Friday, 14 February 2014

Ivory, and Apes, and Peacocks IV

Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006).

Epsilon Korten, the director of Jerusalem Base extrapolates:

"'If Tyre is destroyed, Europe may take decades to show any major effects, the rest of the world centuries - millennia, in the Americas or Australia. But it will be an immediate catastrophe for Solomon's kingdom. Lacking Hiram's support and the prestige it confers, he probably can't hold his tribes together long; and without Tyre at their backs, the Philistines won't be slow to seek revenge. Judaism, Yahwistic monotheism, is weak and frail, still half pagan. My extrapolation is that it won't survive either. Yahweh will sink to being one more character in a crude and mutable pantheon.'" (p. 308)

Earlier, Everard had reflected that:

"Yahweh would not really be the sole Lord of the Jews until the Babylonian Captivity forced them to it, as a means of preserving an identity that ten of their tribes had already lost." (p. 249)

(Anderson's "The House of Sorrows" presents a timeline in which the Jews did not return from Babylon.) Everard goes on to speculate that "...foreign alliance and domestic religious tolerance...might well have saved the country from its eventual destruction." (ibid.)

- but, of course, the Patrol must protect what did happen which, in this case, is prophetic intolerance of Phoenician paganism. So how would the Patrol have been able to minimize the effects on Solomon's kingdom of the destruction of Tyre? It seems that they would have had to:

help Solomon to maintain his tribal confederation;
hold off the Philistines;
maintain the drive towards monotheism;
resist a return to polytheism;
do all this without coming to the attention of historians.

This sounds (a) difficult and (b) not enough to restore the exact history that would have occurred without the destruction of Tyre. Would the Danellians and the Patrol be content, if necessary, with an altered timeline that was broadly similar to the original? Thus, for example, an advance to monotheism even if not exactly along the lines of post-Exilic Judaism and early Christianity?

When Korten spells out the extent of the extrapolated catastrophe, Everard irritates him by in turn spelling out, purely for the benefit of the reader, that Judaism influenced philosophy as well as Greek and Roman events and that, without it, there would be no Christianity or Western or Byzantine civilizations. This happens a few times in the series. The reader must be informed so, for example, Everard and Vasquez irritate Helen Tamberly by discussing the Spanish Conquest instead of getting straight to how they might find her missing husband.

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