El suicidio del Cristo o 'El biathanatos' de Borges: un argumento imposible.
En su ensayo sobre Quevedo, Borges afirma que la obra de este escritor ha desmerecido no por falta de carácter o debido a algún tipo de imperfección, sino precisamente porque está pensada para leerse por literatos. Un literato que escribe para otro literato.
Y las tres páginas de ese mínimo ensayo titulado 'El biathanatos' obedecen a la misma lógica y exigencia denunciada respecto a la obra de Quevedo. Borges escribe con la intención de ser leído por otro literato, más que por el lector promedio. En algunos ensayos alude al lector genérico, un lector 'de a pie' -por decirlo de algún modo-, mas en este ensayo no alude a la benevolencia o rechazo del hipotético lector, exige la confirmación y quizá la confrontación del argumento, es decir, una disputa inter pares.
La prueba de ello es que 'El biathanatos' es un ensayo basado en un libro que realmente existe, y cuya cita puntual -De Quincey (Writings, VIII, 336) no es espúrea:
Donne called his Essay by the Greek name Biathanatos,1 meaning violent death. But a thing equally strange, and a blasphemy almost unaccountable, is the fancy of a Prussian or Saxon baron, who wrote a book to prove that Christ committed suicide: for which he had no other argument than this, -that, in fact, Christ had surrendered himself unresistingly into the hands of his enemies, and had in a manner wilfully provoked his own death. This, however, describes the case of every martyr that ever was or can be. It is the very merit and grandeur of the martyr that he proclaims the truth with his eyes open to the consequences of proclaiming it. Those consequences are connected with the truth, but not by a natural link : the connexion is by means of false views, which it is the very business of the martyr to destroy. And, if a man founds my death upon an act which my conscience ejoins, even though I am aware and fully warned that he will found my death upon it, I am not, therefore, guilty of suicide.
1 This word, however, which occurs nowhere, that I remember, except in Lampridius, one of the Augustan historians, is there applied to Heliogabalus, and means, not the act of suicide, but a suicidal person. And possibly Donne, who was a good scholar, may so mean it to be understood in this title-page. Heliogabalus, says Lampridius, had been told by the Syrian priests that he should be biathanatos - i. e. should commit suicide. He provided, therefore, ropes of purple and of gold intertwisted, that the might hang himself imperatorially. He provided golden swords, that the might run himself through as became Cæsar. He had poisons enclosed in jewels, that he might drink his farewell heel-taps, if drink he must, in a princely style. Other modes of august death he had prepared. Unfortunately all were unavailing ; for he was murdered, and dragged through the common sewers by ropes without either purple or gold in their base composition. The poor fellow has been sadly abused in history ; but, after all, he was a mere boy, and as mad as March hare.
Many authors had charged the martyrs of the Christian Church with suicide, on the principle that, if I put myself in the way of a mad bull, knowing that he will kill me, I am as much chargeable with an act of self-destruction as if I fling myself into a river. Several casuists had extended this principle even to the case of Jesus Christ ; one instance of which, in a modern author, the reader may see noticed and condemned by Kant, in his Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft ; and another of much earlier date (as far back as the 13th century, I think) in a commoner book -Voltaire's notes on the little treatise of Beccaria Dei delitti e delle pene. These statements tended to one of two results : either they unsanctified the characters of those who founded and nursed the Christian Church ; or they sanctified suicide. By way of meeting them, Donne wrote his book : and, as the whole argument of this opponents turned upon a false definition of suicide (not explicitly stated, but assumed), he endeavoured to reconstitute the notion of what is essential to create an act of suicide.
Why suicide is not noticed in the New Testament is a problem yet open to the profound investigator.
Nam stat fua cuiq~ dies, breue et irreparabile tempus.