Title- The Messiah Comes to Middle-Earth: Images of Christ’s Threefold Office in the Lord of the Rings
Author- Philip Ryken
Publisher- IVP Academic
If you could combine two of my favorite things in the world, theology and LOTR, I would love the product before I laid eyes on it. Philip Ryken’s book, The Messiah Comes to Middle- Earth caught my attention immediately. All I had to do was read the title and I knew I HAD to read his book. I was not disappointed by the content either! In this short book, based on a lecture series, the author outlines how Tolkien’s great trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, relates to the threefold office of Christ. Ryken does this by exploring a few characters from the books to show how they relate to Christ’s role as prophet, priest, and king.
One of the key characters in the whole trilogy is Gandalf. Even before the trilogy, we know of Gandalf being a moving force in the Shire (Bilbo’s great adventure in The Hobbit). But, Ryken does a marvelous job comparing Gandalf’s role in Middle-Earth to Christ’s prophetic ministry. I don’t wish to give too much away because you need to read this book for yourself if you call yourself a lover of all things Tolkien!
The author then goes on to outline how Frodo and even Sam compare to Christ’s priestly ministry. Ryken also tied in the priesthood of all believers (really reborn in the Reformation from the solid teaching of Luther and others) and how Tolkien’s lovable hobbits display this pattern throughout the trilogy.
The last role to be outlined is Christ’s role as king. Obviously, if you know anything about The Lord of the Rings you will know who Ryken was comparing Christ to… Aragorn. There are so many marvelous comparisons in this section as well!
Overall, Philip Ryken did an amazing job connecting biblical truth to Tolkien’s greatest work. Although Tolkien never meant for his trilogy to be an allegory like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, it is easy to see that Tolkien’s worldview deeply affected his work. So, although Tolkien tried his hardest to write his masterpiece void of any religious undertones, Ryken (and I agree!) that there are certain unavoidable connections between his trilogy and biblical truths. Ryken pointed out the threefold office of Christ that can be seen in the trilogy and even showed how they impact the Christian.
I highly recommend this book to any of you. If you love Tolkien, read this book. If you love theology, read this book. If you love both, well you will love this book!