I'm reading The Left Hand of God, in Italian, so I hope in the following I give a plausible translation of it back to English.

In chapter 32, there's this conversation:

«So is it my fault? Well, in this case I'll fix these things. Tha boy is a threat. He's a jinx, like that guy in the belly of the the whale.»

«Jesus of Nazareth?»

«Yeah, exactly him.»

Now, given the middle question, probably the English version uses womb and not belly (also because the word used in Italian is indeed closer to womb than to belly, if the context wants so).

Still, however, I don't understand why the whale...


1 Answer 1


The conversation in the English version is pretty much identical to your translation;

“So it’s my fault? Well, if it is, I’m going to put it right. That boy is a menace. He’s a jinx like that fellow in the belly of the whale.”

“Jesus of Nazareth?”

“Yes, him. Once this business with the Redeemers is sorted, Cale is gone and that’s all there is to it.”

Note that in this instance, it's the two characters that are ignorant of Christian lore, not the author (or the translator).

Vipond and the Marshall are speaking together. The former vaguely recalls the tale of 'Jonah and the Whale' (from Jonah 1:17 - "Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights") and the second character mis-identifies him as Jesus of Nazareth. Neither are evidently that well versed in bible lore.

Jesus is also mis-identified as the 'whale guy" in the third book in the series (in this case by the narrator voicing Artemisia), lending credence to the idea that Jesus and Jonah have somehow been conflated into a single character in this universe.

It never came. Pushed underneath the ice by the current the oak tree began to roll—down it went like the Jesus whale, down to the bottom of the dam where a few hours before two great fangs of ice had formed.

The Beating of His Wings

  • 3
    Christian theologians have interpreted the story of Janah's three days in the belly of the big fish as foreshadowing Christ's three days in the tomb, so there is that connection.
    – user14111
    Dec 5, 2020 at 22:20
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    @user14111 - See edit. There is another mention of the "Jesus whale" in the third book. I believe the author is trying to convey that the two characters are assumed to be one in this world.
    – Valorum
    Dec 5, 2020 at 22:22
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    @user14111: Jesus himself does this when he tells them that “no sign will be given you but the sign of the prophet Jonah,” and compares three days in the belly of the whale with three days in the belly of the earth. He compares his situation to Jonah, saying that his audience will be condemned all the more because “Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, a greater than Jonah is here.”
    – Shamshiel
    Dec 6, 2020 at 7:41
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    Furthermore, "Jonah" is a synonym for "jinx", because Jonah brought bad luck on his shipmates. Dec 6, 2020 at 12:51
  • @Shamshiel Thank you! Matthew 12:39. I read the Book but it was many years ago and I forgot that Jesus made that comparison himself.
    – user14111
    Dec 7, 2020 at 4:22

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