Friday, 23 September 2016

Cyrus And Jesus

Time travel fiction addresses not only distance and time but also history:

"...the Aramaeans were slated to overrun most of the Middle East in the dark age that the pre-Event histories said was coming, and their tongue and ways would stamp themselves on the region for millennia. Aramaic would be the state language of the Persian Empire, and the native tongue of Jesus. Or would have been..."
-SM Stirling, Against The Tide Of Years (New York, 1999), Chapter Fifteen, p. 229.

I knew that Jesus spoke Aramaic but not that the Persians did also. The Persian Emperors start with Cyrus who is prominent both in the Bible and in Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series. Without Cyrus, there would have been no Return from Exile and therefore no Christianity. This makes Cyrus a divine agent in the Bible and a pivotal figure for the Patrol. In SM Stirling's Nantucket timeline, none of that is going to happen...

I said recently that, when discussing time travel, the Time Patrol series is an endless source of comparisons and quotations. Here we are again, as the bishop said to the actress. Time Patrol is like a Bible of time travel. On the map of Cyrus' Empire (see image), we recognize Bactria from the sequel to Time Patrol, The Shield Of Time. Everard reminds Dennison/Cyrus that most of Alexander's conquests consisted of taking over Persian territory. Everard is in Bactria after Alexander's generals have divided his empire up between them.

Note: See comments.

5 comments:

  1. The Persians proper -- the Parsa and the Medes and other Aryans -- spoke Old Persian and closely related ancient Iranian languages as their native languages. But Aramaic was the chancery language of the Persian Empire, because it was the most common written and spoken tongue in the richest parts of their domains, from Mesopotamia through to the coast of Syria. Aramaic had been spreading for some time -- under the Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires and through folk-migrations -- and continued to do so under the Persians. The Hellenistic monarchies following Alexander used Koine Greek, but the peasantry and lower classes continued to speak Aramaic through most of that area.

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  2. The Persians proper -- the Parsa and the Medes and other Aryans -- spoke Old Persian and closely related ancient Iranian languages as their native languages. But Aramaic was the chancery language of the Persian Empire, because it was the most common written and spoken tongue in the richest parts of their domains, from Mesopotamia through to the coast of Syria. Aramaic had been spreading for some time -- under the Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires and through folk-migrations -- and continued to do so under the Persians. The Hellenistic monarchies following Alexander used Koine Greek, but the peasantry and lower classes continued to speak Aramaic through most of that area.

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    1. Dear Mr. Stirling,

      I did notice Paul's comment about Aramaic and the Persians and I thought it odd. I did have in mind Aramaic being used by the Persians as you put it, a chancery language.

      And, of course, Aramaic became the ordinary, every day language used by the Jews after they returned from the Babylonian Exile.

      Sean M. Brooks

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  3. Kaor, Paul!

    Just a few comments about your remarks on Christianity. Yes, I agree that if the Jews had not returned from the Babylonian Exile due to the kindness of Cyrus the Great, there would have been no Christianity. But, since I believe God is real and does sometimes act in history, I don't believe it was part of His plan for the Jews to disappear. I think God somehow acted in such a way that King Cyrus was inspired to encourage the exiled Jews to return to Judae.

    You wrote: "This makes Cyrus a divine agent in the Bible and a pivotal figure for the Patrol. In SM Stirling's Nantucket timeline, none of that is going to happen..." I have to disagree because it DID happen in the Nantucketers original timeline and they would soon be telling their new neighbors about multiple and alternate universes. Moreover, Christianity DOES exist in the Nantucket/Event timeline AND started making converts.

    Many thoughts comes to mind. How will Christian Nantucketers make THEOLOGICAL sense of proclaiming faith in a Christ who appeared in one timeline but not in the other? How will they make sense of the Old and New Testaments in the Nantucket timeline? Will the Christians of the Nantucket timeline become the Jews of the "new" universe? That is, will they come to believe that Christ would someday become Incarnate in the Nantucket timeline? Will there be prophets who will, as the Jewish prophets did, protest against polytheism, injustice and oppression, and foretell the coming of the Messiah?

    Sean

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