger for a while, I told myself, as I climbed onto my mule. 

Though Elisha wanted me to climb into the coach for my comfort with him and his friends, I felt like one of the men when I road on my trusty mule.  It was nice to know I could, if I grew saddle-weary again, have such a refuge, but I enjoyed talking to the guards as an equal, which had not been the case with the Romans, auxilia or desert bandits.  This time I planned on enjoying the journey.  From the moment I left the Galilean fort, my destiny had been in the hands of others.  I had been given my freedom and my life, and from now on, I vowed, I would, when the time was right, do what’s best for me.  For the time being, in spite of my desire for independence, I was at mercy of my benefactor.  After all, I owed him my life.  It was decided by Elisha, his scribe, and steward that I must be purified of my contamination among the Gentiles.  No distinction in this demand was made between Roman, Greek, Syrian, Egyptian, Thracian, and desert bandits.  All Gentiles were impure in the Pharisee’s eyes.  Exactly how my purification would be accomplished was not explained to me, though I was certain that somewhere in this process I would be forced to visit the temple to sacrifice for my sins. 

The guards humored their employer with reluctant nods, but said nothing.  Absalom, Laban, and their associates were not Gentiles like Joseph of Arimathea’s guards, but they shared the pagans’ free spirit.  They appeared, by their reaction to my exploits, to admire military prowess.  Absalom and Laban had made reference to gladiators, and all these big, burly fellows seemed impressed with my bloody deeds.  Not once did they reprove me, as did Elisha, Jacob, and Nedinijah.  Though a Pharisee, himself, Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ benefactor, was quite open-minded to have Gentile guards and tolerant my brother’s eccentricities.  Elisha bar Simon, on the other hand, was set in his beliefs, displaying a mixed reaction to my account.  Considering some of the things Jesus said and did and my brother’s friendship with Joseph’s Nubian and Syrian guards, there was a disappointing dissimilarity between the two Pharisees, and yet I was treated well in spite of my flaws.  In the beginning I might have been an interesting distraction for the busy merchant or, at the outset, it could very well have been a spiritual challenge, but I grew fond of my benefactor and even the religious nick-picking steward and scribe.  I had met close-minded Pharisees before.  Elisha and his friends truly believed I was damaged goods.  The guards, however, especially Absalom and Laban, teased and scolded me at times, but they were never critical.  Of all the men in Elisha’s caravan, I felt most comfortable in the presence of these friendly yet outspoken men.  Where the Pharisee and his associates were more concerned with my religious failures, these soldiers were concerned with my actions: those flaws, such as indecision and inaction I had displayed during my journey to Antioch and captivity on the desert.  Though showing miraculous or dumb-luck ability in battle, as Absalom put it, I behaved both foolishly and cowardly at times.  I was given two sets of advice therefore.  While the guards taught me to fight more confidently, Elisha would work on making me a better Jew. 

In the past several days of our monotonous yet peaceful ride, I enjoyed those pauses during rest stops and overnighters when Absalom and Laban showed me their skills as guards.  When Elisha wasn’t looking, they gave me training on the use of the sword, javelin, bow, and sling.  They also taught me gladiatorial secrets that my Roman teachers couldn’t have known, including using the net to entrap a man’s feet, using the shield as a weapon, and fighting with both spear and sword.  It was during my instruction with the driver’s whip, normally used when a gladiator is acting as bestiarii, that Elisha caught wind of my training.  The guards were laughing at my comic attempts to twirl the net while cracking the whip, when I heard the Pharisee’s voice.  He must have seen the activity through the trees.  By then, however, it was almost too late.  With my nearly perfect memory, the essential moves taught to me by the guards could be practiced against an imaginary opponent when he wasn’t around.  Just like the moves I learned from the Romans and their auxilia, I would recall almost every detail of my lessons with Absalom and Laban.  With such a gift, the Pharisee would soon test me, as had the guards, but this time my weapon would be my mind.

“Thaddeus,” he called irritably, “come here!”

“Thank you,” I mumbled, dropping the whip and handing Absalom the net.

As I trotted back to camp, I took stock of my actions.  Why, after all I had been through, did I enjoy playing such games?   I had, in spite of my desire to be a scribe, wanted to be a soldier in the legions.  That had been my goal.  Now, after all I had been through, I wasn’t sure.  Being a warrior was dangerous.  It involved many brushes with death, and yet, as I had as a child in Nazareth in make-believe attacks, I played the role of warrior with my new friends.  At our numerous stops, when my head was not being filled with points of the law by Elisha, Jacob and Nedinijah, I was physically trained by Absalom and Laban, through exercises and practice, to at least play the part.  I had admired the big Nubian and Syrian guards who had served Joseph of Arimathea.  Here on the march again, all the Jewish guards, who had seen much of the Roman world like Joseph’s men, shared my faith and my love adventure. Torn between my family background and tradition and my original plans that had Jesus and my father’s blessing, I made a decision that agreed with both my spiritual and earthly side: I would become one of the Pharisee’s guards, a decision that should please him too. 

This decision, however, was rejected out of hand by Elisha.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded indignantly. “I thought you were reading the scroll I gave you.  I hear the crack of whip and there you are with my guards playing bestiarii.  You think I’m stupid lad?  You don’t think I know a gladiatorial stance?”

“No sir,” I said out of breath, “I’ve been practicing self-defense, not offense.  I know how I can repay you for you kindness.  I could be one of your guards.  It’s not dangerous in the northern desert.  I’ll ride along with Abasalom and the others.  I could watch the horses and pack animals as they patrolled the camp, then, as an apprentice, help guard the caravan during the march.”

“A guard for my caravan?” Elisha muttered in disbelief. “I have enough guards!  Who put that notion into your head?”

“Absalom said I was good,” I said pertly, “I learn quickly.  I get along with your men.  I’m good with animals.  Jesus said I have a gift.”

“Silence!” He held up his hand. “You two—Absalom and Laban,” he called through cupped hands, “I know what you’re up to.  Thaddeus isn’t going to be a guard.  This stops right now!”

“Yes sir,” they called back sheepishly.

“I swear,” he muttered testily to himself, “if I didn’t know better, I’d believe those men were Gentiles!  

“Please sir,” I begged, watching them walk away, “don’t be mad at Absalom and Laban.  It’s my fault.  They’ve been kind to me—”

“I know that,” he interrupted irritably, “you have that effect upon my guards.  They’re good and trustworthy men.  I’m fortunate to have them.  Until I saw them teaching you their art, I’ve found little reason to scold them.  I’m upset with them, but I’m upset with you too.  I wouldn’t have interfered, Thaddeus nor scolded my men for simply training you to defend yourself, but you already know how to fight.  You claimed to have killed eight men!  Why do you need to know gladiatorial tricks?  I’m beginning to wonder whether or not Absalom and Laban had not been in the arena themselves.  After hearing your goal of becoming one of my guards, I’m very disappointed.  Already you have blood on your hands.  After your ordeal, I thought you would give up this life.  Now you treat it as a sport!”      

“As you wish.” I sighed contritely. “I will stop the games immediately.”

“Good lad,” he said, ruffling hair, “you see it for what it is: games.  No one can blame you for trying to survive.  David, who would become king, did as much himself.  The history of our people is sprinkled with blood.  But my guards are paid to protect my goods.  You, Thaddeus, don’t have to live by the sword.  You’re still a youth.  You’ve earned our respect.  You have your whole life ahead of you to prove your manhood.  I didn’t leave home until I was twenty, and that was to continue my education in Jerusalem.  You took a leap into the unknown at eighteen to join the legions—a Jew among Gentiles.  You’ve taken many chances, but you must not tempt the Lord!”   

I bowed my head in feigned disappointment.  I had heard my brother say that once.  It sounded silly then too.  How can you tempt God?  Already, after a week of travel, I had learned enough soldier and gladiator tricks.  As he lectured me on my blood lust, a thought occurred to me.  What if I softened him on this issue by telling him about my other skills?  The concept I had in mind, of course, was the “soldier scribe” a title that Ibrim, the Arab, once gave me—a marriage of both worlds.  As I crafted a speech in my head, Elisha advised me to give up my wandering and devote myself to the serious business of life.  I was, he sincerely believed, irresponsible—a wayward and footloose drifter with a shallow goal in life.  There was, it was true, no parallel between Jesus great adventure and mine.  His journey was planned and well thought out, whereas mine was reckless, thoughtless, and filled with travail.  I had given my parents much grief.  Fortunately, however, I had wasted only a short span of my life.  Surely, after my unsuccessful experiences, my wanderings must end.  Jesus words “Learn the heart of the Gentiles,” though he was humoring me, had been fixed in my mind.  Until the tribulations in the desert, I had been unable to shake them.  Now, after my dream about Jesus in the carpentry shop, I wondered if he would feel the same. 

Those moments, as I listened to Elisha, I recalled my dream.  I knew James had left home, but where were Papa, Joseph, and Simon?  If the dream had been a premonition, it implied that Jesus was working alone.  Here I was, a footloose adventurer, my only concern for myself.  In the company of pagans as both colleague and prisoner, I had drifted faraway from my family and people.  Now I sat with a rich merchant, who wanted to transform me into a Pharisee like himself.  If I didn’t known better it might seem I had gone full circle since leaving Galilee.  I must have been exhausted from my training with Absalom and Laban and those early wake up calls each time we struck camp.  My mind was now wandering over a wide range of topics.  As Elisha lectured me on my foolishness and lack of judgment, I began feeling drowsy.  I was already bored to distraction.  I knew I was, at least in his eyes, tainted by my travels, but I wasn’t stupid.  I also wasn’t a liar.  Elisha and his associates, and even Absalom and Laban, saw my physical prowess with the sword and lance in the desert as brave, but I think they believed my killings in Ecdippa were far-fetched.  I saw it in their eyes and the expressions on their faces.  What they all agreed upon was the fact that I had survived a terrible ordeal.  “It’s no wonder,” the Pharisee clucked, “that you’re touched in the head!”  Though the guards admired my spirit, Elisha saw only a reprobate Jew.  I was damaged goods.  I must prove myself to him, I told myself.  It’s time to tell him about my gifts.  As I fought the tug of sleep, my original train of thought drifted into my head.

“Are you listening to me, Thaddeus,” he asked as I gazed into space. “You’re daydreaming.  Wake up lad!”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” I fluttered my eyelashes as if I had just awakened. “I was just thinking Elisha...I have not being completely forthcoming.  I know what it means to be a Jew.” “You see,” my eyes widened with illumination, “...I have skills.”

“What skills?” He looked at me incredulously. “Did your Roman friends teach you these skills?  Are they like the skills my guards taught you?”

“No sir, no one taught me these.  I was born with them.”

“Humph, I’m listening,” he said, motioning to his tent.

In the background, standing guard over the camels, horses, and mules, Absalom and Laban saluted me in the Roman manner as Elisha walked briskly ahead through the flaps.  Motioning for me to sit down on one of the folding chairs the desert people used, he sat across from me with his hands folded as I took my seat.

“What is it that you’re trying to say?” he murmured, pursing his lips. “What are these skills?  I know you’re a clever lad, Thaddeus, but it won’t change my mind.”

“....When I was a child,” I began with deliberation, “I was told by Jesus, my oldest brother, that I had a special gift—”

“Ah, now it’s a gift,” Elisha snorted, “this should be good.”

I suppressed a frown.  The narrow-minded Pharisee was getting on my nerves.

“You see, I have what Rabbi Gamaliel called perfect recall—”

Elisha popped up like a Syrian stick puppet. “Gamaliel, you knew that rascal?

“Yes, Samuel, Nazareth’s rich Pharisee hired him to teach my brothers, friends and me.  I learned the law, the prophets, our history, and tradition from him.  He also taught me how to read and write Hebrew, our sacred language, and Aramean, our common tongue.  Gamaliel said I was a genius.  Aaron, the rabbi who replaced him, appointed Jesus, myself, and our brothers to assist him in teaching class.   From Aaron, I learned both Latin and Greek.”

Elisha’s mouth moved like a fish treading water. “What’re you saying?  You-you claim to know the law and the prophets, when all along Jacob, Nedinijah, and I were teaching you the Torah?  You can speak more languages than me?  Gamaliel said you were a genius?  Ho-ho, I don’t believe you.  It’s like all that other stuff you’ve told us.  Lies—all lies!”

“Please,” I begged, reaching out to touch his robe, “I’m not lying.  The reason I didn’t interrupt you and your friends was out of politeness.  I didn’t want to insult you.  I remember how proud Samuel, my family’s Pharisee friend, was.  It seemed the least I could do would be to listen.  Really, I learned a few new things from you.  I also remember the things Gamaliel and Aaron told me.” “Test me,” I coaxed him, “go on ask me questions or have me read something then give me a quiz.”

“You impertinent you man,” he cried, storming out of the tent, “I should’ve left you on the block!”

Jacob, who had been listening from the flaps, wrung his hands. “No, Elisha, you don’t mean that.  The lad’s mind is addled.  His experience was to much for him.”

“Bah,” the Pharisee shouted in the distance, “I wasted eleven thousand denarii on that fool!”

I collapsed into the chair and wept.  By now Absalom, Laban, and Nedinijah had arrived on the scene.  In Elisha’s eyes, I crossed the line.  Though I tried to be respectful, in the end I had insulted my benefactor.  Was there no way for me to reason with this old man?

“What have you done Thaddeus?” Jacob studied me. “Have you been lying all this time?”

          “No!” I shook my head. “Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.  I can’t prove to you what happened on my journeys with the Romans and the desert people, but I can prove to you the very thing that Elisha won’t believe.”

          “I overheard,” confessed Jacob, “I was eavesdropping by the entrance to the tent.”

          “Me too,” Absalom, Laban, and Nedinijah replied simultaneously.

          “Is it true then?” Nedinijah stepped forward with his arms folded.

          “Yes,” I nodded vigorously, “test me.  I’ll prove it to you!”

“I’ve never heard of perfect recall,” Jacob mumbled disbelievingly.

“I have,” Absalom said pointing to me. “He remembered everything Laban and I taught him.  You tell Thaddeus something, even the most trifling detail on how to handle a sword or net and he never forgets.”

“But can he do that with words?” Nedinijah asked, rummaging in a chest in Elisha’s tent.

“Of course,” I answered, waiting calmly in my chair.

Nedinijah found a remote chapter of Moses’ scrolls on the law.  With only the book, chapter, and verse given to me, I recited it perfectly for him in the language of the Israelites.

“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves and place a carved stone in your land to bow down to.  I am the Lord your God.   Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary.   If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, the ground will yield its crops, and the trees of the field their fruit.  Your threshing will continue until the grape harvest and will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.  I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.  I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.  You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you.  Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you—”

“Enough!” cried Jacob. “Even I don’t remember that.”

“Remarkable,” Nedinijah gasped, looking up from the text. “He said it almost perfectly.”

“That was his memory,” Jacob said, wiping his brow.  “Have him read a passage.”

“All right,” the steward sighed, “I’ll pick a hard one.”

After announcing the book, chapter, and verse, I read it in Hebrew in my best voice,

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Say to the Israelites: Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: you may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.  There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you.  The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you.  The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you. Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales—’”

“Enough!” Jacob cried again. “We get the point...Thaddeus can read Hebrew and has a perfect recall!”

Suddenly, Elisha, who had been listening outside the tent, himself, entered, his hands behind his back, a look of grave concern on his face.

“This is very strange,” he mumbled, stroking his beard, “very strange indeed.”  After deliberating a moment, he paced the floor, and then looked appraisingly at me. “All right, Thaddeus, you have an impressive memory and can read Hebrew scripture, but what if I asked you to recite passages in Latin and Greek.”

Searching one of his scrolls himself, he picked a passage on the Lord’s instructions on sacrifice, the one part of our scriptures I liked least.  I had been given a passage about a dietary law I had broken; now, contaminated by Gentiles as I was, I would recite information on temple sacrifice.  Suppressing a smile, I searched my memory for the book, chapter, and verses.  To impress the Pharisee and his toadies, I recited it in both languages, changing from one to the other, as I quoted the law, a feat that astounded my listeners even more.  It was as if I had cast a spell over these men of the law and the simple guards who had known my secret all along. 

When I was finished, Absalom declared forthrightly “I never liked that passage.  It was bad enough in Hebrew.  Thaddeus is destined for great things!”



Abasalom’s vote of confidence was echoed by the other guards.  Eden, the coachmen, who hadn’t seen my training with weapons, had heard my recitations and shook my hand as did Laban and, to my surprise, the Pharisee himself.  Taking this opportunity to set the record straight, however, Elisha told me flatly that he didn’t believe the miracle in which I killed six men.  It was one thing to fight off a pair of Arabs in the desert, he huffed, but dispatching six men in the darkness while asleep was impossible.  This was a lie!  I mentally bristled at his insult, but kept my peace.  I would not bring this up again.  Nor did I wish to talk about the battles in the desert and especially my ordeal with the bandits who almost turned me into a slave.  From that day forward, I honored my benefactors wish not to train with Absalom and Laban, but when no one was looking practiced the moves they taught me on imaginary opponents with imaginary swords and spears.  Since rich merchants used archery to hunt fowl, it didn’t seem wrong to Elisha that I practiced with the bow.  Of course, with my soft-heart, I never fired on live prey.  Even when I practiced with the sling, which Ibrim had once wanted to teach me, I did so against melons and gourds.

Later in life, when I found the time, I would write about my journeys: as wet-behind-the-ears Jew from Galilee, a captive of bandits, and a protégé of a rich Pharisee.  During my final journey, however, it never occurred to me to record these events.   Much of what I wrote about my odyssey, seems frivolous when I compare it with the preceding volumes about Jesus and my family and the last volume about my mission to spread the Word, and yet it serves the purpose of showing my readers what shaped me into the Apostle and disciple I would one day become.  There were many great influences in my life, chief of whom was Jesus, himself.  Paul, whom I would also serve, would be ranked second, and I would, of course, list my saintly mother and my father, as well as my brothers and sisters, and all the friends and associates who touched my life. 

Despite his misgivings about me, I should also place high on my list the man who saved me from a life of slavery: Elisha bar Simon.  What made me think less of him at times—his stubbornness, small-mindedness, and irritability—I could slough as insignificant weighed against the faults of other men.  I learned during our journey to Tarsus to balance my time between my religious discussions with Elisha, Jacob, and Nedinijah and my own pursuits.  When I could, I might slip out ostensibly to take a walk or relieve myself in order to practice my military arts or daydream under a tree.  In the tent I shared with Absalom, Laban and the other guards, I began teaching them everything I knew about our faith.  I discovered that they were almost illiterate, with little respect for the doctors of the law. 

Once, after eavesdropping by our tent and hearing one of my lessons, Elisha displayed another side of himself that I considered unworthy of a man of learning: jealousy.

“Why hadn’t they wanted to learn from me?” he asked petulantly. “All this time they had a thirst for the scriptures.  Why did it take them so long?”

“It’s a matter of proximity,” I replied with a shrug. “We’re in the same quarters.  After my demonstration in your tent, Absalom and the others began asking me questions.”

“But that’s my duty,” he said resentfully, “not yours.  Those men never showed the smallest interest in religious matters.”

“They wouldn’t, would they,” I explained, as delicately as possible. “They’re simple men.  I made the scriptures sound like fun.”  “To wet their appetites,” I smiled slyly. “I started at the beginning, with Creation, the story of Adam and Eve, always a favorite in synagogue school, followed by epochs such as the Tower of Babel and Noah’s Flood.  Except for the patriarchs such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the story of Moses and his parting of the Red Sea, which were quite entertaining, I skipped over the details of the law, which simple men don’t understand, and highlighted the stories such as the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, the story of Samson and Delilah, and Samuel’s anointing of Israel’s first king.  The scrolls about David and Solomon show common men that they were great kings but also flesh and blood.  The scrolls about the Prophets, Psalms and Proverbs, on the other hand, show the passion of our people—what it means to be an Israelite and Jew.”  “To reach untutored folk, it is,” I pointed out to Elisha, “necessary to entertain as will as educate.  When the time is right, if it comes at all, tell them why the law is important before giving them details of that part of the Torah, but never let it interfere with the Word.”

It was, at this important milestone in our relationship, that I once again treaded upon Elisha’s sensitivies by quoting one of Jesus most controversial beliefs.  The Pharisee, who had seemed impressed with my approach, now balked at the thought.

“Word?” he recoiled, “the law is the word.  Who told you that?”

“The Word comes from God,” I evaded his question, “as the spirit of the law.”

“What word is this?  You make it sound like a living thing!”

“It is a living thing and a constant revelation.  The law is hollow without the Word.”

“You preach to me?” Elisha grew agitated. “Who told you this heresy about the Word and constant revelation?  It’s not in the Torah.  Did Gamaliel or your rabbi teach you this?” 

“No,” it leaped out of my mouth, “Jesus told me!”

This shook the Pharisee more than anything I had said.

“Thaddeus,” he cried, renting his garment, “am I too late?  So this is why you have so little regard for the law.  Who is this Jesus who has corrupted your understanding of our holy scrolls?” “No wonder your mind is befuddled,” his voice shook. “It’s not enough to be a genius Thaddeus and tell clever stories; you need proper guidance.  You must get back on the right road.  I don’t mean the road to Tarsus either; I mean the road back to your tradition and the religion as written by Moses who gave us the law!”

I decided that moment never to tell Elisha about Jesus miracles as a child and my parents’ unorthodox household in Nazareth.  That would be too much for him.  At this point, I looked out of his tent at the men drawn by our argument and realized it was impossible to argue with this old man.  He had saved my life.  As long as I was his charge, I must bow to his will.  Back in my town of Nazareth very few of the elders and Pharisees accepted Jesus’ notions of the Word, constant revelation, and the universal God.  Why should Elisha, when even my teachers Gamaliel and Aaron, found them hard to accept.  Because of my mother’s use of herbs to cure townsmen and my father’s willingness to accept orphans and outcasts into our home, we were suspect in the townsfolk’s eyes.  Now, because of my vanity, like Pandora’s box, Jesus heretical views spilled out of my mouth. 

“Forgive my impertinence.” I replied contritely. “I must keep my opinions to myself.”

“That’s a good lad,” he said, pointing to my head, “but it’s what’s in your heart—spoken or not—that’s troubling.  You believe this heresy, do you not?”

“Yes.” I squirmed. “...I’ll try to do better.”

“You shouldn’t have to try,” Elisha lectured earnestly, “it should come naturally like breathing.” “It’s written in here and felt in here.” He pointed to my forehead and heart. “Memorization is fine, but interpretation such as the ones your brother made should be left to doctors of the law.  I also blame Gamaliel, who taught you the Torah.  I’ve heard of this gifted man, but he’s a liberal teacher.  Your understanding of our faith was nurtured in you by a freethinker, after being corrupted by a radical, who perverts the law.  Gamaliel should have seen the heresy implanted by your brother, but it’s not too late.  You’re young Thaddeus, with a brilliant mind.  You’d make a fine scribe or teacher of the law!”

I mentally groaned at such a thought but didn’t protest.  My decision to bow to his wishes was much easier than enduring the evils I suffered before.  I set my jaw.  I must humor this well-meaning man; I owed him that!  When we arrived in Tarsus, however, I would ask his permission to go home.  He would understand that.  What I might do on the way was an altogether different matter.  Perhaps I would strike out on my own instead of going home.  I could still find my way to the Antioch garrison and become a soldier scribe…If Aurelian didn’t have a suitable place for me in his cohort, I could still return to Nazareth, or do as Jesus had done with Joseph of Arimathea and humor my benefactor in order to see the world.


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