Yosef: Greetings! What is a young woman like yourself doing on a road such as this outside the city almost at the tenth hour?
Salome: I am traveling to my master’s house.
Yosef: You must know that it is unsafe, ever since the rebellion and the fall of the temple, Rome cannot be counted on to protect these parts. You are carrying a heavy load, let my donkey bear it for as long as our paths cross.
Salome: I appreciate the offer, but this is a load I must carry by myself.
Yosef: Do not be afraid, child, she is a steady beast and will not mind. Allow me to lift this for you – What could you be doing with this many wineskins, child? They are all full to the brim, and look very new. The wine smells new as well.
Salome: Excuse me, sir, it is merely wine for my master’s feast. I must carry it by myself, and be on my way.
Yosef: Your master’s feast? But today is not a holy day, and if anyone within a five mile radius of here were throwing such a party with this much wine, surely I must have heard of it. […] I have heard reports of a small, fanatical band of blasphemers preaching a new religion, whose practice is to consume wine as if it was the blood of their God and eat bread as if it was his flesh. They call him God, yet he was a man, who lived sometime before the temple fell. You would not happen to have heard of them?
Yosef: The Roman praetors in this region are looking to weed them out, for they will not bend the knee, the people who follow this way.
Salome: Sir, I am but a child, and uneducated, I do not know how to answer your questions.
Yosef: Yet you have more wine on you than you could afford with a years’ wages. It is clear to me that you are a member of this strange cult, for I see that your clothes are worn thin and your hair is unwashed. This cult seems to be especially popular amongst the poor, for I hear that all who join it are compelled to share all they have with each other. Necessarily such a scheme attracts the people with the least to give but the most to gain.
Salome: Sir, I see that you are a man of letters, from the scrolls on your donkey. I cannot tell you whether I am in a cult, or a new religion. I am but a child, and uneducated, I can only live as faithfully as I can to my God and Savior, Yeshua, who died for me. This wine is for the feast that he instructed.
Yosef: Do not be afraid, the Romans are suspicious of all people at this time. I will not turn you over, although I find your beliefs strange. How can this man, Yeshua, be a God?
Salome: I am but a child, I cannot answer fully. But I received this as my first instruction: He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. But on the third day, as is attested to in the scriptures, he rose again, and appeared to Simon Peter of Jerusalem, and then the Twelve, and then to many more brothers, and even more sisters. How can he not be God, who has the power to raise himself from the grave, never to die again?
Yosef: Child, surely such an outrageous thing must only be the stuff of the imagination. Your teachers must be hallucinating, or dreaming, or fooling you. The Romans are brutal, efficient and excellent executioners. I have never seen anyone come back from a crucifixion alive, and many of my own friends and brothers were victim to this cruel practice.
Salome: The twelve are fishermen, farmers and day-laborers. They are practical men. My uncle was also a fisherman. He stands all day on the tiny boat riding the swells and currents of the sea, ever unmoored, looking for the silver flashing glint in the water. If I know anything, it is that fishermen are hard-headed, suspicious, attentive people. They are not dreamers, and they do not take anything for granted. It would be easier to persuade a Roman teacher than a Jewish fisherman about this Yeshua!
Yosef: I have not met these twelve, what do I know of their testimony?
Salome: Yeshua ate, and drank, and talked, and walked with many others. Some of them were my friends, my family. Surely they cannot all be dreaming.
Yosef: Then they must be fooling you. This part of the world is quickly becoming enveloped in a shadow. Rome is quickly becoming more brutal, less tolerant. All of our futures are uncertain, it is natural to invent wishful thinking.
Salome: Sir, I am but a child, and uneducated, but I pray you do not say such things. Who would give their life for a lie they made up themselves? If Yeshua did not rise, then why would my own adopted mother refuse to recant at the cost of her blood? She always told stories about eating with Yeshua in the days before the temple fell, she said it was like sitting in the radiance of God.
Yosef: I am sorry to hear about your loss, child. I have also lost friends to the Romans.
Salome: Many who have claimed to see Jesus risen from the dead have also fallen. Sir, none of them recanted. I cannot help but believe their testimony written in their blood.
Yosef: I see, child. What will become of your faith if the body of this Yeshua is discovered? The Romans are putting out a high price for it. More than three hundred pieces of silver.
Salome: It will not be discovered, for Yeshua my Lord and his body have ascended into heaven, like Elijah in the days of old.
Yosef: The Romans are saying that the twelve stole the body.
Salome: It was Roman guards at the tomb, was it not? Surely fishermen could not have overcome centurions, and if Rome cares so much about finding the body, and it has eyes and ears in so many places that it could crush the rebellion, how could it be that Rome still has not found it?
Yosef: You are a child, but you are perceptive.
Salome: I am only being obedient to my Lord, he is as true to me as you are, standing before me.
Yosef: How can this be? Have you seen him?
Salome: Not while he has walked this earth, for I am but a child, but in a vision as I was walking along a road. He instructed me to leave my town and find a gentile woman, Apphia, and ask about the name of Yeshua. She adopted me into her home, and taught me about the way.
Yosef: I have heard about these visions. One of the teachers of my teachers, Saul of Tarsus, was zealous for the LORD. He was persecuting the people of the way in Damascus when it is said that he received a vision himself. Instead of persecuting them, he joined them. It is still a mystery till this day why he chose to give up his status and prestige, everything he owned, and all his authority, to join this strange new way. He was one of the most learned men of his time, and sadly perished at Roman hands on account of this new way.
Salome: The man whom you call Saul of Tarsus, my adopted mother called Paul, and in her youth would often correspond with him via letters. He taught extensively in the region, preaching the gospel of Yeshua, opening the scriptures up to us. Our hearts burned as we listened.
Yosef: Saul of Tarsus taught of Yeshua from the scriptures, you say? Is there anyone who has heard this teaching?
Salome: I am on my way to my master’s house, where we study the scriptures, and partake in the bread and the wine of the body and blood of our Lord Yeshua.
Yosef: I will take you to your master’s house, for the wine is heavy, and the road unsafe, and you are but a child. But lead me on the way.
By Bradley Yam, Yale Saybrook ’21