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Friday, August 19, 2011

#FridayFlash: Second Jude

All I can say about this is, it proves that I have a strange sense of humor. We might preserve a few things over the next 2000 years, but it’s likely that most things will get lost… or misinterpreted.

Submitted August 18, 3911

Time is unkind.
— An adage among data archaeologists

About two thousand years ago, the Data Explosion dwarfed the so-called “population explosion” in scope. Indeed, it is only the sheer quantity of data produced, and the numerous copies made, that has allowed us to recover anything at all about that time in history. Until recently, the process was labor-intensive, requiring trained data archaeologists to reconstruct documents by matching fragments of data scattered across paper, magnetic, and optical storage devices. The development of Quantum Media Analysis is changing the field, as QMA is able to recover data from media once thought unreadable while automating matches across any number of devices. This has allowed the Department to turn to more obscure works, which may provide glimpses into many alternate modes of thought during that time.

Some of the oldest documents extant are religious works, as their adherents continuously copied and updated them as needed. However, many works not included in the primary scriptures, such as the Bible, were lost or long misplaced. One of the latter is the epistle commonly known as “Second Jude.” References to the text begin to appear in the decades following the discovery of the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” so it is often assumed that the text was part of that discovery.

Only fragments of the text survived, usually in a “modernized” paraphrased format popular during that time. In particular, the greeting is missing. Some scholars suggest that the known text is a hymn, or less likely a popular song, based on the original text.

Authorship is commonly ascribed to St. John the Apostle, as the style is reminiscent of the soaring prose of the Gospel of John and The Revelation, although the repeated exhortations are unique to this epistle. The text recovered is brief but rich in metaphor, comparing Wisdom to a desired woman and a song to the preaching of the Word. The following text was prepared by Quantum Media Analysis, and mimics the style of canonical scripture. While the analysis is imperfect — after recovering the fragment below, the text deteriorated into nonsense syllables — QMA achieved the most complete recovery to date in about an hour. Note that the media used was unreadable by other methods, yet further improvements in QMA may allow further recovery of the text.

Footnotes were inserted by the author of this report.


O Jude, I exhort thee, turn away from all evil things, that you may improve the sorrowful song. [2] Forget her [3] not, but take her into your heart; only then will your song be pleasing.

O Jude, again I exhort thee: fear not! This was the purpose for which you were created: to search diligently, that you may find her. Keep her close to you, that she may wear your very skin as her own, [4] for this is how your song shall be improved. If you suffer the pain of persecution, O Jude, cease; it is not for you to carry the world upon your shoulders. For it is written, “the foolish man shall let his fire go out.”

O Jude, I exhort thee: fail not in your purpose. Your search has borne fruit; therefore, take her as your beloved wife into your heart, that you may begin to improve your song. Cast out that which is unwholesome, that you may be filled with the Spirit. [5] O Jude, do not tarry in this matter. For know you not that otherwise you stand alone? Lift your hands, raise them to Heaven. [6]


1No surviving copies include the customary greetings of an epistle.
2“Song” is used to describe the preaching of the Word through this text.
3Wisdom is depicted as a woman through this text.
4The transliteration is unclear. This idiom is not found elsewhere in scriptural writings.
5QMA chose this wording. The literal “let it out, and let it in” is an idiom not found elsewhere, but is clear in context.
6QMA chose this wording based on context. The media was nearly unreadable at this point; only the words “move” and “shoulder” are legible.
7The text repeats itself, then deteriorates into nonsense, after this point. This may have been caused by an interaction between QMA and badly deteriorated media.


  1. This was brilliant. I ranted this week on twitter about scifi needing to be scifi for the story and now just contain scifi "furniture"

    Wonderful and I loved how you had the interpertation of the song. :)

  2. Heh. Well done, Far. One can only wonder how future generations will view things from this time. Your take on this is totally believable.

  3. It's pretty good! Never read the bible so I don't know if the story is real (will have to google it later) but it is pretty damn good.

  4. Naaahhh naaahhh naaahhh nah nah nah naaaaaahhh. Nicely done. Saw it coming and enjoyed the trip anyway. But I'm pretty sure this was the work of Paul, not John. Of course, our current archaeologists probably have gotten much more wrong and we just don't know it.

  5. Well, wasn't it John who said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus? Good story! Had me chuckling.

  6. Brilliant! I would love to be a data archaeologist.

    I'm going to go listen to hey Jude Youtube now. The one sung by the little kid is my favourite. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgrrQwLdME8

  7. Oh. Yes. Ingenious and perfectly written. I've often worshiped at the church where Eleanor Rigby picked up the rice where a wedding had been. I wonder if they sang that song there, too....

    (you should really charge admission for this one!)

  8. Love your quirky sense of humour. Great retelling of the scriptures of the modern world. Fantastic.
    Sing together: Naaahhh naaahhh naaahhh nah nah nah naaaaaahhh
    Adam B @revhappiness

  9. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't figure this one out until your footnote about "let it out and let it in". I was wondering where you were going with this so it got a big laugh out of me after it hit me.

    I'm also guessing no one has read this story and not started singing the song. Well done, FAR!

  10. Hi all! I have to admit, Poul Anderson (I think it was) did something similar with Like a Rolling Stone back in the late 70s or early 80s.

    Michael, glad to know I gave you some scifi the way you like it cooked. While writing, I was wondering if you were going to comment on the "scientific paper" writing style.

    Boran, it also makes me wonder what we have from 2000 years ago that we interpret totally wrong. ;-)

    Sonia, there's an Epistle of Jude (very short letter right before Revelations), but "Second Jude" is really a Beatles' song. :-D

    Tim, I see you properly interpreted the nonsense text at the end. ;-) I thought St. John of Lennon wrote it for his son, but I'm not a Beatles' scholar.

    Eric, thanks. I was hoping it amused someone other than me! Whichever one it was, I think he said they were bigger than God.

    Craig, OMG that's hilarious! Y'all gotta go see this if you haven't already… that kid can't be older than 4.

    Apple, that reminds me of when I was in college and Pope John Paul I died soon after being selected. A friend suggested the next one should call himself John Paul George Ringo I. I'll probably slip this into my anthology when I get it put together… close enough for charging admission.

    Thanks, Adam. And yes, I've had the song more or less stuck in my head all week.

    Chuck, I was hoping someone would do that, so thanks much!

  11. This was amazing. I haven't laughed that hard in awhile. Because of my job I have to read (and write) a lot of scientific texts and you nailed the execution. Amazing.

  12. This week, I've come across more humor in #fridayflash than death stories (thank goodness!).

    this was brilliant, just brilliant. I am still smiling (and singing, of course).

    I forgot about the Beatles bigger than God thing until Eric said it--ahahahahaha.

  13. "Hey Jude, don't make it bad
    Take a sad song and make it better
    Remember to let her into your heart
    Then you can start to make it better"

    Tee hee enjoyed this one! ^__^

  14. Morning!

    Anti, welcome to the free-range insane asylum! I've been writing technical documentation for 25+ years, so it wasn't much of a stretch. ;-) Glad you liked it!

    Pegjet, that's good to hear. I've always wondered why dark stories get most of the #FridayFlash effort. I prefer happy endings, although I extend that meaning to stories like Eric's, where the bad guy dies.

    Thanks much Helen!

  15. Really interesting way to put the point across.

  16. Thanks, Icy. Start with a bad assumption and things only get weirder from there…

  17. Funny & thought provoking. Loved the ending passage building more support for the program. It reminds me of Motel of the Mysteries.

  18. Fun. Absolutely! In the future they won't quite capture the essence of our day.

  19. Jim, I hadn't heard of that story, but reading the description I can see how one could call the other to mind!

    Aidan, that's very true. We have trouble understanding how the immediately-previous generation thinks — why would we think we could understand a hundred generations back?

  20. This sounds like the kind thing that absolutely could happen. I am somewhat concerned that in the way that entire tracts of 'word of mouth' information have been lost historically, if we stick everything into virtual formats, the unthinkable could happen there too: we lose it all. Bring back the humble printout, I say. Great story. Your layers of detail made it feel real. St.


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