Biblical and Norse Parallels to JRR Tolkien's Work Daniel Cookson

"Sit now there,' said Morgoth, 'and look out upon the lands where evil and despair shall come upon those whom you have delivered to me. For you have dared to mock me, and have questioned the power of Melkor, Master of the Fates of Arda. Therefore with my eyes you shall see, and with my ears you shall hear, and nothing shall be hidden from you.'

Breaking down the role of Melkor/Morgoth

  • Morgoth is a parallel to Satan, Melkor is a parallel to Lucifer.
  • Lucifer is cast out of Heaven and given the name Satan, he claims lordship over the Earth. He is often referred to as "The Prince of the Power of the Air."
  • Melkor is cast out of Valinor and given the name Morgoth, he claims lordship over "Arda". Tolkien refers to negative things happening in Arda as being influenced by the "Breath of Morgoth."
  • The ultimately destructive lies that Elves and men believe originate from the "Breath of Morgoth." Some of these lies lead them to fight against their creator "Eru" or "Illuvatar" (God) and the "Valar" (Angels)
  • Morgoth was once a Valar as Satan was once an angel.

Shown on top is the "Surtr", a mythical fire giant from Norse Mythology. Below this is an artist rendition of a "Balrog."

In Norse mythology, Middengeard is the middle world occupied by Giants, Dwarves, Humans, Trolls, Elves, Orcs, Goblins, and other magical creatures. One of the most dazzling of these others is the "Sutr", a giant of fire. Middengeard is like Earth to the Norse and translates to Middle-Earth in English. The Norse believed that Middengeard was a world between that of the god's and "Hel."

Hel is basically the Norse version of Hell except it is more like a heaven for warriors and not a place of eternal damnation. The word translates to "hall" in modern english, as "Hel" was believed to be a "grand hall" where slain warriors went when they died. Below is an artist rendition of the Norse "Hel."

Notice how "Hel" is more of an icy area whereas the Judeo/Christian version is a place of fire and brimstone. Although it is not completely certain, many believe that Angband in the Silmarillion and Children of Hurin, is based on the Norse "Hel." This wouldn't be surprising as Tolkien was a philogist and he studied mythology regularly.

Here is a map of middle earth and the undying lands from The Silmarillion.

The circled areas are as follows. Starting at the left we have a large mass of land called the "Undying Lands." Next we have a place called "Angband" and even further to the right a place called "Utumno." The Undying Lands are the places where the Gods of Arda live. Angband is a cold fortress in the far north erected by Melkor/Morgoth to defend from an invasion by the gods from the Undying lands. This cold fortress was made of iron and surrounded by mountains. It contained many secret halls and antechambers where prisoners and evil werewolves and balrogs were kept. It is sort of a fusion between the Judeo/Christian Hell and the Norse "Hel," meaning it is both a place of torture and evil, and a cold iron fortress with the markings of "Hel." Utumno is a dark underworld type place where Orcs were created. Utumno is older than Angband and was where Morgoth began his attempt at dominion over Arda.

Jesus carrying cross to Golgotha

A general overarching theme of Lord of The Rings is that of Frodo suffering and carrying the evil of the world in the form of the ring, to Mount Doom where it will be destroyed. This is similar to the "way of the cross," meaning the journey of Jesus to Golgotha from Jerusalem, Frodo and Jesus both endure great suffering to accomplish their mission. In the end, Gollum is the sacrifice in Lord of The Rings, and Jesus is the sacrifice in The New Testament.

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