Tuesday, July 9, 2019

City on a Hill: My Other Contribution to New Testament Criticism

Twenty-one years ago, I wrote a paper entitled “Identification of the Bethany Youth in the Secret Gospel of Mark with Other Figures Found in Mark and John.” It was published in the now defunct The Journal of Higher Criticism (Spring 1998) and is still available online at https://depts.drew.edu/jhc/fowler.html.

I have since rethought some of the points I made in that paper and have thought about rewriting it. Not having done so, I will say that my current thinking can best be understood by putting “Bethany Youth” into the context of Professor Scott G. Brown’s Mark’s Other Gospel: Rethinking Morton Smith’s Controversial Discovery, Toronto: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2005. What Brown has to say improves greatly on my own inchoate thoughts in my earlier paper, and it shows where I went wrong or at least where I emphasized notions that might not be correct or at least not accurate.

I have seen less of a need to rethink my other contribution to New Testament criticism, “City on a Hill: An Interpretation of Matt 5:14b/GThom.32,” which was also published by The Journal of Higher Criticism (Spring 2001). Unfortunately, this relatively more concise contribution is not as available. (The online catalogue of the Journal only gives the title and issue; it has not so kindly put it online as it did the longer and more esoteric “Bethany Youth.”)

This post is based on my scholarly work from nearly two decades ago, and it is going to get into the tall weeds in terms, for example, of picky linguistic analysis. That is unfortunate because the virtue of this paper, if I may say so myself, is that it makes a simple point about the meaning of Jesus's saying about a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). The reader might want to skip some of the linguistic analysis. This paper was written when I was studying New Testament criticism, and if you are a normal person, it is safe to say that I have forgotten more about New Testament text criticism and the Greek and Coptic languages than you will ever know, and you may well be better off than I am because of it. This raises the likelihood that some people who do know something about Greek or Coptic or the New Testament might question my critical assertions or my translations and transliterations. I regret that some questions or criticisms might well be beyond my current ability to respond. Suffice it to say that translation between languages is as much an art as a science. Often, two or three translations of a foreign language text will be equally respectable without being the same. (See this as an example.)

As to any theological  implications of this paper, I can only say "despair all who enter here" if piety is what you are looking for. I am all over the place in terms of how I regard Jesus, but I never focus on his divinity. This paper was originally published in a journal that was run by what Professor Bart Ehrman calls "mythicists" who believe that Jesus was not even a historical person. The observant reader will notice that I occasionally imply in this paper that Jesus was a real person, though I don't come out and say it that way. Even this implication, if it was noticed by the editor, went against the editorial grain, but he left it in.

I have made “City on a Hill” available on my blog because, for one thing, I think that what this paper says about the rhetorical use of Jesus’s saying about “a city on a hill” has a double meaning, which we fail to grasp at our peril. The traditional meaning of the phrase is that a city on a hill is a shining example, but perhaps what Jesus meant instead (or in addition?) was to warn us that a city on a hill is also a sitting duck. The careful reader of the gospels will notice that Jesus characteristically keeps moving, declining to settle in one place as, for example, he is expected to do at Capernaum (Mark 1:35-39 and Luke 4:42-44).

Matthew 5:14 is made up of two sentences, one about “the light of the world” – which I refer to as 5:14a – and another about “a city on a hill” (or “a city sitting on top of a mountain” in the translation I use here) – which I call 5:14b. In my new title, I change the format from “Matt 5:14b” to “Matthew 5:14b,” which I simply prefer for a title. I also use “Thomas” instead of “GThom” and remove the punctuation before the verse number “32.” For those unfamiliar with the Gospel of Thomas, it has a long and interesting history. Suffice it to say that it is a “sayings gospel” or collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. It is of disputed age, although few will dispute that our only full version of the book is the result of a couple of centuries of textual accretions.

A useful book about the Gospel of Thomas is Professor April D. Deconick’s Recovering the Gospel of Thomas: A History of the Gospel and its Growth (The Library of New Testament Studies, 2006), which attempts to make an educated guess about the history of the book’s text. It is a book with mixed reliability in terms of recapturing the original sayings of Jesus because, on the one hand, it was probably based on an early first century collection of sayings attributed to Jesus – some of which closely parallel those sayings found in the canonical gospels – and yet, because it was never adopted as canonical, there was no point at which it became fixed so that further changes and additions to the text could be discouraged. It is instructive that while we have the entire text of the Gospel of Thomas in a fourth century Coptic translation, we can compare fragments of the text that were written in Greek near the start of the third century. (Coptic is the Egyptian language, formerly written in hieroglyphics but most recently written in a modified Greek alphabet; the New Testament as well as other Christian texts were translated into Coptic, and a large trove of such books – including the Gospel of Thomas – was found near Nag Hamadi, Egypt, in 1945.) In making the comparison we can see that the later text shows signs of having been tampered with. (Unless, as I think is entirely possible and even likely, the Coptic version is a faithful translation of a Greek version that existed side by side with the third-century version. In other words, the tampering may have happened at an early time so that there would have been multiple versions of the Gospel of Thomas in use by different sects at the same time by the end of the second century.)

Now, without further ado:

City on a Hill: An Interpretation of Matthew 5:14b/Thomas 32 (orig. publ. JHC, Spring 2001, pp. 68-72.)

Where aphorisms attributed to Jesus are attested in more than one of the New Testament gospels they are often used differently by each evangelist, evidently having been taken from oral – or lost written – aphorisms and put together to reflect the interpretations characteristic of each evangelist’s community.[1] Consider, for example, Matt. 5:13-16:

13You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its zing, how will it be made salty? It then has no further use than to be thrown out and stomped on. 14You are the light of the world. A city sitting on top of a mountain can’t be concealed. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a bushel basket but on a lampstand, where it sheds light for everyone in the house. 16That’s how your light is to shine in the presence of others, so they can see your good deeds and acclaim your father in the heavens.

The obvious explanation for the arrangement of most of these aphorisms is word association, some being about salt while others are about light. Salt and light are not logically connected to one another, but the first saying about salt and the first one about light follow a similar formula: “You are the salt of the earth (Greek: ge)” (5:13a), and “You are the light of the world (kosmos)” (5:14a). These two sayings are without synoptic parallels [that is, there are no closely similar verses in Mark and Luke], although the Fourth Gospel [another name for the Gospel of John] does identify Jesus, if not his followers, with light (compare John 3:21). The last verse, Matthew 5:16, is not an aphorism at all but an interpretive summary tying together the unrelated aphorisms into a semblance of coherency. Matthew’s arbitrariness in his arrangement of these aphorisms is underscored when we compare his use of them to their use by the other evangelists, who, where they know these aphorisms at all, arrange their parallel verses in different order and separate them at intervals:

Matthew 5:13a (no parallels)
5:13b (parallels at Mark 9:50 and Luke 14:34-35)
5:14a (no parallels)
5:14b (parallel at Thomas 32)
5:15 (parallels at Thomas 33:2-3, Mark 4:21, Luke 8:16, 11:33)[2]
5:16 (no parallels)

The image of Christians setting themselves up as examples to a non-believing world is uniquely Matthew’s and sounds like an exhortation to the persecuted but evangelistic church to which the author of Matthew must have belonged. It takes a defiant, defensive, yet assertive posture. Retaining the notion of duty, but with less and less implication of persecution, Americans from John Winthrop to John F. Kennedy have used Matthew’s “city on a hill” as a metaphor for a New World community setting an example for humanity.[3] I would suggest that the original version of this aphorism was more ambivalent than the Matthean and neo-Matthean interpretations. Compare the two versions of the aphorism that have come down to us:

Matthew 5:14b: Ou dunatai polis krubenai epano horous keimene.
A city sitting on top of a mountain can’t be concealed.

Thomas 32: Legei Iesous polis oikodomemene ep akron horous hupselou kai esterigmene oute pesein dunsatai oute krubenai.
Jesus said, “A city built on a high hill and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden.”

The meaning and even the word order of the above Greek version of Thomas 32 is virtually identical to the Coptic version of Thomas 32, allowing for the considerable differences between the two languages [Greek belongs to the Indo-European family of languages while Coptic, though written in a modified Greek alphabet, is in the Semitic family], and there are many similarities between Matthew 5:14b and Thomas 32.[4] For example, the Greek oros and the Coptic toou are both translatable as “mountain” or “hill.” While Matthew uses keimene (“set,” “sitting,” [or “lying” in the sense of covering, or standing on, a spot]), Greek Thomas uses oikodomemene (“built”), which “is supported by the Syriac version [of Matthew] and Tatian, Diatess[aron]. viii.41, which all have ‘built’ not ‘set’.”[5]

Aside from different word choices by evangelists and translators, the most significant difference between the two versions of the aphorism is the added information in Thomas about the city being fortified and incapable of falling. Because esterigmene, used by Greek Thomas to mean “fortified,” can mean “established” or “strengthened” (as can the Coptic tajreu, as well[6]) it is just possible that Thomas does not mean fortified in the military sense, but, rather, “fixed” and therefore unable to topple or slide down the hill.[7] However, this too literal interpretation would make no sense of the city’s not being concealable. The implied relationship between falling and hiding [could, however] support a military interpretation.

Although Funk concludes that “[s]ince the original context has been lost, we cannot determine what it meant on the lips of Jesus,” he also notes that the sight of a city built on top of the mounds of earth and rubble of previous cities is common in the Near East. Such “tells” can tower above otherwise relatively flat terrain.[8] An invading army would have its work cut out for it to capture such a fortress-city, and yet, such a city would also be difficult for the invader to miss. Its capture would even be a tempting challenge to the prideful conqueror. Thomas’s version of the saying, in contrast to Matthew’s, makes the aphorism a paradox: a fortress-city, protected by its position atop a great tell, is nearly impregnable to direct attack but is also a glaring target for the ambitious commander of an army with enough supplies to lay siege and make life miserable – or even impossible – for people inside the city.

My own reconstruction of the saying, based on the apparent meaning, is, “A city built on a hill and fortified is impregnable but cannot be hidden.” As formidable as the city might be, its inhabitants’ enemies always know where to find them. An army able to surround the city and prevent anyone from going in or out of it could use the mass and isolation of the city against it so that the fortress would become a prison or, worse, a death trap. The aphorism can be seen as a warning to those who set themselves up in a powerful but conspicuous and static position.

If the answer to the question of the meaning of this aphorism is made any clearer by this interpretation, the question of whether Jesus or someone else first uttered it is less clear. Thomas 32 is striking for its use of paradox, a common trait of many aphorisms attributed to Jesus, but it is also striking for its military acumen. One might expect to find something like it in Flavius Vegetius’s De re militari (Concerning Military Matters) or Sun Tzu bing fa (The Art of War) rather than among the sayings of the “Prince of Peace.” Could the origin of the aphorism have been military? There is the implication that whoever first said it had learned from experience that a direct assault almost never succeeded, but a long siege often did. In very ancient times, armies had greater difficulty in overwhelming a well-fortified city by direct attack; but long before the time of Jesus “the eastern peoples of whom we hear in the Old Testament were capable of both reducing cities by starvation and of attacking fortifications.”[9] Short of the discovery of a parallel aphorism in an ancient text on warfare, I doubt that even someone versed in military history could throw light on the origin of this saying.

Fortunately, an exclusively military and non-metaphorical interpretation of the aphorism about a city on a hill might be unnecessary. The true problem posed by the aphorism is that there is no escape from defeat for the fortress-city, which will either be overwhelmed by a well-equipped assault-trained army or besieged and forced to surrender by a well-supplied one. The only way to win is not to set oneself up in the manner of an impregnable fortress in the first place. This message would be consistent with the stance of voluntary poverty, pacifism, and itinerancy characteristic of the earliest missionary phase of the movement identified with Jesus. It is also consistent with other aphorisms attributed to Jesus that suggest it is better not to “acquire possessions here on earth, where moths and insects eat away and where robbers break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).

I suspect that Thomas 32 is closer to the original aphorism than Matthew 5:14b. Being a paradox, Thomas’s version is sharper and more striking than Matthew’s. Perhaps the aphorism had been shortened already by the time that Matthew heard or read it; or we might guess that, though he knew of the paradoxical version of the aphorism, the author of Matthew deleted words from it and fashioned new associations with other sayings about salt and light. These connections Mathew either invented or took from other sources or both, thereby allowing him to change the meaning of the saying about a city on a hill from a warning against settled materialism into an exhortation and compliment directed toward the loyal members of his own self-consciously Christian community.




[1] See Robert Funk and Jesus Seminar, The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus (New York: Macmillan, 1993), pp. 10-13 et passim. All quotations from gospel texts used here are from Funk unless otherwise attributed.
[2] Matthew 5:14b and 5:15 are in much the same order as Gospel of Thomas 32, 33:2-3. Is this a coincidence, or did Matthew consult a version of the Gospel of Thomas? In any case, Matthew’s arrangement and even his use of one of these verses remains unique among the synoptic gospels [Matthew, Mark and Luke].
[3] “Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us – and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill – constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.” “Address of President-elect John F. Kennedy Delivered to a Joint Convention of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, January 9, 1961.” https://www.jfklibrary.org/archives/other-resources/john-f-kennedy-speeches/massachusetts-general-court-19610109
[4] The word order of each version of Thomas 32 is similar. Greek: “Jesus said, ‘a city built on top a high hill and strengthened can’t possibly fall or be hidden’.” Coptic: “Jesus said, ‘a city built on a high hill, being strengthened, can’t possibly fall or be hidden’.” The Greek of the Matthew 5:14b, in contrast to Thomas 32, is closer to “(One) cannot possibly hide a city set on a hill.”
[5] Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt, Sayings of Our Lord, Egypt Exploration Fund (London: Henry Frowde, 1897), p. 15. The Coptic kot also means “built.” See Richard Smith, compiler, A Concise Coptic-English Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1983), p. 16. [Grenfell and Hunt discovered Greek fragments of what turned out to be the Gospel of Thomas in Egypt at the end of the nineteenth century, though exactly what those were fragments of did not emerge until more than four decades later when the Nag Hamadi find revealed a full text of the Gospel of Thomas. The Diatessaron was a second-century harmony of the four canonical gospels edited by Tatian and written in the Syriac language, which is closely related to Aramaic.]
[6] Smith, pp. 49-50.
[7] Grenfell and Hunt use the archaic word “stablished,” while Fitzmyer has “made fast.” See J.A. Fitzmyer, “The Greek Gospel of Thomas: Papyrus Oxyrhyncus 1” [In my original paper, I cited a now defunct website] Based on Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “The Oxyrhynchus Logoi of Jesus and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas,” Theological Studies, 20, 1959, pp. 505-560.
[8] Funk, p. 492.
[9] John Warry, Warfare in the Classical World (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), p. 17.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

John-Michael Battaglia, 1947-2016



An old friend named John-Michael Battaglia died three years ago this June and I just found out about it. Actually, we lost touch many years ago, so maybe I should say he was an acquaintance rather than a friend, but why quibble at this date?

I cannot be sure of when, exactly, I met him, but it might have been as early as 1981. We met because of a mutual interest in the idea of making a documentary about the controversial psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. We both thought that Reich would make a good subject. John-Michael had a better chance of doing it because of his background in film. After a degree in English from Colgate University, John-Michael spent four years in the Peace Corps, and then studied film, radio and television at Syracuse University. He came to California first for an internship with a media company in Los Angeles and later as a news editor for two TV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the 1980s, he began working for media and computer-related companies in various capacities from writing game manuals at Atari to later managing websites. He made a few industrial films and wrote lots of copy. He consulted in every aspect of media including public relations and at least once in advertising. 

In the early 1990s, he was a script reader in Hollywood, but by 1994 he was back in Buffalo, New York, where he briefly worked again for a TV station, but this time for their website. He consulted with many web-based companies, often telecommuting to California and Texas as well as other locations in New York. He continued to make videos, including a project for student social workers at SUNY Buffalo. 

Then in the early 2000s he was diagnosed with cancer. At first, he fought it successfully, but he knew that it would be likely to come back. In 2014, it did. He passed away in June 2016. 

One of the pleasant connections I had with John-Michael was that we were both extras on the set of “The Right Stuff,” the 1983 movie about NASA’s manned space program. When we met one day in early 1982, he told me he had been working as an extra in a movie. I asked him how I could get in on that and he told me. 

I went on to be a background player for three more movies, but I was never so prominent as John-Michael is in “The Right Stuff.” Early in the second half of the movie (on side B of the two-sided disc version), you can see John-Michael, thin, balding, and red-haired. He is standing beside actor John P. Ryan who plays the unnamed head of the Mercury Project. In the scene, they are trying to hold back the onslaught of the press corps, which is a recurring theme of the movie.

John-Michael’s documentary about Reich never materialized. His hopes of breaking into big budget films never came about either, but I gather that he enjoyed what he did and was good at it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Adam’s Shadow


This fanfiction is a mashup of the hard-boiled and fantasy genres. Jack Reacher meets “Dark Shadows.” They don’t belong together, yet here they are.



Chapter 1

When Reacher got the terse, cryptic call from Army Intelligence, he was minding his own business behind his desk at the 110th Military Police HQ in northern Virginia. He only knew where the call was from because he recognized the number on caller ID. They had called before. When Reacher answered, the anonymous male voice at the other end did not identify himself. He assumed that Reacher knew.
Forty-one minutes later, as instructed, Reacher stood in front of an address on Independence Avenue in downtown Washington, D.C. He was wearing civilian clothes and carrying a single folded section of the Post under his arm. (They had said it did not matter which section.)
He did not wait long. A man in a dark suit with a folded section of the Post under his arm walked toward Reacher. Then sat down on a nearby bus stop bench. There was no one else waiting for the bus. Reacher sat down beside him. Without a word, the man laid his newspaper on the bench between them. Reacher put his own paper on top of it. After a long half minute of silence, the man took Reacher's paper and left.
Reacher sat for a couple of seconds before idly fingering the remaining newspaper. Then he picked it up and unfolded it. There was a circled article about a new NASA exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which was only a block away. Reacher stood, put the paper under his arm and headed for the museum.
The exhibit was relatively crowded, this being its first day. A model of the Mars Lander was on display. It was surrounded by enlarged photos of the Martian surface taken by the real lander. Reacher stood at the edge of the crowd.
He did not know who he was meeting. Reacher being six-foot-six, though, he assumed the ball was in the other guy's court. Before long, a middle-aged man walked up and fell in at Reacher's right elbow. He had on a white polo shirt. A camera hung from around his neck and a "Martian Lander" exhibit catalog was tucked under his arm.
"You with the 110th?" whispered the man without looking at Reacher.
"I think you know I am."
"Ditch the newspaper."
Reacher looked around and tossed the paper into the bin immediately behind him.
"Now take hold of the left side of this catalog," said the man in a low voice. He offered the open booklet to Reacher. Reacher grabbed it. He looked down. It was open to a two-page centerfold. It was a copy of the large Martian landscape on display before them. A rusty brown, rock-strewn plain led the eye toward a distant horizon, which was obscured by far-off dust eddies. Storms, Reacher thought. Above this plain, the Martian sky was pink.
Underneath the page, on Reacher’s side of the booklet, was an eight-by-ten folder that just poked out from underneath the picture.
"What's this about?" asked Reacher.
"You're holding everything you need to know."
"Why me?"
The man flashed an annoyed look at Reacher. After a pause he said, "You were recommended by General Sheppard."
"How will I get in touch with you?"
"We'll call you. Be available."
With that, the make-believe tourist peeled away and walked toward the exit, leaving Reacher holding the catalog with the file tucked between its pages. After a few moments, Reacher exited, too. He took the first available taxi and asked the driver to take him to Union Station. It would be a short ride, but the dossier in the folder was pretty thin. There were only two photographs and two pages of text. Reacher also found a fresh credit card with his name on it, rubber-glued to the inside of the file folder.
He looked at the photos first. One was a mug shot of a man who glowered at the camera. He had stitches all over his face—across the top of his forehead, diagonally across both cheeks, and on his neck. The front and side views displayed the jagged stitches mercilessly. Despite the scars, he had regular features and a full head of dark hair. The name of the arrestee, according to the board the man was holding, was "Doe, John," and the year was 1968. The location was some place in Maine that Reacher had never heard of.
The other photo was more recent. It was taken at an airport terminal. It was a grainy blow-up. Probably the original was not focused on the extremely tall man at the center of the blow-up.
Reacher looked back and forth at the mug shot and the blow-up. Although the differences were more striking than the similarities, it was the same man in both pictures.
The scars were gone in the more recent photo. Reacher reflected that if those had been his own scars, he would have given his last penny to the plastic surgeon who promised to get rid of them.
The other differences were that the man's hair was now gray—almost white. He wore a suit at the airport whereas, in 1968, he wore a ratty pullover, but everything else was the same. The ears, the profile, everything.
Reacher guessed that somebody must have been looking for this guy well before they ran across the airport photo. They recognized the man in the photo and blew up the picture to highlight him for comparison to the mug shot. It was a good catch.
But why was Army Intelligence looking for this man? The two-page dossier said nothing about John Doe having a military jacket or a government file of any kind, although, several whole sentences were blacked out. The text was an excerpt from a larger, unidentified file. There was no way for Reacher to tell where the dossier came from. It might have originated with Army Intelligence or other governmental agency.
Reacher had no idea who he was supposed to be working for, but it was some cloak-and-dagger agency that General Ralph Sheppard had told, "Oh, sure, Reacher is your man." Reacher had met Sheppard but did not know him well. He made a mental note never to send the general a Christmas card.
According to the dossier, the second photo had been taken at BWI seven months ago. That was why they—whoever they were—could not lay hands on the guy. By the time somebody recognized him from the original photo, he was long gone.
So, nobody knew when this guy was born or what his real name was. The name on the mug shot was "Doe, John," but the first sheet of paper claimed his name was "Adam" with no last name. No source was given for that information.
There was no clue as to why anybody might want him now. Just confirmation that he was arrested in Collinsport, Maine in 1968. The original charge was not in the dossier. Reacher guessed that the statute of limitations would have expired a long time ago, unless it was a murder case.
Reacher also guessed from the mug shot that Adam was between twenty-five and thirty in 1968. Maybe he was older or younger than he looked. He thought that the expression beneath the scars and anger might actually be innocence. As if the guy did not understand why he was being arrested.
Reacher looked at the BWI photo again. So maybe he was in his fifties now. He looked to be in pretty good shape. Maybe too good for somebody older than sixty, which is what he had guessed the first time he saw the white hair.
Reacher further guessed that Army Intelligence did not know whether the guy had been passing through or lived in the D.C. area. They must have made inquiries at the airport, but nobody remembered the man—even though he was, according to the dossier, six-foot-six. Just like Reacher. He could see from the photo that the guy was a giant compared to everyone around him. The government drew a blank, and that was when they decided to reach out to anybody with a reputation for finding missing persons. That led them to Reacher. He did not have to brag. He had tracked down hundreds of people when others had given up. Of course, he usually had more to go on than this.
Reacher eyed the credit card. They were expensing him to the tune of whatever the limit was on the card. How far did they think he would have to go to find Adam No-last-name?

Chapter 2

Over a strong cup of coffee at Union Station, Reacher thought about what to do next. As much as he would enjoy a trip to Honolulu (just for example) on Army Intelligence's dime, he wanted to make short work of this case. He did not have a wife and kids, but he hated the idea of working for somebody he could not tell his family about, if he ever had a family.
His first stop was BWI. Somebody had already been there, but Reacher had been given nothing else to go on. His best bet was to look where others had already looked. Maybe he would see something they had missed. It would not be the first time that happened.
"You ever seen this guy?" Reacher asked a bespectacled, grizzled newsstand proprietor.
The man, half Reacher's size when he stood up, looked at the airport picture. He was the first person today who did not have to be prompted to actually look. Most people said they had not seen the guy though they had not even glanced at the photo.
"Sorry, no," the man finally said, sitting back down on the stool behind his kiosk's counter.
"I notice this place has been renovated since this photo was taken," said Reacher.
"Yeah, I noticed that, too," said the newsy. "That was taken when this was just gate seven behind us. They've expanded it to seven, eight and nine. Now American uses it."
"What airline used it when it was just gate seven?"
"It was one of those commuter airlines."
"You remember which one?"
"It was Bickford Air."
"Bickford?" said Reacher, dredging something from his memory. "They're based in Teterboro, aren't they?"
"Yeah, they must be. That's the destination they were always announcing over the loudspeaker."

Reacher went back to his office, the sergeant who served as his secretary, Rob Slocum, handed him a cup of coffee and two messages. One was routine. The other was from Army Intelligence. They had not left a name, but they said they would call back. Sergeant Slocum obviously thought that was odd but said nothing. Reacher remembered that was one reason why he liked Slocum. Then he sipped his coffee and remembered the other reason.
At his desk, Reacher called New Jersey information and asked for Bickford Air. Information had no listing for them. Reacher did not have a computer, but Slocum did. He asked Slocum to find out anything he could about Bickford Air, especially a phone number. Then he called Army Intelligence.
"U.S. Army Intelligence. How can I direct your call?" said a female voice.
"Reacher here." He had no contact name, so he took a shot that whoever he was working for had given the receptionist a heads up.
"Just a minute, Major." It was not lost on Reacher that the receptionist knew his rank even though he had not mentioned it.
"Carleton," said a voice that Reacher did not recognize. It was certainly not the same man he had met at the museum.
"Yes, sir," said Reacher. He assumed that, whoever Carleton was, he outranked Reacher. "I am calling about the case you want me to investigate."
"Yes, Major. Has there been any progress?"
"I haven't found him yet," said Reacher, "but I have a lead. I might have to go to New Jersey."
"New Jersey? What's there?"
"Maybe nothing. It's a hunch."
"A hunch, huh? Well, General Sheppard seems to think that your hunches are worth more than most men's certainties."
"I assume that the credit card you gave me will cover my ticket."
"That's what it's for. How soon can you leave?"
"I'll book a flight for first thing in the morning."
"I would prefer that you take the red eye. Where are you going?"
"I'll probably fly into Newark. That's where I can go at any hour on short notice."
"Hmm. I can tell you we never uncovered a lead in New Jersey. You are breaking new ground."
"Can I ask what ground you have covered?"
"I'm afraid not, Major. You're going to have to reverse-engineer the whole investigation. You notice I'm not asking you for details now. We find that it pays to give you fellows a free hand. When this is done, you might be expected to submit a full report, but only if your investigation is productive."
"Shall I call you tomorrow evening, sir?" said Reacher.
"Yes. Next time you can ask for Colonel Carleton."
"I will do that, Colonel. Good evening."
"Good hunting, Major." The phone clicked. Reacher cradled his own phone. He took a sip of coffee and wondered about some of the things that Carleton had said.
"Give you fellows a free hand." Who was Carleton talking about? Had they subcontracted investigations like this before? And how many investigators had they assigned just to look for Adam?
"Reverse-engineer the whole investigation," Carleton had said. That meant that it would be pointless to ask anything about anything that was not in the dossier. Reacher was not to have a clue about why they wanted Adam No-last-name or anything else about the case.
The possibility occurred to Reacher that what Army Intelligence wanted with Adam might not be legitimate. Reacher did not trust them on principle. Twenty-seven years since the man's last arrest. What if he kept his nose clean since then? Should Reacher be pursuing someone who might be innocent of any wrong-doing? Did General Sheppard know what this was about, or had he taken the integrity of Army Intelligence for granted?

Chapter 3

Early the next morning, Reacher left his motel just outside of Newark, and caught the 76 bus to the Teterboro Airport. Slocum had given him a phone number for Palisades Air. That was the company that resulted when Bickford merged with another small airline six months ago. Reacher had an appointment with a man named Hank Hubble, whose title was scheduling manager at Palisades.
The dossier gave the date and time when the original BWI photo was taken. Reacher hoped to match the time with some old flight schedules. Once he found the most likely flight, he would check the names on the passenger manifest. See if anybody set off alarms.
Reacher got there twenty minutes early and had a look around. The medium-sized airline that resulted from the merger of two smaller airlines had a whole building to itself. There were not only offices, but Palisades had its own terminal with half a dozen gates. While waiting for his appointment, Reacher nosed around and found a gallery of executive portraits.
There were not only pictures of the current top corporate officers but ones of their immediate predecessors at the two pre-merger airlines. In some cases—the CEO, for example—the current one was the same as the Bickford CEO. The portrait of Bickford's chief information officer, though, was conspicuously missing. The name plate beneath the empty wall space where the portrait should have been read "Adam Stokes." Reacher had to ask himself, Could it be this easy?
He showed his credentials to Mr. Hubble, who seemed puzzled that an M.P. was interested in an old route to BWI. Palisades no longer went there. They had traded in their route to the Maryland airport for a regular route to Dulles. Reacher apologized that he might not need to look at the old schedule after all.
He showed Hubble the photo of "Adam" at BWI. "Do you recognize this man?"
Hubble instantly looked concerned. "May I ask what this is about?"
"You could ask, but I wouldn't be able to tell you," Reacher said, thinking to himself, Even if I wanted to.
"That looks like a picture of Mr. Stokes," said Hubble. "Is he in any kind of trouble?"
"Would it surprise you if he were?"
"It certainly would," said Hubble. "Mr. Stokes was the most honest man I ever met."
"So you knew him pretty well."
"Well, as much as anyone did. He could be a very private man."
"Any particular reason why we're referring to him in the past tense? Is he deceased?"
"Not as far as I know, but he retired shortly after the merger. I haven't heard from him in six months."
"Do you know where he retired to?"
"Somewhere in Maine, I believe?"
"Collinsport?"
"Why, yes." Hubble was astonished. "How did you know that?"
"Did he say he was going there when he retired?"
"He talked about the place so often, especially toward the end. I got the impression he grew up there."
"Only an impression?"
"Well, I don't know whether he was born there, but I think he said he went to grade school there. It was where he got his 'elementary education'. That was the term he used. I got the impression he actually spent more of his life in Boston and New York. You'd have to ask H.R., but I believe he attended Boston University."
"When did he retire exactly?"
"Last August."
"How old would you say he is?"
"Oh, about fifty-four."
"That seems early to retire."
"Well, he was pretty well off. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit that I miss him most because he always had reliable investment advice, especially regarding technology companies."
"How come his portrait is missing from your gallery?"
"Oh, we are thinking of taking all of those pictures down except for the current officers."
"But why was his the first to be taken down?"
"Actually," Hubble said, "his portrait was never taken down."
"What do you mean?"
"He never had a portrait done for us to hang in the first place."

Chapter 4

Reacher took a shuttle from Newark to Bangor the same day. He arrived in Collinsport by bus, which let him off near the abandoned AMTRAK station. It looked as if it had been falling apart for a couple of decades. He took a taxi to the Collinsport Inn, which he gathered was the only hotel in town. Once in his room—number 24, a suite with separate living room, bedroom, and kitchen—he looked in the phone book. There was no Adam Stokes listed, but there was a Timothy E. Stokes.
Reacher knew he ought to call Carleton. He had left a message with the receptionist that a lead had taken him to New England. He did not leave Carleton any details. He was not sure he wanted to. He still did not trust the motives of Army Intelligence.
There were things about this case that did not add up. Hubble was sure that Adam Stokes was an upright citizen. Nobody seemed to have any evidence to the contrary. If Carleton did, he was not sharing.
Reacher called Slocum, who was still at headquarters.
"Got anything on Adam Stokes yet?"
"Not much, sir. No criminal record. No military jacket. You were right about Boston University. He has a bachelors in English and a masters in computer science, both from B.U. He's worked for five different companies, starting as a programmer and working his way up to CIO. His last known address was in Montclair, New Jersey. He was married from 1975 to 1986. No children."
"Who was he married to?"
"Someone named Carolyn. No maiden name I could find."
"Where did they live?"
"Boston at first. Then they moved to New York. They lived in the city until they divorced and he got a job in New Jersey."
"Thanks for the research, Sergeant. You say you don't have a current address for him?"
"Afraid not, sir. Do you want me to do any more research?"
"Not that I can think of. I'll call if there is anything else. Goodbye, Sergeant."
"Goodbye, sir."
Reacher thought about telephoning Timothy Stokes, but he decided against it. He did not want to give Adam Stokes too much warning. He took a shower and headed downstairs. There was a restaurant next to the lobby and he went in. It was empty. He had not had a cup of coffee since Boston. So he sat down at the counter.
"What'll it be?" asked the gray-haired lady whose name tag read "Susie."
"Coffee. Black. And how is that peach pie?"
"Fresh baked this morning."
Reacher doubted that, but he said, "I'll try a slice." His voice must have betrayed his doubt.
"You won't be sorry," said Susie, singing the words.
Reacher watched her pour him a cup. Then he sipped the strong brew while watching her slice a big wedge and hoist it onto a small plate. It looked as if he was only the second person to have at this particular pie.
"Is there anything else I can get you?" The pen in her hand was poised over the receipt pad.
"I'm new in town," said Reacher, "and I could use some information."
"I'll help you if I can," she said. She wrote out the bill quickly and put in on the counter next to the pie. Reacher noted that small town prices seemed awfully reasonable after living in a big city.
"I once knew a guy named Adam Stokes. I thought he said he came from around here. Do you know anybody by that name?"
"Adam Stokes? Hmmm. That name is only familiar because we have a Professor Stokes in town. He's a retired college professor, but I'm sure he doesn't have any family around here. Adam Stokes? No, I'm afraid I don't know anyone by that name."
"Maybe I misunderstood my friend," said Reacher. "Maybe he only came here for summer vacations."
"Now that's real possible," said Susie giving him a bright smile. "Every summer we get lots of tourists, and I almost never learn their names."
Next, Reacher went to the police station and identified himself to the desk sergeant. He asked for an appointment with the chief of police, any time he might be available.
"Just a minute," said the desk sergeant before he punched in a two-digit number on his desk phone. Reacher heard a phone ringing close by. Then he heard someone pick it up and say "hello" in a loud alto voice.
"There's a Major John…" The sergeant hesitated, looking at Reacher’s ID.
"It's legally 'Jack,' just like it says," Reacher told him.
"Major Jack Reacher," said the sergeant into the phone. "Military police, Ma'am. Yes, Ma'am. Army."
The sergeant hung up the phone. "She'll see you right now, sir."
Reacher was ushered into the chief's office. The sergeant left them alone. Reacher shook hands with a thirty-something woman with short brown hair and an immaculate blue-gray uniform.
"Grace McArthur, at your service, Major."
"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Chief McArthur. I apologize for not calling ahead."
"Think nothing of it. And call me Grace. You mind if I call you Jack? You know, I was in the Army myself."
"Oh? What outfit were you with?"
She became slightly sheepish. "Just an airborne unit. The 82nd."
Reacher was impressed. "You jumped from planes?"
"A couple of times," she said. "Now, what can I do for you, Jack?"
"Well, I was wondering if you could tell me something about a mug shot. I know it must have been before your time…."
"You mean it goes back before Noah?" she said drily.
"Maybe not that far, but…" He took the mug shot from the inside breast pocket of his sport coat and laid it on her desk.
She whistled. "When you say before my time, you are not kidding. That goes back to before we had a proper police department in Collinsport. We had a sheriff who had once been called chief constable. Everybody called us the police, but it took people here a long time before they got use to calling me chief instead of sheriff."
"So would this mug shot be archived somewhere?"
"Maybe." She fingered the photo with one hand and stroked her chin with the other. "Mind if I ask what your interest in this man is?"
"I would if I could. Somebody handed me this case without telling me much about it. All I have to go on is this photo, and I don't even know what he was arrested for or whether he was ever arrested again."
"Does this man have a name?"
"The name I have is Adam Stokes, but you can see he was arrested as a John Doe, so I don't know whether the name Adam Stokes means anything. I've already asked around and nobody knows him."
"Stokes. I suppose you know we have a Professor Stokes."
"Yes."
"Have you spoken to him?"
"I'm planning to, but I am told that he doesn't have any relatives in town. I am thinking that maybe he had relatives who visited him from out of town during the summers."
"That might be, but I grew up in this town, and I only ever heard of him being visited by a niece. Nobody else. He's an old bachelor. Born and bred in New England, though. Had an ancestor who once lived in Collinsport. I think that drew him here."
"Maybe it won't lead to anything, but I should probably talk to him anyway."
"Can't hurt. You'll at least have an entertaining visit if he's at home. He's a real character. He must be at least eighty and wears a hearing aid, but he’s sharp as a tack. Meanwhile, I'll look into this mug shot and see what I can dig up. You mind if I hold on to this?"
"If the people who gave it to me don't have another copy, it's their own fault," said Reacher.

Chapter 5

Reacher knocked on the door of the little house. It was answered by a man with a large frame. Just not as large as Reacher's. The flesh hung from his bones as if he had lost a good deal of weight. His lower lip protruded and quivered as if he was on the verge of asking a question. He did not right away. He was clean shaven, but his white hair was shoulder-length. Combed straight back. He had an old-fashioned hearing aid with a wire leading to a box on his belt.
"Yes, sir?" the old man said.
"My name is Jack Reacher, sir." He showed his credentials. "I presume that you are Professor Timothy Stokes."
"You have a slight advantage, Major Reacher." A smile played across his lips. "You must know why you are here, while I do not."
"Please forgive the intrusion, Professor. I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions."
"People rarely ask only a couple of questions, especially when they have come so far."
"Excuse me, Professor, but how do you know how far I have come?"
"You are a stranger in town," said Stokes. "Word gets around. I know that you are staying at the Collinsport Inn and have been making inquiries about me around town, evidently in preparation for this visit."
"Well, I'm not focusing on you."
"True. You've been asking about Adam, as well."
"That's right. You know him, then."
"I am sure that you will find out sooner or later that I do."
"Maybe you are the first person I've met who can fill in some blanks. I know very little about Adam. I was assigned this case without much information to go on."
"Fascinating," said the professor. "Have a seat if you please, Major. Would you care for a sherry?"
"No, thank you, sir. I am technically on duty."
"I see, well, I hope you won't mind if I indulge myself." The professor had already picked up a small glass. He began pouring an amber liquid from a decanter. "I also usually have a bit of cheese. Could I interest you in some? Oh, where are my manners? Perhaps you would care for a cup of coffee?"
"I like it black and strong."
"So do I. I still have some that I brewed less than an hour ago. If it's tepid I'll reheat it in the microwave."
"Don't put yourself out."
"Nonsense! It's no trouble at all." He went into his kitchen which was just off the living room. Reacher was able to watch him pick up a pot, pour some coffee into a large white mug and nuke it in an oven for several seconds. While the oven ran, he opened his refrigerator and took out a wedge of soft cheese. He put it on a big plate along with some crackers. He got a small butter knife with a curled tip. When the oven dinged, he got the coffee out and brought everything into the living room on a silver tray. He set it on the table in front of the sofa where Reacher was sitting.
"I got the crackers for you. I myself usually just have the cheese. I make this snack as an homage to my former life. I used to be overweight, you know. I had quite a taurean appetite before I had a heart attack. My doctor friend, Carl, persuaded me to mend my ways."
Reacher took a sip of his coffee. It was good. Stokes' coffee reheated well.
"When was the last time you saw Adam?"
"Oh, you do come to the point. I like that. Are you sure that you wouldn’t care for some cheese and crackers?"
"I hope you don't mind me saying that you have a talent for changing the subject, Professor."
"Ah." Stokes paused and regrouped. "About Adam. Well, the answer is that I have not seen him in about a month."
"Do you know where he is?"
"Not exactly."
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"He has a house up the coast. He was there on and off this past year, but I don't know for a fact that he is still in Maine. He travels quite a lot, you know."
"My problem is that I don't know. I don't know very much at all about Adam."
"And yet someone has tasked you to find him. You have no idea as to their motives?"
"No." Reacher suddenly felt defensive. Stokes had honed in on his weakness. Reacher hated hunting someone down when he had no clear idea why he was doing it. "But maybe you can fill in some of the boring background details about Adam."
"I'm not sure that I can accommodate you," said Stokes. He took a sip of his sherry.
"You mean you won't tell me?"
"Not that. I mean that the details of his background are not likely to bore you."
"Well, for example, what is your relationship to him?"
"That's a good question. Friend, I suppose."
"You're not his father, then, but you have the same last name. Uncle? Cousin?"
"None of the above."
"When was he born?"
"An entirely good example of the problem I have in making this boring. To the extent that one could say that Adam was ever born, it was on May the third of 1968." Stokes took a sip of sherry, tilting his head forward while still managing to eye Reacher intently.
Reacher felt his jaw drop as he digested what Stokes had just said.
"You can't be serious, sir. I have seen photos of Adam Stokes, including one from 1968 when he looked to be in his late twenties."
"Indeed," said Stokes.
"Don't you think that deserves an explanation?"
"It does, but it will take some explaining. Are you sure you won't have some cheese and crackers, Major?"
"Again, you're steering the conversation away from Adam's miraculous birth," said Reacher.
"Yes, you might call it miraculous. And this raises in my mind the question of why your masters are so interested in him. Although Adam was arrested for kidnapping and was suspected of murder in 1968, he has since made up for it by leading a blameless life."
"Who did he kidnap?"
"A local girl named Carolyn."
"Wait a minute," said Reacher. "Isn't that his ex-wife's name?"
"The same. No, there is no one alive that he hurt back then who still bears him a grudge for any of it. I can only think that anyone looking for him now is more interested in his origins than in anything he has done."
"What are his origins, Professor?"
"Adam was created by a brilliant if unorthodox physician named Eric Lang in a basement laboratory here in Collinsport on the date I mentioned. Actually, by the time the experiment was performed, Dr. Lang had perished, but he had made every preparation and—as I understand it, since I myself was not present at the event—the actual experiment was completed by two of Lang's associates, Dr. Julia Hoffman and Mr. Barnabas Collins."
"Wait a minute. What kind of experiment are we talking about?"
"Some might say the most unnatural kind."
"You're going to have to use plain words, Professor."
"Very well. I suppose plain words are the best kind to communicate Lang's insanely ingenious plan and achievement. He sewed together the freshest parts of several cadavers and then charged them with the life force of a living person. The living person might either have died or lived. In this first case, they both lived and were as inextricably linked as would be identical twins. They still are in many ways."
"Hold on. You're saying that somebody breathed life into a dead man, and the dead man who came to life is Adam?"
"Succinctly put, Major."
"Who provided the life force you mentioned?"
"Barnabas Collins."
"A member of the same family this town is named after?"
"Precisely."
"I don't suppose he's still around."
"Oh, he is, indeed."
"He must be around your age."
"Oh, goodness, he's older but doesn't look it."
"One other thing."
"Yes, Major?"
"You said Adam was the 'first case'. Do you mean that there were other cadaver-people like Adam?"
"Yes, there was one other creature like Adam, but Adam is the only one that still lives."
"What happened to the other, ah, creature?"
"Why, Adam killed her."

File:1070zi.jpg

Chapter 6

When Reacher got back to the Inn, it was late. He had spent the entire evening talking with Professor Stokes. There were four messages for him. Three from northern Virginia.
He went to his room and made some calls.
The first person he called was Chief McArthur.
"Thanks for looking into this so promptly," said Reacher.
"Not a problem," said Grace. "Found the arrest report in an old cardboard box in the basement. Turns out this John Doe fellow—that some people said was named Adam—gave folks quite a scare and a run for their money back in the day. He kidnapped a local girl and was suspected of murder. Took ten men to arrest him. He was believed to be dead at one point—until people started to report seeing him again."
"How did he supposedly die?"
"Jumped or fell off of Widows' Hill in full view of witnesses. I know, since you're an outsider, that might not mean anything to you, but that's a fifty-foot drop off of a seaside cliff onto the rocks. If this fellow survived that, he's the only survivor on record."
"Don't tell me. They never found a body."
"Wouldn't have been the first time a body was washed out to sea."
"I gather that the reported sightings went on for a while and then suddenly stopped."
"People forget once the murder rate goes down," said Grace.
"You have much of a murder rate in this town?"
"It's been low the last few years. Knock on wood." Reacher heard her rapping on something but was not sure it was wood. "You'd be surprised, though,” she continued. “There were years while I was growing up that my parents thought it would be safer to move to Boston."
After thanking the chief again, Reacher hung up and dialed the other number.
"Carleton, here," said the voice at the other end.
"Reacher."
"It's about time. Do you have anything?"
"No, sir, I'm sorry. The lead turned out to be a dead end."
"Damn it!" said Carleton. "I was afraid of that when I heard you were in Collinsport. We've already looked there. Came up empty. Do you have anything else?"
"No, sir. It was just a hunch as I said before, and it didn't pan out."
"Well, don't worry," sighed Carleton. "We have other crack investigators looking for this Adam. One of them is sure to find him."
"I hope so, sir. Sorry I couldn't be more help."
"By the way, that credit card? You should have enough to buy a ticket home tomorrow morning, but by tomorrow noon, the card will be cancelled."
"Thanks for the warning, sir."
"And it goes without saying that none of this ever happened," Carleton added. "Forget about Adam."
"Who, sir?" said Reacher.
END