Walking With Bilbo Paperback – Jan 19 2005
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I was concerned (before reading the book) that Arthur might make dubious conclusions about Christian concepts within Tolkien's work--but she doesn't. Tolkien didn't intend for his work to be completely allegorical, and she understands that. Essentially, Arthur acknowledges that in all great stories, one can find Biblical themes. Arthur (who is an "unabashed Tolkien junkie" - to quote the back cover) simply focused on The Hobbit (and LOTR) to write a solid devotional. A good devotional should inspire the reader to read the Bible more, and Walking with Bilbo will likely do just that.
What if I haven't read The Hobbit? Can I still enjoy Walking with Bilbo?
It is probably not essential that one has read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings to enjoy this devotional, but familiarity with the characters and events in those books will enhance one's understanding of the references to them in Walking with Bilbo.
Although the devotional predominantly revolves around Bilbo's experiences in The Hobbit, Arthur references characters from LOTR as well. For example, in Chapter 3, page 24, of Walking with Bilbo, Arthur paraphrases a quote from LOTR. Arthur writes, "As Sam says toward the end of The Two Towers, no one remembers the tales in which the characters give up and turn back." Arthur analogizes Sam's (Samwise Gamgee, for those of you who haven't read LOTR or seen the movies) statement to the concept that Christian faith sometimes requires a person to not "play it safe": i.e., once you follow Jesus, "there's no going back to life as it was before" (24). Certainly, the reader could understand that concept without having read LOTR (or having seen the movies), but familiarity with LOTR adds depth to one's understanding of Arthur's discussion.
So, to sum it up, one could enjoy this devotional without knowledge of The Hobbit and LOTR, but I think it best that one has read those books before reading Walking with Bilbo.
Layout of the book:
There are 22 chapters, each with a different theme. It is very easy to read one chapter per day (or more), as the chapters are about 7-9 pages long. The book is less than 200 pages long, and it includes a "Quick Reference Guide" in the back for terms that are used in The Hobbit and LOTR.
Each chapter begins with a short quote from The Hobbit, and then Arthur's discussion of the chapter's topic. She incorporates scripture into her discussion very well, and I found many of the devotions applicable to my life.
At the end of each chapter, Arthur includes a "Going Further" section, followed by recommended scripture passages to further one's devotional time. Although I read it alone, I think Walking with Bilbo would make a great group devotional (especially for Hobbit or LOTR fans!).
Conclusion: If you are a fan of The Hobbit and LOTR, and you are one who believes that reading the Bible is an essential part of your Christian walk, then you will likely enjoy the devotional, Walking with Bilbo. It will challenge you to think more deeply about matters which concern all of us. I recommend it.
***NOTE***In exchange for my honest review, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of the book. In no way was my receipt of the book contingent on a favorable review. My review is my own opinion.
**Tyndale sent me this book for free as part of the blog tour that I signed up for. I was not required to review it positively. All opinions are my own.**
This is a great book. The author is a Tolkien fan and it shows. However, this is not a fan book that has Christianity slapped on top. Instead, it is a thoughtful look at the building of our faith and the part we play in this world. Each chapter looks to ourselves, the hobbit story and the Bible to see what God is speaking. From there, the author provides scripture reading to expound the point and serve as focus for meditation. I really enjoy this book and see it being used often in my study and recommending to others.
I'd give the book 5 out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I read through the first two or three chapters, just to see how they were and I really enjoyed the ability to correlate The Hobbit and Bilbo's Journey to The Bible and our Christian journey. The chapters are laid out well and I love that there are questions at the end and Scriptures to dig deeper. I think this is an excellent addition to the library of anyone (especially YOUTH) who enjoy Tolkien and The Hobbit.
While having read The Hobbit will make this a much more enjoyable devotional, it isn't really absolutely necessary. The devotions simply take a scene or event in the story and use it as a starting point to reveal a Biblical truth, from the fact that we are chosen and selected by God, to the importance of honesty, to the fact that God never leaves us stranded, and what it takes to find our true identity.
This would be great to include with The Hobbit when gift giving, and it is also a great book to add to your own library. Thanks to Tyndale for the opportunity to review it!
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