With a similar, lighthearted tone [as Sarah Arthur's WALKING WITH BILBO], but less focused approach, Strauss offers readers sixty more devotional readings based on The Hobbit. His readings are only 4-5 pages each and pull out themes from the various corners of Bilbo's tale. It's a less formal style, in that the devotions aren't broken up by specific sections, but rather shared as a collection of narratives. Rather than honing in specifically on how Bilbo's journey and our journeys coincide, A HOBBIT DEVOTIONAL bounces through multiple topics and themes including a studies in courage, patience, persistence, and developing the character necessary to fulfill our destinies and answer God's calling on our lives.
This book is less of a companion to The Hobbit and more of a treasure trove of insights for readers well familiar with the content and context of the classic tale. Strauss does a nice job of pulling out spiritual principles to digest and ponder at the reader's pace, independently of reading the source material.
I have no idea if Tolkien intended for The Hobbit to have quite so many biblical parallels, but he was a Christian and a very educated man, so it is entirely likely. Regardless, each of the sixty daily devotionals are well thought out, providing a brief quote from The Hobbit, followed by some information around the background to the quote, then the biblical principle that is being illustrated. As the devotional progresses, we move with Bilbo and the dwarves through their journey, facing the trials along with them.
Yes, it's a bit of a gimmick, a cash-in on the upcoming movie release. No, it's not the most theological of devotionals. It's a light devotional, not a heavy Bible study. But, for what it is, it's good - readable, entertaining and thought-provoking, and suitable to be used with children of all ages. Recommended for Tolkien fans, or anyone who wants to consider the Christian background to the movies.
Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
I first met Bilbo Baggins as a Junior in college. Though a children's book, The Hobbit held my attention. I was a young believer at the time - but even then I could see spiritual connections throughout the book. With the soon to be released movie, it was a pleasure to see Ed Strauss' look at those connections in a devotional setting.
As Strauss moves through J. R. R. Tolkien's original book, we find ourselves introduced to the places and people which are familiar to those who have read The Hobbit. Each of the 60 devotions reviews a portion of Tolkien's book, concludes with a clear application and an appropriate scripture.
I have look forward to reading each day's snippit (of course, I never cheated and looked ahead [:)].) Reading the devotional has made me even more eager for the movie's release this holiday season.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.
For all you J.R.R. Tolkien fans and Christians looking for a great new devotional just in time with the release of the movie, The Hobbit, comes Ed Strauss' The Hobbit Devotional: Bilbo Baggins and the Bible. I was so thrilled to see what this book would contain, I knew I had to review it. Being a Christian, I was more than excited to see how chapters of the book The Hobbit would be blended together in 60 different devotional lessons that could be completed once a week.
Each devotion begins with a reading from a chapter in the Hobbit and ties in such great teaching with the Bible such as one such lesson on wisdom. In the book, the Hobbit, the elves are the race of beings that the Hobbits or even Gandalf will consult because they are basically immortal, so their wisdom comes from being around so long and their life experience. The devotion picks up and tells the reader how wise it is to use the sage wisdom that comes from parents and grandparents not because things are so different between their time and ours, but because they have been seasoned by life's experiences. It teaches us that not everything is so easily learned in our age of technology.
Sound scripture from the Bible accompanies each chapter, story and shows how in our current lives these lessons are still vital to the Christian walk. One such chapter "Checking Things Out" deals with the secrets hiding within the caves from the Hobbits and how vital it was for the party to thoroughly search the cave before deciding to stay the night. One never knew if there was danger lurking nearby or perhaps a trap set, and one time the dwarves Kili and Filir reported back they had found the perfect dry cave. Even Gandalf himself searched the cave and was assured they were good for the night. Suddenly in the middle of the night, goblins rushed out and seized the travelers and their ponies and vanished back inside the mountain.
The lesson goes on to teach how easy it is to be fooled by our present day circumstances, while some are easy to see others are difficult to expose. Con artists lurk not only in the financial world but also in religious settings. Jesus likened these deceivers to wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15) and Paul cautioned Christians not to be "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." The lesson goes on to warn the readers that some traps are capable of fooling even the veterans and we have an obligation to warn others to watch out for it.
This book is filled with great lessons for the die hard Hobbit or J.R.R. Tolkien fan and is bound to be a great discussion point for youth group and church leaders as well as we near the release date of the Hobbit on the big screen. This book is bound to make learning from the Bible fun in a completely new way and makes the life lessons more relevant when you can relate them back to not only the story of the Hobbit but back to the Bible as well.
I received The Hobbit Devotional: Bilbo Baggins and The Bible by Ed Strauss compliments of Barbour Publishing and Net Galley for my honest review. My entire family have had so much fun sharing biblical insights along with our love for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as well as the Hobbit and I can easily rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars. This book is available in paperback and eBook formats from your favorite book retailer.
I've used a number of quite different books as Devotionals over the years, and occasionally am studiously regular with them. The ones that I like are the ones that don't preach at me, or that aren't too, too sweeet and encouraging. The Hobbit Devotional is neither of those - and that's good!
Ed Strauss has a good number of titles to his name - many aimed at the younger market and using a sense of humour. Books like Bible Freaks & Geeks and Seriously Sick Bible Stuff show the intended market immediately. I guess that's why the publisher's blurb for this mentions humour, but it seems to me that Strauss has been stereotyped. Either that, or there's an incorrect assumption being made about the type of people who love The Hobbit.
I have been a Hobbit fan for over 40 years. This is not an "Oh, I loved that book when I was a child" sort of fandom, but an everlasting "What? You haven't read / don't love the Hobbit?!!" The Hobbit isn't simply the precursor to The Lord of the Rings, and it matters not one whit that Tolkien originally wrote it for children - it's a classic that appeals to all ages.
All this is to say that if I had read the blurb before reading this book, I may have not bothered. So I hope that the marketing people get it right and manage to reach a wider range of readers, because this is a book worth reading and using for devotions.
Strauss begins each segment with a short text from The Hobbit, followed with an overview of the situation. He does this really well, and then he brings some texts from the Bible into it - sometimes just one link, but often more than one. Next, he relates it all to everyday life, which he tackles in a down-to-earth manner.
The review copy that I'm reading is on my Kobo e-reader and comes without any illustrations (that's probably the age of my Kobo that has caused that), but I imagine that this Devotional is illustrated throughout. Any illustrations will enhance the whole experience, but even without them I have found this to be a fine example of a Devotional. It's very readable, it doesn't fall into any of the traps that some of them do, and it follows a book that I love. On top of this, it's relevant to each and every one of us who see our lives as a journey.