The Confessions of Saint Christopher—Werewolf
Translated by Dr. David Mayhew
A Novel by Wayne Miller
By David Mayhew, PhD
I am a man of two worlds. I am an academic, first and foremost. I also admit to being something of a dreamer. Sometimes it is hard for me to reconcile these two disparate halves of my nature, although I have discovered they need not each be exclusive of the other.
I have, as many of you doubtless already are aware, written a scholarly examination of The Confessions of Saint Christopher (as the diary has been unofficially titled). This work, already in publication, is exclusive in that it is intended for the scholar. It is laden with footnotes and all manner of specifics which would only be of interest to the historian or the ethnographer. This work you are holding in your hands is not that book. This account is stripped down, concise, and strictly for the layman. Here I offer no more than an introduction to the main event, as it were, the diary itself. This foreword is written by the dreamer, not the scientist.
Saint Christopher would have approved, I think. He too was a man of a divided nature.
Even the layman, however, will have an interest in certain pertinent facts, which I will endeavor to provide in a condensed version, beginning with those concerning the diary itself. Written in Greek, it purports to be a first-person account of the life of the man we know today as Saint Christopher. Critics have insisted, and continue to do so, that the work is pseudepigraphal; that is, written by someone other than Christopher, an imposter, if you will. This may be the case, but there is no more evidence to support this argument than the opposite; in point of fact there is scant evidence to support either. The primary, indeed the only basis for the opinion of the critics, i.e. that the diary was written by someone other than whom the author claimed to be, consists of the belief that no such person as Christopher ever really existed. (I make a strong argument to the contrary, I daresay, in my other book, the “serious” one.) The primary evidence for this latter position is, as the author of the diary claims therein to be a werewolf, and since werewolves do not exist, neither can the diary be authentic. They do not deny its value as an historic artifact. They maintain, though, that it is an historical work of fiction.
Werewolves do not exist, so then neither does Christopher. This is their conclusion. How do we know that such creatures don’t exist? Why, because they cannot exist. It is as simple as that.
You will perhaps agree that my critics are guilty of failing to examine all the possibilities. They have committed the great sin of assumption. Is it beyond reason to suggest that the diary was penned by a man who fully believed himself to transform on occasion into a wolf, or into a semi-human, wolf-like creature? Nor must we embrace without reservation the hypothesis (again, not substantiated fact) that such transformations are impossible. While it is true that Science has never in any respects confirmed that such physical transformations are possible, neither has it been able to prove conclusively that such a thing is not possible. Until it is proven that such a creature as the physical Lycanthrope, that is, a human being who undergoes a physical transformation into a bestial state, does not exist, it must remain accepted truth that such a being could exist.
The man who wrote the diary could have been who he claimed to be. He could have suffered from a mental delusion wherein he believed himself to transform at times into a monster. Or he could have, in literal truth, been a werewolf.
But this is all so much arbitrary wrangling. The diary exists. As such, let us examine it at face value.
Written on several parchment scrolls, these latter being sealed inside an iron cask, the manuscript was in remarkably good condition upon its discovery in 2002, when it was unearthed during construction of a highway near Nag Hammadi, Egypt. It was handed over by the Department of Antiquities to Professor Ibrahim Gyasi of the University of Cairo, an old friend and colleague of mine. Gyasi invited me to assist in the translation of the manuscript. Upon Gyasi’s untimely passing in 2007, the manuscript reverted back to the safekeeping of the Department of Antiquities; today it can be found, where it admittedly belongs, in the Cairo Museum. However, as Gyasi and I had finished our translating of the text by the time of his death, I took my notes and my translation, indeed as I had every right to do, with me back to the United States, whereupon I arranged for the publication of the manuscript. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Before I step aside, though, to allow the author of the diary to tell his own story, it is necessary to attempt to untangle a rather troublesome knot.
In his Mysterii Paschalis issued in 1969, Pope Paul VI reevaluated the dates set aside to honor numerous saints, Christopher among them. In fact it has been suggested, and more and more accepted, that Christopher may constitute one of those cases of a saint fabricated, a pastiche of various legendary or mythological entities, never a real, living person at all. I disagree with this assessment, but it is easy to see why skeptics might doubt Christopher’s existence. So much of his story is fantastical, and much of his biography is, or has been, fictitious. (If the diary is genuine, as I believe it is, then we can now say with certainty where the legend ends and the reality begins.)
As so often proves the case, fact is stranger than fiction. The fact is, Saint Christopher did exist as a real human being. In fact, there were two men who are now known to us by that name. Unfortunately for the scholar, the twain have become so intertwined, their personal histories so confused, that separating them requires no small effort. I shall, once again, offer a simplified explanation for the casual reader.
Saint Menas, recognized as a minor saint by Rome but highly regarded in the Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Churches, was martyred in Antioch during the reign of the Emperor Dacian (308-313 AD). Among the several titles lauded upon Menas was “bearer of the Word (the Gospel).” In the New Testament, the use of the term Logos, or “Word,” was a frequent synonym for Jesus Christ, thus an alternate interpretation of the title would be “bearer of Christ.” This latter translates as “Christophoros” or “Christopher,” the Christ-bearer. Thus we see one of the primary reasons for the confusion of the two men.
(I propose that many of today’s faithful Roman Catholics, who wear pendants of Saint Christopher or offer him their prayers, are in reality directing their tribute to Saint Menas, and not inappropriately so.)
Another reason for the confusion of the two Saints Christopher is the parallel confusion of two Roman Emperors, Dacian and Decius, this most likely due to the similar spelling and pronunciation of their names. The author of the diary appears to have lived during the reign of the latter (249-251 AD). To be clear, it is the man Reprobus, later called Christopher, who is the author of the diary, not Menas, later given the title of “Christopher.”
Lastly, I offer a note on the translation. I have endeavored to render the words into modern English as they would be written or spoken today. If, as some of my critics have claimed, I have inserted myself a bit too much into the translation; if, as they suggest, I have “rewritten” the account in my own words, I trust that the words of Christopher (and not my own) will nevertheless speak clearly enough through any translucence I have inadvertently created. I trust, and I hope so, for it is a story well worth the telling.