Book Review: The Spiritual World of the Hobbit by James Stuart BellPlease note that I am not looking for a debate as to the worth or value of reading a fantasy novel of this type. I am assuming there is at least some value.
Why read this book? Why the author wrote the book is a good starting answer to this question, that is, “…several misconceptions remain concerning the adventures of Bilbo Baggins…[and] these misconceptions prevent readers from fully appreciating and benefitting from Tolkien’s genius”. (from page 13)
I would also say that by reading this book you won’t need to purchase and read through Christopher Tolkien’s (J. R. R.’s son) , 12 volume history of Middle Earth, in order to get the background information necessary to understand The Hobbit story line. This book’s author pulls information from those volumes and J. R. R.’s, Silmarillion, as well.
Some of the scriptural parallels seem exaggerated at first, until I reminded myself of what this author said, that, “In the Hobbit, Tolkien’s theological underpinning is subtler and frequently beneath the surface.” (from page 14)
Mr. Bell advises the reader to read this book along with reading The Hobbit. I would second that recommendation. Read a chapter in The Hobbit, then read the explanation in this book.
One of the main scriptural parallels that keeps coming up and seems to run through the entire book is that Bilbo Baggins doesn’t start out being very hero-like and instead he is a work in progress, much like we are a work in progress in our spiritual lives. Another similar spiritual theme is that Bilbo (the Hobbit character) is on a journey becoming who he is created to be. He is changed. Again this is very much like us becoming more Christlike as we go through our journey here on earth.
By the very nature of the book, The Hobbit, that is, it being a fantasy novel means that not everything has to mean something. It is make-believe after all and is meant for entertainment. God alone only knows how much spiritual stuff J. R. R. Tolkien actually meant on purpose to put into his book as opposed to it simply slipping in from just him being a spiritual Christian person. Either way it was interesting and entertaining to see some of the spiritual themes and parallels.
If you are a J. R. R. Tolkien fan this is a must-read (unless perhaps you already own that 12 volume set that I mentioned earlier). If you are a fan of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicle of Narnia series you will most likely enjoy this book also. If you like Christian fantasy books in general you will like this book, too.
Interestingly, another Hobbit movie is set to come to the theaters in early December of this year. I recommend reading the book (and this one as well) before seeing the movie.
To get you own copy of this book go here:Spiritual World of the Hobbit, The
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House as part of their Blogging For Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CFR, Part 225:”Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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