Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bible and the "Lost" Finale: Live Blog

Much has been said and written about the Biblical references in Lost. I thought I'd test the theory tonight by live-blogging the finale. I'll note any explicit or implicit references I see--feel free to chime in if I'm missing any! ...

Entry 1

When Sawyer asks Jack to come down from the mountaintop and tell him what the burning bush said, he's actually making two Biblical references to the Torah, both of which involve Moses. The first comes from Exodus 3, when Moses hears God speak to him from a burning bush on Mount Horeb.

However, when Biblical scholars speak of Moses "on the mountaintop"--as Martin Luther King once did--they are more frequently speaking of Moses's dealings with God on Mount Sinai, where the divine presence rests throughout much of the early Torah narrative.

Entry 2

Of course, Jacob is a Biblical name as well. Jacob is Isaac's second son and the heir who inherits the blessing. Jacob is known for many things in Genesis: he wrestles with an angel; he sees a vision of a stairway to heaven; he cheats his brother Esau; and he has twelve sons. He also sees his family sent to Egypt--the nation that will eventually host the Israelites' exile.

Entry 3

Kate is incredulous to hear Jack's father's name: Christian Shephard. Two-thirds of the Christian Trinity--both Jesus and God--are likened to shepherds in the Bible. The metaphor appears most famously in Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil,
for you are with me--your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord my whole life long.

Entry 4

That golden water--of which both Jacob and Jack drink--is a "water of life" that seems to grant some level of immortality. Revelation 22, another finale of sorts, also mentions a river of the "water of life" that flows through the new Jerusalem:

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city" (22:1).

A pretty snappy description of that shiny waterfall, right? And then later in Revelation ...

"The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift" (22:17).

Entry 5

All these revelations in the sideways universe remind me of a passage from 1 Corinthians: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face" (13:12). The Greeks called such a moment of revelation an anagnorisis.

Entry 6

Tons of names in the Lost universe are Biblical, including the name of Claire's baby, Aaron, now born for the second time. Aaron is Moses's brother and right-hand man. He is also the first high priest of the Israelite people.

Entry 7

Revelation 20 speaks of a "second death," which may or may not leave one suffering eternally on a lake of fire. (And did you see that fiery, diabolical keyhole at the bottom of the waterfall?) All these old faces brought back to life in the sideways universe--most prominently, Charlie's--make me fear that they might suffer a "second death" if the resolution of the two timelines sends that alternative universe back to oblivion.

Entry 8

Jack's knife wound recalls Jesus's, mentioned in John 19:34: "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out." Jesus, of course, suffers the blow after his death. Jack, at least for the moment, is still alive ...

Entry 9

There's no way we're done with the smoke monster, right? It's always reminded me of two of the plagues that God set upon the Egyptians in Exodus. The first is darkness:

"So Moses stretched out his hand towards heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were; but all the Israelites had light where they lived" (10:22-23).

The second is the angel of death, or sometimes simply "the Lord," who strikes down the Egyptians' first-born:

"At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock" (Exodus 12:29).

Entry 10

When Kate repeats to Jack "It's over" in front of the concert tent, she's echoing Jesus too ... "When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:30). These are Jesus's last words in the gospel of John.

Entry 11

Down at the bottom of the well, there's a plug that seems to keep evil corked underneath the ground. It's at the middle of concentric circles. It's worth noting that Satan serves a similar purpose in the final cantos of Dante's Inferno. He sits at the bottom of hell, his nether-regions encased in ice, his feet below the surface of the hellish ground.

(Okay, this isn't Biblical, but it's close enough.)

Entry 12

And here, as the final moments arrive, we see a white statue of Jesus, his arms spread wide. And we bring everyone together at a church. Coincidence?

And shortly after we see Jesus, John Locke, the lame man, walks. For fun, see Matthew 9, when Jesus enacts a similar miracle: "he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home."

Entry 13

As we near the end, we prepare to put Christian Shephard--the Christian shepherd? Jesus?--into the ground at last. Is Lost, then, an anti-religious, or an anti-Christian parable?

Entry 14

The stained-glass window over Christian Shephard's coffin is decidedly ecumenical; it features symbols from six major world religions.

Entry 15

And at last, an empty tomb! (Er, coffin.) Here's the end of John:

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him'" (20:1-2).

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