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The Christian World of The Hobbit Paperback – October 1, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142674949X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426749490
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Like Tolkien himself, Devin Brown steals past the watchful dragons of accredited literary culture to explain how Tolkien's works can embody a Christian worldview without preaching or propaganda, and what this has to do with how those stories lift the heart." --Tom Shippey, Tolkien Scholar

From the Back Cover

"There has been an abundance of first-rate books examining the Christian dimension of The Lord of the Rings, but Tolkien's other best-selling book, The Hobbit, has been largely overlooked.  That sin of omission has been rectified by Devin Brown, whose book on the Christianity of The Hobbit brings this classic book to full, glorious, and graceful life." --Joseph Pearce, author of Tolkien: Man & Myth

More About the Author

I was born and grew up with my two brothers on the south side of Chicago.

My wife Sharon and I have lived in six different states. Right after we got married, we taught in a girls boarding school in Connecticut.

Along the way, we both earned our Ph.D.'s at the University of South Carolina. Currently I am a Professor of English at Asbury University, and we (and Mr. Fluff) are quite happily settled in Lexington, Kentucky.

Customer Reviews

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See all 27 customer reviews
It is a happy and comforting remembrance.
Mr Wabbitt
I have been a great fan of the Hobbit for a while, and have always felt the Christian theme in the story.
Not only is his book actually fun to read, it is very insightful.
Jonathon D. Svendsen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By David C. Downing on September 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
With the first of three Hobbit movies coming out in December, there is certain to be a lot of "Bilbo baggage" published in the next few years--Hobbit guides hastily composed by authors with little previous knowledge of Tolkien, his critics, or the fantasy genre in general. Devin Brown's book is certain to stand out from the crowd. His work is thoroughly grounded in Tolkien's fiction, his letters and essays, and the work of previous Tolkien scholars.

Professor Brown is a perceptive and judicious reader, one who convincingly explains how Tolkien's faith is expressed in his fiction. Brown is one of those "attentive readers" Tolkien asked for in one of his letters, the kind who notices all the subtle ways in which the One and his angelic emissaries "peep through" the story, as Tolkien phrased it. Brown is especially careful to detail all the instances of providential good fortune in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, examples of what Tolkien's fellow Inkling Charles Williams called "holy luck." Brown reveals the underlying optimism of Tolkien's world view, the faith in a nearly invisible Benevolence that weaves together all the good and bad decisions of Middle Earth's characters into an epic tale that inevitably leads to "eucatastrophe," the "good ending" that Tolkien expected to find in all great fiction and in life itself.

Brown is already a distinguished Narnia scholar, so he is especially well equipped to explore the relations between faith and fiction, as expressed differently in the fantasy worlds of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr Wabbitt on September 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Christian World of the Hobbit is a more accomplished and satisfying work of critical analysis than Dr. Brown's previous well-received works on Narnia, as Tolkien's Christianity is buried deeper than C. S. Lewis's, requiring the reader to push further up and further in. Tolkien's work is charged with both magic and meaning. By illuminating the finer shades of meaning, The Christian World of the Hobbit brings renewed incandescence to the magic.

As with most famous authors, Tolkien's work is well-trodden scholarly ground, and most of what is on offer is only of use, or even of interest, to specialists. As the saying goes, history repeats itself, and historians repeat each other. So with literary scholarship. Originality in critical thinking is as rare as originality in storytelling. Thus, what Dr. Brown has given us is not ground-breaking - one would not expect it to be - but rather an accessible synthesis for the general, and particularly the younger reader. With the admirable lucidity he has demonstrated in his previous books, Dr. Brown has provided a highly useful book for parents to read as they reread The Hobbit with, or to, their children, as surely they will with the release of the new Hobbit movie.

The unsettling and unfortunate reality is that the vast majority of so-called `Christian Fiction' is disconcertingly bad. In reading The Christian World of the Hobbit, we are reminded that there is at least one Christian author who is not merely accomplished, but a master of his craft. It is a happy and comforting remembrance.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jonathon D. Svendsen on October 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
As the book critic for, I have had the pleasure of reviewing Professor Brown's Inside Narnia Series for the site and have enjoyed it all immensely. Much to say, I was more then excited to see that he had taken up the pen to write about JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I had found the Inside Narnia series to be among the few books on literary analysis that are actually fun to read, and knew that would be the case here.
Sure enough, I was pleased. Not only is his book actually fun to read, it is very insightful. Now, despite the title, fans of Tolkien's world don't have to worry that Devin will be writing about how Sting is the Sword of the Spirit or any other vague connections people have found to Tolkien's mythology and scripture.
Instead, Brown looks at Tolkien, his beliefs, and how those shaped Middle-earth. He examines a few key themes including Divine Providence, Purpose and the battle of good versus evil. Each of the pints he makes are backed up not only by Tolkien's original texts from The Hobbit, but from The Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien's own letters.
The biggest draw of this book is that it is actually about The Hobbit. So few have bothered to write on Tolkien's classic tale and just focus on Lord of the Rings, and it is a shame. While Lord of the Rings may be "better" it was The Hobbit that really started it all.

An excellent book!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Starr on September 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
What Devin Brown does best in his new book, The Christian World of The Hobbit, is give his readers access. There is a subtly to Tolkien's Middle-earth tales which makes them an enigma from the beginning. Brown offers several keys to The Hobbit's mysteries, keys which open doors and give us entry into Tolkien's hidden world, a world which is unabashedly Christian at its deepest foundations.

The Hobbit is not an allegory of Christian truth, but a vision of the world. Christian themes nevertheless flow beneath Tolkien's Middle-earth, and Brown focuses on three of them: providence, purpose and morality.

As in the books of Ruth and Esther, a divine hand is not overtly present in Middle-earth, yet Bilbo's journey is filled with a strange luck, a providence which "seems to help Bilbo when he needs help but not always when he wants it" (Brown 52). A mysterious power works behind all things in The Hobbit, echoing the mysterious ways in which God works in the world.

The theme of purpose appears in the connections between Bilbo's call to a treasure hunt and the dark lord Sauron's return to Middle-earth. Gandalf is pressed by an urge he does not understand to send Bilbo with the company of dwarves on their journey to the Lonely Mountain. Later, in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf comes to understand that the success of the quest in The Hobbit (which was only possible because of Bilbo's actions) along with Bilbo's finding of the ring of power and then passing it on to Frodo (in LOTR), were absolutely necessary for the final defeat of Sauron.

The Hobbit is, furthermore, a book about difficult moral choices, whether it is Bilbo's choice to spare Gollum's life or Thorin's choice to do his best to keep all the dragon gold for himself.
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