Monday, October 7, 2013

Book Review - The Spiritual World of The Hobbit by James Stuart Bell

The Spiritual World of The Hobbit
The Spiritual World of the Hobbit
  • Written by James Stuart Bell
  • Published by Bethany House Publishers
  • Released September 15, 2013
  • Paperback Edition - English Language - 240 Pages
  • A Discussion of the Christian Elements in the Book The Hobbit
  • Available from Bethany House for $13.99 - currently $11.19 (Paperback or eBook)
The Hobbit has been an enormously successful story - one that can be read over and over again and enjoyed just as much if not more than the first time.  I think the reason for this is that the characters are so rich multidimensional that once I knew how the story ended I wanted to go back and get to know them better.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic with a great talent.  His greatest gift was his ability to tell a story that incorporated so much what he believed while masterfully avoiding allegory.  While the best of everything Christian is woven into all of his stories they are still beloved and accessible to people of all beliefs.  The Hobbit is a fine example of this beautiful balance.

If you have not seen the Christian elements in his work you will probably enjoy The Spiritual World of the Hobbit.   Even if you have sensed the themes James Stuart Bell does such a good job breaking down the chapters that I picked up things I hadn't considered before.

Broken into two parts, readers are fist given a better understanding of Tolkien.  Part Two is a journey through the pages of the story where the author uncovers the spiritual gems.  Of course there is good versus evil theme throughout - but the characters are also examined.  For example temptation, mercy, conscience, fortitude, dying to self, etc. are what make Bilbo's evolution from a fussy little fellow to a heroic figure so compelling.  Who would expect it from an ordinary creature with a nature toward sin?

This was an interesting up close look at this endearing hobbit, Gandalf, the dwarves, goblins, and all of the characters - even Smaug the dragon!

As the chapters of The Hobbit are discussed Mr. Bell shares Scripture passages and holds them up as comparisons to the dialogue or the actions in the story.  It is very well done and makes a good companion to the book or a unique study tool for a Bible group.  This could even be a semester study for an upper grade student.

I enjoyed The Spiritual World of the Hobbit very much and I think other Hobbit fans will, too.