The Battle for Middle-earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in "The Lord of the Rings"

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J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings has long been acknowledged as the gold standard for fantasy fiction, and the recent Oscar-winning movie trilogy has brought forth a whole new generation of fans. Many Tolkien enthusiasts, however, are not aware of the profoundly religious dimension of the great Ring saga. In The Battle for Middle-earth Fleming Rutledge employs a distinctive technique to uncover the theological currents that lie just under the surface of Tolkien's epic tale. Rutledge believes that the best way to understand this powerful "deep narrative" is to examine the story as it unfolds, preserving some of its original dramatic tension. This deep narrative has not previously been sufficiently analyzed or celebrated. Writing as an enthusiastic but careful reader, Rutledge draws on Tolkien's extensive correspondence to show how biblical and liturgical motifs shape the action. At the heart of the plot lies a rare glimpse of what human freedom really means within the Divine Plan of God. The Battle for Middle-earth surely will, as Rutledge hopes, "give pleasure to those who may already have detected the presence of the sub-narrative, and insight to those who may have missed it on first reading."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Commentaries on The Lord of the Rings trilogy have been a cottage industry recently, as the film installments attract new readers to J.R.R. Tolkien's modern classic. In The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings, preacher Fleming Rutledge offers a commentary that "is about God first of all"; the analysis is a "theological narrative" that follows the dramatic trajectory of the trilogy itself. Rutledge adds much to the theological understanding of the LOTR, in prose that is accessible and crisp. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802824974
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 380
  • Sales rank: 958,581
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Prologue: The Hobbit 21
Book I The Ring Sets Out 47
Book II The Ring Goes South 89
Book III The Treason of Isengard 147
Book IV The Ring Goes East 195
Book V The War of the Ring 239
Book VI The End of the Third Age 321
Acknowledgments 373
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2005

    Drinking from the Deeper Well, with Occasional Sputtering

    Long fascinated by the much-loved tale of The Lord of the Rings, I disappointedly find that most non-fiction books cashing in on its religious aspects to be simplistic illustrations of Biblical truths using Tolkien's story. No 'meat and 'taters' as Samwise Gamgee might say. Rutledge's book is very substantial and spiritually nourishing in many ways. She subtitles it 'Tolkien's Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings,' an apt clue to the direction of her well-researched and superbly structured analysis. There are occasional mis-steps, namely irrelevant interjections of her political views while discussing Tolkien's view of 'good v. evil', and mini-critiques of the Jackson films revealing an ignorance of the demands of cinematic drama. But this imperfect vessel - and sister in Christ - produces an overall entertaining, enlightening, and educational read. She follows the narrative storyline of the book, which makes for an enlightening journey through the story. Tolkien once wrote, 'The religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.' (Letters, #142). This comment has long fascinated me as I re-read the story for clues to what this might mean. Rutledge's book is not a Cliff Notes retread, but an innovative means of illustrating Tolkien's concept to those who've read the book. Rutledge, an Episcopal priest, seems to have discovered clues to what Tolkien meant. The few over-labored Biblical connections used to support her interpretations of the Bible are not enough to sour the entire book. Consider them a side trip down the Withywindle, if you will, pending your timely return to the main path by Tom Bombadil. But thank God she was led to write this book. This is an especially satisfying read for those drawn to the story by its spirituality. Her analysis of the scene at the Grey Havens is very well done.

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