I was astounded. What was this that I had found? Was it genuine? My mind was whirling. I was so full of questions – most of which were without answers. What had Benjamin thought when he first read this scroll and had understood the significance of what he was reading? He must have understood the potential of the scrolls’ importance. What would this mean to the world when they were released; how would the church react?
What did they mean to me?
There was a compulsion in me to read the story again. Usually I would have dismissed such a tale as legend or myth, even as nonsense, but deep in my heart I knew that this was not so. There was a ring of truth to this story. I could not define exactly what it was but it affected me in some strange way. I knew I could not lay it aside. I picked up the papers and read again.
What was it about this girl that was so appealing? Why was I gripped with such emotion as I read her story? She did not dwell on the massacre in Bethlehem as Herod tried to rid himself of the threat to his throne, but I was moved by her words. It was as if I felt, deep inside me, some of the agony of those women – and Mary’s agony too as she clutched her little son to her, knowing that so many women could never hold their own sons in their arms again.
But the strongest emotion in me, I realised as I turned the story around in my mind, was a yearning for the peace that Mary, and later Esther, felt. Was such peace still available today? I was happy completing my science degree prior to studying medicine. It had been my dream, since I was small, to be a doctor. I was so busy I had little time to spare, with my studies, my friends, working in my garden and all the other things life throws at us, so the one thing I did not have was peace. There was just too much going on.
I could not get the idea out of my mind and surprised myself by looking forward to reading more. But, true to my lifestyle, it was several days before I had an opportunity. The next page was another note from Benjamin in his own writing…
I have had every document enclosed in the jar authenticated. (It helped that I knew the right people and that my time is short.)
The documents date back to around 30-40AD. By some miracle they have been preserved all those years. I find myself asking whether their preservation was for such a time as this, when we seem to be so far from God.
Yes, they are genuine stories from the first century of the Christian era. As I read them I found I absorbed them on more than one level; mentally, of course as I read the words, emotionally as I felt their message; and spiritually as they disturbed and awoke something deep inside me.
I pray that you will have your own deep experience of them as you read them.