the three perspectives

perspectives
perspectives

19th-century physics was based on a reality that was independent of the observer. Many people who call themselves rationalistic still adhere to that worldview. In doing so, they ignore how science and philosophy have developed since the beginning of the 20th century. Take Bohr’s quantum theory, Freud’s projection, and Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy for example. In the 20th century, our knowledge has lost its absolute character. Reality has become observer-dependent.

the perspectives in my novel

In my opinion, a 21st-century novel can no longer be written from the perspective of a “neutral” storyteller. Observers color their observation and that should reflect in the novel. Therefore, all six chapters of The Third Temple I’ve written entirely from the perspective of one of my protagonists. Chapters 1 and 4 from Josephus‘ point of view, 2 and 6 from Quintilian‘s, and 3 and 5 from Clement‘s. In all the scenes the reader experiences the protagonist’s position. All actions and dialogues I strictly interpret from a Jewish, Humanistic, or Christian worldview.

the Jewish perspective

You could call the perspective of Flavius ​​Josephus the Jewish perspective since Josephus remained faithful to the Jewish faith until his death. Yet that would give a one-sided view of Judaism. In the period in which my novel is set, Judaism had three religious movements: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. The Sadducees were in charge, the Pharisees studied the Torah and the Essenes secluded themselves in rural communities. Because the Sadducees and Essenes had battled the Romans during the Jewish war, they were banned after their defeat. As a result, the Pharisees were the only party left. Josephus belonged to the Sadducees. For a proper representation of the Jewish views at the time, his outlook is insufficient. In The Third Temple Yohanan ben Zakkai complements him. Yohanan was the leader of the Pharisees at the time.

the Christian  perspective

Early Christianity also had different movements. One of these was Gnosticism. Until the movement was condemned and persecuted in the fourth century, it was at least as influential as Catholicism. The main difference between the two was that Gnostics, in the Greek philosophical tradition, believed that man was able to redeem himself. Catholics, on the other hand, professed the dogma that man depended on the return of Jesus for his redemption. In my novel, Clement interprets the Catholic perception and Anacletus that of Gnosticism.

Greek and Roman philosophy

Although there is a similar contrast in classical philosophy – that between the followers of  Socrates and the Epicureans – I have not elaborated it in my novel. Quintilian is idolatrous of Socrates, but there is no Epicurean featuring in the story. In earlier versions of “The Third Temple”, this was different. In the first drafts acted Nicanor, a military tribune. I loved him because he resembled my grandfather. Still, I had to delete him. I had two reasons for that.

The first reason was that in classical antiquity the strife between Socrates and Epicurus was doubtlessly won by Socrates. Almost all philosophical currents of that time followed his teachings. Only in the 20th century did this change. After their revolution the Marxists put Epicurus on a pedestal and, despite the fall of the wall, he never left it.

This brings me to the second reason for scrapping Nicanor: the next novel of my trilogy will be set in the 20th century. And as I explained, in that era the strife between Socrates and Epicurus was settled. So in that novel, Nicanor belongs.

no relativism

When a friend had read the draft of The Third Temple, he asked me: “Nice those three perspectives. But who is right?” “All three of them“, was my answer. Marcus Aurelius already said it: “what we see is not the truth, but only a perspective”. “Truth” is not an absolute concept. Seen from their point of view, Josephus, Quintilian, and Clement are all absolutely right. Their worldviews are equally legitimate.

That doesn’t make me a cultural relativist though. In my opinion, a person can develop himself further. He does so by moving from his one-sided perspective into the position of others. This is the development I want to initiate. My main motivation for writing is understanding.