The Lord of the Rings is the touchstone modern but its Christian underpinnings have at times been . Wood fully reveals Tolkien's sacramental themes: hope can be found in the midst of despair, charity can overcome vengeance, and faith can spring out of weakness. 184 pages, softcover.
Format: Paperback Number of Pages: 169 Vendor: Westminster John Knox Press Publication Date: 2003 Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)
Readers have repeatedly called The Lord of the Rings the most important book of our age--absorbing all 1,500 of its pages with an almost fanatical interest and seeing the Peter Jackson movies in unprecedented numbers. Readers from ages 8 to 80 keep turning to Tolkien because here, in this magical kingdom, they are immersed in depth after depth of significance and meaning--perceiving the Hope that can be found amidst despair, the Charity that overcomes vengeance, and the Faith that springs from the strange power of weakness. The Gospel According to Tolkien examines biblical and Christian themes that are found in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Follow Ralph Wood as he takes us through the theological depths of Tolkien's literary legacy.
Ralph C. Wood is Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is the author of several books.
Now brought to the big screen, J.R.R. Tolkien's three-volume fantasy novel has
been continuously popular since its original publication in 1954. A devout
Catholic, the Oxford don was at the same time enamored of the ancient Norse
pagan tales. While many see the trilogy as simply a pagan story with little or
no hint of Christianity, both of these authors argue that the book has a very
definite Christian message-a message that Tolkien himself said was fundamental
to the work. Wood's (religion, Baylor Univ.) book, which comes from the
publisher of several other "Gospel According to" books, argues that Tolkien's
is a deeply Christian work, but since Tolkien disliked allegory, the
Christian message is seen in the plot and the imagery. He finds in the story
portrayals of the traditional Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love and
offers a "theological reflection" on the epic, concentrating particularly on
the question of evil. Dickerson (English, Middlebury Coll.; The Finnsburg
Encounter) takes a somewhat less religious approach, focusing more on the
moral dimensions of the story and the idea of free will. He argues that
Tolkien's interest is in showing that moral victory is more important than
military victory and that the novel's greatest heroes are those who remain
true to their calling, not those who win battles. He deals with the question
of religion only at the end. Both authors consider book and film, and both
have a more ecumenical perspective than does Bradley Birzer in J.R.R.
Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth, which takes a more Catholic approach. Given what
is sure to be a renewed interest in Tolkien's epic, both would be worthwhile
purchases for all libraries.-Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ Copyright
2003 Reed Business Information.
Readers and fans of J.R.R. Tolkien have long been aware of the Christian
underpinnings of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still, Tolkien has not been
without his religious critics, including those who have read a fascination
with paganism into the pre-Christian world of Tolkien's creation. Wood, a
professor of theology and literature at Baylor University, responds to those
critics with an academically sound retort of "Nonsense!" Acknowledging
straight off that Rings is devoid of any traces of "formal religion," Wood
offers countless pieces of evidence that support his analysis of the
full-fledged, deeply Christian theology of the mythological culture of
Middle-earth. And he does so convincingly. Even longtime fans of Rings who
have never questioned the books' Christian elements will undoubtedly discover
new insights, so rich is Wood's analysis of Tolkien's gospel. But be
forewarned: This is not a book for the casual reader. Rather, it is a somewhat
scholarly endeavor for those who want a more thorough understanding of the
underlying themes that have made The Lord of the Rings novels, as well as
Tolkien's other writings, such enduring treasures. Wood teases out those
themes-life and death, good and evil, courage and cowardice, mercy and justice
and of course, faith, hope, and love-to reveal the faith-filled nature of
Tolkien's theocentric and sacramental, albeit fictional, world. (Oct.)
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.