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Discussing: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

Hi! I'm having a bit of trouble finding passages or even sections of the three LOTRs which strongly show Christian themes. If anyone could direct me to a chapter or a specific quote where someone says something about things like the consequences of falling from grace, all creation started out good (like Sauron), to keep up hope/not to despair, putting faith in others etc or anything else that smacks of Christian themes or teachings, I would be very, VERY grateful.

Thanks! 

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

Hi! I'm having a bit of trouble finding passages or even sections of the three LOTRs which strongly show Christian themes. If anyone could direct me to a chapter or a specific quote where someone says something about things like the consequences of falling from grace, all creation started out good (like Sauron), to keep up hope/not to despair, putting faith in others etc or anything else that smacks of Christian themes or teachings, I would be very, VERY grateful.


"For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so." 

Fellowship of the Ring,
The Council of Elrond 

whole passage:

 
'Alas, no,' said Elrond. 'We cannot use the Ruling Ring. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil. Its strength, Boromir, is too great for anyone to wield at will, save only those who have already a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart. Consider Saruman. If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would then set himself on Sauron's throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear. And that is another reason why the Ring should be destroyed: as long as it is in the world it will be a danger even to the Wise. For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so. I fear to take the Ring to hide it. I will not take the Ring to wield it.' 

There is a book called The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth by Ralph Woods.  I have not read it, but a friend of mine who got a copy for Christmas and was ranting to me about it just yesterday, says that Mr. Woods often distorts Tolkein to make his points (insisting that Tolkien was writing an allegory and not a history, for example.  Patti, a Christian herself, also condemned Woods as "the worst variety of Christian bigot" for some of his theories), so take his conclusions with a large pinch of salt or at least an open mind.  But if you can find a copy at a library or somewhere it may be a starting point for your research.  It's also available used on Amazon for $5.

Gwynnyd 

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

I can think of a few instances that come to mind.

To start with, in the Silmarillion, there is Eru, the One, who created the world.

We have Boromir, who sinned in trying to take the Ring, but repented at the end.  Temptation is a recurring theme in Tolkien - Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn and Faramir are all offered chances to take the Ring, and it would be very easy for any of them to succumb - but they resist the temptation, and become stronger as a result.

There is the death and resurrection of Gandalf.

Gollum is offered chances to repent, and nearly does so - but at the end sinks back into his old ways and falls into the fires of Mordor/Hell.  Frodo, by contrast, triumphs and passes into the bliss of Valinor/Heaven.

Finally, there are the angelic Ainur, and the 'fallen angel' Melkor.

It's late here, and I don't have opportunity to look up the references, so these are all from memory.  I'll see what else I can find out. 

Jay

(Oh yes -  there are parallels between Elbereth the Star Kindler and the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven.)

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

The Pyre of Denethor in ROTK has the example of Denethor, who is the child for Pride And Despair here, determined to destroy himself and his son 'like the heathen kings of old'...

And I always thought that Aragorn's healing of Faramir might have Christian overtones, what with Faramir being recalled from near-death to life by a king with healing hands, and then being filled with knowledge and love....The Houses of Healing, ROTK.


RAKSHA

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

I've often heard Gandalf described as a Christ Figure of sorts. Even Wormtongue's name for him (Lathspel = OE for "ill news") is the opposite of the Good News (which is what the word gospel literally means). He's killed, returns again, and no one seems to recognise him - and he comes endowed with more powers.

Marta

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

Thanks for the help guys - Gwynnyd, I was looking all over for that Elrond quote before I asked here so thanks for the location help.

 

 

Re: If you read LOTR religiously, I need your help.

I know I'm a bit late weighing in on this one, but if you're still working on the piece it might be useful...

Three major Christian archetypes in literature are the Cloaked Power, the Displaced Heir, and the Suffering Servant. Sound like people we might know from Tolkien?

Gandalf is the most obvious Christian archetype figure, since he actually does die and is resurrected. But in addition to that, he's also the "Cloaked Power," the Divine Presence that condescends to dwell in a tabernacle of flesh and endure all we endure in an attempt to save us. As such, he corresponds to Christ as the Great Teacher, expounding wisdom, forgiving sins, alleviating individual suffering, etc. He never compels, and only rarely reveals anything of his power, seeking to sway rather than command.

Aragorn also has a "death and resurrection" experience when he goes on the Paths of the Dead and sets free those who were imprisoned because of their iniquity. It's also interesting to note that his first unfurling of the King's Banner is before the Dead. As the "Displaced Heir," Aragorn corresponds to Christ as the Son of David, King of Kings, etc. So yes, the whole "the hands of the King are healing hands" is definately a Christian theme, relating to the Second Coming / Millenial Reign where the evil from the Fall of Adam is undone by Adam's Heir (see 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45). Aragorn, as Isildur's heir, atones for his forefather's mortal sin and ascends to glory that surpasses even Elendil. In fact, the phrase "ancient of days" is used to describe Aragorn at his coronation (pg 266 in my copy) and is lifted directly from the King James Version of Daniel 9:7, a passage widely interpretted to be Millenial in nature. And then there's the whole Bridegroom=Christ and Bride=Church theme that also plays out in his marriage to Arwen (especially if one focuses on the Trilogy proper more than the Appendices).

Frodo of course is the Suffering Servant, bearing the "doom of Men" and enduring every suffering imaginable to save the world. He "dies" under the venom of Shelob and is "resurrected" when Aragorn resuscitates him. Sam's lament about "how little honor [Frodo] had in his own country" closely echoes Matthew 13:57 ("A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country" in the KJV where Christ rebukes those who are rejecting him because they grew up with him).

Taken together, these three archetypes represent a very strong Christian presense in the Trilogy, although there are plenty of pagan references as well. Several important dates (Sept 22, April 21, etc) and a few other elements point strongly to the Trilogy being a Solar Myth. In Christianity, East is the divine cardinal direction, whereas in both Egyptian and Germanic/Celtic traditions, the West-across-the-Sea is where the gods dwell, the "Westerners" being a very common Egyptian title for their pantheon and the West being where departed souls go. There is also Tolkien's statement (I can't remember the source) that he envisioned Gondor being more like Egypt than Europe (at least in terms of monument building), and there's also the whole issue of Numenor (aka Atlantis).

I never read "The Gospel According to Tolkien," but I'm guessing it does a great disservice to Tolkien. The Trilogy was never meant to be an allegory for ANYTHING, much less a religious treatise. If it is Christian, it's in a "pre-Christian" kind of way. Within the scope of the book, Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn are never meant to be anything less than real people in a real time and place, but their lives and actions foreshadow Christ in an "Old Testament" kind of way.

Anyway, I don't know if that helps or if it was what you were looking for, but that's my two cents and change!

 

 

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