What Does the Pope See In His Dreams?

Modern scholarship complicated every traditional understanding of sacred books. On authorship, scholars rendered titular authors doubtful and left us with anonymous sacred writers. On dating, scholars offered plausible writing periods that were decades or even centuries later than what was thought to be the composition dates of sacred texts. On history, scholars undermined the historicity of many events. On the reliability of transmission, scholars offered only discrepant copies of ancient books, suggesting copy errors.

A story is circulating that in a recent dream the Pope saw original scripture writers in the act, and this might enlighten us.

In the dream, a girl of nineteen, with long matted black hair dangling into her blue eyes, stood over a wooden table. Long fingers were discolored to the first knuckle by gray ink. Fighting with, and cursing at, papyrus pages, she bore down upon them with the weight of her arm. The Pope looked over the poet's shoulder as she scraped Egyptian reed with a bent dry bone, offering a passage the Pope recognized from Isaiah. Was this girl Isaiah?

Shower you heaven from above!
Let the skies rain righteousness!
Let the earth open!
Let recovery spring like shoots!

Next, a left-handed girl of seventeen, with soft features and a pleasant face, in a sleeveless covering, and with flowered vines woven into her braids, wrote on a papyrus page held down by burnt-red bricks. She sang the words as she wrote them:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.
By the breath of his mouth all of their hosts.
For he spoke and it was done,
He commanded and it stood fast.
He gathers together the sea as a heap,
In storehouses he lays up the deeps.
For he spoke and it was done,
He commanded and it stood fast.
Let all the earth be fearing the Lord,
Let those of the world stand before him in awe.
For he spoke and it was done,
He commanded and it stood fast.

This passage was later collected into the book of Psalms, though she never knew it. She sang that melody for twenty years in the village of Gibeah, not far from Jerusalem. Her children learned it too.

Next, a boy of perhaps sixteen, shirtless and sitting beneath a date tree, wrote upon a page of taut ivory vellum:

Happy are the poor!
For you have the kingdom of heaven!
Happy are the gentle!
For the earth is your prize!
Happy are the pure of heart!
For you are seeing God!

And so it was in every instance of sumptuous language and humane thought. Mere children composed the words. Boys and girls. Artful. Able. Unknown. Never-known fabulists.

But the Pope also saw a disturbing feature of sacred writing, as he watched the angel Ariel reveal the words of God to yet other sacred writers.

Though the writers lived at different times and locations, Ariel spoke to each of them as if they were all within her drowsy grasp, just footsteps apart. She pressed her mouth close to the writers' ears, almost to the point of kissing them.

Into the ear of "Zarathustra" Ariel whispered:

Genus alone like cherubim
Filamentous cloud, cirrus
Ripple rows--halos
'round sun and moon and star
Loftier than Belukha or Annapurna or Everest

Into the ear of "Jeremiah" Ariel whispered:

Palingenesis in streams
Diverging converging channels
Ripple rows--copious flow
'round a round earth
Pale Amur and Yangtze and Nile

Into the ear of "Ezekiel" Ariel whispered:

Rare earthen cache
Linden lineal heart
Laden molten golden ash
Ripple rows--furrows
'round glacial warmth
Out-expanse continental mass

Looking over the shoulders of these writers, the Pope could plainly see that the words dictated by Ariel were not the words the sacred writers wrote down.

Then the Pope awoke from the dream.