Upon the lands new and green,
Clearing obstacles hither and yon,
Until they shine upon silver screen;
Electrons, photons, binary bytes,
Images no eye has ever seen,
At last its tale will be told in lights,
Opening in theaters December fourteen.
by John Edward Harris
with apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien
The cover of Tolkien’s The Hobbit first caught my eye in the spring of 1974. I was a sophomore in high school and attending a planning meeting for a regional week long youth conference. One of the other youth on the planning task force, an older youth, was carrying around and reading a copy of The Hobbit. The paperback’s cover fascinated me. I asked its bearer about it and either his reply, or the fact that I thought that he was really cool, convinced me that I needed to read The Hobbit.
I searched for, soon purchased, and read the Hobbit. The Hobbit led me to Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tolkien eventually led me to C.S. Lewis and his Christian Fantasy Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy.
Tolkien and Lewis kindled within my adolescent heart and mind a new love of and respect for the Jewish Scriptures, what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament. They enabled me to read the Jewish Scriptures with new eyes and ears as well as a new awareness—to read the thirty-nine books of Genesis through Malachi not only as Holy writ but also as heavily layered, finely textured, highly mythic, and metaphorical literature filled with poetry and song which included stories of personal struggles and epic battles as well as genealogies and accounts of great kings and kingdoms—not unlike the fantasy works of Lewis and Tolkien, including The Hobbit.