- For the Sacred Scrolls depicted in the comic books, see: Sacred Scrolls (alternate).
The Sacred Scrolls are a set of writings that form the basis of Colonial religion, a polytheistic faith resembling the legends of ancient Greece. The scrolls record much of the alleged history of humanity, including life on Kobol before the great exodus, and the legend of Earth. Portions of the scrolls are used in religious ceremonies, such as the Service for the dead (TRS: Miniseries, "Act of Contrition").
Most notable among the Sacred Scrolls is the Book of Pythia, also referred to as the Pythian Prophecy. Written 3,600 years ago by the oracle Pythia, they are believed by some to foretell the current exodus from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
The contents of the Sacred Scrolls have only been revealed in glimpses, through brief quotes, paraphrases and explanations.
- Roslin: Who is Pythia?
Elosha: One of the oracles in the Sacred Scrolls. 3,600 years ago. Pythia wrote about the exile and rebirth of the human race. (TRS: "The Hand of God")
The Cycle of Time
- Roslin: If you believe in the gods, then you believe in the cycle of time that we are all playing our parts in a story that is told again, and again, and again throughout eternity. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
- Amanda Graystone: Do you remember that old saying? "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again"? (CAP: "The Imperfections of Memory")
The Dying Leader
- Elosha: "And the lords anointed a leader to guide the Caravan of the Heavens to their new homeland." (TRS: "The Hand of God")
- Elosha: She also wrote that the new leader suffered a wasting disease and would not live to enter the new land. (TRS: "The Hand of God")
- Roslin: The scriptures tell us a dying leader lead humanity to the promised land. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
A Vision of Serpents
- Elosha: "And unto the leader they gave a vision of serpents numbering two and ten, as a sign of things to come." (TRS: "The Hand of God")
The Serpents Lead the People Into Battle?
A Confrontation at the Home of the Gods
- Six: "Though the outcome favored the few, it led to a confrontation at the home of the gods." (TRS: "The Hand of God")
The Lower Demon
- Elosha: The scrolls of Pythia do speak of a lower demon, who helped the people in a time of crisis. (TRS: "Home, Part I")
The Blaze and the High Road
- Elosha: "And the blaze pursued them, and the people of Kobol had a choice. To board the great ship, or take the high road through the rocky ridge."
- Valerii (continuing): "And the body of each tribe's leader was offered to the gods in the tomb of Athena." And the great ship was the galleon that departed from here, where we're standing. And it took the founders of the thirteen colonies to their destiny. And those that didn't board the galleon took the high road, a rocky ridge that lead to the tomb. (TRS: "Home, Part I")
The Gates of Hera
- Valerii: That's the spot where your god supposedly stood and watched Athena throw herself down onto the rocks below, out of despair over the Exodus of the thirteen tribes. Athena's tomb, whoever or whatever she really was, is probably up there. (TRS: "Home, Part II")
The Arrow of Apollo
- Elosha: The scriptures tell us that Kobol points the way to Earth. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
- Roslin: According to the scriptures, if we had the arrow of Apollo we could take it down to Kobol and we could use it to open the tomb of Athena and find our way to Earth. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
Kobol and the Blood Price
- Adama: "And Zeus warned the leaders of the twelve tribes that any return to Kobol would exact a price in blood." (TRS: "Home, Part II")
- Baltar: "Pythia talks about the flood ... wiped out most of humanity ... nobody blames the flood ... flood is a force of nature ... through flood, mankind is rejuvinated, born again ..." (TRS: "The Hub")
- Elosha: This place is Kobol... birthplace of mankind, where the gods and men lived in paradise until the exodus of the thirteen tribes. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
- Elosha: How old are the ruins?
Billy Keikeya: Well, we won't know for sure until we send a ground team, but the initial estimates have it on the order of approximately 2,000 years.
Elosha: That's around the time the thirteen tribes first left Kobol. (TRS: "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part I")
The Thirteenth Tribe on Earth
- Starbuck: The scriptures say that when the thirteenth tribe landed on Earth, they looked up into the heavens and they saw their twelve brothers. (TRS: "Home, Part II")
Other verses from the Sacred Scrolls
- Adama: "Life here began out there." These are the first words of the Sacred Scrolls… (TRS: "Miniseries")
- During a Salt Line Ceremony on Galactica: "Their enemies will divide them. Their colonies broken in the fiery chasm of space. Their shining days renounced by a multitude of dark sacrifices. Yet still they will remain always together." (TRS: "Exodus, Part I")
- Commander Adama: "The gods shall lift those who lift each other." (TRS: "Home, Part II")
- Cavil: "The gods lift up those who lift each other." (TRS: "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I")
- Duck: "The gods help those who help themselves." (TRS: "Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance")
- The book of Pythia, which contains or is identical to the Pythian Prophecy, was written 1,600 years before the final exodus of the last twelve tribes, and documents the exodus of the Thirteenth Tribe. The text apparently contains a detailed narrative of the events of the Exodus, and continues to be interpreted as a source of prophecy 2,000 years after its prophecies have (apparently) already been fulfilled.
- The Cycle of Time is apparently a key component of Colonial theology. The notion of a circular progression of time (also known as eternal return or eternal recurrence) is foreign to the ancient Greek religion of which Colonial religion are largely based, but it is a common theme in many modern religions. Some Hindus believe in an endless cycle of ages called Yugas. The ancient Maya people, as well as the Incas and Aztecs also believed in the circular nature of time. In philosophy, the Stoics, a movement originating in hellenistic Greece, held the doctrine. In the nineteenth century, the doctrine appears in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche as a method of life-affirmation.
Assuming the events following the Fall of the Twelve Colonies are a repetition of the events predicted by Pythia, and which came to pass centuries later, we can make use of the prophecy by first constructing a coherent historical narrative from them and then looking for correspondences with the events of the series.
- The Lower Demon is the Caprica copy of Sharon Valerii
- The Dying Leader is President Laura Roslin
- The "serpents numbering two and ten" are the Vipers of Strike Force Two in the Battle for the Tylium Asteroid.
- The fleet defended by Galactica is the "Caravan of the Heavens".
- The "price in blood" has been paid by various people including Crashdown and Elosha.
- The Jealous God is Cavil, as he is the humanoid Cylon model that instigated the [Fall of the 12 Colonies] and wanted to be favored by his creators over the other models.
- The "offering of the bodies of the leaders of the 12 Tribes to the gods" is the Final Five's offering the Centurions help creating the humanoid models.
The "One Exodus" Interpretation
This interpretation assumes that the timeline is recurring on a scale of 1,600 to 2,000 years, and the exodus from Kobol is a direct parallel to the exodus from the Twelve Colonies. It also makes some correspondences in addition to those above:
- The "Blaze" identified by Sharon Valerii is an earlier parallel to the Cylon attack. The hostile force is the "jealous God", the Lord of Kobol that tried to elevate himself over the others.
- The Home of the Gods is Kobol, and the people of Kobol are the Twelve Colonies, in a somewhat metaphorical sense.
The timeline would proceed thus:
- The people of Kobol lived in divine utopia with their gods.
- A hostile force - of which "the blaze" and the "lower demon" were parts - moves against the people of Kobol.
- The gods appoint a leader afflicted with a wasting disease to lead a "caravan of the heavens".
- The leader, with the aid of twelve "serpents", wins a perilous battle.
- The people make their way to the "home of the gods".
- Athena despairs and commits suicide.
- The leaders of the people are taken to the Tomb of Athena to be sacrificed to the remaining gods.
- The body of the people depart in a "galleon" for a new home.
- Instructions are left to open the Tomb of Athena.
- Zeus warns against a return to Kobol.
- The twelve tribes settle on the Twelve Colonies. The thirteenth tribe settles on Earth.
However, at least three exodus events are documented. Pythia writes of "the exile and rebirth of the human race" (TRS: "The Hand of God") 1,600 years before the exodus of the tribes from Kobol. The third exodus (from the Colonies) is underway.
The Origin of Mankind
There are two types of original man: those found on Kobol and, later, on New Earth.
The humans on Kobol evolved on Kobol, created machines (Cylons) on Kobol, and then a war against the machines occurred ("the Blaze"). The great exodus from Kobol split the humans and original Cylons apart: the humans went to settle what would be known as The Twelve Colonies, and the Cylons (having assumed human form) settled Earth and built their own machines, which rose up and killed their masters in a nuclear holocaust some 2,000 years prior to the Cylon War ("Home, Part I", "Sometimes a Great Notion", "No Exit").
After the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, the Fleet discovers Kobol and various "road signs" to the first, real Earth, namely the Tomb of Athena, The Temple of Hopes, and the Ionian Nebula ("Home, Part II", "The Eye of Jupiter", "Rapture", "Crossroads, Part II", "He That Believeth in Me"). After discovering that Earth and the Thirteenth Tribe were Cylons originating from Kobol (of which only five survivors remain in the form of the "Final Five," who developed the "Significant Seven" Cylons after the Cimtar Peace Accord), the Fleet discovers a second planet with genetically compatible bipedal humanoid creatures in a primitive, tribal stage of development. Guided here by Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, these humans breed with the Colonials and the only half-human, half-Cylon hybrid Hera Agathon (later known only as the "Mitochondrial Eve"), and spawned a human-cylon hybrid bloodline lasting 150,000 years ("Daybreak, Part II").
The Form of the Scrolls
The Sacred Scrolls have been seen as an actual, ornate scroll (as shown in the Miniseries), as well as a book (Both Adama and Roslin read what appear to be identically-created books in "Home, Part II").
The total volume of the Scrolls has not been revealed, so it is possible that the scroll that Elosha holds in the Miniseries as she swears in President Roslin and holds during the service for the dead may make up only a portion of the total texts, or key readings from the works. A shortened volume may be a specialized volume containing prayers and readings specific to a celebrant's use during temple ceremonies, Services for the Dead, weddings, dedication ceremonies and the like.
Much of the Scrolls appear to be handwritten. While the technology of the Twelve Colonies obviously support electronic printing and reproduction, it may be that the most authentic copies of the sacred texts are either authentic reproductions from a handwritten copy, or genuine handwritten copies. This practice may be for reasons of authenticity, custom, or aesthetics.
Because Sagittarons are traditionally pacifists and do not believe in modern medicine for religious reasons, while the Gemenese traditionally interpret the Sacred Scrolls literally but do not share these practices, it is likely that the Gemenese and Sagittarons have different versions of the Sacred Scrolls, or that the Sagittarons have some supplemental religious document or oral tradition in addition to the Scrolls, or they may simply, like real world religions, interpret the exact same information differently.
Last rites at the Services for the dead
- The phrase is an homage to the voiceover in the Original Series opening credits.
- These sayings are similar to the Algernon Sydney quote "God helps those who help themselves"
- Similar to the Roman Catholic Church's use of missals.
- The practice is similar to the work and purposes of the scribes before the invention of the printing press in real-Earth history. For comparison, an extreme example of the tradition of handwritten sacred texts in real-Earth history are the sefer Torahs.
- The actress is singing Sanskrit verses from the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad. Roughly translated, the verse says, "Lead us from Falsehood to Truth, from Darkness to Light, from Death to Immortality."