Translated from the Syteremic1 by Michael J. Svigel
Editorial comments: With the recent publication of the Gospel of Judas that has garnered lots of media attention, we thought it would be helpful for the Christian community to know about The Secret Gospel of Keith. Although this gospel was discovered a long time ago, only recently was it translated. Either the language was too difficult to learn or, upon learning it, scholars simply did not want to waste their time on this document. One scholar was found who did. Thanks are due to Michael J. Svigel for delving into the mysteries of Keith, and for making us all the richer for it.
Daniel B. Wallace
April 20, 2006
1 The beginning of the account of the secrets of Keith, a secret so secret even Keith did not […]2 and when he heard it, he forgot.
2 Keith followed the followers of [ ….] who had followed [ … ] all the days, except for all the times that he did not follow them.
3 And the Lord3 said to Keith, “Keith.” And Keith said, “Yes, lord.” And the Lord ignored him.
4 [ … ] Lord said to them, “Go to those who are already heavily burdened and set your burdens on them, for those who have little are easy to cure, and those who already have too much will not notice if you add more!”
5 Then the Lord said, “How many of you, if your father asked you for a [ … ] I mean if your son asked for a father [ … ] er [ … ] that is to say, a daughter asked for a rock, would you give a father [ … ]”
6 [ … ] Keith asked, “Lord, tell us, at what time will these things be and when will these things come to pass?” And the Lord answered and said, “Why do you ask me these things, seeing that [ … ] no time for you [ … ] busy watching [ … ] game.”
7 Then Keith said to Peter, “Peter, I followed your star and have found you.” And Peter said, “This star is mine. Go find your own star.”
8 Then Keith saw a spirit like a dove4 descend [ … ] so Peter caught the dove. [ … ] very hungry [ … ] so he ate it.
9 Keith said, “Lord, is the kingdom of heaven like a tree?” And the Lord said, “No, Keith, not like a tree.” Then Keith said, “Lord, is the kingdom of heaven [ … ] a boat?” And the Lord answered and said, “No, Keith, not like a boat.” Keith said, “Lord, is the kingdom of heaven like an ocean? [… ] Lord said, “No. Now stop.”
10 And [ … ]Peter said to Keith, “Let us agree to disagree.” So they were in agreement for all the days except for when they argued about the Lord.
11 [ … ] Lord said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Keith said, “Lord, could you repeat that?”
12 The Lord said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first?” [ … ] Keith said, “But Lord, what about the one in the middle?”
13 [ … ] [ … ] [ … ] [ … ] [ … ] [ … ] [ … ]5
14 The Lord said, “Keith, you are a rock.” And Keith said, “Lord, will you build your church upon me, like Peter?” [ …] and said, “No, Keith. You are just a rock.”
15 Keith said, “Lord, would you please tell us when the world will end?” And the Lord said, “How would I know that?”
16 And Thomas said, “Lord, I do not believe you are real.” And the Lord said, “Touch me and see.” And Thomas said, “No, even if I touch you, I [ … ] not believe.” But Keith reached out to touch the Lord, but the Lord slapped [ … ] and said “Keep your hands off me!”
17 And the Lord, when he walked with John along the beach, left no footprints in the sand. And Keith, when he saw it, said, “Lord, show me how to do that.”
18 Now Gail, the sister of Keith, liked the Lord [ … ] than other disciples. And she told Keith, and Keith [ … ] and told Peter. But Peter [ … ] answered, “The Lord does not [ … ] in that way.” So Keith told his sister [ … ] and Gail did not like the Lord anymore.6
19 Then Peter [ … ] to Keith secretly and said, “Keith, climb to the top of the temple and jump, for it is written [ … ] charge over [ … ] not stumble [ … ] be saved.” And Keith listened to Peter and did so.
1 Syteremic is a vulgar slang common vernacular of the west-southwest branch of the lower central lowland region of the north side of the cool spring tributary of the east bank of the Welqum River, a dialect of Symeretic, which originated on the south side of the same tributary. Syteremic was spoken for about seven months by the Syterem people, a family of five that was separated from the Symeret people when the cool spring tributary flooded one hot spring day. Since the family of five consisted of four wives and one man who died of drowning in the tributary as he was attempting to flee from his family, and since the Syteremic religion did not permit widows to remarry anyone other than their original husbands or each other, and since the Syterem widows were disbursed shortly after their husband’s death, the Syteremic language was added to the long list of dead vulgar slang common vernacular languages of the west-southwest branch of the lower central lowland region of the east bank of the Welqum River.
2 Brackets with ellipses represent gaps in the original manuscript. Unlike most other ancient manuscripts that had holes due to normal deterioration of the papyrus, holes in ancient Syteremic manuscripts were often made by a frustrated writer.
3 The “Lord” in the Secret Gospel of Keith is never identified as Jesus, and this has proven to be a major center of debate, especially among German scholars. For the affirmative identification of “the Lord” with Jesus, see Reinhardt Vardt, “Doch, der Herr des Keith ist der Herr” Gelos Hagios 3.1 (2004): 4–5. For arguments that distinguish “the Lord” from Jesus, see, Friewie Nichtig, “Herrlich, aber kein Herr: Jesus und der Herr des Keith (Eine Antwort auf Vardt),” Gelos Hagios 3.2 (2004): 29–31. For a mediating position, see Karl-Heinz Unsicher, “Es ist mir egal: Nocheinmal der ‘Herr des Keith’,” Gelos Hagios 3.3 (2004): 97–98.
4 The Syteremic word “dove” may also be translated “cauliflower.”
5 This line of the manuscript had been erased and rewritten so many times that it proved impossible to reconstruct the text with any degree of reliability. However, a conjectural reconstruction of the text has been offered by Helmut-Barth Krapsaan as follows: “Thi[s] space [has] been [in]tentionally left [b]lank” (“The Thirteenth Line of the Secret Gospel of Keith,” in Unlucky Thirteen from Judas to Jamestown [Grand Rapids, Minn.: J. Garland Press, 2005], 13).
6 This, of course, has been the most controversial section of the Secret Gospel of Keith, as some have alleged that it suggests a previous romantic history between the Lord and Gail, sister of Keith (see Donald Braun, “Holy Broad, Holy Gail, or, ‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’: The Mysterious Romance in the Secret Gospel of Keith,” Journal of Syteremic Literature 3.2 : 3–12).