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Neither Mine Nor Thine: Influence of the Judgment of Solomon On Bioshock Infinite


All right, folks, the tale of Bioshock Infinite is nearing an end—Burial at Sea: Part 2 drops today, likely with a twist to throw us for a loop, and that’ll end this piece of this infinite story. In honor of that I’ve got a Bioshock Infinite essay about the DeWitt-Comstock-Elizabeth conflict, through an analogy that Burial at Sea signed and sealed.

Bioshock Infinite deals with some heavy themes, from racism and child abuse to despotism and fate. Not the least among these ideas is the concept of religion as a force for corruption, but in truth no one religion is really focused on. The game’s Christian themes aren’t themselves a source for critique but a foundation on which Columbia’s cultish religion is based, extracting iconic elements such as baptism and the miracle birth without addressing the scriptures themselves. For the most part this approach is fine—it highlights that the issue with religion isn’t faith itself, but the way in which it can be used as a vehicle for manipulation. This idea is relatively consistent with how religion is addressed in other Bioshock games, and the comparison still gives Infinite room to make a clear point about radicalism. Deeper Christian themes, while sometimes enriching to the game’s world, aren’t essential to what Infinite is trying to say.

Though they're a bit heavy-handed with the furnishments.
Though they’re a bit heavy-handed with the furnishments.

However, there one exception—one Biblical story that has noticeable parallels in Infinite that enhance the game’s narrative while presenting new and fascinating possibilities for both. That would be the Judgment of Solomon (or “Solomon and the Baby”) in the Old Testament (Kings 3:16 – 3:28).


For those who don’t know the story (which can be read in its entirety here in a variety of translations, though this essay will focus on the King James version), it goes like this:

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