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An Escape to Reality: Exploring the Meaning of Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” at the Waltham Public Library, December 8

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of the classic children’s tale, The Hobbit, described as a gateway into the life, learning and faith of the man dubbed ‘The Author of the Century’—J.R.R. Tolkien. Far from being an escape from reality, Tolkien's works, including The Hobbit, can be seen as an escape to reality.


Author and lecturer Sean McDonough, Ph.D., will discuss the celebrated classic, The Hobbit, in a talk entitled “There, and Back Again and Beyond: Exploring the Meaning of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit,” on Saturday, December 8, 1:00-3:00 pm at the Waltham Public Library, Lower Level Lecture Room, 735 Main Street, Waltham, MA. The public is invited to attend free of charge. For more information, call 781-314-3425.


First published on September 21, 1937, Tolkien’s masterful work is more than a children’s classic tale.  The story ties deeply into Tolkien’s methodology and his faith.  The Hobbit is an upcoming film series, with the release of the first film, An Unexpected Journey, expected in December 2012. The Desolation of Smaug will be released in 2013, and There and Back Again, in 2014.


McDonough says, “We’ll explore what makes Bilbo's ‘There and Back Again’ journey so compelling, and how it connects with the deeper history of Tolkien's Middle Earth. The Hobbit becomes a gateway into the life, learning and faith of the man dubbed ‘The Author of the Century’ -- to quote the title of Thomas Shippey’s insightful book on Tolkien. We’ll see that far from being an escape from reality, Tolkien's works, including The Hobbit, can be seen as an escape to reality.”


“My own love for The Hobbit and the rest of Tolkien's work took root in my boyhood,” says McDonough, “and it has flourished as I have read them in turn to my children.”


A professor of New Testament, McDonough teaches a course on Tolkien at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA, and is working on a book comparing Tolkien's fiction to the apocalyptic literature in the Bible. He came to Gordon-Conwell in 2000 from Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji, where he served as the chair of the Biblical Studies Department and as a lecturer in New Testament. He is a Sunday school teacher and occasional preacher at First Congregational Church in Hamilton. He is also a speaker for Medair, a Christian relief organization based in Switzerland. His research includes creation/cosmology in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, Hellenistic Judaism, Greek philosophy and religion and the Book of Revelation.


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