View Full Version : The image of Eru

10-15-2001, 08:02 AM
This is my first post in this forum so please don't heckle my ignorance too harshly.

Were men and Elves created in God's image as in Christian belief? It is said of Ilývatar in The Ainulindale "and his face was terrible to behold", this suggests that Ilývatar did indeed have a form of somekind before the vision of the world. This allways puzzled me as I thought the Valar were the first to take "shape and hue" when they entered into Ea. It also says that the Valar took shape after the Children of Ilývatar not the other way round. Perhaps the line refers to the mood the Ainur could perceive which would reflect on his face had he had one or something. I'd be interested in hearing other opinions on the subject.

P.S. I am aware that the "in his image" line probably refers to more than just his physical image but let's set that aside for the moment.

Gwaihir the Windlord
10-15-2001, 11:42 PM
Please don't heckle my ignorance too harshly.

Well, as yet you've shown none. Quite a good point there, actually. Welcome to the downs! You've come just in time to see the new board.
(I like saying that smilies/smile.gif)

Here is the quote, for convenience sake.
And his face was terrible to behold.
It may mean in a metaphorical sense. Eru is a spirit, hanging the air sort of thing, you say; if so, his mood would have been able to be felt by those around him. If you asked them to describe how they felt it, thye wouldn't be able to say.

Then again, Illuvitar might have created the Valar to be more or less the same shape as us. Able to change, of course; but the human form is obviously their most favourite form, probably the natural one that Eru created them as. Then he appeared to them himself in that form, so they could see him clearly.
Perhaps he appeared to the Valar in a human form because that is what they would most understand.

10-16-2001, 01:10 AM
You both make good points.

And his face was terrible to behold.

This remark is interesting in contrast to the sentence we find on the next page:

And he showed them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing

We only know the parts of the Ainulindale that the Valar have told the elves, but if the Valar were indeed blind, how could they see Eru's face as terrible? - They could probably feel his anger but not see it. So as GtW says it must be a metaphor... smilies/smile.gif


Mister Underhill
10-16-2001, 02:36 PM
I find this to be quite an interesting line of discussion. I'll just chip in with a quick point for now, though. I think this quote: And he showed to them a vision, giving to them sight where before was only hearing......shouldn't be taken to mean that the Valar were blind. In my opinion it means only that he showed them the a visual of what the music had accomplished. See a paragraph back: ...those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done.

Gwaihir the Windlord
10-16-2001, 11:28 PM
I think you're right, M-U. Then again, perhaps he withdrew the gift of sight from the Valar so they would concentrate on their music. (Probably not, but you never know.)

10-17-2001, 07:31 AM
I always imagined that the music of the Ainur took place on a more spiritual plane of existance where (though there is no real textual evidence for this)sight doesn't exist on the level that we find it. As if things are perceived in full rathar than just seen in 2D from your particular vantage point.
It says in the Ainulindale that the Valar's shape comes from "their knowledge of the visible World, rathar than the World itself". It then goes on to say that without their shape they would suffer no loss of being.
This suggests to me that the Ainur could perceive, or "behold", Ilývatars face wheteher they could "see" it or not.
I might be able to explain myself better. In the vision shown them of the World the valar might have perceived, along with everything else, sight (in our sense of the word) for the first time. i.e the way we see things from an angle or perceive the distance of an object from the size that it appears our view. Perhaps this kind of vision, previously, didn't exist.

10-17-2001, 10:49 AM
Certainly it seems that the actions of Eru and the Valar in the Ainulindale are on a higher plane than our perception of the world; nonetheless, the phrase about 'sight where before there was only hearing' implies a meaningful distinction between these two senses. The perceptions of the Valar cannot therefore be so dissimilar to ours that no analogy exists between their 'sight' and ours, their 'hearing' and ours.

10-24-2001, 03:24 AM
Well..I always think of Eru (and the Valar in their natural shape)as being purely spirit like in nature,and having no real form,not one that we could see,anyway.I would agree with Kin-Strife's last post.

Eowyn of Ithilien
10-28-2001, 01:53 AM
this is off on a tangent...but a lot of fantasy written around Tolkien's time (eg. CS Lewis' Narnia series) was heavily religious, and I believe the LOTR definitely was

10-28-2001, 11:35 AM
JRRT was a devout Catholic and religion no doubt influenced his writings. This is shown in such places as the fall of men that he often referred to or the similarity of Melkors position to Lucifer.
Another similarity that I've often felt is the similarity of Gandalf to Jesus Christ. It comes from a note in 'The Istari' in Unfinished tales where it says that after the Third age when a shadow was again falling over the kingdom many of the 'Faithful' believed that Gandalf was the "last appearance of Manwe himself, before his final withdrawal to the watchtower of Taniquetil". Tolkien then dimisses the belief but I can't help but think that since he wrote it Tolkien might have considered it himself as a possible truth in the legendarium. Like Gandalf Christ too came in a (relatively) weak and humble shape to "advise and persude men" (not Elves) "to good". He too sought to "unite people in love and understanding" as the Istari were supposed to according to UT and as one of them did. Perhaps he considered making Gandalf Manwe but dismissed it as it made him TOO similar to Christ. So much so that it made him (as a conservative catholic) uncomfortable, like he was bordering on sacrilage. The major differences are that Gandalf never revealed who he really was and was forbidden to do so, unlike Jesus. Also Gandalf (at least in the time of LoTD) acted as a sort of warmongerer against Sauron, quite against Christs ethics. On the other hand it could still be applicable if you see Jesus as a warmongerer on peoples minds and consciences against the evils of the world. Just a thought.

10-28-2001, 01:26 PM
Another similarity I forgot to mention is that both sacrificed their lives and returned in greater splendour than before.
I also may as well mention while I'm at it that when I said LoTD I ment LoTR (obviously, but just in case).

01-10-2002, 06:05 PM
There are a couple parallels between Frodo and Christ, as well. Both took on a great burden for the sake of "saving" the whole world, both were wounded during their last ordeal, Frodo was stripped before his final ascent of Mount Doom ("and they threw dice for His clothes"), on the final trip Frodo had two companions, one good and one evil (remember the good thief?), both are racked by doubt and despair in the final days and both of them "pass over" after their ordeal. Certainly I don't think that JRRT intended an allegory - Frodo gave in to the ring at the end, after all - but it seems that some comparisons could be made. What reminded me of this was that ijust found out that in the traditional English calendar March 25th (the date of Frodo's wounding on Mount Doom) was thought to be the date of the Crucifixion. Anyway . . .