Posted by: Billy Marsh | January 27, 2008

Tolkien and the Philosophy of Myth: Audio Lecutures @ SBTS

J. R. R. Tolkien

There are some priceless audio lectures which are free and easily accessible on the internet. It is amazing at just how many incredible speakers and conferences are uploaded onto the web for free which in the past would cost an easy $50 or more to purchase. That being said, I encourage everyone to take advantage of these tremendous resources as much as possible.

This time, I am commending you to listen to some very intriguing lectures on Tolkien and the Philosophy of Mythology. These talks are delivered by Dr. Joseph Pearce who has written a book called Tolkien: Man and Myth: A Literary Life. What is even more fascinating about these lectures, is that they were given at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  To say the least, I was greatly surprised, but equally blessed to see that a Baptist seminary hosted such a series. I look forward to more of this in future.

Dr. Pearce came and spoke at SBTS in October of 2005 for the “Gheens Lectures”. Although the topic itself does not need anything extra added to it to sustain one’s attention, Dr. Pearce’s oratorial skills and eloquent English accent keep the listener’s interest within the clutches of the wonder of God’s hand on the life of Tolkien and how he viewed his literary masterpiece.

  • Truth and Myth: Unlocking The Lord of the Rings” – This lecture mainly pertains to the religious dimension of the books and their author. Here is a good, brief discussion on how The Lord of the Rings, though not allegory, still were intended to be a Christian story.
  • Creator, Creation, and Creativity: Understanding Tolkien’s and Lewis’ Philosophy of Myth” – This lecture is a little bit more technical insofar as it takes an indepth look at the true nature of mythology and its usefulness in communicating Christian theology. Here, Dr. Pearce looks at Tolkien’ and Lewis’ view on mythology, and how their friendship and expertise spawned the creation of Narnia and Middle-Earth. For anyone skeptical of the use of fiction, and fantasy for that matter, to be a vessel for disclosing the gospel truths, this lecture would be a worthwhile  and informative listen.


  1. I’m glad someone can see that myths, and stories, can be a way of teaching and illustrating Christian truths. Didn’t Jesus Himself do so? Was there ever actually a Good Samaritan, or does that parable use an imaginary situation to show something important? Come to that, did the story of Job ever actually happen or is it an allegorical tale? Christian stories can have the same purpose, can they not.

  2. Andrew, thanks for your comments. Dr. Pearce deals directly with that issue in the second lecture I have listed above. I think too, perhaps, is that we have failed to understand that fictional stories contain propositional truth, despite the fact that their characters maybe never existed. But, at the same time, that truth is conveyed through the dramatic art of storytelling which provides the author with a powerful platform for persuasion.

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