The time travels of an Orthodox Jew, a Messianic Jew, and an atheist allow all three to witness the development of the Christian religion fifty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. During this period, Jewish followers of the Rabbi Jesus were circulating his teachings in the streets of Jerusalem. The novel’s title, Transgression, refers to a number of transgressions, chief among them the characters’ violation of time, but there are also breaks with moral codes and religious laws. The novel addresses a number of religious themes, including the nature of good and evil and the divide between faith and doubt. Additionally, the novel offers a look at Judaism and its relationship to early Christian practice.
Randall Scott Ingermanson (a practicing physicist as well as a writer) allows faith in God and in science to coexist comfortably in Transgression. Science is presented as God’s contribution to humankind, another channel through which to understand God’s marvels and power. The true disbeliever in the novel is Damien, the sole character who disavows both God and science, and he is depicted as a villain. His very name identifies him as a demon intent on destroying Western civilization, both its predominant religion, Christianity, and its scientific body of knowledge. However, Ari and Rivka embody Judeo-Christian ethics when they set aside their differences (religious, political, and cultural) to aid each other and to thwart Damien’s scheme.
Rivka believes that Jesus is the true Messiah, but Ari’s doubts about God in general are more difficult to overcome. Raised in an ultraorthodox Jewish household, Ari saw his father killed by Christians during a street riot. Wary of conservative practices, Jewish or Christian, Ari places his trust in Albert Einstein and science; God and faith appear to him less reliable. However, faith overcomes doubt in ancient Jerusalem when Ari is the recipient of a miracle. Stung by a wasp, his supply of epinephrine destroyed by Damien, Ari suffers what should be a fatal bout of anaphylactic shock, until the prayers of Brother Baruch save him. This validation of the power of faith is sufficient even for the most skeptical of scientists.