If we want to understand the radical nature of some biblical passages, it is often quite informative to flip them upside-down. Inspired by Erasmus of Rotterdam and his “Praise of Folly” we did it this Sunday with Jesus’ beatitudes (Matthew 5).
- "Blessed are the powerful and rich, because they can congregate in Davos and plot how to rig the world and get ever richer and more powerful.
- "Blessed are the wannabe celebrities and all other egomaniacs, for they aspire to live their lives like a never ending party.
- "Blessed are the proud and arrogant, for they can ravish our planet, exploit its resources, pollute the earth, water and air, and insist there are no consequences.
- "Blessed are the bigoted and narrowminded, for they spread prejudice and xenophobia against anything they do not know or do not understand and what they lack in self doubt they make up in self righteousness.
- "Blessed are the ruthless and selfish, for they keep social expenses, the infrastructure investments and especially their own taxes very low.
- "Blessed are those of the crooked hearts, for they love to deny that love is love and denigrate anyone with different orientation or lifestyle.
- "Blessed are those who wage wars or launch killing drones, for they always claim that justice is on their side and all is done to protect the innocent lives.
- "Blessed are those who approve and condone torture, for they can experience that sweet power over other people which is so cherished by daemons of night.
- "Blessed are you when people celebrate you and envy you and fear you for all your success, wealth, prosperity and abuse of power. Rejoice and be glad, for in the same way they looked up to, envied and feared the Pharaoh of Egypt, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Herod the Great, Augustus of Rome and all the dictators and tyrants of history up until now!
It is not surprising that Erasmus of Rotterdam (as diligent editor of ancient texts as he was) gave us not only the first early modern edition of the Greek New Testament but also this new fragment from the Manhattan Gospel of Henry Rutgers.
|The Praise of Folly with Hans Holbein's marginal illustrations