Judaism is a human religion, one of the first monotheistic faiths, and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced in modern times. Jewish traditions constitute a major part of the foundation of other human religions, such as Christianity and Islam.
The Jewish people were persecuted for many centuries, most horrifically in Germany under the rule of Adolf Hitler. (DS9 novel: Warchild) The Nazi campaigns against Europe's Jews were part of the holographic program used by the Hirogen after capturing the USS Voyager in 2374, in an effort to better understand their human prey. (VOY episode: "The Killing Game, Part I")
Professor Jeremy Grayson, a Human ancestor of Spock, identified himself as "an honorary Jew" by marriage. Regardless, he honored Jewish tradition following her death in 2044. (TOS novel: Strangers from the Sky)
Gold's wife, Rabbi Rachel Gilman, ministered to the Jewish faithful in New York City in the mid and late 24th century. In 2376, she officiated at the first Klingon-Jewish wedding, melding elements of both cultures in the ceremony. (SCE eBooks: The Belly of the Beast, Creative Couplings)
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There are numerous references and allusions to religions and ideologies in Lost. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Mysticsim are among the religions in Lost. Because of the mysterious occurrences on the Island, and the varied predispositions of its inhabitants, many different religions and ideologies are explored in Lost.
Out of all of the main and minor characters in Lost who have been revealed to be a follower of a certain religion, Christianity is the most prevalent.
Throughout the show, Christianity is referred to the most among other religions and ideologies. Some explicit references are made through the characters own practices, and other implicit references are found in the storyline, mostly to reflect the general concept of "Faith" more than the specific religion.
Most of the explicit references to Christianity, both general or specific, were made through Mr. Eko's thread, given his assumed priesthood. After killing two of the Others in self defense, Eko takes a redeeming vow for 40 days and nights, reminiscent of Lent tradition (or Israel's 40 years in the wilderness, Moses' 40 days on the mountain, Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness) during which he abstains from talking. In the 40 days, Eko sculpts a staff from a tree branch, carving into it a cross and various Bible scriptures which he continued to add after his vow ended. The last carving is revealed by Locke to be: "Lift up your eyes and look north." John 3.05, though actually a reference to Ezekiel 8:5. John 3:5 is actually "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.'" (NIV) ("The Cost of Living")
On the way to the Beechcraft, Eko obtains a cross from the dead body of his brother, Yemi, which becomes another personal item of his. Eko loses his cross during the Swan's implosion, before getting it back from Locke in a kind of symbolic exchange of faith. The survivors use crosses to mark the graves of Shannon, Boone, and other deceased fuselage passengers. Their use of Christian burials distinguishes them from the Others, who use rituals inspired by Hinduism in their funerals. ("The 23rd Psalm") ("The Cost of Living")
Before Eko joins the Middle section survivors, Rose, a devout Christian, played a key role in helping her peers come to terms with their faith and cope with their suffering. Among those she helped was Charlie, whom she comforted over Claire's kidnap by Ethan by praying for him. Later, she helped Locke in restoring his faith in the Island, before it was shattered by his visit to the Pearl. ("Lockdown")
Eko enlists Charlie's help in building a Church. Eko never finishes building the church. Locke later used this site when he built his sweat lodge, in which he is visited by a vision of Boone. This juxtaposition suggests a similarity between the prophetic visions of Christianity and the visionary traditions of Native American faiths. ("Fire + Water") ("Further Instructions")
Locke's mother, Emily Annabeth Locke, claims that Locke was immaculately conceived, although she misuses the term, implying that Locke did not have a human father. ("Deus Ex Machina") When the fuselage survivors put Benjamin Linus into the Swan's armory, he hangs on the wall in a manner which is reminiscent of the crucifixion. ("Dave")
In This Place is Death when Locke is injured, Christian Shepherd speaks to him about the meaning of sacrifice and as Locke approached the wheel with is torn and battered body shows major symbolism to Christ and the cross.
Locke's sacrifice to save the Island and subsequent ressurection could be analogous to Christ's sacrificial death and ressurection.
Eloise Hawking sacrificially sends her son Daniel Faraday to the island with foreknowledge of his death. This corresponds with the Christian concept of God intentionally sending his son Jesus Christ to die as an atoning sacrifice. ("The Variable")
The end of the season 5 finale scene with Jacob, Ben, and Jacob's enemy strongly paralleled the story from the Book of Job.
Other general references to Judaism and Christianity are also made, predominantly through the names of the characters:
Hell is mentioned in a mythological sense. Hell is also a place of judgment in the Christian religion where one goes if they have not accepted Christ as their savior and atonement for their sins. Hell and Heaven are generally associated as opposites.
Hell comes from Middle English from Old English from Norse (hel) The Norse concept of the underworld is usually the source listed for our concept of Hell. The word means covered or hidden. It is related to the Greek Hades or underworld. The Hebrews believed in Sheol – an existence to which all were sent. Today most people of the Jewish faith tend to emphasis life in the present and do not put much emphasis on the afterlife. The Bible uses the word 'Gehenna', from the valley of Ge-Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem used as a garbage dump – where refuse was burned. The early Christian teaching was that the damned would be burned in the valley just as the garbage was. The image of the Devil decked out with the pitchfork has no Biblical basis. The Book of Revelation in the Bible talks about a "Lake of Fire.”
As revealed in his flashbacks, Charlie Pace is raised a devout Catholic, and was an altar boy. Charlie detaches from his religious roots for a while, when introduced to the world of drugs and fame in his music career. However, in the events of Claire's kidnap and influenced by Rose's strong faith, the traumatized Charlie finds remedy in turning to his faith and asking God for help, although he regresses again shortly when he comes to the heroin-filled Virgin Mary statues, at the Nigerian Beechcraft. Temporarily, the statues are interpreted by Claire as a sign of Charlie's religious tendencies, before the truth unfolds. After his arrival at the survivors' camp, Eko also played a critical role in influencing Charlie's faith attachment. Charlie soon approaches and befriends Eko, and helps him in building the first known church on the Island, out of wood that Eko marked as "good". Later, Charlie is visited by vivid dreams of a constantly endangered Aaron, with his mother and Claire appearing as angels and Hurley as John the Baptist in variations on Verrocchio's Baptism of Christ, asking him to save Aaron. When Charlie confides in Eko, he guides him to the possible relation of saving Aaron and baptism. Influenced by Charlie's urges, Claire approaches Eko who baptizes her and Aaron upon her request, making them both, accordingly, Catholic. As a final testament to his faith, Charlie does the sign of the Cross right before he dies.
Catholicism is further referenced through Eko's own Flashbacks, which introduces his Catholic priest brother, Yemi. Both Eko and Yemi were raised in a devout catholic faith, before Eko strays to the life of crime to save his brother. After Yemi is later kidnapped by Eko's accomplices in the Beechcraft, Eko takes his place in church posing as a Catholic priest, before truthfully embracing his new role through an overseas internship that Yemi was signed for. Later, the reluctant Eko is sent to Australia by the Monsignor to investigate the claim of Joyce Malkin, a devout Catholic, that her daughter, Charlotte, miraculously rose from the dead. In spite of his disbelief, Eko is stopped by Charlotte at the airport, to deliver him a message from the dead Yemi, asking him to strengthen his faith. Honoring Yemi was the motivation for Eko's attempt in building the Church, which also served as his means of Redemption, before Yemi visits him in a dream, after which he embraces the pushing of the button as his new redeeming task. In his final moments, Eko is confronted by several images of characters (presumably generated by the Monster) from his past, including Yemi, who repeatedly ask him to "Confess" the traditional Catholic step toward Redemption. When Eko refuses, he is soon attacked by the Monster which ends his life.
Desmond Hume was a Novice in a monastery in Eddington, Scotland and is under Brother Campbell. The monastery's source of income is producing wine under the Moriah Vineyard label. He was once engaged to Ruth whom he left when he felt a higher calling after meeting Brother Campbell. Ruth wears a Rosary and has a prominent Crucifix on her wall. ("Catch-22")
Other Island survivors with a Catholic background include Hurley, who is raised by a devout Catholic mother for whom he buys a large gold Jesus statue, and who strongly denounces the idea of curses before a series of unfortunate events strikes her whole world after her son wins the lottery. Hurley also prays when trying to fix the DHARMA Van showing that at least some of his mother's belief has rubbed off on him.
Catholicism is mentioned very briefly in one of Kate's flashbacks as well. As revealed by Marshal Edward Mars in their short call, it was the Catholic Feast of the Assumption (Celebrated on August 15th (8/15)). He then goes on to say, "How many holy days have come and gone since you last called?" She also mentions that she went to Sunday School as a girl and that her alias, "Lucy" was inspired by St. Lucy. A greater significance to Kate's choice is indicated because the feast Sawyer throws for the castaways occurs on Dec. 19, the Feast of St. Lucy. ("Left Behind")
Among the significant references, there is the notation, "Sursum corda", found on the blast door map, meaning "Lift up your hearts", which holds a notable explicit reference, since it is the phrase often used in addressing the Catholic mass in the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Locke's anger management meeting was in the meeting room of a Christian church, as stained glass is visible. This church may be Catholic, as identified by the church exterior which includes a white statue of the Virgin Mary.
The memorial service for Christian Shepherd was held in a Catholic church.
Ms. Hawking and Ben Linus meet in what appears, from the candles and statues, to be a Catholic church or chapel. ("The Lie"). Later after appearing to pray and lighting a votive candle Benn tells Jack the story of St. Thomas.
Several references to The Seven Deadly Sins have been theorized.
Pride (Jack), Envy (Jin), Wrath (Locke), Sloth (Shannon), Greed (Sawyer), Gluttony (Hugo), Lust (Boone). As well several of the symbolic animal equivalents have been seen: Pride - Horse (Kate's Horse); Envy - Dog (Vincent); Wrath - Bear (Polar Bears); Sloth - Goat (Nigerian goats); Greed - Frog (Sawyer's Tree Frog); Gluttony - Pig (Wild boars); and Lust - Cow (Mikhail Bakunin's cows at The Flame).
Several references to The Seven Holy Virtues, have also been theorized.
Chasity (Juliet), Temperance (John Locke), Charity (Charlie), Diligence (Ben), Patience (Rose), Kindness (Claire), Humility (Richard).
Elements from Judaism factor into the show's mythology and symbolism as well. It should be noted, though, that no single character has explicitly acknowledged Judaism as their professed religion as of the end of Season 5 . Also, many of the references to Judaism are taken from the Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, which is also used by Christians as the Old Testament. Often, these references are made by characters with Christian backgrounds.
The writers occasionally make explicit references to Judaism in the titles of the episodes. For instance, the names of both Season 1 finale episodes, Exodus I and Exodus II, are named after the second book of the Torah. It tells the story of the Hebrews' departure from Egypt, under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. In the finale, the survivors are also forced to consider departing their camp and heading to the Swan station, after hearing Rousseau claim that the Others are coming. Later, the writers refer again to Exodus in the finale of Season 3, when the castaways journey to the radio tower. In this episode, Naomi refers to Jack as "Moses." Another such reference is the name of the Season 2 episode, which refers to the the 23rd Psalm in the Bible, also known as the Shepherd Psalm. In this episode, Eko and Charlie recite this Psalm together. Eko recites it again in his final confrontation with the Monster. Claire tells Eko that her baby's name is Aaron, and they discuss how the name was also that of Moses's elder brother (the spokesman of Moses to his own people, and also to the Pharaoh). ("The Cost of Living") ("The 23rd Psalm")
The writers' use of the Pillar of Smoke is another reference to Judaism. According to Exodus, a pillar of smoke led the Hebrews through the desert in their journey to the Promised Land. In the Bible, the pillar of smoke is a manifestation of God. On the Island, however, pillars of smoke appear to be malevolent rather than divine. One pillar of smoke seems to constitute the body of the Monster. Another column of smoke signaled the presence of the Others (according to Rousseau). In a more neutral sense, Jack and Sayid agree to use black smoke as a signal before heading to the Other's decoy village.
The scene where Ben tries to get Locke to kill his father has been cited by fans as a backwards version of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. The wine made by the monks at the abbey Desmond attends, Mount Moriah, is named for the site of the sacrifice.
Islam is introduced in the storyline by a leading character; Sayid, who is of Muslim faith. Like many other characters, Sayid can be considered to have undergone a transition towards faith and spirituality, which in his case became a strong factor in helping him atone for his past. Given the nature of Islam as a wide range system of beliefs, overlapping the fate and free will dilemma, as well as views on redemption, a number of Sayid's actions and emotional struggles on the Island can be explained in the light of its inspirations. During the past seasons, Sayid was seen practicing a number of Islamic rituals, as well as making faith-inspired decisions, referencing his faith at both explicit and implicit levels.
Among the main explicit references, comes Praying (Salat), which Sayid was seen practicing on and off the Island with different mindsets. Hence, comes its importance in portraying his Faith Journey. Prior to the crash, a flashback of Sayid revealed his employment of praying as a means of approaching Essam, to fulfill the task he was blackmailed into by the CIA. His desire to claim Essam's body to provide a proper Islamic burial delayed his flight, causing him to board the fated Flight 815. Furthermore, during his time on the Island, Sayid was seen on the Sailboat praying again, this time, however, as a means of connecting to God, to strengthen his faith and attain a spiritual support, before what could be a deadly confrontation with the Others. Another reference to praying was made, when Sayid visited Shannon's grave, and left his praying breads at the cross, in what also seemed to be a symbol of bridging between religions. ("The Greater Good")
Position on burials. Sayid suggested the burial of the deceased bodies from The middle section and opposed Jack's practical decision to burn them along with the fuselage. He felt that neither he nor Jack had the right to make such a decision which may disregard the wishes and religious beliefs of the deceased. ("Walkabout")
After the death of Essam in Sydney, the Australian government prepared to cremate his body, having no one to claim the body. Sayid was compelled to claim the body of Essam in order to avoid the cremation of his Muslim friend. ("The Greater Good")
Testimony of faith. While hanging up in Rousseau's trap and thinking he would die, he is heard saying the Islamic testimony of Faith (Shahadah), which are the last words a Muslim says before his death, if able to. ("Solitary")
Although it is not certain, Sayid is most likely a Sunni. Evidence for this includes that he is from Tikrit (per "House of the Rising Sun"). Tikrit is part of the predominantly Sunni area of Iraq. In "Solitary", while he tortures a prisoner named Falah, he refers to Shiites in a manner that implies he is Sunni: "You want me to stop, Falah? … Your Shiite friends have already implicated you in the bombing. You planted the device in the Bathist headquarters, didn't you?" He was a member of the Republican Guard, a force made up of primarily Sunni Muslims. Although Qadr is a doctrine common throughout Islam, it is emphasized in Sunni Islam as one of the six articles of belief. Sayid refers to fate in a way that implies he at least partially believes in it: "On the way to the funeral I told you that Michael had been compromised by the Others, and then you asked me how we might take advantage of that. I believe fate has given us our answer—the boat." In general, however, Sayid speaks and acts as if his words and actions can have a direct effect on events, which implies a practical belief in free will. ("Live Together, Die Alone")
In Season 4, a Qur’ān, the religious text of Islam, is seen on Ben's bookshelf as is a book titled Kings of Love: The Poetry and History of the Ni'Matullah Sufi Order and Caravan of Dreams by Idries Shah, a Sufi writer. ("The Economist")
Other New Age References
Locke's descent into the Well to the frozen wheel is similar to many stories about a hero's descent into the underworld such as Dante's in the Inferno, Innanna's in Sumerian mythology or any number of Greco-Roman heroes, including Christian as a spirit guide such as Virgil in the Inferno or the Sybyl in the Aeniad.
Further Greek References
In Chapter I of his book, Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud discusses a letter he received from his friend, the French novelist and mystic Romain Rolland. In this letter, Rolland describes what he calls the "Oceanic" feeling—a feeling of eternity, a deep and innate connection with all things, a "oneness" with the world. Rolland, a "man of faith," sees this oceanic feeling as being the primal source of all religion, but itself independent of any particular religion. Freud, an atheist and avowed "man of science," disagrees. While he admits that many people may experience this oceanic feeling, he locates its source not in some mystical feeling of connection, but in an infantile helplessness experienced when confronted with a hostile world and the subsequent longing for the protection and guidance of the father. For Freud, this oceanic feeling is "sustained by fear of the superior power of fate."