1. bookVolume 20 (2022): Issue 3 (July 2022)
    A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
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eISSN
2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

Writing in a Pre-Christian Mode: Boethius, Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, and Till We Have Faces

Published Online: 19 May 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 20 (2022) - Issue 3 (July 2022)<br/>A Multi-Angle Examination of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces. Theological, Philosophical, Ethical, and Literary Insights from one of Lewis's Greatest Novels. Issue Editor: Zachary Breitenbach
Page range: 55 - 72
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2284-7308
First Published
20 Sep 2012
Publication timeframe
3 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

In this essay, I compare and contrast how Boethius (in Consolation of Philosophy), the author of Beowulf, J. R. R. Tolkien (in The Lord of the Rings), and C. S. Lewis (in Till We Have Faces) found ways to integrate their Christian theological and philosophical beliefs into a work that is set in a time and place that possesses the general revelation of creation, conscience, reason, and desire, but lacks the special revelation of Christ and the Bible. I begin by using Lewis’s own analysis of the Consolation in his Discarded Image to discuss what it means for a Christian author to write in a pre-Christian mode. I find a model for such writing in Ecclesiastes, and discuss how Boethius, while confining himself to the pagan wisdom of Greece and Rome, points the way from philosophical consolation to theological transformation. I then use Tolkien’s ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’ to unpack the distinction between the author’s Christian faith and the purely pagan consolation he offers to his characters, and locate that dynamic in the epic itself. Next, I explore how Tolkien, in imitation of Beowulf, balances a deep sense of loss and fatalism with an intimation of a higher providence guiding all. Finally, I show how Lewis, in imitation of Boethius, finds in the pagan world of his novel seeds of a greater revelation to come.

Keywords

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