Tolkien's Influence: Dark Lord

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I still do not see why longevity or even immortality cannot happen to a fallen race.Sorry.It can happen, i mean besides that it can not happen in reality or nature, it can happen in mythology.It can be torture though...
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
This is part of the materialistic Jewish thinking... they have a hard time with pure spirit, at least now after so many centuries. Not necessarily true of all the OT and NT Jews... But this is behind the thinking of the leadership in Christ's time: Oh, the Messiah will come with armies and defeat Rome and liberate us. I have a very well educated Jewish friend who thought the Ascension referred to going uphill to the city of Jerusalem!!
I have well-educated Christian friends who believe the Torah and the Bible are completely different things. Please don't get into this kind of thing. Why should Jews be knowledgeable about Christian doctrine? Your educated Jewish friend was probably refering to the Hebrew word "aliya," which means going up, or ascending, and Jews who emigrate to Israel are said to "make aliya." And why materialistic? That's close to the edge. Actually, the story of the sons of God who came down and married the daughters of men probably came from a much earlier myth or legend, as did tales of giants and such.

I usually avoid discussions like this one, but now and then I take a peek at a few comments.
 
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Odola

Well-Known Member
I have well-educated Christian friends who believe the Torah and the Bible are completely different things. Please don't get into this kind of thing. Why should Jews be knowledgeable about Christian doctrine? Your educated Jewish friend was probably refering to the Hebrew word "aliya," which means going up, or ascending, and Jews who emigrate to Israel are said to "make aliya." And why materialistic? That's close to the edge. Actually, the story of the sons of God who came down and married the daughters of men probably came from a much earlier myth or legend, as did tales of giants and such.

I usually avoid discussions like this one, but now and then I take a peek at a few comments.
;-)
Have your patience with the Orthodox, if you can. They are usually a bit more passionate that we Westerners and have less value for "political corectness". But they have mostly good hearts and a interesting perspective worth the occassional insult coming our way. ;-)
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Personally i do not see materialistic as a negative thing.I do consider myself a materialist philosophically, i do not see why the term itself is so frowned upon today.Within the philosophical controversy materialism vs. Idealism i see myself clearly on the materialist side.And political correctness is a completely different issue, i don't think we touched that here and i don't think we should.Both things have little to do with dark lords though i believe.

The story of the Nephilim having its roots in an older tradition just like giants etc. Is EXACTLY what i was referring to.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The story of the Nephilim having its roots in an older tradition just like giants etc. Is EXACTLY what i was referring to.
Just like elves and trolls those seem to me to remnants of humanity's memories of a distant past where there were several distinct homo populations roaming the earth. And the history has plenty of psychomoniac tyrants to model for a Dark Lord, that is a concept that is understood worldwide. Just take the demon kings of Hindu mythology, that the heros have to fight against. Or the Persian Shah as viewed by the Romans and their successors during the centuries of Roman-Persian Wars.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Then theres the one idea that the great beast 666 in the revelation may have been a pun on the roman emperor.I think there are a lot of good reasons people have developed that concept of personate corporeal evil. My worldview is a different one, but i still enjoy literature discussing the idea.Apart from the exaggerated and fascinating characters of Melkor and Sauron my favourite "Dark lord" in literature is Leto II, god emperor of Dune... a more complex character as he is a human, not an originally spiritual being that took corporeal shape. But i still like the concept of evil Tolkien developed... reality though is far closer to his "new shadow" i believe, and i think Tolkien was well aware of that and he did not like it much... it is a terrible and not very enjoyable story (reality, not his unfinished sequel).

The vedic stories are one thing i yet know far too,little about and i wonder how much of it Tolkien knew... as a guy who was very into mythology and language he should have known it pretty well, but i can't recall him ever really adressing the issue.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Okay, so I was in a bad mood when I posted the other day. Life stuff vented poorly. Suffice to say, I'm all here for this and sorry for throwing shade. Deleted those posts.

Aaaaanyway.

The concept of giants and nephilim and all the weird confusing monsters in the Bible is fascinating. I think something well worth bearing in mind is that the idea of a nation being begotten by deities was a very standard worldview. It was the cosmology of the day. Even revisionist version of this were standard. Babylon's creation story goes through cycles. This was not foreign to the Hebrew scholars. A really vital thing to do when approaching early Hebrew works is something folks here are great at - context. It's cross-cultural, right?

I mean, Genesis tells us the world is on pillars. Below are the primordial chaos waters and over are heads are more waters, kept at bay by this vast sky dome. It's all there and all makes sense. It's not even unique to Hebrew scholars. This was all understood. And it was understood that the world is ordered and to some degree sustained by cosmic beings. In the same way that the accepted cosmology of today is one of matter and cause and effect. A material reality of scientific laws is the basis of our worldview. It's not copying and derivative for one scientist to build on another scientist's work. In the same way, the Hebrew scholars weren't ignorant that they were sharing ideas. Nor were they 'stealing' them. It was just an accepted reality. What they wanted to do was speak to the place of YHWH within their known reality. So chaos isn't subdued by Marduk killing the primordial sea-serpent, spilling its guts and making the world. Nor is humanity a race of servants made from blood and clay to serve the gods (and by extension, the royal families who come from those gods). No, the world was ordered and given life (from the formless void, the unordered inhospitable chaotic waters) without conflict. There was no opposition to God. Even the chaos serpents were servants to him. The nightmares of other nations are nothing before YWHW. He simply spoke and reality formed. It was ordered into days and greenery grew. All FOR humanity. Humanity were to be the little kings. All humanity was to be the priest-king race. Not in service to gods, but acting as co-rulers gifted command by a god they were to follow. Ultimately convinced they could ascend to be like gods without YHWH's guidance.

Genesis isn't wrong because the science is inaccurate. It's simply not what it is interested in. What it's interested in isn't even just metaphorical poetry. Both those stances miss something beautiful. It is accepted as truth by the listeners as it fits the accepted cosmology, but it does something more than that and makes sense of the day to day reality. Macro and micro. Cosmic and human.

So the Hebrew narrative is not concerned with blueprints for building a physical reality. It can be read and interpreted that way, not taking away anybody's beliefs in a six-day ex-nihilo Creation. But the idea of a physical reality made of atomic building blocks wasn't something the original listeners and writers had a framework for nor were particularly interested in. The WHY is the same as the HOW. As in, Creation is the source of order and purpose. The deed is the purpose if that makes sense.

I'm not saying all this just to try to elucidate my own reading of the Bible, but to get to this point about giants. I promise. All these nations have originating warriors and kings and mythic colossal patrons. The Bible acknowledges them. It fits into its own cosmology. But what it does is subverts them. Yes, you may have a giant forefather who created your kingdom. But they are born of corruption. Of steering away from YHWH. Your kings come from those who fell away and at the same time, they are no threat. Your gods fought to create the world and create your nation. Our god just had to speak and the world fell into order.

I think we see some of that in Morgoth. The idea that yes, Morgoth marred the world, he destroyed and divided power. And it came at a cost. He wasn't a patch on Eru. He might be the originator of a kind or reality. But he didn't truly make order. He didn't structure reality. And he didn't do it with the power of words. He had to exert himself. He isn't worthy of worship. He is within reality, not without. And as such, will end.

I don't want to get super into the reading of Genesis or the Bible here as I was using that as pre-amble to get to the point. All I wanted to touch on was the link between Biblical giant-dieties and Morgoth and so needed some context for the case. Thanks.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I always liked those early jewish parts of the bible best, and i liked people or say writings by people who connected these to platonic philosophy, which i hold in high regard.Despite being a naturalist i like the very idea that there is a way the world actually SHOULD be and that in many regards our reality is wrong when compared to the original concept, but that there is still a very strong hope that the wrongs may somehow be repaired and the world as it should be may still come to be in some way. I think that is a strong point in Tolkien.His world is not dire -like Dune- but it has hope.That is a good message i think and the concept of a dark lord does, i think, serve it's purpose within.
 
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Rob Harding

Active Member
I tend to find I agree with my humanist friends that humanity has the potential to be so much more than it is but regularly fall short. If that wasn't a truth of reality, the Bible would not have resonated with the original readers, or today. It's certainly true in Tolkien's world too.

Though my humanist friends think the end result of a humanity acting at full capacity is impossible, but the struggle is worth it. I believe that we will get to and end result of humanity perfected, but I believe it requires external direction.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The vedic stories are one thing i yet know far too,little about and i wonder how much of it Tolkien knew... as a guy who was very into mythology and language he should have known it pretty well, but i can't recall him ever really adressing the issue.
I think as a linguist he had to dab into Sanskrit a little bit, as an part of the whole Indo-European language family. From there it is not far to read a least summaries of some of the most important stories.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I tend to find I agree with my humanist friends that humanity has the potential to be so much more than it is but regularly fall short. If that wasn't a truth of reality, the Bible would not have resonated with the original readers, or today. It's certainly true in Tolkien's world too.

Though my humanist friends think the end result of a humanity acting at full capacity is impossible, but the struggle is worth it. I believe that we will get to and end result of humanity perfected, but I believe it requires external direction.
Well take it this way: sometimes i hope religious people are right and i am wrong.
 

Forodan

Active Member
Then theres the one idea that the great beast 666 in the revelation may have been a pun on the roman emperor.I think there are a lot of good reasons people have developed that concept of personate corporeal evil. My worldview is a different one, but i still enjoy literature discussing the idea.Apart from the exaggerated and fascinating characters of Melkor and Sauron my favourite "Dark lord" in literature is Leto II, god emperor of Dune... a more complex character as he is a human, not an originally spiritual being that took corporeal shape. But i still like the concept of evil Tolkien developed... reality though is far closer to his "new shadow" i believe, and i think Tolkien was well aware of that and he did not like it much... it is a terrible and not very enjoyable story (reality, not his unfinished sequel).

The vedic stories are one thing i yet know far too,little about and i wonder how much of it Tolkien knew... as a guy who was very into mythology and language he should have known it pretty well, but i can't recall him ever really adressing the issue.
Not a 'pun' but a code. Speaking in code was a common thing in both oral and written language of the time, for various reasons. In political speech, it was dangerous to speak ill of the Emperor. Someone might report you to the imperial authorities. And letters were commonly used to represent numbers in both Greek and Latin since Arabic numerals had not been adopted yet. This led to a convention of using numbers added up from the letters of a word or phrase to represent that word or phrase. The name of the Emperor at the time "The Revelation" was written was Nero. Kaisar Neron, in Greek letters, added to 666. (The Greeks transliterated the name Caesar as Kaisar, which tells us the "C" was pronounced as a hard consonant in ancient times.) Similarly, the 'beast with seven heads' is clearly the city of Rome - The city built on seven hills. The metaphoric comparison of 'hill' or even 'mountain' and 'head' is widely used. e.g. Bundushathur = Fanuidol = Cloudy Head, one of the peaks of Khazad-dum.

So it's not all that difficult to understand that the "Book of Revelation" is a prediction of the downfall of Rome. It's didn't go down quite as predicted, though it did finally go down. All empires fall sooner or later.

Which leads to an interesting observation: There is a real world precedent for the "Dark Lord" having a real world realm and army -- The Roman Imperator and his Imperium! Rome certainly was an evil force seeking to dominate the world. And it succeeded for centuries. The difference is that the Imperator was not a literal demon/spirit/whatever (although they were routinely promoted to the status of 'gods' on their death -- 'apotheosis'). The early Christians would have said that demons controlled them, I imagine.
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
It still... is just a theory.Though i like and can relate to it.but is it proven? I do not think so.

Btw i am a friend of rome - within historic context!
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
Revelation is apocalyptic writing. Which doesn’t mean what most people often think it does. This was a really cool thing I learnt recently. Apocalyptic has come to mean ‘end of the world stuff’ but that’s actually BECAUSE of how people have read Revelation. It’s a word that predates revelation and is actually a literary form. It’s signified, to boil it down, as a poetic form using vivid imagery, often with a framing device of dreams, to speak truth to power - to lay out a warning in a didactic fashion. So originally it was, like the prophets did, telling people of the consequences of a current cause of action through symbols and metaphors that are well established and recognised by a people who have long internalised their words of the Torah, Tanak and the Wisdom books. BUT, as with the rest of the Bible, it’s not just for the moment. It is intended to carry a truth that is ever lasting. That this warnings and images are for all time and that they tell the cosmic story of reality as well as the temporary situation. So in some ways, it sort of is about the end of things since it points to the restoration of humanity as a whole.

Again, Tolkien does this in his legendarium. Images are repeated. Lessons reoccur. And they point to central truths. Stories, like in the Bible, happen on repeat, often with variation to point to something coming. I think Beren and Luthien for me is a small encompassing of all that.

Id be interested in what people think Dagor Dagorath has to say in general about the human/elf condition?

As for Rome being ‘controlled by demons’, the Bible certainly uses nation states as shorthand for supernatural forces. In the cultural mindset, enemies of Gods were physical and supernatural and overlapped
 
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Haerangil

Well-Known Member
That is what i learned about the term apocalyptic in school.It has it's origins in the babylonian exile i believe.

The Dagor Dagorath to me always seemed like a mix of the revelation and norse Ragnarök.Human/Elf condition i'll have to pass...
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Well i was in catholic religious class and our teacher was the guy who trained all the catholic religion teachers of the county... a very educated guy who really knew a lot of philosophy. We learned not so much mass of biblical text back then, but some selected old testament texts and always in connection with philosophy, mostly Aristotle and Platon but also Immanuel.Quite interesting.

After some thinking i guess... the Dark Lord thing does not occur to me to be a very christian concept.I think it comes from pre-christian thinking and JRRT interwove and adapted it to some early christian concepts to make it fit with his personal worldview, but what he was most interested in was probably the story he wanted to tell. A lot of his stories appear to me to be overtly pagan, rather than christian... but he tried to make them fit and not contradict his personal christian beliefs.
 
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Ragnelle

Member
The literal meaning of the Greek word αποκαλυψις (apocalypsis), is to uncover (like uncovering the head). It is not used in the literal sense in NT writings, but in the sense of making fully known, revelation, disclosure. (According to BDAG - Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament)

It is true that it also is a genre, and the Revelation of John is not the only apocalypse. There are other apocalypses, of Biblical ones perhaps the one in the Book of Daniel is most known (from Dan 7 and out the book). Putting them beside the Revelation of John shows they have many things in common, the imagery is perhaps the most striking thing.

But though apocalyptic literature do have evil rulers or beasts taking over (for a time) the world, I am not sure they can be said to be dark lords in the way Morgoth or Sauron are, or in the conception of "the dark lord" in modern fiction. As has been said above, the beasts in the apocalypses are dream-images, while Morogth and Sauron have a very different secondary reality. The same goes for dark lords in other modern stories.

I would also disagree that the Greek text of the Lords Prayer irrefutably means "the evil one". The Greek reads τοῦ πονηροῦ (tou ponerou), which is the adjective πονηρος (poneros) pertaining to being evil, wicked, base, worthless. It also have other meanings, which all pertains to a lack or worthlessness in the physical sense - of being of poor quality or being ill/unhealthy, but here the first meaning is more relevant. The adjective is used with the article, in English "the evil". The article is used in many ways in Greek, and not all of them the same as in English, so it is a matter of interpretation what the article here means. Probably it means that the adjective is used as a substantive, which can give the translation "the evil one", but that will also depend on the gender of the article. It is not clear if the article is masculine or neuter here, because it is in genitive. In genitive the masculine and neuter have the same form. If the article is to be taken as neuter, then the translation would be "that which is evil".

The context does not help us all that much, so tradition and interpretation is what is left to guide us. The genitive comes from the preposition (απο apo), so it is not the possessive genitive, but rather the ablative genitive (here expressing separation). Some scholars favour one, some the other interpretation. The Greek text is simply ambigous on this point.

But I am not convinced that Utgadsloki in the Norse myths can be seen as a dark lord in the same way either. He don't lead armies: he has a household with household men much like a Norse chieftain or jarl, or a king (there was not that much difference between them at that time). He is not all that different from Thrym when it comes to position and power among the jotuns. It is Surt who is the most prominent opponent during Rangarokk (or at least the one named to burn the world, there is no one main opponent really).

The Vedic stories I don't know well enough to say for certain, but the concept of a dark lord as we can see in Tolkien and later fiction, seems to me a modern invention. In Tolkien it feels more like a blending - Morgoth (and to some degree Sauron) has more in common with the Lucifer of later Christian tradition (no mention of him in the Bible) than with the adversaries of Greco-Roman or Norse myths, yet not wholly unlike them.

I am inclined to think that the "dark lord" concept in modern fiction comes from Tolkien's invention in Sauron and Morgoth. The concept has deep resonances in the idea of good vs evil or light vs dark (cosmos vs chaos etc), and in gods battling monsters, or God vs Devil, but as in much of Tolkien, not a clear line from one to the oner, or a single equivalent.

I see Tolkien as the most likely direct source of the concept of a dark lord in modern fiction, but that the underlying concept of good vs evil/ God vs Devil in Western cultures made that idea resonate and gain the popularity it has.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
The literal meaning of the Greek word αποκαλυψις (apocalypsis), is to uncover (like uncovering the head). It is not used in the literal sense in NT writings, but in the sense of making fully known, revelation, disclosure. (According to BDAG - Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament)

It is true that it also is a genre, and the Revelation of John is not the only apocalypse. There are other apocalypses, of Biblical ones perhaps the one in the Book of Daniel is most known (from Dan 7 and out the book). Putting them beside the Revelation of John shows they have many things in common, the imagery is perhaps the most striking thing.

But though apocalyptic literature do have evil rulers or beasts taking over (for a time) the world, I am not sure they can be said to be dark lords in the way Morgoth or Sauron are, or in the conception of "the dark lord" in modern fiction. As has been said above, the beasts in the apocalypses are dream-images, while Morogth and Sauron have a very different secondary reality. The same goes for dark lords in other modern stories.

I would also disagree that the Greek text of the Lords Prayer irrefutably means "the evil one". The Greek reads τοῦ πονηροῦ (tou ponerou), which is the adjective πονηρος (poneros) pertaining to being evil, wicked, base, worthless. It also have other meanings, which all pertains to a lack or worthlessness in the physical sense - of being of poor quality or being ill/unhealthy, but here the first meaning is more relevant. The adjective is used with the article, in English "the evil". The article is used in many ways in Greek, and not all of them the same as in English, so it is a matter of interpretation what the article here means. Probably it means that the adjective is used as a substantive, which can give the translation "the evil one", but that will also depend on the gender of the article. It is not clear if the article is masculine or neuter here, because it is in genitive. In genitive the masculine and neuter have the same form. If the article is to be taken as neuter, then the translation would be "that which is evil".

The context does not help us all that much, so tradition and interpretation is what is left to guide us. The genitive comes from the preposition (απο apo), so it is not the possessive genitive, but rather the ablative genitive (here expressing separation). Some scholars favour one, some the other interpretation. The Greek text is simply ambigous on this point.

But I am not convinced that Utgadsloki in the Norse myths can be seen as a dark lord in the same way either. He don't lead armies: he has a household with household men much like a Norse chieftain or jarl, or a king (there was not that much difference between them at that time). He is not all that different from Thrym when it comes to position and power among the jotuns. It is Surt who is the most prominent opponent during Rangarokk (or at least the one named to burn the world, there is no one main opponent really).

The Vedic stories I don't know well enough to say for certain, but the concept of a dark lord as we can see in Tolkien and later fiction, seems to me a modern invention. In Tolkien it feels more like a blending - Morgoth (and to some degree Sauron) has more in common with the Lucifer of later Christian tradition (no mention of him in the Bible) than with the adversaries of Greco-Roman or Norse myths, yet not wholly unlike them.

I am inclined to think that the "dark lord" concept in modern fiction comes from Tolkien's invention in Sauron and Morgoth. The concept has deep resonances in the idea of good vs evil or light vs dark (cosmos vs chaos etc), and in gods battling monsters, or God vs Devil, but as in much of Tolkien, not a clear line from one to the oner, or a single equivalent.

I see Tolkien as the most likely direct source of the concept of a dark lord in modern fiction, but that the underlying concept of good vs evil/ God vs Devil in Western cultures made that idea resonate and gain the popularity it has.
If we are talking about influences what about the brother Manwe and Melkor, is this not the dualism of Ahura Mazda and Ahriman /Angra Mainyu of Zoroastrianism ?
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Allright.Then what of the influence from invasion myths? I don't know the icelandic ones well enough, the british/welsh ones are half the time mythical ancestors invading the british oikomene or otherworldly plagues...

But the old irish ones are different.When you say rightly that norse giant chieftains are pretty much like chieftains, ruling their hall and household-except for ragnarökr maybe when Surt does arguably lead armies...

But the irish fomoire... they DO invade the Danaans lands quite a few times, and they have armies of soldiers and they have kings and chieftains who are clearly dark and demonic: Balor the one eyed monster, the charming and deceiving Elatha, misshapen destroyers like cicholl, oppressing tyrants like Conand, and i think the Fianna literally battled a "King of the world" and his armies who invaded their coasts once.
 
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