Trinity and Eschatology in Middle-earth

In addition to the divine, Trinitarian-like difference within Eru being a condition for the possibility of creation in Tolkien’s world, it also turns out to be a condition for the possibility of the world’s future re-creation. For as Finrod also confesses in the Athrabeth, unless Eru should indeed specially “enter in” and take upon himself the hurts of the world wrought by Melkor, all the while remaining “the Author without”—the simultaneity of which is made possible by this difference within the divine being—Finrod says he cannot at all “conceive how else this healing could be achieved” (MR 322). Equally inconceivable to the faith or estel of Finrod, however, is the thought that Eru should leave the world he loves forever unredeemed. As Tolkien thus concludes the matter in his commentary, “[s]ince Finrod had already guessed that the redemptive function was originally specially assigned to Men, he probably proceeded to the expectation that ‘the coming of Eru’, if it took place, would be specially and primarily concerned with Men: that is to an imaginative guess or vision that Eru would come incarnated in human form” (335). In Tolkien’s mythology, then, it is the Creator’s own difference, whereby he is “other” even to himself, that allows and leads him first to produce the “other” that is the created order, and consequent to that created order’s fall and corruption, to restore it eventually to an even greater state of perfection. Beneath the creaturely otherness which so transfixed Tolkien’s attention, lies the infinite depths of the divine “otherness” in which all things participate for their being, and therefore from whom they must one day receive it back again.

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