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16 August 2007 @ 02:36 pm
So hey, question for all you readers of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series, Jews, and Jewish readers of the Kushiel series...

As part of her alternative-theology-slash-alternative-history, she has a major upheaval in Europe that pretty much stops the Catholic church from happening. The folks who wind up in "I Can't Believe It's Not France" (tm), aka Terre D'Ange, believe in the One God of the old Jewish religion... But the D'Angelines are an offshoot, certainly no more similar to Judaism than Islam is. They're also pretty definitely not Christian. They acknowledge Judaism, but it's background for the parts of their religion that they actually pay attention to.

The Jews are still around, but they're not what you'd usually think of as Jewish. Specifically, Jesus (called Yeshua ben Josef) has been accepted universally by the Yeshuites, who are thus all messianic Jews. They even use the word "Moschiach" when referring to him, which is either the same word the modern, real-life messianic Jews use or close enough that my lack of Hebrew can't distinguish :-)

What this means is that in her world, when a major politic upheaval took place in central Europe and a new nation and religion were formed, Catholicism didn't happen and the Jews all became Yeshuites (messianic).

So, I ask my readers: if you're Jewish, do you find that idea realistic? Offensive? Both or neither? If you're not Jewish, feel free to speculate. We're mostly Californians here. If we can't get huffy and offended on somebody else's behalf, who can?
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KJBcapnkjb on August 16th, 2007 10:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm gonna go with this interpretation. It's like the whole Jews for Jesus thing - oxymoronic.

Reading this post, though, has made me want to read the books more than anything else anyone has said about the books ("oh, they're so good, you'll love it" etc).
Noahangelbob on August 16th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah. A lot of what I like is how she's messed around with politics and geography, and how the political climate of the nearby nations makes a huge difference in the story (often, it *is* the story). For instance, Italy is a collection of city-states called Caerdicca Unitas, and a lot of what would be Scandinavia and Eastern Europe are conquered by what are approximately Vikings, and referred to as Skaldia. Some of the linguistic stuff is especially cool, and presumably took a mind-bending amount of research to throw together.
blkblk on August 16th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
I don't have references, but I seem to remember hearing that the 10 years before she wrote the first book was mostly spent traveling and doing linguistic research.
Noahangelbob on August 16th, 2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
Yes and no. Her Yeshuites are very obviously culturally Jewish. They use Hebrew, not Latin, as the appropriate holy language. They seem to worry a lot more about the old Testament than the New. They do believe in Yeshua forgiving sin, but that's about it. To the extent that "Jewish" is a culture as much as a religion, they are unquestionably culturally Jewish. They're also discriminated against in similar ways.
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Noahangelbob on August 17th, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Fair enough. I don't think they require an intermediary between you and God (the Yeshuites -- the D'Angelines do some of that), but they *do* have the messiah come and gone without the world ending.
vito_excalibur on August 16th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
As far as I can tell, gods are a lot more open about showing their hand in Carey's universe, so there's really no doubt about who's a god and who isn't. Everyone accepts Yeshua's divinity as a demonstrable fact of history.

That being said, could you be a son of god and still not be the Messiah? What is the Messiah? I don't honestly know.
Noahangelbob on August 16th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
Yes and no. The D'Angelines are descended of angels, but other than being (in their own opinion) prettier than everybody else and having strong inclinations toward one philosophical path or another, they're mostly just people. The closest to an angelic superpower you see are the Cassilines (the chaste bodyguards who are incredibly highly trained), and they're not descended of Cassiel ('cause nobody is), so apparently that's all about the training.

They have Oracles, and there are the Tsingani (gypsy) fortune tellers, and that's about as close to "God directly showing His hand" that I see in those books. It's mostly that they're very devout and do a lot of attributing things to Gods, a lot like the ancient Greeks or Romans.

I've heard the idea of birth control being related to petitioning Gods in some way, and that being more like a supernatural thing, but as of mid-book-two, no such thing has ever been mentioned.

Everyone accepts Yeshua's divinity, but the amount of proof they have isn't really greater than what we do. Mainly they're just all very devout, at least in the countries near Terre D'Ange, but that's a pretty good reflection of the real historical period in question, too.
vito_excalibur on August 16th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
Um....The Master Of The Straits, yes?
Noahangelbob on August 16th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
Okay, but "generally accepted" is a bit much -- the Master of the Straits seems to be widely considered to be mythical, and even more widely considered to have nothing to do with the One God.

Presumably the modern readers in question feel differently, but that's different from general opinion at the time...
vito_excalibur on August 16th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
Not really, it's established at the beginning of the story that it's very hard to get from Terre D'Ange to Alba; more to the point, you see eventually in the story that if you actually go and see him there's no doubt on the matter. People think he's mythical in the same way that they thought rhinoceroses were mythical; there was no photography, sound recording, etc., so conveying proof could be more difficult.

The series does get more god-ridden in the third book. It's one of the things I didn't like. But I still thought it was a good & satisfying ending to the trilogy.
Zhaneelzhaneel69 on August 16th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
If you are only on book two of Phedre's story there is a lot more development that happens that answers some of your questions re: Jewish & uprising AND deals with more openly use of God & Angels & gods.

Jennifer: mellownoirem on August 17th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
no, it's a given that the d'angelines are just prettier than everyone else. Phaedra isn't particularly pretty for a d'angeline, but she's the most exquisit person anyone else has ever seen (except of course her even lovelier escort).
Noahangelbob on August 17th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Eh. The Skaldi treat her as being really exotic. The Serenissimans don't mostly seem all that impressed. While the Skaldi women are slack-jawed at Joscelin, that seems to be mostly because he's, like, *pretty*, rather than the big, burly, manly, sweating hunks of Skaldi masculinity that survive through adolescence with any social status.

A lot of this is stuff that Phedre takes as being because she's just that beautiful due to being a D'Angeline, but would pretty much be true if she were prettier than average (which she is, for a D'Angeline) and exotic-looking (to non-D'Angelines). The Illyrians, for instance, take her for a malevolent water spirit, which hinges more on "otherworldly" than "desirable".

And come to think of it, even the D'Angelines are impressed by how pretty Joscelin is. "It appears the Cassiline brotherhood has been robbing the cradles of the Night Court. Lucky brethren..." was spoken by Melisande Shahrizai, apparently one of the prettiest of the D'Angelines herself.
Noahangelbob on August 16th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
could you be a son of god and still not be the Messiah? What is the Messiah?

The Messiah is the one who comes to deliver the religious folk from sin. So yeah, you could totally be the son of a God and not be the messiah -- look at Heracles or Perseus.

Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet, but not the messiah. No clue how they feel about him being the son of God, though.
JohnGgomijacogeo on August 17th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
No clue how they feel about him being the son of God, though.

I think "There is no God but God" pretty much sums it up. They view Christianity as polytheism.
IANALqueen_elvis on August 16th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
Jewish people, IME, really dislike attempts to conflate their culture with Christianity, which after all was behind a lot of attempts to kill them. I would expect my boyfriend to regard the idea of Yeshuites as a corruption of Judaism that might be mildly offensive. Of course, he also doesn't like secular Christmas. I will get him with cookies!

It's worth noting that the newest Michael Chabon book is partly about Messiah, and he's certainly culturally Jewish, if not religiously.