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I’ve been watching The Matrix, and I’ve noticed a few religious references in the movies, such as the ship named the Nebuchadnezzar (a king found in the Old Testament) and the city of Zion (also found in the Old Testament as a name for Jerusalem). But my question is: how many other religious references or analogies were found in the Matrix trilogy? I mean references from any religious text, not just the Bible.

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  • 2
    Are you looking for references only from the films themselves, or also from additional works in the franchise (e.g. the Animatrix, video games, comics, etc.)?
    – Null
    Jun 28 at 11:24
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    It should be noted that Nebuchadnezzar was a Babylonian king. Still a religious reference, but not exclusively so
    – Machavity
    Jun 28 at 12:48
  • @Null I’m interested in all the works available. Jun 28 at 12:51
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I did a little bit more research, and found something interesting. Agent Smith’s vehicle has a license plate on the front, which contains a Bible verse, as seen below:

smith_car

That verse, which is Isaiah 54:16, translates to:

“Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”

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  • 15
    This is a particularly creative one. Nice find.
    – TKoL
    Jun 29 at 14:08
  • Perfect one. I commented above how if we watch really closely we'll find a ton of small, visual and/or background references, and here you are providing an absolutely perfect example of what I meant. And damn I would've never spotted this myself, even though the bible-verse in short sections of text is an absolute classic
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 30 at 12:24
  • @TKoL Thanks. I wonder if there are any more vehicles that have any other verses. Might be a bit difficult to look at every car, though. Jun 30 at 21:29
63

Some references:

  • The two other leads in the Matrix are both religious references. Trinity is the Christian conception of the godhead three-in-one. Morpheus is the Greek god of Dreams.
  • The Oracle is heavily based on the Oracle at Delphi, a priestess of the Greek god Apollo.
  • Apoc is presumably short for Apocalypse, another name for the Book of Revelation.
  • Niobe and Persephone are figures in Greek mythology. Persephone in particular was married to the god of the underworld, while the Matrix's Persephone is married to the proprietor of Club Hel, which by its spelling would be named for the Norse goddess.
  • Sati is a Hindu goddess.
  • Seraph is the singular of seraphim, a category of biblical angels.
  • Besides the Nebuchadnezzar, the Osiris is named for an Egyptian god, the Caduceus for the staff of the Greek god Hermes, Mjölnir (usually called "the Hammer" in the movies) is the name of the Norse god Thor's hammer and Logos is Greek for Word, a reference to the Book of John.
  • The big machine guy at the end is canonically called Deus Ex Machina, literally "God out of the Machine," a reference to the Greek theatrical practice of actually lowering the Greek gods onto stage with a crane.

As for analogies, the biggest is that Neo is transparently a Christ figure. There are honestly too many elements to reference here, but sacrificing himself, coming back to life, bringing others back to life, and then there's when he finally dies...

enter image description here

Not subtle.

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  • 3
    To add to Neo as a Christ-like figure: afair, the Wachkovskys confirmed that "Neo" is a deliberate anagram of "one". In Christian gospel, it is common to refer to God as "The One". Jun 28 at 10:45
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    God out of the machine. ex
    – Holger
    Jun 28 at 10:54
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    There's also the line towards the start of the first film when Neo gives the disk to the guy at his door: "Hallelujah. You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ."
    – Tom Bowen
    Jun 28 at 11:25
  • 7
    Yes, the ancient Greeks lowered gods onto the stage with a crane as part of theatrical production. But the literary term, "Deus Ex Machina" is Latin, not Greek. It is a plot device used from the Roman Republic through the first novels of the early northern Renaissance, and all of world literature since, right up to the present. 'God out of the machine'/ Deus ex Machina is a phrase used to describe any situation where something unexpected or implausible is brought in to the story line to resolve situations or disentangle a plot. I wouldn't consider it a religious reference. Jun 29 at 1:33
  • 1
    tl:dr: a TON of references, and I bet if we rewatch it closely we'll probably find even more, especially contextual /background references
    – Hobbamok
    Jun 30 at 12:20
39

In addition to the references given in another answer, there are other references to Neo as a Christ figure:

  • His last name is Anderson, which means "son of man" -- a name that appears in the Book of Daniel and a name that Jesus often used for Himself.
  • Choi (the man with the girl who has the white rabbit tattoo) calls Neo his "savior" and "personal Jesus Christ".

Some other religious references include:

  • The Merovingian refers to Seraph as the "prodigal son" and "Judas" in Club Hel.
  • Sati's father, Rama Kandra, appears to be named after a Hindu god named Rama or Ramachandra. Similarly, Sati's mother, Kamala, appears to be named after a Hindu goddess named Kamalatmika or Kamala.
  • Two of the Merovingian's henchmen are brothers named Cain and Abel, after the Biblical Cain and Abel.
  • The nameplate of the Nebuchadnezzar identifies it as "Mark III No. 11", which seems to be a reference to Mark 3:11 since it seems to be another reference to Neo as a Christ figure (the Son of God):

Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

  • One of the Zion hoverships is revealed in The Matrix Online video game to be named Brahma after the Hindu god, and the ship's captain (who appears in The Matrix Reloaded) is named Kali after the Hindu goddess. Another hovership is named the Vishnu after the Hindu god Vishnu.
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Also: The trainman is the only one being able to cross sides. He resembles the ferryman that guides the dead to the afterlife.

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    You are correct in this. You're note that Neo is at 'MOBIL" station. MOBIL is an anagram for LIMBO.
    – MivaScott
    Jun 28 at 22:26
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Further to other answers,

  • The Merovingian is a reference to the French royal dynasty claiming legendary descent from Merovech, the son of a human and a sea creature; in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and subsequent conspiratorial literature, he's linked to the supposed bloodline of Jesus.
  • The Architect is a common appellation for God as the creator of the Universe, particularly associated with Deism, esoteric Freemasonry, etc.
13

Adding to others - some Christianity related references in part 3:

  1. In order to destroy Satan (Smith), Christ (Neo) has to experience death, too.

  2. The Oracle asks the Architect about those who want to exit the Matrix, and Architect answers, that "obviously, they will be freed" - Christ (Neo) enables everyone to leave the Hell, but not everyone wants to.

  3. The Oracle tells that Neo will come again (like the Christ will).

Part 1 has mostly Christian references, as I remember, part 2 has some Buddhism references. They are either mentioned or I forgot them.

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  • 1
    "obviously, they will be freed" -- that's an interesting interpretation of that exchange! nice one
    – TKoL
    Jun 29 at 14:10
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The Matrix draws heavily on Gnosticism which significantly differs from mainstream Christianity and Judaism in some important points. I'm hardly an expert on that, but here is what I've gathered from wikipedia.

  1. Gnosticism holds that the material world we inhabit is evil/flawed/a prison just like the eponymous matrix in the movie. The goal of Gnosticism is to overcome it by gaining some kind of spiritual knowledge of the true divine which resides outside of the material world. This knowledge is called Gnosis.
  2. The material world according to Gnosticism was created by a flawed entity called the Demiurge who is often identified with the creator Yahweh in the Old Testament. His counterpart in the Matrix is obviously the Architect ("Demiurge" means something like "public builder"), who is portrayed as a cliche Hollywood God type, an old bearded man in white, even though he far from omnipotent.
  3. The Demiurge has several powerful servants, called Archons, who obstruct people in their search for Gnosis; the equivalent of the Agents in the Matrix.
  4. There are different types of humans in Gnosticism. The lowest ones are hylics; these people are completely bound to the material world, just like the people who are still imprisoned in the Matrix and don't know about its true nature. Remember how in the training simulation Morpheus tells Neo that those who haven't been liberated yet are still part of the system and thus a danger to them.
  5. There is also something called Sophia (literally 'wisdom') in Gnosticism, which is a female emanation of the true divine. The Oracle might be her counterpart in the Matrix.
  6. Finally Christ is sometimes seen as in Gnosticism as a manifestation of the true divine who came to bring Gnosis to earth. In the Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo the story of the One who had liberated the first people and was prophesized to return. As other answers have already shown, Neo is of course a Christ-like figure in the movie.

I'm sure there are many more parallels but these are probably the main ones.

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  • Are there any sources quoting any of the producers, writers or directors supporting the link to Gnosticism? While some of these similarities are possible, some form of source would benefit the standing of your answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Jun 29 at 10:32
  • @Edlothiad I don't have any sources quoting the authors of the movie, but the link between the Matrix and Gnosticism has been discussed before, see digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/cgi/…
    – user57897
    Jun 29 at 11:08
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Matrix Revolutions has Asatoma Sadgamaya when the credits start rolling

and also has many characters aptly named after those who are mentioned in the epics of Hinduism.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Can you make this a better answer by telling us what "Asatoma Sadgamaya" is, and listing those "many characters?" A good answer doesn't require the reader to use Google to understand it; you should read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Jun 30 at 12:32

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