I'm mostly paraphrasing this information from Glenn Morrow's Plot Analysis.
There are two "Gods" in the story: JENOVA and the Lifestream. Both have "children" who will rejoin them - Jenova and the Reunion, the Lifestream and the "Spirit Energy" within living creatures.
In a way, Jenova can be considered a "dark god" trying to conquer a "Light god" - the Lifestream. This holds very true when you consider Sephiroth's intentions in Advent Children.
Jenova's name is also very similar to "Jehovah".
The "Sephiroth" in Jewish mysticism are the ten points on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life - these ten points representing aspects - or "emanations" - of God.
The word "Sephiroth", when loosely translated from the Hebrew origin, means "Numbers".
Numbers appear in the game asociated with Sephiroth in the form of the Clones, who are all branded with a number. They are all being drawn to Jenova - God calling His children back to Him, and them being led back on a grid of paths that is God's tool, it actually being emanations of God Himself as projected into the mortal world.
Sephiroth places the Clones on "paths" to seek out the Black Materia as they make their way to the Reunion.
When the Clones reach the Reunion they are killed and knocked into a chasm so they (their genetic material) can rejoin with Jenova - presumably creating JENOVA-SYNTHESIS, who is fought latter, in the Third Disk venture into the Crater.
The "Tree of Life" symbolism can prehaps also be seen in how the materia Sephiroth is sleeping in is being held by the roots of tree.
One of the nodes - the central one in fact - on the Kabbalistic Tree is the Tifaret. That name resembles "Tifa" quite a bit.
In the game, it is through Tifa that Cloud comes to understand himself properly. She helps him when they fall into the Lifestream in Mideel to find the truth about his past. By doing this Cloud is ready to face Sephiroth again.
I also looked up information on the Tifaret elsewhere and it struck me as interesting that it is commonly associated with Beauty, Healing and with Jesus Christ. Healing and the Christ connection goes back to the Lifestream scene - Tifa finally heals Cloud's fractured psyche and saves him from the Lifestream, and from the mess of his own mind - and Beauty... well how many people can argue that Tifa is not pretty?
There is also the symbolism of both Tifa's bar, "Seventh Heaven", and Tifa's final Limit Break, "Final Heaven". The Tifaret grants access to the highest realm of mortal existance, making it the "Final Heaven" - or "Seventh Heaven".
Another version of Bizzaro Sephiroth's name is "Reverse Sephiroth", which is somewhat symbolic in that Sephiroth's role in the game is a reversal of the Sephiroth of the Tree. The Tree of life, and the nodes on it (the Sephiroth) are suposed to lead to God - the Holy of Holies. In the game, Sephiroth had been in touch with Jenova - he had her cells injected into him while still in the womb - and was probably one of the attempts ShinRa was trying to find the Promised Land. Ironically, he blocks the spell Holy - a total reversal of the symbolism which he gains his name from.
In this role reversal we have kind-of "fall from" grace, thus giving rise to the One-Winged Angel in the battle that follows up Bizzaro Sephiroth.
Said battle also has it's share of symbolism, not only in Safer Sephiroth's appearance but also his name. The letters "a" and "e" can often be interchangable in Hebrew so the word "Safer" can also be spelled "Sefer," "Sapher," and "Sepher." In Hebrew, "Sefer" means "Book." Therefore, "Safer Sephiroth" means "Book of Numbers."
The Book of Numbers in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, and constitue the Torah) tells about the time that the Isaelites spend by Mount Sinai, when they were first promised a home in Canaan - this being the origin of the phrase "The Promised Land".
In the Safer Sephiroth battle, one is facing Sephiroth when he is ready to claim the Promised Land of the Ancients: The Lifestream.
Aerith was 22 in the game, there 22 paths between the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life.
A person follows the paths of the Sephiroth to find God and must overcome obstacles along the way to reach their "Promised Land". The Cetra lived hard lives, growing plants and trees and animals to increase mako levels before they can return to the Lifestream - their "Promised Land".
The Cetra's nomadic lifestyle also resembles somewhat the wanderings of the Israelites after they left Egypt - when they were seeking their Promised Land in Canaan.
There's bit of christian symbolism to be found, with Jenova's name being so similar to "Jehova" and Sephiroth being her son. Jesus was something of a manifestation of God that took form in the womb of a mortal woman. Sephiroth was - in Morrow's interpretation - an extention of Jenova, created when Jenova's DNA was injected into Lucrecia's womb and meld with the developing foetus - Sephiroth.
Furthermore, the most common use of the word "Advent" is in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. In Advent Children there also occurs something of a Second Coming in Sephiroth's appearance.
And there you have it, a hopefully shorter version of Glen Morrow's catalogue of symbolism in FFVII.
Thanks for posting this! I have been thinking about this for a while - but never got to writing anything up - mostly the Jenova being God thing - but I came to the conclusion that Sephiroth is perhaps more like Satan due to the "fallen angel" thing - and Satan was made by God - but the being born from a human womb is much more like Jesus as you said. We were also discussing the Judgement Day thing - the end theme is Judgement Day - and Holy will let the planet pass judgement on everything on the planet - which is like Judgement Day - and doesn't Satan take a role in the Apocalypse? Maybe like Sephiroth? But neo_rufus is going to post an essay about Meteor and its relations to Judgement Day - all this is definately related thats for sure. Actually I was just wondering if Vincent relates to anything in particular in Hebrew/Christian myth? As I've been avoiding all Dirge of Cerebrus spoilers I can I don't think I can really decide much about Vincent till I know everything I would imagine.
I personally would equate Holy more to Christ - in a pure sense instead of the role reversal Sephiroth seems to be.
If you don't mind me repeating some of the stuff I've been taught in my christian upbringing...
Christ is the path through which humanity is redeemed. A belief in Him and the seeking of forgiveness which He can give grants a person a right to eternal life - or in other words, life after the Second Coming.
The way I see that being like Holy is that Holy grants life after Meteor - the Apocalypse (which is what the Second Coming is viewed as in classic christian beliefs).
So Holy is the true Saviour while Sephiroth could be thought of as an Antichrist.
Hmm interesting - I didn't think of Holy being Christ but that makes sense - I didn't agree with his being like Sephiroth - though the birth from a human is a similarity - but the only one between them I would think - I have always definatley believed that Sephiroth bears great resemblance to the Antichrist - its mostly the fallen angel thing as both were good and powerful at one time.. then fell from grace to become the ultimate evil - I mean Sephiroth even over powered Jenova's will. The only problem now is the idea that Jenova is God becomes hazy - I suppose nothing is going to be exact because FF only takes influences from certain things - nothing is going to be an exact copy of the original influence. But you did say that FF7 could have 2 gods - one being the lifestream and one being Jenova? To me that would seem like the two conflicting ideas between Eastern and Western religions - ie Eternal Life after death.. (sephiroth and Jenova) and reincarnation (the life stream). There has been an awful lot of ideas floating around on this comm with different ideas all relating to the same themes of religion... at one point I may gather all the info and write it up into one essay - I think it would be less confusing that way - everything is scattered all over the place at the moment! (and I would have to add how Shinra relates with all this - loving Shinra as I do ^ ^)
If Sephiroth is the Antichrist that would equate Jenova with Satan in as much as common mythology of the Antichrist is that it is the son of Satan.
The whole Christ/ephiroth mixup also fits with teh Antichrist idea because the Antichrist is basically a counterfit version of Christ, manipulating End-of-Time society the wrong way, i.e. away from the true God.
The mixing of mythology doesn't bother me so much, it happens quite a bit in fictional works - the creators will borrow from multiple mythical sources and create something new out of them.
Oh yeah of course I was thinking at first that the Antichrist was Satan - but yeah I remember now - dunno how I could forget with all those "Damien" ads a few weeks back lol. Yeah - its all making sense now! Well I think all the mixing of myths and ideas is interesting as well... if I didn't then I wouldn't have co-created this comm! I like all this working stuff out.. though I do get confused now and then... >.
Yeah, my personal take on the Antichrist is a bit different from the norm (the particular spin my church puts on the idea) but I know most of the common versions as well. The theme however of manipulation away from the "True Path" still holds true however, whether you believe the Antichrist is the literal "Son of Satan" or some more mundane agency at work.
With all due respect........especially to the Christian in the thread a few things:
Christianity is an incomplete religion formed essentially and watered down by the Catholic/Roman Elite who took pieces of the Jewish faiths, Sumerian stories, and Pagan beliefs and mish-mashed them into various stories. Even the story of YESHU, or IESUS, or JESUS is a conglomerate story of more than one person (one who was militant the other who was a spiritual adept, as well as a greek known as Applonius), some who lived close to, but at different times. Most of the story in the bible is also correlated symbolically with the Kaballah- which is the source of the above information in relation to FFVII.
Sephiros is the tree of life, which is likened to the "multi-dimensional body of God" or aspects/emanation. It is the physical matrix that separates you from the true/pure knowing of God, which is known as EinSof, or Limitless/Ineffable. Hence the relationship to the word JEHOVAH- which was a personalized version of the tetragammaton known as YHVH. What is not understood by most anybody except with access to secret knowledge, is Jehovah and YHVH are not the same....Jehovah was the name of an actual being where areas YHVH refers to the WORD (SOUND/VIBRATION) that turned LIGHT (THOUGHT) into MATTER or physical existence. Thus, sometimes the DemiUrge is looked at as Jehovah because the multi-dimensional, multi-sphered "tree of life" or the body, is what entrapped LIGHT into matter, and the illusion of physicality was born (separation from "God" or EinSof). The appolistic succession known as the Cathari in france looked at "satan" not as some snake, or being, but actually as physical existence itself. And Christ like the life-stream, something that unified you back with all that is.
In regards to Sephiroth, it has two sides. One positive one negative. Similar to the idea of a Parallel universe. It can also be likened to dark and light.....Sephiroth, being infected by "Jenovah" or the "false God" becomes the reversed Sephiroth...Which is the anti-universe where many dark beings dwell, instead of light being properly recycled it is vampired/siphoned. STrange? YES. But not too far from the truth.
Well I don't dispute that Christianity was heavily influenced by the interference of catholic/Roman messing around, though I do personally believe that story of Jesus refers to a singular person. (I am a Christian - that, by definition, means I believe in Christ.)
I will however say that your views on the symbolism in FF7 is an interesting version.
Also, it's been several years since I posted this Summary, and I suspect that when I originally posted it, I did so solely as a way of giving people a short version of Glenn Morrow's essay. All the actual research was done by him.