Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood

The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood, Westminister John Knox Press, 2003

In the Gospel According to Tolkien, Wood examines Christian themes found in J.R.R. Tolkien's epic, The Lord of the Rings.

Any Christian who has read Tolkien, can not help but recognize some of these themes, and having read The Lord of the Rings more than 10 times, I certainly picked up on a bunch.

But Wood does an excellent job cutting to the core on not only the themes but what they mean to the reader, to Tolkien and to Christians.

Unlike, the Chronicles of Narnia, where the lion, Aslan, is clearly analogous to Christ, the Lord of the Rings has no direct Christ analogy. Instead, each of the heroes of the book exhibit Christ-like features.

  • Gandalf sacrifices himself for the good of the group and is resurrected
  • Samwise exhibits Christ-like servitude
  • Aragon displays tremendous obedience to his charge and duty
  • Frodo battles temptation
  • Legolas and Gimili reconcile their people
I was amazed to learn that Tolkien, a devote Catholic, supported mercy and grace over blind obedience. 

Wood covers these topics and more, including evil, forgiveness, the seven virtues and the seven vices.

After reading this book, I have to fight the urge to pick up the Lord of the Rings and read it again. Wood gave me plenty to think about and a new perspective on my favorite trilogy.

Don't read this if you haven't read Lord of the Rings, but don't not read this if you have read Lord of the Rings.
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