The True Religious Implications of Xenogears *MAJOR XENOGEARS SPOILERS!*

by Joshua Maciel

When Xenogears came out, there was some debate over potentially offensive religious themes. However, I never really thought it any deeper than the use of a cross, and the somewhat-obvious similarities with Christianity. The implications go much deeper than I once thought. For a while now I have been trying to get at least one editorial posted about the heavy use of things from Judaism and Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) in Squaresoft games. Only after sitting through my last class of Introduction to the Hebrew Bible do I understand what Xenogears is really impying -- and so I'll share.

Xenogears is not only about "Christianity" being a religion based on money. There is a much deeper theme. That is the "bad guys" in the game are trying to resurrect Yahweh (the God of Judaism). I will walk everyone through the relevant parts of the plot in order to have this make sense. In class on Monday, we were going over the book of Second Isaiah (Isaiah chapters 40-55), and I noticed a passage 44:6 and 48:12 (chapter:verse) "I am the first and I am the last." The passage is Yahweh speaking. Does anyone remember the intro to the game? I am the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, etc.? These are apparently the words of Deus on that big ship that blows up.

I don't have all the answers mind you, just some theories. A direct biblical quote by Square, along with all the other terms they use seem to make sense. Look at the Emperor of the floating heads -- his name is Cain. Cain is the first murderer according to the Bible, and is punished by God. Note that Cain does not want Deus resurrected in the game, and so Krelian kills him for it. The reason Cain wouldn't want Deus to come back is because Yahweh in the biblical story (Genesis 4) cursed Cain to be unable to work the land as he had done. Note that Cain lives in some sort of an alternate dimension.

By my analysis, I'd say Krelian is the Jewish messiah in the story. He brings God to earth to punish the wicked (remember all the mutating suffering people? The righteous didn't seem to get punished). The messiah comes to save the faithful (the citizens of Shevat perhaps? Shevat being the promised land). His partners (the 6 floating heads) could be the Nevi'im (Prophets). There are 6 former prophets in the Bible, their prophecies are in Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings. Note how they are continuously forseeing the future, and speaking of what will happen.

However, the final result of all this is not pro-Judaism. Deus dies, Fei and crew saves the day. What happens when Fei saves the day? Along comes this being from an alternate dimension, with powers far beyond the grasp of Fei. Who is this person? That could quite possibly be the Christian God. This brings us to a conundrum in our analysis: the Jewish God and the Christian God are based on the same texts (with the minor exception of the New Testament including the holy Trinity in the picture). My theory is that Deus is potentially a false God, and Krelian is a false messiah.

There is historical tradition to support this theory. In the middle ages, there was a Rabbi from the Middle East named Shabbetai Zevi who proclaimed himself a Messiah. He grew a large following in the Jewish community. According to Judaism, when the Messiah comes, all the 613 laws in the Bible are null and void and reversed. Shabbetai Zevi and his followers would have sex in the temple, even on Torah scrolls (holy scrolls with the word of God written on them) because since he was the Messiah, there was nothing wrong with those actions. Another incidence to support this with is that Deus is seen. According to the Bible, simply seeing Yahweh (God) will kill the observer. Even the angels look away from God. The being at the end is never really seen -- that could imply that he/she/it is God.

There are many more references to Judaism, and Jewish Mysticism in the game. The tower of Babel is a reference to Genesis 11, the story of a tower built to the heavens. The names of some of the cities -- Nisan, Kislev, Shevat, and Av (Aveh) -- are names of the Jewish months from long ago. In addition, Deus' ship is named the Merkava, which is a reference to Jewish Mysticism. Merkava Mysticism is "Mysticism of the chariot" since many mystic visions involve a flaming chariot in Kabbalah. The Merkava has a symbol on it, that symbol is the ten Sefirot (aspects of God). These are only the references that I picked up on. There is potentially droves of information and references that I missed -- however, not many scholars on religion play videogames in general, let alone a 50 hours square RPG.

These are my conclusions and theories. They are by no means right, final, or any of that. If you have any information which I missed, or any plot parts I just plain got wrong (it's been a year since I played it), by all means e-mail me. If you have any questions, or any comments, or anything -- I'd love to hear them. I'm sorry this reads more like a history report than an opinion-ridden perspective, but I figured at least ONE Xenogears fanatic out there would enjoy it ;)

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