So instead of a blog on Luke this week, I decided that it was time for an allusion, specifically a Lord of the Rings one. LOTR is one of my favorite movie trilogies, and I’m *hopefully* going to start reading the books soon. In case you didn’t know, The Lord of the Rings is a book trilogy written by J.R.R. Tolkien and consists of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. If you haven’t read the books or watched the movies, or if you just want to brush up on the plot, here’s a musical summary of the trilogy:
Now, there are several ways that LOTR alludes to the Bible, some more obvious than others. For this blog, I’m mainly going to focus on temptation and the transfiguration.
“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them” – J.R.R. Tolkien
The One Ring mentioned in this well-known passage is essentially all powerful, and has control over the other 19 Rings of Power forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. This ring has the ability to give the wearer an unnaturally long life, but unfortunately wearing/having this ring for too long has detrimental side effects, as we can see with Gollum:
In The Fellowship of the Ring, the current owner of the One Ring, Bilbo Baggins, gives the ring to his nephew, Frodo Baggins. After learning of suspicious events occurring in Mordor, Gandalf entrusts Frodo with the task of destroying the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Along the journey to Mount Doom, Frodo, as well as his companions (specifically Boromir), are tempted by the ring.
The temptation of the ring begins in the movies when Bilbo is reluctant to leave behind the ring as he journeys to Rivendell to finish his book. It’s apparent in this scene that the One Ring has a negative effect on his personality, especially when Gandalf begins to insist that Bilbo leave the ring behind. After Gandalf assures Bilbo that he does not want the ring for himself, Bilbo finally relinquishes the ring and begins his journey to Rivendell. Later, Frodo is tempted to put the ring on his finger while hiding from a Ring-wraith. If Frodo gives in and puts the ring, he would be revealed to the Ring-wraiths, which would lead to his capture. Although not in this instance, Frodo does eventually give in to the temptation (multiple times), and as a result he eventually sees the Eye of Sauron, which is Sauron’s way of seeing where the ring-wearer (Frodo) is, along with alerting any nearby Ring-wraiths of his whereabouts. Boromir’s temptation by the ring occurs near the end of the movie, when he tries to convince Frodo to give him the ring. Boromir wants the ring so he can use it to restore his homeland, Gondor, to what it once was and to defeat Sauron once and for all. He even goes as far as threating to kill Frodo, but quickly realizes what he has done and asks for forgiveness, and ultimately sacrifices himself for the others.
Just like Jesus was tempted during his forty days in the wilderness, Bilbo, Frodo, and Boromir, (along with many others), were tempted by the power of the ring. Each character faces the temptation in their own way, and has different results. As we all know, Jesus manages to resist the temptation, as does Boromir. For the most part, Bilbo manages to resist the power of the ring, although he does use it irresponsibly so he can end his 111th birthday/going away party with a bang. As for Frodo, he fails to resist temptation, and although he ultimately ends up destroying the ring, he must suffer the consequences, like when he is dealt an almost fatal wound by a Ring-wraith. In this series we can see how powerful temptation can be, even to those who have no desire of power.
“And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” Luke 9:29
This verse really stood out to me as I was reading, especially since we had discussed the LOTR transfiguration in class Monday. During this scene from the Hebrew narrative, Jesus, along with his disciples Peter, John, and James, travel up a mountain and is recognized by the Protagonist as the chosen one. While on the mountain, Jesus is transfigured, as seen in the verse above.
Likewise, Gandalf the Gray also undergoes a transfiguration of sorts. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf sacrifices himself so the rest of the Fellowship can escape the Mines of Moria. As the group is trying to flee from orcs and a Balrog (fire/shadow demon) hidden in the mines, Gandalf turns and shouts “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” He then falls to what you would think would be his death as he battles the Balrog. However, in The Two Towers, he makes his return as Gandalf the White, with the purpose of defeating the other white wizard in the series, Saruman, who has become corrupt and is in league with Sauron.
Both Jesus and Gandalf must go through a transfiguration in order to step into their full power and potential. For Jesus, it serves as a confirmation of who he really is. For Gandalf, it is proof that he is still needed in Middle Earth.
While there are several more allusions to the Bible in this amazing trilogy, these are the two main ones that seemed to really connect with what we’ve read so far. Like Jesus, Bilbo, Frodo, and Boromir all face temptation and must either overcome it or learn how to overcome the consequences of giving in. Gandalf and Jesus also must undergo transfigurations in order to step into their full potentials. It’s amazing how one book can have such far-reaching effects, even in this day.
(All specific information used in this blog came from The Lord of the Rings wiki)
Also, here’s a completely irrelevant and funny Legolas video 🙂