Although they approached their fiction differently, J.R.R. Tolkien and his friend C.S. Lewis shared the belief that their fantastical storytelling was a way to smuggle Christian truth past the biases of secularized readers. We’ve rounded up several books and resources that help readers explore the Christian faith behind the classics The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
A Hobbit Devotional: Bilbo Baggins and the Bible
By Ed Strauss
If you enjoy J. R. R. Tolkien—even if you’re new to his classic stories—you’ll love A Hobbit Devotional, featuring 60 humorous, challenging, and encouraging devotionals. The Hobbit has fascinated readers for more than 70 years. Now, this tale of humble folk who overcome fear, discouragement, and despair through steadfastness, courage, and hope forms the basis of a brand-new devotional book. Each reading sketches a scene from The Hobbit, relates it to a contemporary life situation you might experience yourself, and brings in the teaching of a relevant Bible story or verse.
The Christian World of The Hobbit
By Devin Brown
In his beloved story, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien takes readers into a world unlike any other, yet so much seems familiar. As Bilbo journeys there and back again, glimpses of the spiritual are seen. Previous guides to Tolkien’s fiction have often made one of two wrong turnings: either they have entirely overlooked the Christian elements or they have claimed to find “Christian” elements everywhere, going far beyond the fundamental aspects that have been absorbed into the story.
The Christian World of The Hobbit does what no book has done: it brings Tolkien fans new delight by introducing a side of Tolkien that is rarely explored but vitally important to his writings—especially to The Hobbit. Written by internationally regarded Tolkien scholar, Devin Brown, this approachable, witty, and highly entertaining book offers up fresh perspectives to fans of The Hobbit, both the book and the film adaptation.
A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth
By Matthew Dickerson
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has delighted millions of fans worldwide in book and movie form. With the theatrical release of the two-part film The Hobbit slated for 2012 and 2013, attention will once again turn to J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic works. In a culture where truth is relative and morality is viewed as old-fashioned, we welcome the chance to view the world through hobbit eyes: we have free will, our choices matter, and living a morally heroic life is possible.
In this engaging and thought-provoking book, Tolkien expert Matthew Dickerson shows how a Christian worldview and Christian themes undergird Tolkien’s Middle-earth writings and how they are fundamentally important to understanding his vision. This revised and expanded edition of Following Gandalf includes new material on torture, social justice, and the importance of the body.
Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit
By Joseph Pearce
(Saint Benedict Press)
Discover the Christian meaning in The Hobbit.
In Bilbo’s Journey go beyond the dragons, dwarves, and elves, and discover the surprisingly deep meaning of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novel The Hobbit. Bilbo’s quest to find and slay the dragon Smaug is a riveting tale of daring and heroism, but as renowned Tolkien scholar Joseph Pearce shows, it is not simply Bilbo’s journey, it is our journey too. It is the Christian journey of self-sacrifice out of love for others, and abandonment to providence and grace. In Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit you will relive the excitement of Tolkien’s classic tale, while discovering the profound Christian meaning that makes The Hobbit a truly timeless adventure.
Finding God in The Hobbit
By Jim Ware
Thousands have been captivated by the spiritual themes that underlie Tolkien’s imaginative fiction. In Finding God in The Hobbit, Jim Ware, co-author of the popular “Finding God” series, indulges readers with an exploration of the spiritual significance of J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous children’s classic. As they are acquainted with Tolkien’s message of transcendent truth, readers will see how God is mysteriously at work even in everyday moments. A reflection summarizes each chapter’s main insight. Bibliography included.
Finding God in The Lord of the Rings
By Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware
Considered the most popular books of the 20th century, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is more than a great story. It’s a much-needed reminder that Christians are all on an epic quest. In examining the Christian themes in the trilogy, authors Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware find that truth and fiction are not as far apart as they seem. When read in the light of Scripture, Tolkien’s trilogy reveals a rich tapestry of redemption, values, and faith against all odds. Insightful reflection notes end each chapter. A great book for personal study, devotional time, or group discussion!
Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition
By Donald T. Williams
Philosophers list “What is man?” and “What is the purpose of life on this earth?” as two of the most important questions that must be asked by everyone in the quest to become a complete human being. Mere Humanity digs into the treasured writings of Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien for the answers.
The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings
By Peter Kreeft
While nothing can equal or replace the adventure in reading Tolkien’s masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, Peter Kreeft says that the journey into its underlying philosophy can be another exhilarating adventure. Thus, Kreeft takes the reader on a voyage of discovery into the philosophical bones of Middle Earth. He organizes the philosophical themes in The Lord of the Rings into 50 categories, accompanied by over 1,000 references to the text of Lord. Since many of the great questions of philosophy are included in the 50-theme outline, this book can also be read as an engaging introduction to philosophy. For each of the philosophical topics in LOTR, Kreeft presents tools by which they can be understood. Illustrated.
Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship
By Colin Duriez
Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are literary superstars, known around the world as the creators of Middle-earth and Narnia. But few of their readers and fans know about the important and complex friendship between Tolkien and his fellow Oxford academic C.S. Lewis. Without the persistent encouragement of his friend, Tolkien would never have completed The Lord of the Rings. This great tale, along with the connected matter of The Silmarillion, would have remained merely a private hobby. Likewise, all of Lewis’ fiction, after the two met at Oxford University in 1926, bears the mark of Tolkien’s influence, whether in names he used or in the creation of convincing fantasy worlds.
They quickly discovered their affinity–a love of language and the imagination, a wide reading in northern myth and fairy tale, a desire to write stories themselves in both poetry and prose. The quality of their literary friendship invites comparisons with those of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Cowper and John Newton, and G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc. Both Tolkien and Lewis were central figures in the informal Oxford literary circle, the Inklings.
This book explores their lives, unfolding the extraordinary story of their complex friendship that lasted, with its ups and downs, until Lewis’s death in 1963. Despite their differences–differences of temperament, spiritual emphasis, and view of their storytelling art–what united them was much stronger, a shared vision that continues to inspire their millions of readers throughout the world.
The Inklings of Oxford: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Their Friends
By Harry Lee Poe (Author), James Ray Veneman (Photographer)
Oxford’s fabled streets echo with the names of such key figures in English history as Edmund Halley, John Wycliffe, and John and Charles Wesley. Of more recent times are those of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the other members of the renowned literary circle to which they belonged, the Inklings. What would it be like to walk this medieval city’s narrow lanes in the company of such giants of Christian literature, to visit Magdalen College, where Lewis and Tolkien read aloud their works-in-progress to their friends, or the Eagle and Child pub, the Inklings’ favorite gathering place? The lavish photography of this book will introduce you to the fascinating world of the Inklings, matching their words to the places where these friends discussed — and argued over — theology, philosophy, ancient Norse myth, and Old Icelandic, while writing stories that were to become classics of the faith. The Inklings of Oxford will deepen your knowledge of and appreciation for this unique set of personalities. The book also features a helpful map section for taking walking tours of Oxford University and its environs.
The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth
By Ralph C. Wood
(Westminster John Knox Press)
In this accessible and engaging book, Ralph Wood shows us that J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece is a deeply Christian work because it does not blink back the horrors of our terrible times but confronts them with startling honesty. Readers keep turning to this work because here they are immersed in significance and meaning — perceiving the Hope than 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 will be loved by both longtime Tolkien fans and those recently drawn to his books through the popular feature films.