From Publishers Weekly
Readers and fans of J.R.R. Tolkien have long been aware of the Christian underpinnings of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Still, Tolkien has not been without his religious critics, including those who have read a fascination with paganism into the pre-Christian world of Tolkien's creation. Wood, a professor of theology and literature at Baylor University, responds to those critics with an academically sound retort of "Nonsense!" Acknowledging straight off that Rings is devoid of any traces of "formal religion," Wood offers countless pieces of evidence that support his analysis of the full-fledged, deeply Christian theology of the mythological culture of Middle-earth. And he does so convincingly. Even longtime fans of Rings who have never questioned the books' Christian elements will undoubtedly discover new insights, so rich is Wood's analysis of Tolkien's gospel. But be forewarned: This is not a book for the casual reader. Rather, it is a somewhat scholarly endeavor for those who want a more thorough understanding of the underlying themes that have made The Lord of the Rings novels, as well as Tolkien's other writings, such enduring treasures. Wood teases out those themes-life and death, good and evil, courage and cowardice, mercy and justice and of course, faith, hope, and love-to reveal the faith-filled nature of Tolkien's theocentric and sacramental, albeit fictional, world.
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Ralph Wood's The Gospel According to Tolkien will send readers back to Tolkien's work to see what they had missed, as well as to enjoy what they had seen before. --Mark A Noll, author of America's God; From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln