It was in an anthology I read in the late 1980's. I wish I had more to give you guys (and I apologize about ruining the punchline).

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I don't know about beaming into a cave, that isn't mentioned, but the idea of an alien impersonating the risen Christ is in Randall Garrett's short short story "The Briefing", first published in Fantastic, August 1969, which is available at the Internet Archive, story on pages 8–9. You could have read it in the 1986 anthology 101 Science Fiction Stories (Martin H. Greenberg, Charles G. Waugh, and Jenny-Lynn Waugh, eds.), or in the 1987 Randall Garrett collection Takeoff Too!; does any of these covers ring a bell? Some excerpts:

"It's a straight impersonation job," Marik said, "with a kicker I'll tell you about in a minute. Here's your subject."

He handed me a good set of portrait shots. Not a bad looking face, what you could see of it. Dark skin, big beak of a nose, and dark, intelligent eyes.

"What's with the beard?" I asked.

"The—er—somewhat peculiar subculture to which he belongs use long hair and beards as identifying marks. The ruling class are usually smooth shaven and wear the hair cropped closely to the head."

I nodded. "Right. Well, biosculp can fix me up with the face all right. No trouble there." I dropped the pics on his desk. "Tell me more about the problem."

[. . . .]

"He's a young man who has built up the nucleus of an organization which, if allowed to develop, will decrease the time required to return to Level Five by a factor of twenty. According to the ggQ predictions, the organization will fall to Level Four along with the rest of the society—and you know what kind of bloody tyranny that can mean. But it's time we need, not goodness."

"Right. Now, what's the kicker?"

Marik looked grim. "The reactionaries in the governmental power structure have the subconscious knowledge that the structure is headed for collapse, so they've been looking for 'subversives.'"

"As usual," I said with a sigh. "And they found him?"

He nodded. "Right. Minor harassment at first. We thought we could protect him, but the government agents acted too fast for us. He's dead."

"So I go in and impersonate him. We pretend that the death was a hoax."

"Not exactly. Psychology Department has another gimmick rigged up, and you'll have to take a full hypnoimpressment of his personality so you can bring the thing off successfully. But the first thing to do is use the high-speed hypnotapes to teach you Aramaic."


"Yes. That's the language they use in Judea."

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