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The Judeo-Christian Bible, the Tanakh, and the Quran in Don Quixote

  • Author(s): Aleman, Nicholas Robert
  • Advisor(s): Parr, James A
  • et al.


The Judeochristian Bible, The Tanakh, and the Quran in the Quixote


Nicholas R. Alemán

Doctor of Philosophy, Graduate Program in Spanish

University of California, Riverside, March 2011

Dr. James A. Parr, Chairperson

Cervantes, throughout Don Quixote, intimates doubt about the divine origin and infallibility of the Scriptures: the Tanakh, The Judeo-Christian Bible, and the Koran.

Various aspects of the religious, philosophical, and socio-political environment of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Spain may explain Cervantes's skepticism about the Scriptures and the dominant faith of his time. Don Quixote is viewed as a product of its author's contemporary culture, the violence and controversial ideas of his time, and the contradictions found in the Scriptures.

Following his predecessors, Erasmus of Rotterdam and the reformist Martin Luther, Cervantes may have read the Scriptures himself and noticed their contradictions. For example, in the last book of the Torah (Deuteronomy 4.2), the narrator says: "You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it." But then, two parts are added to the Torah: the Nevi'im (the Prophets) and the Kethuvim (the Writings) to form the Tanakh. Christians violated Jehovah's words by adding the New Testament. Muslims did the same when changing the order of the "original" Hebrew Bible and by changing, radically, the name of Jehovah to Allãh.

The Quixote builds on these anomalies, often making a parody of Scripture. It questions its own authority in much the same way that the Scriptures are seen to do. It does this largely through its subversive narrative voices. One narrator says one thing, another the opposite. The truth claims made for the aljamiado manuscript of Cide Hamete are an example. Don Quixote was written by an Arab historian, but all Arabs are liars (I.9). The Bible does not depart one iota from the truth (II.1); nor does the fiction we are reading (II.10). Aspects of the New Testament are parodied in having a Christ-like figure as protagonist and, at the end, the author himself assumes a role reminiscent of Yahweh and Allah.

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