The Bible is one of the most widely read and studied books in Western Civilization. As the vast majority of Harry Turtledove's works are set worlds where the Bible exists in nearly the same format as it does in OTL, dozens if not hundreds of his characters refer to passages from it. The references are rarely significant to the plot, but sometimes give brief insight to a particular character or culture.
The Book of Chronicles (Hebrew: דִּבְרֵי־הַיָּמִים Diḇrê Hayyāmîm 'The Matters of the Days'), usually split into the subsections 1 (I/First) Chronicles and 2 (II/Second) Chronicles in Western translations, is a Hebrew prose work constituting part of Jewish and Christian scripture. It is known as Paralipoménōn in Greek (Παραλειπομένων, lit. 'things left on one side') and Chronikon in Latin; the latter name was arbitrarily chosen by St. Jerome. It contains a genealogy from the first human being, Adam, and a narrative of the history of ancient Judah and Israel until the proclamation of the Persian King Cyrus the Great (c. 540 BC).
In A Different Flesh section "And So To Bed", Samuel Pepys is challenged by an audience member to demonstrate Biblical fallibility. Lord Brouncker supports Pepys by pointing to II Chronicles chapter 4, which describes a vessel as being 10 cubits across and 30 around. Brouncker indicates the true circumference would be just over 31 cubits indicating a part of the Bible that incorrectly describes the physical world.
In the same novel, "Though the Heavens Fall" sees I Chronicles chapter 7 used as a stumbling block for ex-slave Jeremiah Gillen, during a literacy test to prove his status as a sentient being. Rather than a popular story, psalm, or proverb recital that he might have easily memorized, his "accusers" make sure to have him read a complicated genealogy listing the unfamiliar archaic Hebrew names of various ancient men, and which man was the son or grandson of which other man. Though he struggles at some of the names, Jeremiah ultimately prevails, and his sentience is recognized. (Although this victory is granted more easily than it would have been in the OTL history of American slavery, due to the wild card of the sims.)
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book of the Old Testament. It focuses on a group of 6th-century BC Jewish men, who are captured from Jerusalem in wartime and then forced to live in exile, first at Babylon and later in Persia. The book is an example of apocalyptic literature, written to bring hope to a persecuted people. It recounts how the protagonists encountered several brushes with death (including a night in a den of lions), but triumphed against all odds with the aid of a supernatural force. The theme suggests that, just as the God of Israel saved Daniel and his companions from their enemies, so will he save all of Israel from a similar oppression in the future. Daniel's prophetic visions are full of oblique symbols and metaphors, whose precise meanings have been debated to this day. The book's author, composition date, and purpose, remain mysteries and have been debated extensively.
In The House of Daniel, the titular baseball team uses this section of the Bible as a motif. The team members recite and discuss passages from the Book of Daniel, some quite extensive, throughout the novel.
The phrase Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin is referenced significantly in some Turtledove works (including the above Alpha), and less significantly in others. In Joe Steele, Albert Einstein tells President Joe Steele that he refused to inform Steele of the possibility of an atomic bomb "because I was afraid you would use it," and Steele's aide Charlie Sullivan imagines that Einstein has just recited the famous phrase. In Thessalonica, Bishop Eusebius says he hopes that his city will not be found wanting in its measure like Belshazzar's kingdom was. In American Empire: The Center Cannot Hold, Clarence Potter tells Anne Colleton that the Depression-riddled CSA needs someone to read the writing on the wall, as Daniel did for Belshazzar.
In addition to having the ill-fated alter-ego of "Tabitas" in "Occupation Duty," David, King of Israel is often referenced in Turtledove works, whether in connection with his battle against Goliath, his subsequent rule over the Israelite tribes, or his familial connection to Jesus.
In the Atlantis story "The Scarlet Band," Athelstan Helms reminds Samuel Jones of a statement attributed to David in Psalms 60: "Moab is my washpot". The point of Helms' rhetoric is that many historical holy men have resorted to violence to achieve a desired end.
Gideon was a judge of the Israelites, whose career is summarized in Judges 7-9. During his life, Israel was under constant attack by the Midianites and Amalekites, and its people had turned to the worship of the false god Baal. With an army of only 300 men, each carrying a shofar horn, there could be no doubt that victory had come through God's favor. Fear and discord were sown in the Midianite camp by the sound of 300 shofars, causing the Midianites to panic and kill one another. Gideon's men went on to win the war decisively.
In The Guns of the South, Andries Rhoodie, leader of the Rivington Men, seems to be quite fond of Gideon's story. In early 1864 during the Second American Revolution, General Robert E. Lee comes across Rhoodie reading Gideon, and reflects that he must be a pious man. This dispels a certain unease which Lee had felt ever since meeting him. The two discuss how Gideon's story "seemed to fit" the South's current situation.
The Gothic Bible, Ulfila Bible, or Wulfila Bible is a the Christian Bible in the 4th-century Gothic language, translated under the supervision of Wulfila (c. 311-383), a bishop and missionary of the Arian creed. The Wulfila Bible is important to modern scholars for being one of very few surviving documents in the Germanic languages of the time.
Haman the Agagite המן האגגי, or Haman the evil המן הרשע is the main antagonist in the Book of Esther. In the story, he is prime minister in the Persian empire under King Xerxes the Great. When he thinks he has been insulted by Mordecai, a leader of Susa's Jewish community, Haman plans the complete genocide of Jewry. In the process, he builds a proudly ostentatious gallows on which he plans to hang Mordecai specifically. Unknown to Haman, Xerxes' consort Queen Esther, a secret Jewess and the niece of Mordecai, has learned of the plan. Mordecai and Esther concoct a plan which entraps Haman into perjuring himself before the King, leading to his being hanged on the very same gallows he built for Mordecai, who succeeds him as prime minister.
Haman's defeat is celebrated in the popular Jewish holiday of Purim (named after the "lots" Haman used to calculate strategy). This holiday is celebrated each March, and often involves pageants and puppet shows portraying Haman as an exaggerated comic villain.
Secular historians doubt the veracity of the Purim story, as the surviving accounts of Xerxes' inner circle do not mention any figures resembling Mordecai, Esther or Haman. The story may have originated as a myth about the Babylonian deities Marduk and Ishtar, and the Zoroastrian Devil-like figure Ahriman.
Haman's story is referred to in proverbial shorthand by characters in various Harry Turtledove works, who declare that certain traitors and other malefactors will be "hanged higher than Haman." In "Must and Shall", Hannibal Hamlin declares that such will be the fate of all Confederate leaders at the end of the Great Rebellion. Similar proclamations can be found in The Guns of the South, The Two Georges, The Man With the Iron Heart, "Lee at the Alamo", and several volumes of the Southern Victory series. The phrase was used in famous OTL speeches by Stephen Douglas and Woodrow Wilson, either of which may have inspired Turtledove's use of the catchphrase.
The Israelites (Hebrew: בני ישראל Bnei Yisra'el) were a Semitic people of the ancient Near East, who inhabited part of Canaan during the tribal and monarchic periods, and lived in the region in smaller numbers after the fall of the monarchy. The ancient Israelites are considered an outgrowth of the indigenous Canaanite populations that long inhabited the Southern Levant, Syria, Palestine and the Transjordan.
In the Hebrew Bible, the term "Israelites" refers to the direct descendants of any of the sons of the patriarch Jacob, or of the people called Israel, or of a worshiper of the God of Israel, Yahweh. In the period of the divided monarchy it referred only to inhabitants of the northern kingdom, and is only extended to cover people of the southern kingdom in post-exilic usage. Other terms sometimes used include the "Hebrews" and the "Twelve Tribes" (of Israel).
The Jews, which include the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, Simeon and partially Levi, are named after the southern Israelite Kingdom of Judah. The word "Jews" is found in Kings (16:6), Chronicles (I, 4:18), and in numerous passages in the Book of Jeremiah, the Book of Zechariah and the Book of Esther. The Samaritans, whose religious texts consist of the five books of the Samaritan Torah (but which do not contain the books comprising the Jewish Tanakh), do not refer to themselves as Jews, although they do regard themselves as Israelites, in accordance with the Torah.
The Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), often called the Northern Kingdom of Israel, contained all the tribes except for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Following its conquest by Assyria, these ten tribes were allegedly dispersed and lost to history, and henceforth known as the Ten Lost Tribes. Jewish tradition holds that Samaria was so named because the region's mountainous terrain was used to keep "Guard" (Shamer) for incoming enemy attack. According to Samaritan tradition, however, the Samaritan ethnonym is not derived from the region of Samaria, but from the fact that they were the "Guardians" (Shamerim) of the true Israelite religion. Thus, according to Samaritan tradition, the region was named Samaria after them, not vice versa. In Jewish Hebrew, the Samaritans are called Shomronim, while in Samaritan Hebrew they call themselves Shamerim.
In Judaism, an Israelite is, broadly speaking, a lay member of the Jewish ethno-religious group, as opposed to the priestly orders of Kohanim and Levites. In texts of Jewish law such as the Mishnah and Gemara, the term יהודי (Yehudi), meaning Jew, is rarely used, and instead the ethnonym ישראלי (Yisraeli), or Israelite, is widely used to refer to Jews. Samaritans commonly refer to themselves and Jews collectively as Israelites, and describe themselves as the Israelite Samaritans.
In Alpha and Omega, a Judahite man, who died in Jerusalem sometime between 931 and 722 BC, is revived as a ghost in our 21st century. When he hears that he is in Israel (i.e., the Israeli State), he incorrectly takes this to mean that the heretic Northern Kingdom has invaded and conquered the pious Southern one.
Book of Job
The Book of Job (אִיּוֹב) is a book in the Ketuvim ("Writings") section of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), and the first poetic book in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It tells of Job, a righteous man blessed with wealth, sons, and daughters, who becomes the focus of a bizarre wager between God and Satan: Satan asserts that Job is pious only because God has blessed him; if God were to take away everything that Job had, then he would surely curse God. God gives Satan permission to take Job's wealth and kill all of his children and servants except four, but Job nonetheless continues praising God in his reduced circumstances, and is eventually rewarding with new wealth and new children. Addressing the problem of theodicy – the vindication of the justice of God in the light of humanity's suffering – it is a rich theological work setting out a variety of perspectives. It has been widely praised for its literary qualities, with Alfred Tennyson calling it "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times".
Unlike most Bible stories, Job has no historical context, and reads as if it were a fictional work. Job's homeland of "Uz" is not obviously identifiable with any historical culture, and no historical empires are referenced in the narrative. This has not stopped Biblical scholars from using educated hypotheses to estimate the map location of Job's home and the century in which he lived.
In Alpha and Omega, Chaim Avigad sees the Book of Job as a central metaphor of the world he knows, wherein great victories for Israel and the Jews result from the aftermath of bloody massacres, such as the dirty bombing of Tel Aviv. As Chaim reflects on these events and also anticipates the ritual sacrifice of his bovine friend Rose the Red Heifer, he concludes that God rarely allows any great breakthrough to be accomplished, unless it is proceeded by the bloodshed of innocents.
Jonah (יוֹנָה, Yonā) or Jonas is the title character of a short book in the Old Testament. A prophet of the Israelite Northern Kingdom in the 8th century BCE, Jonah is called upon by God to travel to Nineveh (in present day Iraq) and warn its people of impending divine wrath. Instead, Jonah boards a ship to Tarshish (near present day Gibraltar). Caught in a storm, he orders the ship's crew to cast him overboard, whereupon he is swallowed by an animal called dag gadol, translatable as either "giant fish" or "whale". Three days later, after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. Jonah successfully convinces the entire city to repent, but waits outside the city in expectation of its destruction. When God spares the city because of the people's repentance, Jonah is disappointed by the anticlimax, and grumbles at God.
Placed in a section of the Bible between the speeches of various prophets, Jonah's book is odd because it instead is a story about a prophet, who is spectacularly incompetent and ill-suited to his tasks. For that reason the story is often considered partially satirical, with Jonah's experiences among righteous Gentiles mocking the rigid isolationist views of extreme Judaism. Some modern scholars of folklore have noted similarities between Jonah and other legendary figures, such as Gilgamesh and Jason.
In "Next Year in Jerusalem", the POV character Yakov thinks of Jonah as a central metaphor of his experiences. Emerging from a dolphin-shaped submarine on his mission to "liberate" Israel, Yakov makes a speech to his Second Irgun teammates based on Jonah's post-whale mission statement. Yakov eventually returns to the submarine after his mission has failed, imagining that the whale, repenting of its decision to release Jonah, is swallowing him for the second time.
Mary, Mother of Jesus
Mary (c. 18 BC - after AD 30), commonly referred to as Mary of Nazareth or the Virgin Mary, was a Jewish woman of Nazareth, and the mother of Jesus, according to the Biblical New Testament and the Qu'ran.
According to Christian teaching, Mary conceived Jesus while a virgin, through the Holy Spirit of God. The miraculous conception took place when she was already betrothed to Joseph, and was explained to her during a visit from the Archangel Gabriel. She accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Joseph and Mary later had several non-divine children, about whom little is known. It is possible that one of their sons was named James and was considered an original Apostle. Mary was present at her oldest son's death by crucifixion and was a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, supported by John the Apostle. According to Catholic and Orthodox teachings, at the end of her earthly life her body was raised directly into Heaven; this is known in the Christian West as the Assumption.
Mary is considered a saint in most Christian churches, however her extreme veneration by Catholics has been a point of controversy since the Reformation. Protestants often consider the Catholic custom of praying to Mary to be an idolatrous usurpation of the proper Godhead, and allege that it is a thinly disguised polytheist custom of worshiping the Egypto-Roman mother goddess Isis. Analysis of the first artistic depictions of Mary holding her infant, compared with earlier Isis icons, suggests that the truth of the latter accusation is empirically verifiable.
A large number of Turtledove's characters are Catholic, and make impromptu oaths by the Virgin. Non-Catholic characters may make reference to Jesus' mother as well. In most of these, Mary has the exact same cultural status as in OTL.
In Household Gods, the visual similarity between Mary and Isis is momentarily a sore point for Nicole Gunther, a lapsed-Catholic time-traveler from 1999, who attends an Isis ceremony in AD 170. Nicole momentarily thinks that the Isis cult has appropriated Catholic culture, but very swiftly corrects herself regarding the chronology.
Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar II, also spelled Nebuchadrezzar II, was king of Babylon from c. 605 BC until his death c. 562 BC, making him the longest-reigning and most powerful monarch of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.
His father Nabopolassar, an official of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, rebelled in 626 BC and established himself as the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar ascended the throne in 605 BC and subsequently fought several campaigns in the West, where Egypt was trying to organize a coalition against him. His conquest of Judah is described in the Bible's Books of Kings, Chronicles, Jeremiah, and Daniel. He is a particularly significant character in the latter, where he is said to have destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem and initiated the Babylonian captivity. Daniel portrays Nebuchadnezzar as mad and animalistic, a characterization which is not attested in any other early biography. Some scholars believe that this aspect is in fact meant to caricature Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the erstwhile boogeyman for the Jews in 165 BC, Daniel's possible composition date.
In Alpha and Omega, Lester Stark studies the Book of Daniel chapter 5, and determines that its prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar's decline has multiple meanings. For one thing, it also foretells the fall of Saddam Hussein, whom Stark describes as the Nebuchadnezzar of the modern era. It also deals with certain events relating to the imminent End of Days.
In addition to being the focus of "Occupation Duty," the Philistines are referenced in a character's metaphor in In the Presence of Mine Enemies. Lise Gimpel wonders if the ancient Jews made jokes about the then-recently extinct Philistines, just as 21st-century Germans find it great sport to make jokes about the supposedly-extinct Jews.
The Book of Psalms (Hebrew: תְּהִלִּים, Tehillim, "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms or "the Psalms", is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings"), the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and thus a book of the Christian Old Testament. The title is derived from the Greek translation, ψαλμοί, psalmoi, meaning "instrumental music" and, by extension, "the words accompanying the music". The book is an anthology of individual psalms, with 150 in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition and more in the Eastern Christian churches. Many are credited to David, King of Israel, but his authorship in most cases is not accepted by modern scholars.
The Psalms have many passages which are iconic in popular culture, as referenced as such by Turtledove. The novel In the Presence of Mine Enemies and its source story take their title from a line in Psalm 23, arguably the most famous psalm of all. In the Atlantis story "The Scarlet Band," Athelstan Helms recites a line from Psalm 60 ("Moab is my washpot," written from David's POV) as part of a rhetorical argument about the connection between extreme piety and violent capability. In "Curse of the Three Demons," Rabbi Yen Hui of Kaifeng has an odd quirk of interchanging lines from the Psalms with the sayings of Confucius.
Book of Revelation
Revelation 3:15-16 (KJV) states:
- "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth."
Turtledove has characters reference this verse as an indicator to not take the safe middle ground. In Alpha and Omega, Reverend Lester Stark thinks of these verses just prior to giving a sermon predicting the End Times coming soon, risking humiliation if this did not happen. In The Guns of the South, Ben Drake, the preacher at the Nashville Baptist church, gives a sermon using this and the Book of Deuteronomy to urge his congregation to love God with all their might and not halfheartedly.
In The Great War: Breakthroughs, Gordon McSweeney says that his flamethrower makes him feel like the angel of the Lord in Revelations chapter 16, who pours out his bowl on the sun and scorches the wicked with fire.
Solomon (Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה Shlomo, Arabic: سُليمان Sulaymān, Greek: Σολομών Solomōn; Latin: Salomon), also called Jedidiah (Hebrew יְדִידְיָהּ) is an apparently historical Israelite monarch described in the Bible (1 Kings 1–11, 1 Chronicles 28–29, 2 Chronicles 1–9), Qu'ran, hadith and Hidden Words. Solomon was a son of King David, and went on to become a fabulously wealthy and wise king in his own right. The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are circa 970 to 931 BC, normally given in alignment with the dates of David's reign. He is described as the third and final king of the United Monarchy.
The Hebrew Bible credits him as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem. It portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power beyond any of the previous Israelite rulers, but ultimately as a king who sinned. His sins included idolatry, marrying foreign women, and ultimately turning away from the One True God, which led to the kingdom's being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam.
Solomon is traditionally considered the author of the Bible sections Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. He is named as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
One of the more famous stories of Solomon tells how he used reverse psychology to determine which of two low-born women, who both claimed to be a lost infant's mother, was telling the truth.
In In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Heinrich Gimpel refers to a widely publicized story about two shoppers arguing over one of the Vicki dolls, and says the judge should have offered to cut the doll in half like Solomon proposed. This leads to much grief for Heinrich, when Gimpel's stalker Erika Dorsch remembers that Solomon was a Jewish king, and gets the idea to denounce Heinrich as a secret Jew to the Nazi authorities.
In Through Darkest Europe, the Jewish agent Dawud ibn Musa makes reference to the two mothers story, only to find that very few Muslims have heard of it. While Solomon is regarded highly in Islam, that particular story did not make it into the Qu'ran.
In Noninterference, Federacy Prime Minister Amadeo Croce makes an offhand metaphor about Solomon's judicial wisdom. Although Judaism and Christianity are still widely practiced in this Federacy, Survey Service Chairman Paulina Koch, a very powerful politician, has never heard of Solomon.
- See Gothic Bible.
- See e.g. Kaleidoscope, pg. 14, mpb.
- Alpha and Omega, pg. 70, hc.
- Joe Steele, p. 318.
- Thessalonica, p. 121.
- Atlantis and Other Places, p. 413.
- The Guns of the South, chapter 1.
- The Guns of the South, p. 451.
- Alpha and Omega, pgs. 117-118, 210-211, 238-239, among other examples.
- Alpha and Omega, pgs. 68-70, hc.
- Atlantis and Other Places, p. 413.
- Ruled Britannia, pgs. 104-110.
- Alpha and Omega, pg. 68, hc.
- The Guns of the South, pgs. 417-418, mpb.
- Breakthroughs, p. 183, HC.
- In the Presence of Mine Enemies, pg. 252, HC.
- Thessalonica, p. 82.