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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Priest, Prophet, and King

CelebornReturns
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Jul 23 2010, 8:43pm


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          I had always taken the Frodo/Sam storyline to be very Christological, but had always been bothered by that same reading applied when to other characters. In my mind, that office could not be represented by several characters. It only recently occured to me that traditionally there are 3 'offices' applied to Christ, (foreshadowed in the Ark of the Covenant which contained the miraculous manna, pieces of the Commandments, and kingly staff) Priest, Prophet, and King.

I did not read the book again, but in watching the film it occured to me how much Frodo represents the office of Priest- he is mediating for everyone else in ME- he is also the one self-sacrificing (Priest is the one who offers the sacrifice while also being a kind of sacrifice). Interestingly, his is the storyline is bound to the Lembas as well.

Gandalf clearly is the "Old Testament" figure in this story, being prophet, and is the one who knows everything from the past, and sets pieces in play according to his wisdom and foresight (I think this is demonstrated in Gandalf's early decisions concerning the Ring). Anyhow, he also becomes a figure of self-sacrifice; but interestingly we get a glimpse of his glorified self as well.

Aragorn is obviously the figure of the King. Like Christ, he appears as lowly and also rejected (although, with a different dimension here). Then he is hailed after the destruction of evil. We get to see his triumphant return when the world is being made over for good; of which, the White City is a minor symbol perhaps of the Heavenly Jersusalem.

Now clearly, none of these relationships works perfectly, and I don't think they are supposed to as an allagory would be much more confined. Nevertheless, their presence each relays things about Christ which could scarcely be done in an individual character. It makes me think of the end of John's Gospel where it says, "if one were to write everything about Him, I suppose the world could not hold all the books required... (paraphrase)." Therefore, Tolkien instead investigates aspects of Christ's unique position through three very drammatic characters and situations in a way not otherwise possible. I have only written a tiny bit concerning the symbolism these roles take on in this story, and mention it mainly as perhaps a germ of an idea upon which one could explore.

Subject User Time
Priest, Prophet, and King CelebornReturns Send a private message to CelebornReturns Jul 23 2010, 8:43pm
    I agree that Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 24 2010, 11:17am
    Do now thy office! squire Send a private message to squire Jul 25 2010, 12:55am
        While Tolkien was obviously influenced Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 26 2010, 2:38pm
    Slight Distinction CelebornReturns Send a private message to CelebornReturns Jul 25 2010, 9:19pm
    A note about self-sacrifice or not: Gandalf CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jul 26 2010, 5:05pm
        Intentions CelebornReturns Send a private message to CelebornReturns Jul 26 2010, 8:18pm
            "they chose to fight - not for themselves, but for the good of others" squire Send a private message to squire Jul 26 2010, 9:53pm
        Galadriel was supposed to be the representation of Mary, Lord of Magic Send a private message to Lord of Magic Jul 29 2010, 2:33am
            Gandalf - the "Elf with da Wand" - may have been a virgin, but... squire Send a private message to squire Jul 29 2010, 3:08am
                Unless you believe Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 2:49pm
                    You only have to believe FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jul 29 2010, 4:13pm
                        How has history always been written? Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 4:45pm
                            Consummation = marriage. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jul 29 2010, 6:38pm
                                Thanks. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 7:06pm
                            If it's so hard FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jul 29 2010, 9:45pm
                                Yes, I already conceded Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 10:07pm
                                    Tolkien also never says FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jul 30 2010, 1:48pm
                                        Could you believe Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 30 2010, 2:29pm
                                            Yes, that works FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jul 30 2010, 7:09pm
                                    What about Lord of Magic Send a private message to Lord of Magic Jul 31 2010, 1:25am
                                        Yes, that was a forced marriage. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 31 2010, 6:50am
                                            Eöl was powerful Lord of Magic Send a private message to Lord of Magic Aug 1 2010, 3:54pm
                                    And yet December Send a private message to December Jan 26 2013, 9:19pm
                                        Very nice squire Send a private message to squire Jan 27 2013, 12:12am
                                            Especially in inter-racial marriages, hm? December Send a private message to December Jan 27 2013, 1:04am
                                        Yes, no means no, but in forced marriages, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 27 2013, 2:24am
                                            Most astonishing! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Jan 27 2013, 2:45am
                                            I think we would have to agree to disagree :) December Send a private message to December Jan 27 2013, 7:48am
                        Love as a "distraction" from the story; Celebrian CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jul 29 2010, 6:10pm
                            As to Celebrian, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 7:26pm
            In a letter Tolkien embraced the comparison Curious Send a private message to Curious Jul 29 2010, 2:59pm
    To be honest... Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Aug 1 2010, 2:12am

 
 
 

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