Editor's note: Amanda is an 18-year-old from Georgia (USA) and an art major at Young Harris College. "I got into Harry Potter when I was 14 and all of my friends began to read the books, but I wasn't allowed to. I did anyway (by smuggling books my friends let me borrow), and I love them because of the engaging (and surprising) storyline, character-driven plot, and the obvious amount of research and planning J.K. Rowling puts into her work. My favorite characters are Hermione, Ginny, and Dumbledore."
Biblical Symbolism in the World of Harry Potter
An original editorial by Amanda
I'm sure every HP fan is aware of the avid religious groups who
are against the world of Harry Potter because the books and movies are supposedly evil due to their exhibition of magic and witchcraft. A
pastors daughter, I have been forbidden to read the novels or watch
the movies. But I do so in secret anyway. Although I am an open-
minded Christian, I still can find no problems with Harry Potter that
are religiously threatening at all; on the contrary, I have done a fair
amount of research on the biblical symbolism included in the novels and
have found many parallels between Harry Potter and Bible stories.
This editorial is not meant to offend anyone, religious or not. This is
merely a way for some of the very interesting symbols and stories
shared by Harry Potter and the Bible to be recognized. Some of these
ideas are ones I posted long ago on SparkNotes.com, but I have decided
to incorporate that research into an editorial.
In all honesty, I dont understand how something that displays so
many positive moral values as Harry Potter can be considered evil in
the first place. Maybe Christian leaders grew alarmed by the widespread
popularity of the books and feared they would eventually sell more
copies than the Bible, thus making the books evil. Maybe they decided
to forget about the popular stories and movies that they grew up with
that portrayed witches and wizards as good characters (i.e., The
Wizard of Oz, The Sword and the Stone, Charmed). Maybe they decided
that, instead of focusing their energy on banning the things that are
actually evil, they should focus their energy on protesting make-
believe stories that cause widespread reading to occur amongst our
children. Maybe well never know.
Elements of a Christian World View
Without digging too deep into the actual context of the novels,
Harry Potter as a whole displays some similarities with the worldview
Christianity teaches. Here are a few biblical teachings displayed in
the Harry Potter novels:
A. Self-Sacrifice. Lily Potter sacrificed herself to save Harry
as an infant, similar to Jesus sacrificing himself on Calvary.
Harry Potter Day
B. Friendship. The unstoppable trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) and the Marauders (James, Peter, Lupin, and Sirius) are similar to the
friendship shown by Jesus apostles.
C. Courage. Many of the characters, and Harry in particular, have to
face their fears during the course of the novels and fight the good
fight, as the apostle Paul would have said.
D. Anti-Discrimination. House-elves, werewolves, or giants,
E. Loyalty. The good characters of Harry Potter all exhibit a
form of loyalty at some point, an obvious one being the loyalty that Hogwarts students Harry in particular show toward Dumbledore.
I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter Day
in the future.
When closely examined, obvious parallels exist between the birth
of Jesus and Harry Potters defeat of Voldemort as an infant. Like the
Star of the East shines in the heavens to mark Christs birth, shooting
stars streak across the sky after the defeat of Voldemort. A strangely dressed man approaches Mr. Dursley on the street and proclaims that
even a Muggle such as himself should be rejoicing on such a happy day,
just as the Gentiles are told to rejoice with the birth of Christ. It
is obvious from the start that both of these babies are meant to play a
very special roles in their futures, although very few know exactly how
great they will become and what they will do in the future.
Peter Pettigrew = Judas
This parallel, once pointed out, is very obvious. Judas is one of
the twelve apostles and a trusted friend, just as Pettigrew is one of
the four Marauders and a trusted friend. However, both of these
characters betray those close to them (Judas -> Jesus, Pettigrew ->
James and Lily) and contribute greatly to the downfall of their friends.
In the Bible, Judas is the one who betrays Jesus by
telling the soldiers where Jesus is praying in the garden, resulting in
the crucifixion of Christ. In Harry Potter, Pettigrew is the one who
tells Voldemort the location of the Potters, resulting in the murder of
Lily and James.
In addition, after Judas tells the soldiers where Jesus is
hiding, he receives a payment of twenty pieces of silver for betraying
Christ. Similarly, at the end of Goblet of Fire, Peter Pettigrew
receives a silver hand from Voldemort after helping to bring Harry (and poor
Cedric) to the graveyard where Voldemorts revival occurs.
Another surprising parallel that also serves as possible
foreshadowing is the guilt felt by Judas/Pettigrew after their
traitorous actions. Although it has not been stated directly, one can
assume Pettigrew felt/feels a significant amount of guilt after
betraying the people closest to him. After Judas betrays Jesus, he is
so overcome with grief that he commits suicide. Pettigrew, although he
was absent for the entire length of Order of the Phoenix, may die in
one of the future books. Is it possible Pettigrew will take his
own life as a result of his grief? I think so.
Two different creatures in the Harry Potter universe are
sometimes used to represent Christ: the phoenix and the unicorn. The
phoenix, obviously, represents Christs resurrection, while the unicorn
symbolizes Christs purity.
Similarly, Satan is often represented as a serpent or snake. From
what we know of the Slytherin house, which is represented by a snake,
serpents are symbols of evil. The same can be said of the Basilisk in
Chamber of Secrets.
The Number Twelve
As MuggleNet has already demonstrated, 12 is a recurring number in the
Harry Potter books. There are too many references in the books to list
here, but look at the article about the number twelve on this website.
Now lets consider the use of the number twelve in the Bible.
12 apostles of Jesus
12 sons/tribes of Israel
12 wells at Elim
12 stones on the breastplate of the High Priest
12 loaves in the Tabernacle
12 stars on the crown in Revelation
12 foundation stones on the gold palace in Revelation
There are many other references to the number twelve in the Bible,
but I chose to include the more significant ones here. And I am aware that
this particular Gospel parallel may not be entirely relevant in the
long run, but its still pretty cool.
The Mark of God
In Revelation 9, there are a few verses that refer to God
granting protection to those who have His mark on their foreheads. The
lightning-bolt scar on Harrys forehead will forever remain as a mark
of his mothers sacrifice to save him. Dumbledore tells Harry in Sorcerers Stone that his mothers death instilled in Harry a
protective force to guard him from Voldemort, which is a direct
parallel to this Biblical reference.
By recognizing these parallels between the Bible and Harry
Potter, are there possible actions in future books that can be
predicted by the information we have? In no way am I suggesting that
Hermione will lead the House-elves to the Promised Land or that Harry
will perform miracles and rise from the dead after dying a gruesome,
But perhaps Harry will perform the ultimate sacrifice by
defeating Voldemort and dying himself so everyone else will have the
chance to live on. We really wont know until the releases of Half-
Blood Prince and Book 7, but its still fun to make predictions based
on the possible foreshadowing and Biblical symbolism.
Posted by: Sara