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Author Topic: The Talmud and Time Travel
Blayne Bradley
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Hypothetically if you brought several groups of Jewish people together from different time periods is there a chance they would argue over which Talmud* to use and if so how would they resolve it?


*I'm assuming perhaps extremely and horribly wrongly that the Talmud is the text of commentaries and interpretations that get expanded upon over the centuries, if this is incorrect PLEASE correct me.

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Scott R
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quote:
I'm assuming perhaps extremely and horribly wrongly that the Talmud is the text of commentaries and interpretations that get expanded upon over the centuries, if this is incorrect PLEASE correct me.
I applaud this new approach to fact finding. Good job, Blayne.

Did you check out the wiki on Talmud? Link

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Mucus
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Depends on what you think the future holds for Jewish people, I suppose
Edit to add: And whether time travel could change the events that lead to the Talmud for that matter

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Blayne Bradley
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More along the lines of these groups taken from different Earth periods but brought over to a different planet and never brought back so they never effect Earth causality.

There would be too much recursion otherwise.

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rivka
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The Talmud is the the Talmud. Before it was written, it was not the Talmud (it was simply the body of Oral Law), and after it was written down, it was not changed. Although new commentaries are added all the time (generally published separately).

But that's not really the problem with your question. The problem with your question is that you can walk into any beis medrash in the world -- today, last week, last year, last century -- and find pairs of guys vociferously arguing about what passages in the Talmud mean. No need to bring in folks from other time periods!

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
The Talmud is the the Talmud.

Maybe Blayne is referring to the Bavli (Babylonian) and the Yerushalmi (Jerusalem)? Those are two "versions" of the Talmud.
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Lisa
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Blayne, if you mean would someone from 2009 in Lakewood (a big yeshiva) disagree with someone in 1500 or 200 about points of Jewish law, it could be. But there's a story about that.

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, when Moses ascended on high [to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah] he found God engaged in affixing crowns to the letters [of the Torah].

Moses said, "Master of the Universe, who stays Your hand?" [i.e. what's holding up the delivery of the Torah to Israel?]

He answered, "There will arise a man, at the end of many generations, Akiva son of Joseph by name, who will expound upon each crown heaps and heaps of laws."

"Master of the Universe," said Moses, "permit me to see him."

He replied, "Turn around."

Moses went and sat down behind eight rows [in the back of Rabbi Akiva's classroom in the future]. Not being able to follow their arguments he was ill at ease, but when they came to a certain subject and the students said to the teacher "From where do you know it?" and he [R. Akiva] said to them "It is a law given to Moshe from Sinai," he [Moshe] was comforted.

He returned to God, and said, "Master of the Universe, You have such a man and [yet] You give the Torah by me!"

He replied, "Be silent, for such is My decree."


Anyone well versed in Torah from a former age would know that the practical law changes throughout the generations. He might find some of the developments odd or even distressing, but reminding him of that story from the Talmud would probably be enough to end any dispute.

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FlyingCow
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I think an interesting story concept would be if different rabbi were taken from different parallel dimensions that had dramatically different events happen in each (i.e. Holocaust not happening, the modern country of Israel not yet being founded, Israel having continuous Jewish control without any interruption, Christianity never gaining a foothold, etc).

It would be very interesting to write it in such a way that all dimensions are equally fulfilling God's will, but in different ways, showing the infinite nature of God's plan.

Of course, the story would need to be written by someone with a far firmer understanding of the intricasies of Judaism than myself (who has admittedly only the most superficial exposure)... and by someone with a strong religous faith (which I do not possess).

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Blayne Bradley
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I think someone wouldn't need to be religious to write a deep story that you outlined just be able to think as someone who is. JMS from Babylon 5 doesn't believe for example in Forgiveness but writes alot of Babylon 5 epsides and themes based around it.

Lisa whats a crown in this context.

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Armoth
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The crowns are calligraphy - little squiggles on top of the letters. Rabbi Akiva expounded religious law based on the crowns on top of letters. To some, this may seem extreme, but the story Lisa referenced shows that it was a valid method of interpretation.
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rivka
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Lisa, excellent choice of story.

Esther, I doubt that Blayne is familiar with the Bavli v. the Yerushalmi. Also, given the lack of completeness of the Yerushalmi, it's difficult to compare them. And they are from approximately the same era.

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Ron Lambert
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I have to confess I know little about the Talmud or its various versions. All I can say is that if a group of Jewish people ever gained the power to travel back in time, I would hate to be an Arab. Abraham would have had only one son, after all!
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rivka
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Doubtful. Especially if the Jews in question came from the Golden Age of Spain, for example.
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Blayne Bradley
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0.0

Anyways moving on, okay so the previous groups would understand that the practical application of the way could and would change but would there be argument over their new situation and how the ways should be changed to reflect their new situation?

Also another question, I vaguely recall a phrase from the Torah where God said (paraphrasing) "do not worship other gods before me for I am a jealous god" can this imply that within the Judaism cosmology that other gods may exist even if their worship is prohibited? And that they exist purely at his discretion to fulfill a part of his plan or could they exist apart from him but still prohibited to worship for his Chosen people?

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Ron Lambert
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Blayne, there is a Bible passage that addresses that question directly, Isaiah 45:5: "I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God." (NASB)
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Lisa
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Right. There's no other way to say it. If it'd been written in modern English, it probably would have said "do not worship other 'gods' before me".
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rivka
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On this one, I agree with Ron.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
0.0

Anyways moving on, okay so the previous groups would understand that the practical application of the way could and would change but would there be argument over their new situation and how the ways should be changed to reflect their new situation?

Also another question, I vaguely recall a phrase from the Torah where God said (paraphrasing) "do not worship other gods before me for I am a jealous god" can this imply that within the Judaism cosmology that other gods may exist even if their worship is prohibited? And that they exist purely at his discretion to fulfill a part of his plan or could they exist apart from him but still prohibited to worship for his Chosen people?

It's difficult to address your first question, probably because each situation is judged on a case-by-case basis. You'd really have to immerse yourself into Jewish law and its culture to really get a flavor for an answer to that question.

As for your second question, that is a verse in the 10 commandments. Exodus 20:5

The word in Hebrew isn't exactly jealous in English - it is Jealous, mixed with zealous - but the effect is the same.

Here, God isn't jealous of other gods - it would be ridiculous to interpret that line that way in the context of the rest of the Torah, what with its monotheistic themes and such. Rather, religion is about your relationship with God. God is jealous, to make a secular distinction, like a boyfriend is jealous. I.E. - our relationship is not an open one. God demands faithfulness to Him, and to Him alone.

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Blayne Bradley
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Alright but what if they encounter a being or beings who claim to be gods, have god like powers, are immortal and grow powerful via prayer from mortals? Entirely hypothetically what exists within Judaic scripture to account for such anomalies? What would be the relevent chapters to read?
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Armoth
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Well, that definition of a god would fall outside the Jewish definition. (A god whose power is dependent on prayer power, physical manifestations, etc.)

I guess that would fit into the schema of a sorcerer, false prophet, or demon. There are verses about the first two categories, an the talmud covers all three.

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Minerva
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You might try askmoses.com for a place to ask questions. If you get someone patient, they will know the answers to any straight-forward questions.

However, the very nature of this question implies that you are not so familiar with how Jewish learning occurs. There are literally hundreds of books on this. But if you want to just get a cursor idea, I would recommend watching Yentl. It's not a great movie, but the scenes in the school would help you get an idea of how Jews discuss Talmud.

I don't want to discourage you, but it seems that you are not terribly familiar with Jewish culture. Perhaps you could use characters in your story from a people that you know better? I think it will be very difficult to make them believable to observant Jews, even with a lot of help.

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Armoth
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Where you from Blayne? A trip to a local beit midrash would probably be a fascinating experience.
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rivka
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I love Yentl. But an accurate portrayal, it's definitely NOT.

The beis medrash scenes are ok, accuracy-wise, I guess. But he'll think yeshiva bochurim doubled at extras in Seurat paintings, and that is SO wrong.

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Blayne Bradley
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I'm from Quebec, Canada.

The questions I'm asking above are for a D&D webcomic (that serves as the backstory of my setting) I'm making where at one point I want to have a debate between a soldier from the local Empire and a Rabbi he encounters patrolling recently annexed lands between the soldier skeptical that there can only be One God and the Rabbi skeptical of the claims of divinity from the (departed) Dragon Gods using Talmudic tradition and while doesn't convince the officer makes him think on things and given food for thought.

While this would only effective be one "chapter" I think it best to over research and think about the logical consequences of the assumptions of the setting to preserve a certain verisimilitude/consistency.

"If a large number of Jewish people were magically transported to a different world all from different time periods and brought together and then fast forward centuries later what would be different?" Sorta.

Not just Jews but also humans from different time periods and other 'fantasy' creatures from different worlds, one of the things I thought about is Anti-semitism, which I don't think would persist for very long as we know it today especially with so many different races that are actually 'different' and alien to direct anger against. The dragons have no concept of it, they would just see them as other humans, rebellious humans but humans.

The goal is to get enough information to get an accurate 'debate' between 2 scholars one an Imperial Officer and the other a Rabbi and explore having a Monotheistic religion in a setting where the previous polytheistic religions were to a degree probable fact.

What would make this dicussion interesting is that while the Dragon-Gods have left in their time they possessed real magical power and could once they gained divine ranks through worship offer 'salvation' and power in the mortal world and make mortals clerics and suchlike.

I figured this would be interesting because I've read that "Talmud study, a fixture of Orthodox life, revolves around logic, debate, and the attacking of each side of an argument until it falls apart or reveals itself to be worthy." So that any discussion between someone who believes that multiple Gods do exist (with something akin to evidence) vs a Jewish Rabbi would be interesting because I think the Rabbi could give a very good argument from scripture to account for the existence of god like beings.

A friend has given the following passages to look into

"
Deuteronomy 13
Shemah Deuteronomy 6:4-6
Isaiah 45
Wisdom 13:1-5 //teleological argument
Isaiah 44:6-9
"

Basically trying to resolve Jewish theology and faith with say a fictional fantasy world made real and what arguments could be made in support of the Jewish argument.

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RivalOfTheRose
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Lisa, you have heard of Lakewood? That is where I grew up!
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rivka
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RotR, every Orthodox Jew in America has heard of Lakewood. (Also, I lived in Princeton until I was 7.)
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rivka
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Blayne, unless you plan to become well-versed in Talmud (a multi-year project), you will be missing 90% of a theoretical rabbi's arguments.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
Lisa, you have heard of Lakewood? That is where I grew up!

Like Rivka said. I've never been there, but every frum Jew in the world knows about Lakewood.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Blayne, unless you plan to become well-versed in Talmud (a multi-year project), you will be missing 90% of a theoretical rabbi's arguments.

I figured as much which is unfortunate but I still do wish to try my best and get something while basic could work to fill about 3-4 panels or comic strips.
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Minerva
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I agree with rivka completely. Frankly, Talmud is not for beginners. It's sorta like trying to come up with a theoretical argument between theoretical physicists or mathematicians when you have no concept anything beyond high school math.

You may be able to find an argument and try to modify it to your needs. But you are not going to be able to create one from scratch. In my children's school, Talmud study begins in fifth grade and continues through high school. This is after learning the "prereqs" basically from toddlerhood. And the expectation is that it will continue (at least informally) for the rest of their lives. Rabbis will also have many years of post-high school formal education, of course.

My point is simply that there is tons of knowledge here. This includes an entire system of interpretation, which is the framework. You simply cannot get that type of knowledge from asking questions on a message board.

I think you will find life a lot easier if you stick to a theology (or another possible area of debate) that you know more about.

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Ron Lambert
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Alright but what if they encounter a being or beings who claim to be gods, have god like powers...?

Such beings could be devils--angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of Heaven. If the loyal angels of God are told to stand down and ease the restraint they impose upon the devils, then the devils could manifest themselves openly in the churches waiting to welcome them as their "princes." My understanding of Bible prophecy is that Revelation chapter nine is talking about exactly this happening in the near future. The locusts are devils. The king of the locusts (v. 11) is Satan. I discuss this at some length in my book, Genuine New Light from Revelation and Daniel. Available from www.TeachServices.com and from www.Amazon.com.

Pardon the plug.

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Blayne Bradley
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It doesn't really seem applicible to a setting that is very much the Dungeons and Dragons cosmology. For example the Dragons essentially being Epic can create a plane of existence from the aetherial plane to serve as their "throne" and divert the souls of their departed followers from wherever they go to their as their "heaven" and final rest for as long the Dragons will it.

Minerva while it may make sense but I don't actually know any other theology and besides, Judaism is far cooler.

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dkw
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Monotheistic religions in general don't really fit into D&D cosmology.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Alright but what if they encounter a being or beings who claim to be gods, have god like powers...?

Such beings could be devils--angels who rebelled against God and were cast out of Heaven.
That would be Christian theology, not Jewish.

quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Judaism is far cooler.

*sigh* Bad reason to pick a subject to write about, dude. Like the man said, write what you know.
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Blayne Bradley
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I'm exploring how it could be drawing from Talmudic tradition to reconcile those beliefs in a world where magic and divine beings appear to be a matter of fact.
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Armoth
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It's really interesting that we're talking about this. In fact, I used to get pretty philosophical during my DnDs and I often couldn't have fun with my characters because it was so difficult for me to feign their motivations without letting theology into a campaign. I think because motivation in my life is so strongly tied to my Judaism it is hard to separate the two.

Anyhow. If you're trying to be faithful to Jewish culture - deriving arguments from scripture is the wrong place to start. Even Talmud is wrong. You would do better to read a philosophical work that is strongly rooted in Talmud.

Maybe, if you'd like to have this conversation privately, we could simulate the discussion you'd like to have between characters. I wouldn't mind pretending and seeing how I would react.

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Like the man said, write what you know.

OR at least read up on it, first, thoroughly.
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Minerva
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How can you say how beliefs on magic and divine beings change if you don't know what they are to begin with?

At least spend a day reading some Talmud before you decide this is the project you'd like to tackle. I would recommend finding a "daf yomi" site and just reading one day's daf.

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Blayne Bradley
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Huh. I know what they are. Magic is Magic, Divine Magic is Divine Magic. And there happen to be within story some beings who can wield both and thus are a tempting draw to mortals, I presume that even faced with this Jewish scripture would have effective counter arguments as to why this should be avoided and to stay on the path.

Armoth I'd be honored. I added you to msn.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by steven:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Like the man said, write what you know.

OR at least read up on it, first, thoroughly.
That's one way to know. Neh? [Wink]
quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Magic is Magic, Divine Magic is Divine Magic.

Nope.

Roll again.

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Blayne Bradley
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Have you played Dungeons and Dragons rivka? 'Magic' and 'Divine Magic' are actual gameplay mechanics these are defined within the setting.
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rivka
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I know that.

It's the fact that you think these have any relevance to Jewish thought or philosophy that's the issue.

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Armoth
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I don't have MSN, but I do gchat...You could toss me an email, I tried adding you to contacts.
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Blayne Bradley
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Thats why speculative fiction is "speculative".
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Thats why speculative fiction is "speculative".

Still no.

Look, it's your story, and you can write whatever you want. But what you are calling "Judaism", isn't.

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Blayne Bradley
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I think your misunderstanding my intentions and my descriptions and I suspect you may not particularly want to understand.
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Ace of Spades
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It's probably safer in general to not fully understand your intentions.
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Blayne Bradley
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the dragons are long gone by the time of this conversation
and only 'normal' relatively young dragons remain but they aren't claiming to be gods
Historically in my setting Humans are brought from Earth from different time periods to this world at the same time
usuaully using the guise of a natural disaster to hide their theft
among these humans are Jewish people
the humans upon arrival are met by a Dragon
either an emmisary or the Dragon Emperor's themselves
and from there begin 'awing' the new arrivals into servatude and serfdom
promising them shelter, wealth, etc initially
and when they discover that prayer and worship can raise their divine ranks they begin forcing the previous arrivals and the new arrivals to worship themusing new powers to 'awe' the arrivals
promising them salvation this time, that they can create a 'home' for their immortal souls after they die
and not risk uncertainty of death
in the history I'll have it that the majority of gentiles thus confronted succumb and enter into worship and servitude
and end up becoming cannon fodder for the wars
between the dragonsand I'll have it that nearly entirely as a group regardless of time or origin they came from the Jewish groups confronted deny the Dragons
and are banished to the untamed wilderness
and end up sitting the wars out (mostly)
but aren't returned to Earth
so fast forward a few hundred years or a mellinium or two
we have the Republic of Tyrranum expanding its borders, one of the lands acquired has a few clans of Jewish settlers so the main character of my story leads a patrol around to 'show' the natives whose in charge etc and who to pay taxes to
and ends up debating theology with a local rabbi
but the god-dragons are gone by this time but there is significant evidence of their existence and by extension power
while the Jewish clan he meets has what we in contemporary terms only have the Torah and the history of the Jewish people to go on.

So the debate is between a clan of actual Jews just the descendents of the mishmash that arrived before and a Republican Officer who is skeptical of their religious claims.

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Ace of Spades
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
the dragons are long gone by the time of this conversation

Lucky them.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Ace of Spades:
quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
the dragons are long gone by the time of this conversation

Lucky them.
The God Emperor Dragons, Bahamut and Tiamat kicked them out because they were about to reach Greater Divinity ranks and this was seen as a step too far.

Normal dragons, Mage Dragons, Battle Dragons and High Dragons are still around but only the relatively young ones (in general, never know what Xanatos Gambits are playing around).

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