Hi Matt & Leslie,
Matt seemed so down about not getting answers I thought I would drop him a line with some of the crazy associations I saw in this amazing episode. I think its full of 'answers' that will incrementally become unveiled in the remaining episodes.
My first thought Wow! what a great episode! Nester was amazing. One of the best performances ever! And more great scenes with MIB and Jacob, not to mention that heartbreaking scene of redemption at the end with Richard, Isabella and Hurley.
Wanted to pass on some observations of a religious bent regarding the bible verse that Richard was reading when the priest entered his cell.
First, I have no hope that this will be read on your podcast, its way to long. I will post it as post on my blog http://baddlosttheories.blogspot.com/ but just wanted to pass on some thoughts while you were rehashing Ab Aeterno and it was fresh in your minds. I've also attached a screen shot of Richard's bible. I initially loved this episode but didn't see that it provided many answers. I have since come to reconsider that initial thought as being a bit over hasty. I think there are many, many answers that will be uncovered and revealed. But here some information and interpretation on just the fleeting glimpse of Richard's bible.
Richard Alpert's King James Version bible while in prison is opened to Luke 4:24 (King James Version)
24And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
1.) Connection with Ben's quote as Henry Gale from The Brothers Karamazov in "The Whole Truth". If you look to the surround text and both the image of John Locke's faith and Jacob's plans reaches out from beyond his grave.
"And even though your light was shining, yet you see men were not saved by it, hold firm and doubt not the power of the heavenly light. Believe that if they were not saved, they will be saved hereafter. And if they are not saved hereafter, then their sons will be saved, for your light will not die even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains. Men are always saved after the death of the deliverer. Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honour those whom they have slain. You are working for the whole, are acting for the future.
2.) This passage is part of the Rejection of Jesus by his hometown of Nazareth. Another strong connection with the The Brothers Karamazov quote ("Men reject their prophets and slay them").
Indeed Jesus in this immediate passage is telling the Nazareens, yes I know you will reject me, and you will plan harm to me cause you lack faith (this is sort of implied) (the allusion to 23And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself" refers to what he knows they intend for him...To cast him down.
29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
So the people of his hometown felt the power of his message and they could not harm Jesus, but because they knew the 'man' Jesus (you know that carpenter's son who built my shed) they refused to take the leap of faith and accept his divine message. Jesus rebukes them ahead of time, knowing they lacked the faith to accept Jesus as a source of a divine message, because they knew him so closely tied to the mortality they they shared and could not bear to see someone no better than they deliver God's word. This is a very powerful statement about the limitations of humanity. We are more easily led to believe and have faith in mysterious and grand rituals which seem greater than ourselves (like John's faith in the Island) and turn our backs on the message when it is delivered where we need it most, in our everyday lives (like when John Locke is bitter and angry at his paraliysis and wants to lash out by scratching Hurley's car). The failure of the Nazareens is in many ways a failure of them to overcome their own egos. To see the divinity of life in the mud and stench and sweat of their daily lives and to find God's divine message coming from the lowest among them.
3.) The failure of his hometown people to believe also has another possible meaning. Allegorical miricles requiring Faith as opposed to physical miricles. For those who believe that Jesus did not perform physcial miricales but that his miricles were allegorical, the rejection of the Nazareens meant that Jesus could NOT perform miricles because they did not believe. Belief is the miraculous occurence in Jesus' teachings and the actual miricles were when someone who was blind was lifted beyond the physical limits of his affliction to see the power of Jesus' divine message and actually partake in it. To witness and momentarily touch the eternal and the power of life outside of our own selves. Anyway if one follows down this line then it is possible for NON-BELIEVERS to call Jesus' miricles "ILLUSIONS" because they required the faith of those he preached to for them to have an effect (not a physical one). For Lost, this has an allusion (ha ha) to MIB/F-locke's seemingly supernatural powers (getting stabbed to no ill effect; transforming to the smoke monster). I do not say that the smoke monster is fake or not real, but that smokie's appearance as John Locke is more of an apperation than a physcial body. I am content with Daimon and Carlton's explanation that he seems locked (ha ha) in John Locke's form following the death of Jacob. I find a corallary between this interpretation of Jesus' miricles, his choice/failure to perform the miricles for his hometown of Nazareth and the possibility that MIB/F-Locke has some capability to perfrom Illusions as well as the physcial destructive power of the smoke monster. The real question is why does MIB/F-Locke not stay in smokie form and just kill everyone? I think it is because MIB/F-Locke needs to coopt the people on the Island in order to achieve his entire purpose. So in essense, MIB/F-Locke is much more dangerous in his illusionary form as John Locke than as Smokie, and his new limit on appearing as only John Locke is a severe limit on his ability to fool and persuade those on the island he needs to help achieve his darker plan.
4.) The proverb in Luke 4:23 "Physician, heal thyself" also has an allusion to the death of Jacob (the healer) as well as the death of the physician in Richard Alpert's tale. The physician dies because he asks Richard for more than he is able to pay. Is this not similar to Jacob's Faustian bargins. Jacob provided healing, at a price that was very costly (just ask Dogen or Juliet). And in the case of Ben, Jacob asked from him more than he was willing or able to pay (unconditional faith in the face of temptation and suffering--very much like Job was tested). So in the passage in Luke 4:23, Jesus is knowing he is asking for more than the people in his hometown can deliver. And did not Jacob likewise KNOW that he was asing more of Ben than Ben could bear (even as he secretly hoped that he was wrong-according to Miles reading of the ashes).
5.) Luke 4:37 (reference at top of page) Jesus casts out devil, exorcises demons from people. Following his rejection by the people of Nazareth, he performed several miricles, including many prominent exorcisms or casting out of demons. And to my little eye, John Locke definately appears to be possessed. But whether or not John Locke is possessed or an illusion or Smokie made flesh (hope you don't find that blasphemous-appologies if you do) Claire and Sayid can generally be seen to have been possessed or infected by the evil of MIB/F-Locke. Perhaps Luke 4:37 portends the casting out of the demons possessing Claire, Sayid and maybe even F-Locke himself?
6.) Passage immediately following is Luke 4:38, I think the women with fever referenced in the verse has a clear tie in to Isabella dying from a fever. And while Jesus performs a miricle and cures her; while Jacob helps (in the very long term) Richard to be reunited 'in spirit' with his wife and to feel the presense of her love which had never left him-but which he had forgotten. His burying and digging up and wearing his wife's cross is symbolic of his new re-found love. I think the reason why Richard buried his wife's cross is that while he was 'unforgiven' for his sin of murder, he was unworthy to wear it. His doning her cross again was symbolic of his redemption. (Aside: I personally think this is the correct reading of the miricles where Jesus 'raises' the dead to life.)
7.) Gnostic interpretations of this passage led me to review some of the Gnostic interpretations of knowledge and faith which I find have very powerful allegorical refernces to the themes in Lost.
The most powerful theme between Lost and Gnostism, I think is the Gnostic view of knowledge and how it ties in to how our characters on Lost have come to know 'faith'.
..."Unlike modern English, ancient Greek was capable of discerning between several different forms of knowing. These different forms may be described in English as being propositional knowledge, indicative of knowledge acquired indirectly through the reports of others or otherwise by inference
Gnosis (γνῶσις) refers to knowledge of the second kind. Therefore, in a religious context, to be 'Gnostic' should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine.
...Within the cultures of the term's provenance (Byzantine and Hellenic) gnosis was a special knowledge or insight into the infinite, divine and uncreated in all and above all, rather than knowledge strictly into the finite, natural or material world which is called Epistemological knowledge. Gnosis is a transcendental as well as mature understanding. It indicates direct spiritual experiential knowledge and intuitive knowledge, mystic rather than that from rational or reasoned thinking. Gnosis itself is obtained through understanding at which one can arrive via inner experience or contemplation such as an internal epiphany of intuition and external epiphany such as the Theophany.
I think John Locke's Faith in the Island and Jack's Faith in his actions leading to the detonation of the Jughead bomb can be clearly seen as examples of Gnosis or Gnostic Faith. And this has been one of the most frustrating aspects of Lost. Because we want to know WHY and WHAT they believe in in order to validate our emotional connection with the characters and justify the actions of those characters.
8.) just cause I am on a religous theme I will pass on one more observation of a religious tone. That Jacob dunking Richard 3 times until he proclaimed "I want to Live" seemed like a baptism and Richard's 3 renunciations of Jacob, are very similar to Peter renouncing Jesus 3 times before the cock crowed. (1. Jacob first renounces Jacob when he tries to get Jack to help blow him up; 2. when Ilana says that Jacob said that Richard would know what to do-great insane laugh Nester, and runs off into the jungle looking for MIB; and 3) at the site of the stone bench where he buried his wife's cross where he shouts out to MIB "I've changed my mind" only to have Hurley save him).
9.) and just one last note, did you think that MIB's stone chair amid the stone circle (when Richard brings him the white rock and rejects his offer) looked alot like a memorial bench you might find at a cemetary? Think MIB's 'mom' might be buried there?
sorry these ramblings were so long, take care and thanks again for a most enjoyable podcast.