Pranks of the Apostles

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear as those whacky Apostles show us a fresh side to their personalities.

Many folks who read my previous post about “The Acts of the Apostles” (Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons) think that the Apostles were all serious and, well, apostolic as they went around raising people from the dead, healing cripples, filibustering, getting stoned, escaping from prison and spreading the Word. As we know, the Acts is a sequel to the Gospel attributed to Luke, written sometime around 80-90 C.E. (possibly a bit later) — well after the fall of Jerusalem.

But newly discovered parchments from Nag Sunnislope offer a completely different view of these lovable “merry pranksters”! The scrolls, discovered near the Dead Salt River in the desert of the Phoenicians, show a heartwarming other side to the disciples of the first century.

Here’s a list of some of the shenanigans, mischief and tomfoolery that was going on in Galilee.

  • Substituting red-colored vinegar for actual wine at seders and marriage fests. Imagine the fun of sitting a new convert down for a Passover dinner and as he lifts up his cup for the first of the four seder toasts you watch him do an involuntary spit take: “Ewwww… This mother hath definitely turned! Get thee down to Joseph the Trader for something drinkable.”


  • Short sheeting each others’ tunics. This never gets old.


  • Cursing fig trees…just for the heck of it. [see Mark 11, Matt 21]

  • Pretending to speak in tongues to strangers…but actually just spewing gibberish. This is strictly a tag team prank since you need a confederate you can talk to who pretends to understand as you spew out “Alacka kalamino aminoacido etgay the eckhay ehindbay emay.” [see Acts 2:4]


  • Making up goofy nicknames and catchphrases for the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Poltergeist,” “Casperius,” “WhoYaGonnaCall.” It is written that the Blessed Mary was particularly fond of walking into a wedding feast and cheerfully calling out, “Where’s that darn Casperius when a virgin needs him?”

Of course, not all the mischief was totally lighthearted:

  • Giving hot foots to gentiles, apostates and synagogue-avoiders: “We’re making it hot for you, sinner!”


  • Pranking local herdsmen by pretending to send demons into their pigs and then spooking the critters into jumping off a cliff. Be prepared for a quick getaway, though, when the pig herdsman or shepherd gets wise to your monkeyshines. [See Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39]


  • Setting up the “Holy Dunk Tank” and telling a prospective convert that this is an “initiation” to see if they’re really prepared for a proper baptism.*


  • The classic “lower him through the tile roof” skit. This takes some teamwork, along with a paralyzed person, but it’s worth all the production when you hear the appreciative giggles from your audience. [see Luke 5:17]

What you do is tell a suffering soul that the healer is inside the house but, unfortunately, the crowd is too thick to take him through the front door. “So we’ll just take you up to the roof and lower you through the tiles, Ok?” But guess what? Turns out the roofs in this province are all thatched/mud construction. Of course the author of Luke, probably from Antioch, may not have known diddly about the architecture of Capernaum, but it’s fun to think that he didn’t mind some high jinks when comic relief from Roman oppressors and laugh-deprived Temple high-priest killjoys was needed.


  • Circumcision. No! just kidding. This is not one of the pranks.


+ FYI: the scroll is actually a faux document that I ginned up using Word’s “greek letter” function. The English text is “Chain Letter to the Corinthians” memorializing Paul’s invention of the chain letter concept.
+ Adapted from photo: Four seder wine cups
+Tunics (adapted from Roman Life/Women’s Hairstyles)
+ Fig tree (adapted from The Cursing of the Fig Tree – Father Melvin)
+ Hot foot photo illustration (adapted from photo at The Health Site)
+ Happy pigs (adapted from cartoon by David Hayward)
+ Dunk tank  (from “Dodgers and Dips – the Dark History of the Dunk Tank”)
*Meanwhile, those irrepressible medieval apostles liked to get into the fun too! (Elizabethan cucking stool)

+ Rooftop gang illustration (from “Assembly – The Paralysed Man” by Paul Hitchcock; illustration by Brian Chalmers).