Book Reviews

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

     The prequel to Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit” follows Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo leads the quiet life of a hobbit until the wizard Gandalf arrives at his door with a band of dwarves setting out on an adventure to reclaim a long-lost treasure. Bilbo finds himself swept up into their dangerous journey, and must find courage he didn’t know he had, especially when facing the great dragon Smaug alone in the dark.

“The Hobbit” is probably one of the top-five best fantasy novels ever written. It is one of my favorites. Tolkien created a world that few can match. It’s a world that is very familiar, but exotic and magical at the same time. The story, for entertainment purposes alone, is wonderful and will keep the pages turning, but there are also many lessons that can be learned if you’re paying attention. This will always be a favorite of mine. And I can’t wait for the movie coming this December. It’s such a long way off, but it looks like it’s going to be great. The only part I’m not to thrilled about is seeing all the huge spiders. Hopefully I can keep my eyes open, and remember not to call them Attercop. Here’s the trailer for the movie:

There may be spoilers ahead for those who have never read “The Hobbit.” Proceed at your own risk. 🙂

Tolkien himself was a Christian and there has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not he included Christian themes in these books. I do not believe that these stories were meant to be allegorical. No one character can represent God or Jesus, or even one continuous theme, as you would expect an allegory to do (such as in “The Pilgrim’s Progress“). But I do believe, intentional or not (though most likely intentional), that Tolkien has placed Christian themes and ideas throughout these works. I see several examples in “The Hobbit.” Though some may say I’m reaching a bit, the images quickly brought things to my mind.

We can start with the dwarves and the imagery surrounding them. We first meet the dwarves at Bilbo’s house… a group of twelve, plus their king. This immediately brought to mind Jesus and the twelve apostles. Am I saying the Thorin, the dwarf king, represents Jesus? No. There are many places in the book where Thorin displays characteristics very unlike Jesus, but the imagery is in the group as a whole. Gandalf later makes a comment about collecting all the dwarves from the four corners of the world. This is brought about toward the end of the story when Thorin sends the Ravens to call on his cousins and other family to come to his aid at the Lonely Mountain where he has barricaded himself, the other 12 dwarves and Bilbo from potential war. This brought to mind an image of the Jews gathering at Petra in the end times, finding safety in the old caves.

Prophecy, no doubt, plays a large part in the Bible. In “The Hobbit” there is a prophecy that has been turned into songs. A legend of the Dwarf-kings of the mountain one day returning. Gold would flow in the river and through the mountain gates. The land would be filled with a new song and new laughter. This sounds like the return of Christ and the promise of the New Heaven and the New Earth with streets of gold. Another reference to Heaven and Christ’s return can be found in the final words of Thorin, as he lay wounded from the Battle of the Five Armies (which has a type of Armaggedon-ish feel to it, with the gathering of all the world’s armies). He says that he goes to sit beside his fathers, “until the world is renewed.”

Other references can be seen outside of the dwarves. Stories from the beginning of history tell of wars of evil goblins and the elves. This could be pointing to the fall of Lucifer and the battle between the angels of God and those that followed Lucifer (now demons). The tales also speak of the first men of the North, which alludes to Adam and Eve, and their descendents. Another possible reference to Adam and Eve (though I admit this one may be stretching a bit) is in the history of Smaug. The race of men has been greatly crushed by the great dragon Smaug. He is the cause of their fall. This could allude to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, tempting Eve, leading to the fall of man.

In looking at the map that shows the way to the Lonely Mountain, Gandalf tells Thorin, “the only thing your father wished was for his son to read the map and use the key.” The map, we’re previously told, has runes in red that show a secret door into the mountain, too small for the dragon. The words in red immediately made me think of Christ’s words in the Bible, and Christ is often described as a door. The path to Heaven is also said to be narrow.

Finally, there is talk of the Necromancer, which brings images of Satan. Pure evil and the foe of all foes. Gandalf takes great care in avoiding any plans to go after him or near him.

3 thoughts on “The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien”

  1. I can’t remember which LOTR movie starts out with a voice-over saying, “… and history turned to legend, and legend turned to myth …” I think it might have been Return of the King. That line sends chills up my spine because it seems that is what became of our true human ancient history.


    1. I believe it is actually “The Fellowship of the Ring” that has that voice-over. “The Return of the King” shows how Gollum came to have the ring. The voice-over in the first movie just mentioned the rediscovering of the ring in passing. But I agree. The BIble stories have passed from truth to legend to myth (at least to some). Even things that have been documented by extra-biblical sources are debated. It just keeps getting worse. One thing that I didn’t add to my post was a line in “The Hobbit” about the younger people of Dale (race of Men) not believing that Smaug (sort of representing the Devil) ever really existed at all. What’s really surprising is that there are Christians who deny the existance of Satan.


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