View Full Version : Is Gandalf an allegorical Jesus?

2007-08-08, 01:04 AM
This was a tangential conversation in a Wolverine thread, but there was enough discussion that I think it could use its own topic. Basically it was a debate on whether Gandalf is a Christ stand-in.

actually Gandalf is very much a Christ figure in LOTR. Most literary critics agree with that assessment.

Gandalf was an angel who died to save Mankind from the servant of Satan and after he died fighting an demon he was sent back by heaven to continue to protect Mankind.

Jesus didn't die fighting a demon. And he wasn't just an angel, he was supposed to be God. The Christian mythos says he died not to save mankind from Satan but from man's own sin. Not sure if the allegory works well here.

1. Gandalf takes the main character (and thereby the reader) and sets him on a path toward his destiny.
2. Leads a group of people to safety through the darkness.
3. Sacrifices himself to save the lives of others.
4. Is resurrected.
5. Leads armies on to success in battle and final destruction of the Evil One which leads to peace, prosperity and a new age of life.

1. This is every wise stranger in fiction. In Erfworld, this is called *Plot.* And I don't really see a correlation to Jesus.
2. Too vague to be evidence for a correlation to Jesus.
3. Jesus didn't die to save anyone's life. If you're Christian, you may believe he died to save your soul, but that's it.
4. Can't argue this one.
5. Jesus never lead armies, despite the wishes of some of the zealots. He certainly never destroyed an Evil One to bring about peace and prosperity.

This'll be my last post on the topic, but Gandalf was very much so MEANT to be a Jesus metaphor. A little known-fact is that the authors LotR and Narnia knew each other quite well, and had a running bet going to see who could make the least obvious Christian allegory.
Lewis never tried to hide the fact that he was writing Christian allegory. Narnia and the space trilogy were both blatant Christian propoganda. I don't think Tolkien was doing quite the same thing, as The Hobbit was originally a story he wrote for his children which Lewis had to convince him to publish and he only wrote LOTR after The Hobbit sold well enough for his publishers to ask for a sequel. I would be interested in learning about this bet - do you have a source for this statement?

My opinion: Tolkien definitely had Christian references in his books. He has said that religion, mythology, philology, industrialization, and the two Wars all influenced his writing. If you read the Silmarillion, you can't really miss that the Ainur are angels and Illuvitar is God. However, I don't think he was really writing allegory. I think the argument is really based on Gandalf's resurrection, and I don't think that it translates so well.

Your thoughts?

2007-08-08, 01:06 AM
Lord of the Rings may or may not be written as a Christian allegory. However, I do not read it as one, and that's the end of it.

T'would be a strange world, if we went around reading books as what the author intended them to be.

2007-08-08, 01:08 AM
Little known fact, JRR Tolkein hated allegory, he did not mean any of his characters to represent any more than what they were. That was one of the problems he had with the work of his friendCS Lewis, who had allagory in Narnia.

2007-08-08, 01:14 AM
Yeah, zeratul's understanding is mine as well.

2007-08-08, 01:20 AM
The Hairy Modfather: Discussions on real world religions is prohibited. This thread has been locked.