SHADOWMANCER: A TANGLED TALE

By Marcia Montenegro (page 3 of 5)

Written April/May, 2004

It is hinted that Abram, whose name suggests Abraham, is actually the angel Raphael when Raphah (whose name actually resembles the name of Raphael) hears Abram called "Raphael;" however, Abram only replies, "What's in a name? All you have to know is that I am here to help you" (278). What's in a name, indeed, when identities are so confused and blurred with each other, and alternate names are given to replace Biblical names.

The identity of Raphah is unclear through most of the story as well. At times it almost appears as though Raphah is being presented as a Christ figure, and other times as an angel; however, he is described at one point as "a child of the Book" (76), a phrase that calls to mind the Islamic term used for themselves, Christians, and Jews, as "people of the Book."

Jumbled Quotes

In addition to unclear identities, there are also several places where Biblical verses are oddly juxtaposed or meshed with other statements that do stay true to the Biblical meaning. To take one example, we find Raphah telling Kate, who believes that "life is only what you can see," that "You can protest all you like, Kate, but inside you is a spirit that is eternal. You were created by Riathamus to live in this world, then be transformed in the next. This is the truth and the truth shall set you free . . .Don't fear that which destroys the body, but fear the one who can destroy the soul" (174). The statement that we were made to live in this world and be transformed in the next is quite broad and could be applied in many ways and to many beliefs.

The statement that the truth sets you free is said by Jesus in John 8 to the Jews "who had believed in him" (verse 31), and it is said in context with being his disciple and obeying his teachings, and that anyone who sins is a slave of sin. Jesus goes on to say that it is the Son who sets people free (verse 36). But in the book, the statement has no resemblance to the Biblical meaning, instead implying that the truth that sets Kate free is that we are made to live in this world and be transformed in the next, which in and of itself is vague and meaningless here.

The other statement about fearing "the one who can destroy the soul" is from Matthew 10:28 where Jesus is talking to the twelve apostles. The full statement in Matthew is: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Raphah actually misquotes the verse. In Matthew, Jesus is sending his apostles out into the world and warning them about how they might be flogged and beaten, but it will be done to bear witness before the Gentiles (verses 17, 18). Jesus goes on to encourage them not to be afraid because they are of value and that "everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven" (verses 32, 33).

These quotes as used in Shadowmancer completely lose the original meaning from the Bible and would make no sense to Kate, who has not even come to believe in Riathamus, as well as probably making no sense to most readers as they are given. This kind of quoting, partial quoting and misquoting of the Bible is found in several places in the book.

Sovereignty of God In Question

There are two places in the book that use the term "the Battle of the Skull" (208, 297), obviously a reference to Golgotha, the term for the place of the Skull, where Jesus was crucified. But the first reference speaks of this place as where Riathamus (God? Christ?) defeated the Glashan (seemingly a term for demons) and Pyratheon, implying that the battle came about because Pyratheon wanted the Keruvim (208). However, the crucifixion is not portrayed in the Bible as a battle, but rather as the payment for the penalty of sins and as a victory over Satan. We cannot even know if Satan opposed it (though he opposed Christ), as it is not clear from scripture that Satan realized what was being done on the cross. In fact, the Bible tells us that Satan entered Judas as he went to betray Jesus, so that Jesus would be arrested and eventually killed. If even the disciples did not understand or believe Jesus' clear prediction several times that he would die and be raised up again, we cannot assume Satan knew or believed this. The term "battle" implies, along with other situations in the book, a dualistic battle between God and the Satan figure rather than God holding the reins of victory all along as a sovereign God, despite the opposition of Satan, who is, after all, an angel created by God.

When Raphah tells Thomas and Kate early on about Demurral being evil, he tells them that if Demurral gets the Keruvim and has his way, "he could control the world and even the power of Riathamus for himself" (28). No man or even Satan could have such power, or take over the power of God. Thomas later tells Kate that Demurral "has a power that can call up the dead, control the wind and the sea, and make those beasts in the glade follow his every word" (48). The power of raising the dead from life and controlling the elements has never belonged to anyone but God and Jesus Christ; there is no place in the Bible that gives the idea that even Satan can have such powers (the closest being Rev. 13:3, a statement that what appears to be a fatal wound [but apparently is not] in the beast is healed). Jesus raised the dead (and later gave this power to the apostles), and Jesus had power over the sea and wind (Matthew 8:23:26; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25) because of his authority as the Son of God and God the Son.

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