I found Joshua* at the synagogue, listening to the Pharisees lecture on the Law. I stepped through the group of boys sitting on the floor and whispered to him.
"Bartholomew says that he knows you are the Messiah."
"The idiot? did you ask him how long he's known?"
"He says the village dogs told him"
"I never thought to ask the dogs."
"He says that we should live simply, like dogs, carry nothing, no affectations - whatever that means."
"Bartholomew said that? Sounds like an Essene. He's much smarter than he looks."
"He's trying to learn to lick his own balls."
"I'm sure there's something in the Law that forbids that. I'll ask the rabbi."
"I'm not sure you want to bring that up to the Pharisee."
"Did you tell your father about the angel?"
"Good. I've spoken to Joseph, he's going to let me learn to be a stonecutter with you. I don't want your father to change his mind about teaching me. I think the angel would frighten him." Joshua looked at me for the first time, turning from the Pharisee, who droned on in Hebrew. "Have you been crying?"
"Me? No, Bart's stench made my eyes water."
Joshua put his hand on my forehead and all the sadness and trepidation seemed to drain out of me in an instant. he smiled. "Better?"
"I'm jealous of you and Maggie."
"That can't be good for your neck."
"Trying to lick your own balls. It's got to be hard on your neck."
"Did you hear me? I'm jealous of you and Maggie."
"I'm still learning, Biff. There are things I don't understand yet. The Lord said, 'I'm a jealous god.' So Jealousy should be a good thing."
"But it makes me feel so bad."
"You see the puzzle then? Jealousy makes you feel bad, but God is jealous, so it must be good, yet when a dog licks its balls it seems to enjoy it, but it must be bad under the Law."
Suddenly Joshua was yanked to his feet by the ear. The Pharisee glared at him. "Is the Law of Moses too boring for you, Joshua bar Joseph?"
"I have a question, Rabbi," Joshua said.
"Oh, jeez." I hid my head in my arms.
*Joshua = Christ
The preceding was from the book "Lamb" by Christopher Moore.