Viewing Bible as Literature through a Gnostic Lens: Allegory in Philip K. Dick’s The Divine Invasion

Ben Winter

Abstract


The Divine Invasion by Philip K. Dick is a literary puzzle composed of Judaic, Christian, and Gnostic source materials. It is important to conduct a literary analysis of The Divine Invasion because its allegorical plot provides a Gnostic exegesis of several major themes within the Christian Bible. A pivotal concern in Christianity, and in most world religions, is how to bridge the gap between man and God. As science fiction writer chiefly concerned with ontology, Dick’s radical focus on direct revelation eschews the traditional role of the church. Instead, his later novels espouse a Gnostic revision of Christianity. While The Divine Invasion’s plotline contains numerous Biblical allusions, Dick’s characters reach enlightenment only through personal gnosis, or knowledge of the fragmented Godhead as the origin of evil. Dick’s futuristic universe reinterprets Biblical doctrines on judgment and liberation and his characters symbolize the fulfillment of religious ideals. Thus, Yah (Judaic) sends Emmanuel (Christian) to fight the allegorical final battle depicted in St. John’s Revelation. This mission is soon altered by the influence of Zina (Gnostic), who represents the earthly link to salvific wisdom. Drawing on Biblical narrative structures, Dick creates his own Old Testament in Chapters 1-5 and formulates his own prophecies of a final Messiah. Then, he explores the key role of the human psyche in the redemption of the living cosmos. The salvation story unfolds from the perspective of one Herb Asher, unwitting pawn in the hand of Yah and key participant in the defeat of the archenemy, Belial. But in Herb’s universe, time and space are not static, and reality may not be what it seems.

Keywords


Dick; Gnosticism; Allegory

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