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The discordant symphony: the problem of evil in Tolkien’s world

Worthing, Mark (2013) The discordant symphony: the problem of evil in Tolkien’s world. Lutheran Theological Journal, 47 (3). pp. 203-213. ISSN 0024-7553

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Abstract

Since the emergence of modern fantasy writing in the 19th century with the former Scottish Congregational pastor George MacDonald, the genre has frequently served as the vehicle for the exploration of theological themes. The creation of fantasy worlds, often with strong parallels to our own world, and open to 'magic' and the action of supernatural forces, has facilitated the creative exploration of spiritual and theological themes. This tradition was continued in the twentieth century by J R R Tolkien, among others. His writings are not only great literature in the fantasy genre, but they also contain much insightful theological reflection. While Tolkien the novelist would not have thought it appropriate to reflect formally on theological problems - that was the domain of the trained theologians - in the fantasy world he created he dealt indirectly with a number of theological topics. As Australian Catholic writer Damien Casey observed: 'Tolkien may not talk about God directly, but he does so indirectly, in a manner consistent with an appreciation of revelation grounded in the idea of salvation history, according to which God is best revealed in and through the story' (1). Among the theological themes one finds in Tolkien's own storytelling, one of the most poignant is his wrestling with the problem of evil. It is not surprising that evil and its origin is a major theme in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings as the question of the origin of evil arises quite naturally in any monotheistic mythology and Tolkien's world, despite the lack of significant references to the creator in The Lord of the Rings, is monotheistic.

Item Type: Published Articles
Repository Version: Metadata Only
Keywords (separated by commas): Christian literature, Lutherans, Theological anthropology, Mythology
Fields of Research: 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220401 Christian Studies (incl. Biblical Studies and Church History)
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
Type of Activity: Pure Basic Research
Subject Area(s): B - Biblical Studies, general
Association with University of Divinity: ALC: Australian Lutheran College
Depositing User: Dr Suman Kashyap
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2014 15:27
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2014 15:27
URI: http://repository.divinity.edu.au/id/eprint/1688

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