In his novel Dune, Frank Herbert depicts a future where today’s great religions have been “scrambled” into new faiths. Judaism, however, appears in the book’s sixth and final volume as having remained unchanged for thousands of years. Michael Weingrad notes that “Herbert’s portrait of the Jews owes more than a little to anti-Semitic stereotypes,” and explains what’s behind it:
Why this eruption of hoary anti-Jewish stereotypes in a futuristic epic? It seems to derive not from contempt for the Jews, but from Herbert’s envy of them. On the one hand, Herbert’s portrayal of the Jews as an unchanging relic, the only stagnant group in a universe of change, is an old trope, given repeated modern expression from [G. W. F.] Hegel to [Arnold] Toynbee and reflecting supersessionist Christian claims that the Jews have had their day but are no longer a living part of history’s drama.
But the flip side of this denigration of the Jews as a “fossil-people” is a Christian anxiety that the Jews—who claim biological kinship with the patriarchs, prophets, and messiah—naturally possess that with which Christians have a more uncertain relationship. Herbert’s Dune novels are all animated by the conviction that the truth is in our genes. The problem Jews pose for Hebert, then, is not that they are unnecessary to his fictional universe, but that they appear to anticipate it because of their familial, corporeal relationship with the divine. . . . There appears to be a kind of theological resentment at work.