Resurrections, Cylon and Otherwise

The final season of Battlestar Galactica is just around the corner, and the enticing name of the first episode will be “He that Believeth in Me”

This phrase comes from the gospel of John in the King James bible. It is repeated by Jesus on multiple occasions (about 9 times by my count), but the title is almost certainly intended to quote John 11:25, which reads:

…he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

The (obvious) double-reference in the context of the start of Season 4 is the surprising return of Starbuck, long presumed to be dead until the frantic, final moments of Season 3.

I haven’t seen any spoilers relating to the plot of the season premiere, but I admit to being more than a little intrigued.

Regular readers are aware that I have been absorbed of late reading up on the history and nature of Christian teachings on the resurrection. In addition, I have noted before that the Cylon concept of “resurrection” – in which a Cylon’s consciousness is “downloaded” into a computer and then placed into a new, identical body – is, at best, a hollow mockery of the resurrection that the first Christians claimed to have witnessed, and which they anticipated themselves experiencing.

In the embryonic Christian community, resurrection was not merely about the resuscitation of a corpse (or, in the case of BSG, the recreation of a new, identical body to host the same “personality”). It was, instead, a means by which God imparted on Jesus – and will, eventually, impart on all people – the gift of a new, immortal physicality which is also free from the imperfections and weaknesses that we experience in our now mortal bodies.

The Cylons – it seems – can sometimes bring people back after they die. But they can’t keep them from dying again, and – to the extent the person who “died” is fraked up in some way – he will continue to be so in his new body. For that reason, Cylon resurrection is a “cheap,” almost disturbing reflection of the idea that is embraced by many Christians.

I’m intrigued by the potentiality for further exploration of this issue as Season 4 opens. It is probably too much to hope that the BSG writers have decided to explore the concept that there could be a more “authentic” resurrection (and I doubt Kara “Starbuck” Thrace has returned in immortal form). Still, the title of the first episode is itself a suggestion that the resurrection motif is far from concluded in the BSG narrative…and I’ll be interested to see where they take it.

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