Selected Articles on J.R.R. Tolkien

Introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien

Selected Articles on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

An Evangelical Christian discussion of Tolkien by Brad Birzer (author of Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues) and Mark Eddy Smith (author of J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth)
  1. Why The Lord of the Rings Is Dangerous. The Christian life in Faerie. Christianity Today posted 12/18/2002.
  2. Does The Lord of the Rings Teach Salvation By Works?. On whether Tolkien was too ignorant of evil and other subjects.
  3. Hobbits Aren't Fence-Sitters. Why Tolkien hated modernity and thinking about evil -- and whether he was right to do so. Christianity Today posted 12/20/2002.

Selected Tolkien Websites

Other Websites

Recommended Books on J.R.R. Tolkien

A Hidden Presence, the Catholic Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Ian Boyed (Editor), Stratford Caldecott (Editor).

Most readers of the Lord of the Rings, and viewers of the movie adaptations of the book by Peter Jackson, are unaware that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic with a profound spiritual life. The contributors to this collection explore different aspects of this neglected but essential religious element in Tolkien's writing. He emerges as one of the truly great modern authors, who along with the War poets and several contemporary fantasists sought not to escape from reality but to fashion an adequate response to it, awakening Hope in the face of all temptation to despair, and kindling the imagination of the young with a mature vision of heroism born out of tragedy and love.

Tolkien's Sacramental Vision: Discerning the Holy in Middle Earth

Second Spring Books (June 9, 2014). 316 pgs.

One of Tolkien's great appeals to readers is that he offers a world replete with meaning at every level. To read and reread Tolkien is to share his sense of wonder and holiness, to be invited into the presence of a "beauty beyond the circles of the world." It is to fall in love with a universe that has a beginning and an end, where good and bad are not subjective choices, but objective realities; a created order full of grace, though damaged by sin, in which friendship is the seedbed of the virtues, and where the greatest warriors finally become the greatest healers.

A correspondent once told J. R. R. Tolkien that his work seemed illumined "by an invisible lamp." That lamp is the Church, and its light is the imaginative sensibility that we live in a sacramental world. This new book by the author of The Trial of Man examines in depth the influence of Catholic sacramentality on the thought and work of Tolkien, with major emphasis on The Lord of the Rings, but including his literary essays, epistolary poem "Mythopoesis," short story "Leaf by Niggle," and The Silmarillion. Here is a signal contribution to a deeper understanding of Tolkien, whose mythological world is meant to "recover" the meaning of our own as a grace-filled place, pointing toward its Creator.

The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and the Lord of the Rings, edited by Paul E. Kerry.

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (March 16, 2011). 310 pgs.

The conversation, sometimes heated, about the influence of Christianity on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien has a long history. What has been lacking is a forum for a civilized discussion about the topic, as well as a chronological overview of the major arguments and themes that have engaged scholars about the impact of Christianity on Tolkien's oeuvre, with particular reference to The Lord of the Rings. The Ring and the Cross addresses these two needs through an articulate and authoritative analyses of Tolkien's Roman Catholicism and the role it plays in understanding his writings. The volume's contributors deftly explain the kinds of interpretations put forward and evidence marshaled when arguing for or against religious influence. The Ring and the Cross invites readers to draw their own conclusions about a subject that has fascinated Tolkien enthusiasts since the publication of his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien: A Celebration: Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy
, edited by Joseph Pierce.

Ignatius Press (November 1, 2001). 204 pgs.
Anticipating the great amount of interest in Tolkien's writings due in part to the major theatrical movie release of The Lord of the Rings, this highly readable collection of writings celebrates J.R.R.Tolkien's great literary legacy and the spiritual values that undergird his imaginary Middle-earth.

Tolkien: A Celebration includes personal recollections by George Sayer and Walter Hooper, and many fascinating pieces by authors such as James Schall, S.J., Stratford Caldecott and Stephen Lawhead, exploring the threads of inspiration and purpose in his major works. These dip into subjects such as The Sense of Time in Lord of the Rings, Tolkien: Master of Middle-earth, and Tolkien, Lewis and Christian Myth.

Fourteen writers contributed to this insightful work on Tolkien, and it will be much-treasured by those who regard him as a literary hero.


  • Review, by David Mills. Touchstone Magazine, Jan-Feb 2002.

Tolkien: Man and Myth, a Literary Life, by Joseph Pierce.

Ignatius Press (December 1, 2001). 242 pgs.

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings took first place in a recent nationwide British poll to find the greatest book of the century. He may be the most popular writer of our age, but Tolkien is often misunderstood. This major new study of his life, his character and his work reveals the facts and confronts the myths. It explores the background to the man and the culture in which he wrote.

Tolkien: Man and Myth observes the relationships that the master writer had with his closest literary colleagues. It reveals his unique relationship with C.S. Lewis, the writer of the Narnia books, and the roots of their estrangement. In this original book about a leading literary life, Joseph Pearce enters the world created by Tolkien in the seven books published during his lifetime. He explores the significance of Middle Earth and what it represented in Tolkien's thinking. Myth, to him, was not a leap from reality but a leap into reality.

J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth, by Bradley J. Birzer.

Intercollegiate Studies Institute (November 1, 2003). 219 pgs.

Birzer explains the surprisingly specific religious symbolism that permeates Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He also explores the social and political views that motivated the Oxford don, ultimately situating Tolkien within the Christian humanist tradition represented by Thomas More and T. S. Eliot, Dante and C. S. Lewis. Birzer argues that through the genre of myth Tolkien created a world that is essentially truer than the one we think we see around us everyday, a world that transcends the colorless disenchantment of our postmodern age. - From the Publisher


  • Forward by Joseph Pierce.
  • Review by Bonita Chad. Religion & Popular Culture Volume II: Fall 2002.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion, by Richard L. Purtill.
Ignatius Press (March 13, 2013). 207 pgs.
An in-depth look at the role myth, morality, and religion play in J.R.R. Tolkien¼s works such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion√£including Tolkien¼s private letters and revealing opinions of his own work.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Mariner Books; 1 edition (June 2000). 480 pgs.

By turns thoughtful, impish, scholarly, impassioned, playful, vigorous, and gentle, Tolkien poured his heart and mind into a great stream of correspondence to intimate friends and unknown admirers all over the world. From this collection one sees a mind of immense complexity and many layers -- artistic, religious, charmingly eccentric, sentimental, and ultimately brilliant.

Now newly expanded with a detailed index, this collection provides an invaluable record that sheds much light on Tolkien's creative genius, his thoughts and feelings about his own work, and the evolution of his grand design for the creation of a whole new world -- Middle-earth.