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God Has Chosen the Little Ones: The Hobbit and Tolkien's Theological Framework

God Has Chosen the Little Ones: The Hobbit and Tolkien's Theological Framework

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J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is not immediately striking as a “Christian” work. But with a properly calibrated reading The Hobbit can be seen as the work of a Christian author presenting truths of the actual world in the forms of his fantasy setting. As the fantasy setting is supposed to be an imaginary time thousands of years before the Incarnation (that is, in the past of our world), it is apparent that Tolkien’s theological framework would exert influence on how he wrote The Hobbit in terms of the truths he presents, as well as the fantasy forms he uses to present them. To calibrate our own reading of The Hobbit accordingly, this book explores Tolkien’s general theological framework, his specific theological reflection on his form of artistic work, and details of the story that highlight Tolkien’s theological framework in how he is presenting God at work in Middle-earth through the little ones like Bilbo Baggins.

Lisa Coutras, PhD, author of Tolkien's Theology of Beauty, says,

"In God has Chosen the Little Ones, Harriman gives a broad-brush overview of J.R.R. Tolkien's theology in The Hobbit. While Tolkien is well-known for his Christianity, The Hobbit is the least “Christian” of all his works, and very little has been written on its religious element. Nevertheless, Harriman argues that Tolkien’s Christian worldview permeates all his writing, even The Hobbit. He begins by tracing the background & foundation of Tolkien's faith in his personal biography, letters, essays, and stories, demonstrating the centrality of his Catholic faith in all his thinking. He suggests that Tolkien's notion of “sub-creation” was the framework & springboard for his creative vision: to create stories is to bear the image of the Creator. With this in mind, Tolkien’s sub-creation of Middle-earth, including The Hobbit, has the potential to house a reflection of God. Harriman thus artfully draws out major themes of the Hobbit, such as Providence, courage, and—perhaps most importantly—the ennoblement of the small.  God has Chosen the Little Ones is an engaging and accessible resource for those interested in understanding the connection between Tolkien’s faith, his creativity, and The Hobbit."


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