For decades millions of people have enjoyed reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This seminal work of modern fantasy was deservedly voted the greatest book of the twentieth century by major British booksellers. But The Lord of the Rings is more than a great work of fantasy, more than an epic adventure story. The world of Middle-earth was conceived by an author whose fantasy world was informed by his biblical and Catholic beliefs. Because of this, his novel is filled to the brim with timeless truth and wisdom. Middle-earth is a world of ethical absolutes and very real evil. Its history is one great and marvelous tapestry, tightly and flawlessly woven by Providence. Prophecy is its organizing motif and unifying feature. All of its prophetic elements pertain to a providential plan to deliver Middle-earth from the evil power and designs of Sauron. Scriptural allusions abound, for Tolkien has saturated his fantasy novel with allusions to biblical ideas, scenes, and characters. These themes, and more, emerge in brilliant detail in Joseph E. O’Day’s The Ring of Truth: Truth and Wisdom in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien wrote that his fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings “is about God, and his sole right to divine honour. The Eldar and the Númenoreans believed in The One, the true God, and held worship of any other person an abomination.” Consequently, Tolkien’s novel contains Christian truth and wisdom that has much to say about our beliefs, our world, our spirituality, and ourselves. Divine providence, ethical absolutes, beauty, temptation, mercy, joy, courage, and self-sacrifice are but a few of the twenty-four prominent themes from Middle-earth that resonate with the ring of truth. Some other themes of truth and wisdom in The Ring of Truth:
Prophecy, Resurrection, Spiritual Healing, The Reality of Evil, Faithfulness, Hope, Humility & Pride, Righteous Anger, Everyday Wisdom, and Loyalty & Friendship.
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