Applying JEPD Theory to the Lord of the Rings

One standard staple of biblical criticism for the past century has been the theory that the Old Testament isn’t composed of “books” that somebody “wrote” but is instead a pastische of “sources” that religio political factions “assembled”. If you find yourself thinking “Only an academic–and a German one–could suppose that the foundational literature of Western civilization could be pasted together by a committee and only an academic–and a German one–could suppose that you find out what the text really means by dissolving it in the acid bath of deconstruction to tease out the supposedly original Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), Priestly (P) and Deuteronomic (D) sources”, you’re right. The theory has run into trouble (since nobody seems to agree on which cut n paste fragments belong to which source and nobody knows why the editors who allegedly stuck all these sources together did what they did. But, as with pure naturalistic theories of evolution, your task is to shut up and bow to your superiors, not ask obvious questions.

In the spirit of redaktion criticism, Bruce Baugh now offers some preliminary theories on the variation in sources used by the makers of the Two Towers. I think he’s on to something. Jackson is clearly operating from Rohanian sources for purely political reasons. Truly educated people can see these things right off the bat. It’s obvious to any thinking person that the whole “Tolkien Authorship Myth” must go. The Lord of the Rings was not “written” by a so-called “author” named “Tolkien”. Rather, it is a final redaction of sources ranging from the Red Book of Westmarch, to Elvish Chronicles, to Gondorian records, to tales of Rohirrim which were only transcribed centuries later. The various pressure groups which preserved these stories all had their own agendas. For instance, the Gondorian records clearly seek to elevate the claims of the Aragorn monarchy over the house of Denethor. So the record has been sanitized. Indeed, many scholars now believe the “Faramir being healed by Aragorn” doublet of the “Frodo being helped by Aragorn” is a sanitized version of the *murder* of Denethor by Aragorn through the administration of poison. “Faramir” never existed and is a corruption of “Boromir”, who died under uncertain circumstances in the wilderness. Since the scenes of Aragorn healing “Frodo” also take place in the wilderness, most scholars conclude that “Frodo” is a mythic echo of Boromir, whose quest for Power is like Aragorn’s quest for the Throne. Perhaps, Boromir was one of Aragorn’s first victims. Of course, the whole “Ring” motif appears in countless folk tales and is to be discounted altogether. The real “War of the Ring” was doubtless some small tribal dispute that was exaggerated by bardic sources, much like the Exodus or the Fall of Troy. Gandalf appears to have been some sort of shamanistic figure, introduced to the Narrative by W (the Westmarch source) out of deference to local Shire cultic practice.

Rohan seems to have been of much help to the establishment of the Aragorn monarchy and so R sources find their way into the final version of the LOTR narrative, but greatly altered so as to give Theoden a subordinate role. Meanwhile, we can only guess at the Sauron and Saruman sources, since they seem to have been destroyed by the victors and give a wholly negative view of these doubtlessly complex, warm, human and many-sided figures. Scholars now know, of course, that the identification of Sauron with “pure evil” is simply wrong. Indeed, many scholars have become quite fond of Sauron and are searching the records with a growing passion and zeal for any lore connected with the making of the One Ring. “It’s all nonsense, of course,” says Dr. Gol M. Smeagol, “There never was such a Ring. Still… I… should… very much like to have a look at it. Just for scholarly purposes of course.”


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