Random AsidesReligionSkepticism

Jesus, the prostitutes and something about gays getting married

My friend Jamie Bernstein (Skeptical Ninja and VP of the Women Thinking Free Foundation) recently admitted that she has never read the New Testament. Not once. Not a little bit.

I mean, I guess it makes sense, she was raised as a secular Jew… so she didn’t really have a whole lot of use for Jesus things in her life. But after learning this fact, I took it upon myself to shame her into making a humiliating video for my amusement… with the promise of posting it here on Skepchick for your amusement. When I told her that Jesus would have wanted her to do it, she didn’t really have an out. So she agreed. 

How it started:

Jamie posted this picture on Facebook. It’s pretty awesome. Me, Rebecca and three of my favorite Chicago skepchickal pals.

Rebecca, Ashley, Me (as Jesus), Megan, and Jamie

Then… I got drunk or something and decided to declare myself Jesus of TAM.

The conversation continues. I demand a video of Jamie explaining what she thinks the New Testament is about. Rebecca seconds it.

Days pass. I sober up (a little.) Everyone forgets about the whole thing. Except Jamie, who actually makes a video.

I cannot tell you how much I love this woman.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. This is the best bible telling ever. “He threatened to cut a baby in half” and “Magic baby on hay” – Jamie, you are EPIC.

  2. I love how Jesus got his followers by turning water into wine. That is what makes the story believable.

  3. I like this version better than the one I learned in bible school. I like that they had the party the next day after he came back to life.

  4. For the parts everyone thinks are funny, I can’t tell if they’re funny because I’m wrong or their funny because they’re correct. Also, they didn’t have a party to celebrate him coming back to life, they had dinner. At least that’s how it’s always depicted.

    If I had a friend who died and came back to life, I would have a celebratory dinner as well!

    1. You’d think so… but the dinner was before he died. No one really celebrated when he came back.

      Which kinda sucks since he died for their sins… sort of died anyway.

        1. It was a passive-aggressive thing. Because Jesus knew they were all going to betray him and he was going to die. And instead of being all “not cool, guys” he gave them food and wine and tried to guilt them. Then, since he was kind of a dick about it, they went ahead and betrayed him. “They” being his gang of whores.

          1. Oy!!! Only one person betrayed Jesus, and he felt really bad about it afterwards. The ‘last supper’ was a traditional passover dinner so I’m guessing it was a pretty boring way to spend your last night before being nailed to a tree.

            Siveambrai is correct in that apostle Doubting Thomas did stick his fingers into a wound on Jesus’ chest. Pretty gross and probably led to the infection that killed Jesus 40 days later.

          2. Falling asleep on the job when your friend’s life is on the line and otherwise not doing much to help him not be executed is still betrayal. Only one guy sold him out… the rest betrayed him by being terrible friends.

            Then again, most of what I know is from Jesus Christ Superstar and Catholic school. So I’m pretty much with Jamie.

          3. That is the most insightful and accurate telling of the last supper story ever. I’m getting the painting with that quote on it.

        2. He died the day after Passover. So the dinner was celebrating that… when he came back to life they actually freaked out and started asking his ghost all kinds of questions. One guy even stuck his fingers in the wounds from the cross.

          So party before you die, people fingering your bloody holes afterwards.

    1. Hell yea it would. They’d be a tough ass gang to deal with.. specially for the Romans who loved them some prostitutes.

  5. Hi there!

    You pretty much got it. There were a few little mistakes here and there, but I’m sure it’s still probably more than 98% of Bible-thumpers know about the story.

    As for the parts that everyone thinks is funny, it’s your deadpan delivery of those parts that makes it hilarious. It would be like if someone had never seen Star Wars before, and was describing it from pop culture references as: “And then the bad guy was like the hero’s DAD, but the hero was like: ‘No way, dude!’, but then it turned out to be TRUE or something …”. Absolutely correct, just funny in the delivery of it. :)

    My Wifey is Catholic, and it’s always interesting to hear HER side of the story. All of the silly things make some kind of sense when you think of them in the context of a set of parables. Also, read: “Jesus for the Non-Religious” by Spong. Fascinating read.

    — Craig

      1. Hi there!

        Okay, see that right there? You were like 90 times closer to the Jesus Myth than that chick was to the Star Wars Myth. :P

        — Craig

  6. That’s probably more than a lot of Bible-thumpers know about the story. A few errors, but not bad. I have actually been trying to read the whole Bible cover to cover over the last several years because I figure it is good to have an idea what the religious right is misconstruing. If you read it as literature, it can be entertaining (other than the really boring parts).

  7. I feel the need to point out one other small error. It wasn’t the Romans that killed Jesus, it was the Ramones. Jesus got sick from some bad junk and puked all over Marky’s drum kit.

    I swear to god that’s true.

    1. That’s what happens when you get drunk at a party and start turning everybody’s water into wine.

  8. The really funny thing is this is pretty much what most Christians would say if asked to tell the story of Jesus.

  9. Mary Magdalene was branded a whore by pope Gregory to diminish the role of woman and strengthen the role of Peter who founded the church.

    1. that and to boost Mary, mother of Jesus’s status. there was a time when some christian off shoots worshiped Mary Magdalene as being the greater of the 2 Marys.

        1. Do you know why they’re both named Mary? Jesus was one more dying and rising savior god, and in most cases their mother and consort were the SAME PERSON. Like Osiris and Isis.

          Somewhere along the line someone decided this wasn’t appropriate and came up with Magdelene to try to make her two different women.

  10. That was awesome. It sounded like something told in the year 100 AD where this friend told me that a friend told her that her friend’s grandfather had an uncle who was RIGHT THERE and saw it all.

  11. According to my mom, Jesus traveled around with his gay friends (implication gay Jesus, too). Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

  12. A few people mentioned reading the bible through, so I thought I’d recommend this excellent site that makes getting through the bible easier: http://www.thebricktestament.com/

    It’s not really a joke site, but the creator doesn’t necessarily take the bible seriously either. He takes it seriously enough to accurately depict what the bible describes, even to the point of showing the bible’s unintentional hilarity.

  13. Awesome. Much better than the version I’ve pieced together for myself.

    I’ve never read the bible, but whenever they have bible questions on Jeopardy, I always sweep the category, just from hearing stuff from pop culture. That quote from the book of Ruth? I learned it from the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.” The one from Genesis? Learned that from the depiction of the Apollo 8 mission on that HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.” It freaks me out the way that I always get every question right in that category when contestants on the show–some of which had to have read the Bible–never do.

  14. This reminded me of a story from me growing up in a non-religious household.

    So as a kid my parents had an advent calendar for the month of December to keep us kids busy counting down the days till presents. Upon opening the last door either my sister or I exclaimed with delight “It’s sleeping beauty!” At which point my parents thought that it might not be a bad idea if we had at least a passing knowledge of our country’s dominate religion.

    Anyway, I’ve still not read much of the bible. Every one in awhile I sit down and read parts of it get bored or annoyed and move on to better things. This version of Jesus’ life is a better job than I could do.

  15. Jesus story is fascinating if you do read it. Jesus 3 year ministry was funded by Mary Magdalin and her friends. All women apparently. He had to declare alegence to the Jewish faith or he would have been instantly killed for blasphemy. But deep in his soul he just wanted people to love each other in the ancient do unto others as you would have done to you observation. and he did everything he could to ensure that was a success. My strong hunch is his true beliefs lie near the dutch church feature a while back. But of course this was before Christianity. and before athiests were allowed to live :) So we can’t judge him too harshly. He couldn’t honestly live a lie and so he commited a minor offence of turning over the tables in the temple and 3 days later he was dead but in those 3 days he was able to say what he really thought. I would so want to see the proceedings of that trial. So on balance a nice man. Interesting that the rekigion built around him regards the vengful god of the old teatament as sacred when Jesus lived and died trying his best with parables to get people to think for themselves.

    1. I think most (honest) biblical historians are coming to the conclusion that the Jesus-person probably never existed, but is an amalgamation of various different religious leaders and cults from that era.
      Most of the stuff occuring in his life is lacking serious evidence (and the Romans were pretty thorough record keepers).

      Most of what modern day christianity as a religion is all about was pieced together several hundred years after the supposed lifetime of Jesus. And even then, when creating “the bible” they only included those stories that looked similar enough to avoid too many contradictions, and excluded some of the stuff they didn’t like or that didn’t fit with what they already had.

      1. Could be. My feeling is that who ever conceived the words attributed to Jesus about how we all interact was emotionally intelligent and still relevant, so in relation to those thoughts it doesn’t really matter if he existed or not, because someone who wrote them existed :). and they were very different from the people who wrote the Bible and invented corporate Christianity. and I’d go further and say that person didn’t really in their heart believe in god.

        Actually I’ve just thought of a good analogy. If Hitler had won the war and I’d be killed if I wasn’t an English Nazi I would probably bend Naziism to include same sex marriage, abortion on demand, anti racism, equal rights and community love. So to preserve my breathing privileges my Bible would start with Mein Kampf and include all the good things in the 2nd half while saying Mein Kampf is relevant. That’s a pretty much how I see the bible.

  16. Wow, who’s the hot redhead?
    Oh, wait…that was sexist, wasn’t it?
    DAMN it! We just went through all this! Sorry.
    In any event, I enjoy asking believers “Who was the Immaculate Conception?” I have yet to meet one that doesn’t immediately answer, “Jesus, of course!” Which is wrong, of course.

    1. That hot redhead is Ashley Hamer, blogger for Mad Art Lab. Which you should know… because you read Mad Art Lab every day. Right?

      1. I haven’t, but I checked it out and now I’m gonna. Because it’s interesting, NOT just because I have a weakness for redheads or anything.

  17. Jamie … you are the bees knees,the cats pajamas, you should definitely do more vids.
    You have quite the gift for communication.

  18. The difference between Jesus observations about inate love and what later became Christianity is interesting, Because those observations are emmotionally intelligent where as the bulk of the religion isn’t and seems conceived through self interest. When Chrisrians are faced with this dicotamy they very often get confused and distressed.

    Yeah Reverend Kel who’s the hot redhead?would be a selfish objectifying comment. If genuinely want to compliment someone you can use there name if you want to :)

  19. I found it surprisingly correct. …well, except for the gang of prostitutes thing. But that would have been cool. ;-> It was more like a press gang of fishermen.

    I have to wonder how many self-declared Christians would have done better.

  20. Okay, non-religious-jew huddle time:

    Psst: Jamie! Over here!

    the cutting a baby in half was in the Tanakh, not the christian testament. That was something Solomon threatened to do when confronted by two women both claiming to be the baby’s mother.

    It seems like the sort of thing an unfeeling, blind principle of justice might come up with, giving half to each is “fair”…but only if you fail to appreciate that by cutting the baby in half the baby ceases to be a baby entirely. And so the threat actually seemed genuine. The mom says, “Never mind, give the baby to the other claimant, just let the baby live.” Solomon then orders the chopping stopped and gives the baby to the real mom.

    Jews tell this story to bolster claims about how wise our great king solomon was, which in turn is used to say that when he expanded the territory of iIsrael beyond the borders of David, that this expansion was right & proper & that the whole of the Solomonic kingdom is thus the righteous inheritance of modern jews.

    Solomon’s kingdom has modern day relevance, and thus claims that Solomon was inspired by god & always did the right thing have modern day relevance.

    Anyway, it’s not a Christian story.

    As for the xian stuff, I don’t know any more than you from first hand knowledge, though I think that i remember some other things, it certainly isn’t from reading the books directly! I couldn’t really testify as to how accurate you’re being or not with all that stuff.

    Sorry to not have a delightfully funny comment. All the rest o’ y’all were great at that. I love the video & Jaime, your style is wonderful.

    I never forward funny stuff, but I’m forwarding this…


  21. Awesome. I’m an atheist and secular jew much like Jamie and I have to admit my new testament knowledge is only slightly better than hers in spite of having lived with a southern baptist family for a year back in the days of the dinosaurs. Although, admittedly, their grasp of any part of the bible at all didn’t seem that great either in spite of being very, very much into believing in it.

    I’m always confused by just when it is that Jesus declares that all the stuff about eating pork or shellfish or wearing a garment made of two different fabrics were really OK but the gay sex was still well abominable so you just better keep your mind off your neighbour’s ass, you hear?

    1. None of that stuff is actually from Jesus, but IIRC Paul, who was most likely a closeted-homosexual himself, with a giant chip on his shoulder, and intent on spoiling everyone else’s fun.

    2. As exarch noted, that’s all from Paul. Basically, Paul wanted Christianity to stop being a Jewish cult and become a religion in its own right. Peter, OTOH, said that in order to become a Christian, you had to become a Jew first.

      Now, keep in mind, in those days, male infant circumcision was pretty much a Jewish-only deal. So if you wanted to become a Jew as an adult, you had to let some guy with a beard go after the most sensitive part of your anatomy with a knife.

      Naturally, this didn’t go over very well with Gentiles. So Paul realized, if he was gonna get the Gentiles to convert, they were going to need a “Go directly to Jeebus, Do not pass the moile, Do not lose your foreskin” option. And since THAT rule was getting tossed aside, he also dumped a bunch of other rules (like much of the kosher laws) that wouldn’t sail very far with the Gentiles, either.

      At the same time, the sexual mores were kept in (despite Christ only mentioning sex once*, and arguably having overseen a gay ‘wedding’**) because those still served the support of a patriarchal society which Paul most definitely advocated for.

      *: At one point, he tells the apostles to not take up the practices of the surrounding pagans–including blood-drinking and several others. One of these is usually translated as “sexual immorality”, but the original term in Hebrew can also refer to “sexual idolotry”–that is, sex-worship and using temple prostitutes–and this makes much more sense in the context.

      **: Christ is approached by a Centurion, whose “most beloved servant” is dying, begging for a miracle. Christ heals the boy, who is then adopted by the Centurion. Now, if you know anything about Roman society, you know that a Centurion’s most beloved servant was his male concubine, an adolescent youth taken along because you wouldn’t want to drag a woman out into the remote parts of the Empire. And if a Roman of wealth and prestige wanted his concubine to become “legitimate”, he usually arranged for it by declaring the youth his legal heir, thereby granting lots of legal rights to the boy-lover. So JC comes along and says, “Hey, you really love this kid, don’t you? You should do right by him. For all the buttsex.” And the Centurion does.

  22. “Gang of prostitutes” makes me think of Sin City. Now there’s an entourage to travel with!

  23. Just for information: The Jewish holy books are literally included in the Christian bible. About 2/3 of the Christian bible, called “the Old Testament,” is “Jewish” and includes no specific mention of Jesus. [Christians will say that a number of passages “foretell” (IE: predict) the coming of Christ.]

    So the story about king Solomon is part of the Christian tradition too. [1 Kings 3:16-28]



    And so is all that stuff in Leviticus about what you should and should not eat:


    But Christians generally don’t follow the rules about foods.

    1. No, no, no, no. The old testament and Jewish Bible are not the same. They are very, very similar but not the same. Still based on the same thing.

  24. In the excellent novel “God Knows” by Joseph Heller (the guy with Catch-22) king David, who’s the narrator in the book, claims Solomon actually intended to cut the baby in half, he was just lucky with one of the women despairing and giving him a save. And since as others have said that’s in the old testament I kinda want to see a video on Jewish early history now.

    Oh, and I totally figured out who the hot redhead was.

  25. I did have a chuckle at a couple of points (“He travelled around with a gang of prostitutes and … would like … perform miracles!”), but at the end I had to think: is this what atheism is in fact? One misunderstanding piled on top of another on top of another?

    Beginning, of course, with the Facebook post the plural of “Mary” is, quite obviously, “Maries” … not “Mary’s”.

    1. No, that’s not what atheism is, just as atheism isn’t my lack of knowledge about the details of hindusim, shintoism or australian Aboriginal religion.

      1. Buddhism, shintoism and Australian Aborignal religion aren’t theism (in the narrower sense of the word) so you’re right, a-theism doesn’t require knowledge of them.

        I’m trying to understand “atheism” as a whole, because I see people on this blog or elsewhere talk about “our movement” or “the goals of atheism” and I wonder what exactly that means.

        I tend to discount it when someone says “I’m an atheist” because that word is so vague, and ask about the “and” which is more apropos: atheist and feminist; atheist and communist; atheist and eugenicist; atheist and humanist; atheist and fascist; atheist and libertine; athiest and distributionist; atheist and socialist or whatever.

        1. He said Hinduism, not Budhism.

          Anyway, I believe Hinduism is the one with many thousands of gods.
          If you’re a christian, you probably don’t believe in all those thousands of gods either.
          As atheists, we just believe in one less god than a christian.

    2. Why investigate in depth an idea that doesn’t get passed the 1st test of iether being interesting or credible or even desirable. Do I really need to read Mein kampf to have an opinion of Hitlers fascism.

      Yeah I think the existence of a supreme being is very very unlikely. That’s based on a lot of sources mostly evidence from science, which has enormous credibility because of it;s little spin off of absolute proof technology.

      1. “very very unlikely” and “absolute proof”: so which is it? Impossible, as “absolutely proved,” or improbable?

        1. Science is the best tool we have for discovering absolute truth.
          That doesn’t mean we’ve found it already, just that of all the other options, it’s the one with the most error correction.

          Religion has no error correction whatsoever: If reality doesn’t match the scripture, then reality must be wrong …

    3. I’m pretty sure the plural of Mary is not Maries. It’s a name not a thing! Just like the plural of Jesus isn’t Jesi (although that would be kind of awesome).

      1. Well, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek there.

        I do disagree with you though – if you had friends called Burns you’d write “The Burnses are coming to dinner” not “The Burns’s”. You could say Jesi if you wanted, I guess (witness Mark Zuckerberg in Fincher’s “The Social Network” saying “Winklevi” instead of “Winklevosses”), or you could say “In Mexico there’re lots of little Jesuses running around”.

        Or: one library, two libraries, not library’s.

        So yeah, if you want to talk about two of them I reckon the plural of Mary is Maries (or “two people called Mary” to get around it altogether), not (shudder) Mary’s.

        Your required reading for tomorrow, after Peter Kreeft’s “Christianity for Modern Pagans”: Lynne Truss’s (yes, or Truss’) “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”.

        1. The ordinary pluralisation of _proper_ nouns is adding -s og -es, even when ending in y. Marys, Barneys, Kennedys. At least according to the only decent sites I can find, weak though they are:


          http://painintheenglish.com/case/379 (comment fourteen)

          Googlefight (althought it doesn’t work for Marys – Maries, as Maries and Marie’s are common as something other than a plural for Mary.)

    4. What atheism is “in fact” is a lack of belief in any gods.

      Some atheists know rather a lot about the New Testament. Some don’t.

      Jamie is culturally Jewish, she has no reason to know much about the Christian story or the New Testament.

  26. This was adorable!

    Jamie: re, why would anyone bring perfume to a baby shower–

    It was the olden days.

    1. Frankincense and myrrh were used in funeral rites. I think they were very fragrant preservatives, useful in a hot desert environment. Infant mortality was very high in those days. Vaccines hadn’t been invented yet. Know where I’m going with this? ;-)

          1. Thanks for making sense of my random babbles! Yeah, that’s what I meant all along. Zombie Jesus will save us! Wait a minute, isn’t that the whole point of the Easter story? The first Night of the Living Dead prequel.

            The Magi were exhibiting psychic precognition: <SylviaBrowne> Hey, lady, you’re gonna need this stuff. The kid’s gonna be dead. </SylviaBrowne>

  27. This was funny, all right. But just to be a spoilsport — would this be just as funny if you had someone who knew very little about physics or chemistry talk about what they knew?

    I’ve always tried to know about things broadly as well as deeply. Bible-as-literature (fiction) courses are useful. I teach British Literature, and it’s pretty hard to understand almost everything written before the 20th century without a good background in the Bible. It’s pretty important for Art and Music too. I’d say it’s at least as important as Greek Mythology — at least, if you’re interested in learning about the past at all.

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