Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ murder

Today’s Jesus and Mo, called “fell”, is a bit puzzling to me, but then again it’s not yet 6 a.m. in Hawaii and I haven’t had coffee. Perhaps a reader or two could explain the strip. Why is “fell down” so important?

The author’s email with the link came with this note:

“Here’s that weird passage from Acts which prompted this week’s strip:

Acts 5 King James Version (KJV)

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and
brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the
Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not
in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou
hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great
fear came on all them that heard these things.

6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing
what was done, came in.

8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?
And she said, Yea, for so much.

9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt
the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband
are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and
the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her
by her husband.

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these
things.”

48 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted January 9, 2019 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I think the implication is that god (e.g. Peter) are doing a bit of a “Saudi government”.
    “Whats that you say, this person has gone missing…entirely innocent I assure you they weren’t here…err…they left before…err…they started a fight…they threw themselves on a bone-saw…”
    In other words–we cant believe a word of it. They were murdered and sloppily covered up

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted January 9, 2019 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Typical in battered child cases; a parent gets asked by medical personnel about suspicious bruises or other injuries on a child; that they “fell down” is the classic evasion.

    • Posted January 11, 2019 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Yes!

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I think the author of Jesus N’ Mo is showing how the authors and translators of the Bible (whew!) gloss over something by writing “fell”. That something, the author of JnM is suggesting, is the M-word.

    Bonus – I know now the origin of “gave up the ghost”. Wicked funny!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      I understand King James’s committeemen glossed over a certain somethin’-somethin’ through use of the infinitive “to know,” too. 🙂

      • ThyroidPlanet
        Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Um – oh that.

        For the record- that was not the sense of “know” I was using. Ha ha.

    • Lee
      Posted January 10, 2019 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      Remember in the Old Testament how Ruth came in where Boaz was sleeping and “uncovered his feet”?

      Yeah, *wink* *wink*…

  4. Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    My impression is that instead of writing “struck dead by God” they used a euphemism, i.e., “fell down”.

    Seems pretty clear to me that the implied message is if you displease God (specifically in this case the charge made was, “to lie to the Holy Ghost”), you might be struck dead.

    The author is saying God committed murder and “got away with it”.

  5. Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I still don’t get it. Were this couple obliged somehow to give up all the proceeds from the sale of their land to the apostles of whathisname?

    TAX-MAN!?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      As Mr. Harrison said, “there’s one for you, nineteen for me.”

      Should five percent appear too small
      Be thankful I don’t take it all.

      Maybe he should’ve used those same lyrics in “My Sweet Lord.” 🙂

    • Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      This is part of the stuff that Marx and others referred to as Christian communism, I think. I don’t know how historical it really is; Acts is regarded as fiction by mainstream scholarship but it may contain correct details all the same. (Think “historical” as the subgenre, perhaps.)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        Hell, Jesus of the Gospels was himself quite the income redistributionist.

      • Posted January 9, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Most fiction literature has some base in reality. An independent sources, Lucian’s Peregrinus, says:

        “Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once, for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence.”

        He does not mention any murders, but the experience of all socialist societies is that, once people are forced to surrender “voluntarily” their property, lethal force is to be expected.

        • Posted January 9, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          “source”

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted January 9, 2019 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          Really? Socialist societies like Britain, France, Sweden, yadda yadda yadda…

          I can’t remember the last time anyone was killed in those countries for not paying their taxes.

          cr

          • Lee
            Posted January 10, 2019 at 12:03 am | Permalink

            “I can’t remember the last time anyone was killed in those countries for not paying their taxes.”

            Yeah, but non-tax-payers shrivel up and die spiritually, dontcha know?

          • Posted January 10, 2019 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            I don’t like the recent fad to portray capitalist countries as socialist paradise. In true socialist countries, as mine was between 1944 and 1989, there have been numerous cases of such killings. I tries twice to submit more details, but WordPress did not like the link or the code.
            It was much worse in the Soviet Union.

        • Posted January 10, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          Except that we don’t have much of a source for the *Christian* context. I think it is pretty well attested that the mystery religions worked that way, so it seems plausible enough that Christianity (effectively a Jewish/Hebraicized mystery religion) was like that too, but I don’t know what sources we have.

    • Posted January 9, 2019 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      According to tradition, the first jewish-christian sect in Jerusalem was communal in nature.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    g*d in this case is acting as the IRS or any church for that matter. Saw that he was not getting his cut and murdered the guy and his wife. So the moral is – cough up your 10% or else.

    • Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Where in this story does it mention 10%? Seems like they were required to hand over 100%.

      “And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        You want to argue the details of a bible story? Good luck to ya.

        I am trying to bring it forward, you know, to the 21 century where we are now. Do you give the church 100%? No. Do you give Trump the money for his wall? No. Sorry that last bit got in there.

      • Florent
        Posted January 9, 2019 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Actually, it’s clearer when the wife gets interrogated ; they claimed to have sold the parcel for X, but declared they did for X -Y, hiding the fact they kept part of it.

        That’s why Peter says they hide something from God, and that they were at liberty to to whatever they pleased with the money, as it belonged to them. No need to lie, just say X, and give Z, keeping Y if you wish.

        It implies they merely wanted to shine to the community, but by retaining part of it secretly.

        It’s still stupid, but it’s actually solid…

        • Posted January 9, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          The preceding verses suggest otherwise.

          Acts 4:
          “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
          33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all
          34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
          35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”

          So selling your property and putting all the money at the apostles’ feet was made the norm of this community.
          The Scripture is silent what happened then the apostles ran out of other people’s money :-).

  7. A C Harper
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    “That’s a nice family you got there – be a shame if anything unfortunate happened to it.”

  8. Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I have friends among the Hutterites, a 16th-century sect which has hundreds of communal farms on the western plains. They told me that their communal lifestyle is based on this part of Acts when early Christians supposedly shared all their wealth. I asked the Hutterites if they thought that God killed Ananais and his wife. To them, they ‘fell down’ and died out of shame and regret over their selfishness.
    I can’t say if that’s a common interpretation among fundamentalists, but I think that’s how this one group took it.

    • Posted January 9, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      I think if this were a true account, they would be the only two humans ever to instantly die of shame and regret, (over anything, let alone selfishness).

      Upon extended reflection I would add, what an incredible coincidence that they had managed to find each other and marry.

      • Posted January 9, 2019 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        (Yes, but you’re not supposed to think so much.)
        🙂

        • rickflick
          Posted January 9, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          When I stopped thinking my headaches went away. 😎

    • Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Thats fascinating. Thanks for sharing that

  9. Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Jesus’ last “They fell down!” is his way of saying it wasn’t murder, it was an “accident” wink wink.

  10. Francisco
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    In that period of church they lived a communist period -sell and share everything- because they thought Jesus was coming back soon. Was Peter that had to clarify them -as f@f use to say,accommodationist theologians- that one day for god are 1000 year (that is, Jesus will delay a little…). And Paul finally stopped the “experimental communism”: “The one that doesn’t works, doesn’t eat too”.
    That because although many joined the sect sharing everything, Jesus could not find the way to come back and problems with money aroused…
    Fell down: like Adan and Eve fell down, or the fallen angel… To try to hide the killing in front of the community, no doubt. God did it!!

  11. Posted January 9, 2019 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    A bible reference site (Got Answers) explains the passage this way:

    “Some speculate that these two deaths were from natural causes. Perhaps Ananias died from shock or guilt, but Peter pronounced Sapphira’s death before she died, and the coincidental timing and place of their deaths indicate that this was indeed God’s judgment. The question is why. Why would God kill two people for lying?

    “God’s reasons for bringing about the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira involve His abhorrence of sin, the hypocrisy of the couple, and the lesson for the rest of the church, both then and now. It can be easy today to gloss over the holiness of God, to forget that He is righteous and pure and that He hates sin wholeheartedly. This particular sin of hypocrisy in the church was dealt with swiftly and decisively.”

    I guess this God is especially vengeful, hence Jesus wants Mo to believe that they died by misadventure, not by God’s action.

  12. Ray Little
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Godfellas

  13. Posted January 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    One sure thing: if it’s in Acts, it’s either made up, sloppily cribbed from some secular source, or an obfuscation of a real event or real person.

    Ananius & Sapphira’s story is very similar to Achan’s in the book of Joshua, and Glaucus’ tale in Herodotus. Josephus’ Antiquities also mentions an Ananius circa AD 61-64, a very rich & greedy Pharisee known for bribing officials.

  14. DW
    Posted January 9, 2019 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I find it fascinating that they decided to put this passage in. I try to imagine what they were thinking. Did they think they were fooling anyone or was it because they knew only the priests would be literate, so the masses would never see the obvious?

    • mikeyc
      Posted January 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      I think the simplest explanation is the best – they did not have a problem with a deity who threatens your life if you don’t pay up.

  15. Posted January 9, 2019 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Money poisons everything and there is not a lot of difference between this god and the mafia.
    Except one is real. Where “felling” is aided with concrete gumboots or perhaps some “lead”.

  16. Posted January 9, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I think in the cartoon Jesus is saying there was no murder because they just “fell down” and died.

  17. Posted January 9, 2019 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I think in the cartoon Jesus is saying there was no murder because they just “fell down” and died.

  18. Posted January 9, 2019 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Surely this is referring to the murder of reporter Adnan Khashoggi and the cover-up and support by Donald Trump.

  19. chrism
    Posted January 10, 2019 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Brought up Anglican* if that counts for anything, and I have never seen or heard any hint anywhere that this passage refers to Ananias and Sapphira being murdered. It was always presented as this is what happens when you cheat God: you die of shame (which God could have prevented so maybe He’s complicit, but, really, you brought it on yourself).

    *Happily, for the last forty-odd years I haven’t had to worry about the details.

  20. Diane G
    Posted January 11, 2019 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    sub

  21. Posted January 11, 2019 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    I think it’s a variation on the old joke:

    “How many policemen does it take to crack an egg?”

    “None – it fell down the stairs”.


%d bloggers like this: