Is Harry Potter the Son of God?
An original editorial by Abigail BeauSeigneur
As we approach the release of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Potter friends and foes alike are in for the surprise of their lives. The story of Harry Potter is, and always was, a Christian allegory - a fictionalized modern day adaptation of the life of Christ, intended to introduce his character to a new generation.
When asked whether she is Christian, author J.K. Rowling states:
Yes, I am, which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time Ive been asked if I believe in God, Ive said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that [her Christianity] I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess whats coming in the books.(1)
Elsewhere Rowling has told us that Why Dumbledore had Jamess cloak when he died is crucial(2)
; she has also told us that Dumbledores gleam of triumph(3)
is enormously significant(4)
; but here she tells us that knowing more about her religious beliefs is not just crucial, not just enormously significant, but will blow the whole thing open, so that even a 10-year-old will be able to figure it out. Note that she said this in October 2000, at which point readers only had 4 of 7 books; we knew nothing of the prophecy, and the word Horcrux did not even exist in the lexicon. So early in the series, we need only to have known the specifics of Rowlings religious beliefs in order to solve the puzzle.
Perhaps what she wont tell is her denomination, but as it is known that she is a member of the Church of Scotland congregation,(5) which is not particularly theologically unique from other mainstream denominations, that information hardly seems illuminating to the Potter story. What else might she be refusing to divulge? When a person states that they are a Christian, they may mean one of several things I believe in God, Im not an atheist or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu, I go to church sometimes, I go to church every week, or I believe that Jesus Christ was the incarnate God who died to redeem the world of their sins, and I have a personal relationship with him as my Lord and Savior.
Do any of these statements have the potential to reveal the ultimate plot of the series? One of them must, as Rowling has said it is so. The only one of the above statements that approaches that potential is the last, which I will henceforth refer to as Christ follower. If Rowling is a Christ follower, what might that mean for Harry Potter? I believe that it means Harry is the Christ of the wizarding world, that is of J.K. Rowlings created universe.
Can this be? Can a writer so censured by elements of the religious right, the writer of a book that portrays good witches and wizards; the writer of scenes so horrific as the senseless murder of a young boy(6); a villain who drinks unicorn blood(7) and uses the bones of his father whom he murdered and the blood of his enemy to regain a physical body(8); a writer who uses symbolism from the tarot; a writer blamed for encouraging interest in witchcraft among teens(9); can this writer be a Christ follower, and actually be writing about Christ? I say yes.
I know of at least one other author who uses the beliefs of those most unlike Christianity to ultimately tell a story of Christ.(10) Additionally, can we ignore the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis? Both of them portray magic in their stories, yet no one questions their intentions. This is because the faith of both is known, and because their symbolism and use of allegory is more easily recognizable (particularly since their stories are complete, as Rowlings is not). Is it possible that J.K. Rowling [who, by the way, also goes by her initials and last name and who read Lewiss Narnia books repeatedly as a child(11)] is doing the same, but simply hiding her ultimate intent? Again, I say yes.
Rowlings books are being scrutinized endlessly by her fans, who are trying to find connections with, it seems, every piece of literature and mythology known to man; possible symbolism from the tarot, ancient runes, and alchemy; Newsweek even compared Harry to Tony Soprano(12); and for all I know, some may be listening to the audio books backwards. Some of these analyses are quite convincing, others absurd. By comparison to such efforts, my analysis may seem lacking in sufficient complexity and obscurity to satisfy some. However, let me remind you of the passage with which I began this journey. Rowling asserts that knowing more about her religious beliefs will blow the whole thing apart. That knowledge is enough.
Reviewing some of Rowlings symbolism and examining similarities between Harry and Christ will reveal further evidence to bolster the supposition that Rowling is telling an allegorical gospel. (While it is tempting to compare Rowlings novels with those of Tolkien and Lewis: for example, Rowlings Wormtail, Tolkiens Wormtongue, and Lewiss Wormwood; Rowlings Prongs and Lewiss white stag in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe"; the (Voldemort-possessed) snake attack on Mr. Weasley and the (Emerald Witch appearing as a) snake attack on Prince Rilians mother in "The Silver Chair" and such comparisons would certainly support my theory - for the purpose of this article I will limit the analysis to a comparison of Rowlings works directly to the gospel.)
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As with any allegory, some similarities and allusions will be obvious even to the casual reader of the Potter series and to those who know little about Christ. Some will be clear only to those who are truly knowledgeable on both topics. I do not claim that every character and event in the Harry Potter series has a Biblical parallel, nor would I ever assume to know the exact design of one of the greatest and most intentional authors of our time. However, there is much compelling evidence for my theory, which, when considered as a whole, makes a rather strong argument.
Rowling uses a fantastic amount of symbolism in her story, especially through names. She admits that names are really crucial to her and that some of her characters have had eight or nine names before she hit the right one.(13)
Harrys last name, Potter, is connotative of Christ. Isaiah calls God the potter you are our father, we are the clay and you are the potter.(14)
This consequently points to Christ, since in Christian theology God the father and God the son (Christ) are one and the same.(15)
Harrys scars on his head(16) and hand(17) may be intended to partially match Christs scars from his crucifixion.(18) Rowling tells us that the shape of Harrys lightening-bolt scar is not its most significant characteristic.(19) Perhaps its significance is its location, his forehead. There are several important references to forehead markings in the Bible. The high priest was to wear upon his forehead a seal with the words Holy to the Lord, so the LORD will accept the people.(20) Additionally, the people of Israel were told to tie the commands of God to their hands and to wear them on their foreheads as reminders.(21) In Revelation, God will mark his followers foreheads with the seal of God,(22) so that when locusts are sent upon the earth in judgment, those with the seal will not be harmed.(23) (I will discuss the perhaps best known biblical forehead marking, the mark of the beast, later, when I examine Rowlings Satan parallel.)
Harrys stag Patronus(24) (a conjured protector that drives away certain dark creatures) provides even more symbolism. The stag is historically a symbol of Christ and an enemy and overcomer of the serpent,(25) a common symbol for Satan. The stag Patronus is used in the Potter series to link Harry to his father, James, who was an Animagus (a wizard who can turn into an animal at will), whose animal form was a stag. For this reason, Jamess nickname was Prongs.(26) It seems as though Rowling is trying to bring attention to that part of the creature. Interestingly, Christian stag representations often hold a cross in prongs of the antlers.(27) As the image of the stag is present on the inside flap of the cover of the British Childrens version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we are assured the stag will come into play again.
Harry plays Quidditch (a wizarding sport) for Gryffindor, his house at Hogwarts. His position is Seeker; his job is to catch a tiny enchanted ball (the Snitch) before the other teams Seeker does.(28) Though he had never heard of the sport, he was recruited in his first year because of his natural talent.(29) While Christ does not fly around on a broomstick trying to catch a tiny enchanted ball, he does declare of himself, [I] came to seek and save those who are lost.(30) The devil, like the other teams Seeker, is also seeking these souls, but his purpose is to take them to hell. I believe that Rowling has given Harry the position of Seeker in order to allude to Christ, the seeker of lost souls.
Further related to Quidditch, Harrys first broom is called a Nimbus 2000.(31) Nimbus is the term for the halo-like orbs of light shown around the heads of artistic representations of saints and of Christ.
Quidditch may actually be a metaphor for the spiritual and physical worlds, as what generally determines the outcome of the game is not the goals, but rather who catches the Golden Snitch; just as what really matters on earth is not all the things we do in the physical realm, but rather what is happening in the spiritual realm and who catches the souls of men. I wonder, in fact, if the entire purpose for creating Quidditch, with its peculiar rules, is not as a metaphor for this truth. When Rowling talks about writing Quidditch, she candidly remarks, to be honest with you, Quidditch matches have been the bane of my life in the Harry Potter books.(33) Her further comments regarding Quidditch insinuate that she has no interest in sports.(34)
It is interesting that Rowling has not set her story in an alternate or parallel universe. In her story the world is the same as it ever was and the things about which she tells us are simply unknown and unseen by most Muggles (non-magical people). What happens in the wizarding world affects the Muggle world; Muggles are simply unaware of the cause. According to Christian belief, there is a world like that. It is unseen and unknown to most, but affects everything that happens in this world nonetheless. That world is the spiritual realm, in which Christ and the devil, angels and demons, battle for the souls of men.(35) According to Rowling, Witchcraft is just a metaphor for this other world of possibilities, beyond convention, that the mind can reach.(36)
There is definite significance given to blood in the Potter series. The blood of Harrys mother Lily protected Harry from the attack by Voldemort when he was an infant,(37) and that protection continues as long as Harry can call the place where his mothers blood dwells home (by residing in the home of his mothers sister.)(38) Intent on overcoming this protection, Voldemort used Harrys blood to gain a new body and resurrect himself.(39) When Harry informed Dumbledore of what Voldemort had done, he perceived a momentary gleam of triumph in Dumbledores eyes,(40) which Rowling reveals is still enormously significant.(41) Because Lilys blood now runs through Voldemorts veins, he can now touch Harry without causing himself harm.(42) However, he still cannot bear to possess Harry.(43) When Harry and Dumbledore began their search to find the Horcruxes that contain pieces of Voldemorts soul, they had to enter a magically sealed cave to get to the Horcrux. In order to enter, a blood payment was required.(44) Dumbledore insisted that his blood be used, as Harrys blood is worth more than his.(45)
Though the precise significance of blood in the Harry Potter series is yet to be revealed, it seems extremely likely that it is related to the significance of blood in the Christian faith. Blood on the doorposts protected the inhabitants from the plague that killed all the firstborn sons of Egypt.(46) Blood was later used to confirm Gods covenant with the people of Israel.(47) Most importantly, Christs blood was shed for the payment of sin,(48) and by his blood, his followers are made right in the sight of God.(49)
A wand is a witch or wizards most important tool. The wand chooses its wizard,(50) and it has a powerful connection to its owner.(51) We know that Rowling has chosen her wands with great care. Hermione and Rons wand woods both correspond to their birth months, according to Celtic tradition. On the other hand, Hagrids wand wood is representative of his character.(52)
The wands of Harry and Voldemort give even more insight. Harrys wand is made of holly and phoenix feather (an unusual combination, according to Ollivander, the wand maker)(53); Voldemorts is yew and phoenix feather.(54) Though their owners are enemies, the wands are brothers, meaning that both have in their cores a feather from the same phoenix.(55) We know the symbolism of the wand woods directly from Rowling:
I gave Harry a wand made of holly wood...It was not an arbitrary decision: holly has certain connotations that were perfect for Harry, particularly when contrasted with the traditional associations of yew, from which Voldemorts wand is made. European tradition has it that the holly tree (the name comes from holy) repels evil, while yew, which can achieve astonishing longevity (there are British yew trees over two thousand years old), can symbolise both death and resurrection; the sap [of the yew] is also poisonous.(56)
Additionally, holly is associated with death and rebirth in pagan and Christian lore.(57)
Harrys wand core, which everyone seems to pay attention to only for the fact that it is related to Voldemorts, has vital symbolism as well. Phoenixes are mythical birds of resurrection; they repeatedly die (by bursting into flames), and are reborn.(58) We have already seen this symbolism played out in Voldemorts life. He should have been killed by the rebounding Killing Curse that he cast at Harry.(59) However, he was able to just barely evade death, because he had created Horcruxes, which held and protected pieces of his soul severed in the act of committing murders.(60) He existed for years as less than spirit,(61) and was later able to resurrect himself through an old piece of dark magic.(62)
Harry may also have the power to resurrect himself. His wand symbolizes holiness and resurrection. How can this not be a reference to Christ, who was sinless (holy)(63) and rose again after being brutally crucified?(64)
Symbolism from Deathly Hallows
There has been much speculation as to the meaning of the symbol on the spine of the British childrens version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This symbol is clearly important as it is present not only on the cover, but was used in early June on Rowlings web site to access a limited feature.(65) Many have sought to interpret the symbol in its entirety, but I believe it may be an invention by Rowling, which can be deciphered with relative ease. The triangle is one of the most easily recognized religious symbols in the West, most commonly associated with the Christian trinity.(66) The vertical line represents man, and the path from earth to heaven.(67) The circle represents completeness, eternity, and the soul.(68) The symbol also closely resembles the well-known All Seeing Eye, commonly used during the Renaissance (and seen on the dollar bill) as a symbol of God.(69)
Though all good villains have much in common, including arrogance, a lust for power, and disregard for human life, there are some unusual similarities between Voldemort and the Devil, aka Satan, that further support the theory that Harry Potter is an allegorical Christ.
Voldemorts given name, Tom Riddle, may be intended to reflect characteristics of Satan a liar,(70) who schemes to confuse and mislead,(71) much like a riddle. Voldemort is also called the Dark Lord,(72) while Satan is known as The Prince of Darkness.(73) Voldemort is so feared that many are afraid to say his name.(74) Historically people have feared to say the name of Satan as well. Voldemort is instead called things like You Know Who, He Who Must Not Be Named, and my personal favorite, Lord Thingy.(75) Satan was called by such names as The Bad Man and Old Scratch.(76)
The Devil and Voldemort have similar histories. Though Tom Riddle was clearly a disturbed child,(77) when he arrived at Hogwarts, he behaved his very best, became well liked by professors and students, was considered very good looking, received excellent grades, and was even awarded the honor and authority of Head Boy in his seventh year.(78) Likewise, Satan was created with great beauty and wisdom and was given authority over all the cherubim, which were the highest order of created beings.(79) Both gave up their high places in order to seek an even higher position and greater power. Tom Riddle desired to be immortal and the greatest sorcerer in the world.(80) Satan desired to be like God.(81)
Satan and Voldemort are both associated with snakes, and have both appeared as snakes.(82) Both Voldemort and Satan possess not only snakes, but also people.(83) While Satan commands demons,(84) Voldemort commands dementors.(85) Both identify their followers by a mandatory indelible mark the Dark Mark, which Voldemort uses to mark his followers,(86) which is hauntingly similar to the mark of the beast used in the book of Revelation.(87)
LIFE AND TIMES
Prophecies are an important aspect of both Harrys and Christs stories. Both were prophesied before their births and both are prophesied to cause the ultimate downfall of their enemies.
The prophecy concerning Harrys birth states:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.(88)
As Professor Dumbledore tells Harry, the first part of the prophecy could have referred to either Harry or to another boy, Neville Longbottom. However, as Dumbledore further explains, the next part of the prophecy makes it clear that Harry is the intended subject. The final identifying feature of the boy who could vanquish Voldemort [was that] Voldemort himself would mark him as his equal.(89)
By attempting to kill Harry, Voldemort did just that.(90)
The question that remains regarding the prophecy is if and how Harry will vanquish Lord Voldemort.
Fulfilled prophecies of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ are too many to list here (see footnote).(91) There are prophecies about his mother,(92) his ancestry,(93) and his place of birth.(94) It was also prophesied as early as the book of Genesis that Christ will defeat his enemy.(95)
Both Harry and Christ were targeted for death at the approximate age of one, and in both cases, the would-be-murderers motivation was a prophecy that foretold that the intended victim would one day overcome them. Voldemort, hearing that the one with the power to vanquish him was coming, understood that threat to be Harry.(96) Voldemort planned to do away with this threat long before he could be dangerous, while his enemy was still an infant.(97) Harrys parents, James and Lily, had been warned of Voldemorts plan to kill Harry and attempted to hide the child, only to have a friend betray them to the enemy.(98) However, because Lily sacrificed her own life for Harrys, he was protected by an ancient magic(99); Voldemorts attempt turned out to be his (at least temporary) undoing, and he failed to eliminate the threat.(100)
Herod, the Roman-imposed king of the Jews at the time of Christs birth, knew the prophecies predicting a coming legitimate king of the Jews. Since Christ had already fulfilled the early requirements of the prophecies, Herod feared him as a threat to his reign, and wanted Christ dead.(101) In an attempt to kill Christ, Herod ordered his soldiers to kill all the boys aged 2 years or younger in and around Bethlehem. Having been warned of the plan in dream, Christs family escaped to Egypt.(102)
Throughout the Potter series, Voldemort has continued his attempts to kill Harry; however, all of his attempts to this point have failed.(103) The attempts to kill Christ did not stop at his infancy either. The people of his hometown tried to push him off a cliff.(104) The Pharisees began plotting Christs arrest and death very early in his ministry.(105) Twice they tried to stone him, but both times he miraculously slipped away.(106) These attempts were unsuccessful because his time had not yet come.(107)
When we first properly meet Harry Potter, he is 11 years of age. At this time, Harry, The Boy Who Lived,(108) is sleeping in a cupboard, or closet, under the stairs,(109) a rather humble place for one whose name would be known by all wizardkind.(110) Harrys humble position is kindred to Christs. Christ, The King of the Jews,(111) and The King of Kings,(112) was born in a lowly stable, and spent his first nights sleeping in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.(113)
Both boys were forced from their homes for their own protection. Dumbledore realized after Voldemorts first attempt to kill Harry and Voldemorts subsequent downfall that Voldemorts followers may yet try to kill Harry. For Harrys safety, Dumbledore took him to live with his Muggle relatives.(114) Christs family spent several years in Egypt hiding from Herod, and was later prevented from returning home by the violent reign of Herods son.(115)
As pre-teens, both boys started showing their potential, a glimpse of what they would later become. Harry was performing magic, though unknowingly and unintentionally,(116) and Christ was teaching in the temple.(117)
As Harry was finding his place in the wizarding world, and as Christ was preparing to take his place in his ministry, both faced temptations. Both were victorious over the temptations, showing us the value of their morals and character.
Voldemort tried to tempt Harry when Harry faced him at the end of his first year at Hogwarts. In his attempt to get Harry to turn over the sorcerers stone, Voldemort told Harry, There is no good or evil, only power and those too weak to seek it.(118) Voldemort contended, better to save your own life and join me.(119) Harry resisted these temptations and refused to give Voldemort the stone,(120) which would have enabled Voldemort to create a body of his own, rather than having to rely on possession and unicorn blood to survive.(121) In light of Voldemorts correlation to the Devil, it is interesting that while Harry was being tempted, he felt as if Devils Snare was rooting him to the spot.(122)
Christs temptation occurred in the wilderness, alone, as Harry was when facing Voldemort. Christ had eaten nothing for forty days and forty nights. Satans first attempt at temptation was to challenge, If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread. Because Christ was there for the purpose of fasting, and because he had chosen to give up his limitless power in order to fully experience humanity,(123) Christ refused. Satan then took Christ to the highest point of the temple and dared him to jump off and let the angels come to his aid, as scriptures said they would. Christ again refused, responding, The scriptures also say, Do not test the Lord your God. A third time Satan tried to tempt Christ, showing him all nations of the world and their glory, saying I will give it all to you, if you will only kneel down and worship me. Christ resisted a third time, telling Satan Get out of here, Satan. For the scriptures say, you must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.(124)
Harry and Christ faced additional temptations, and in resisting, proved their purity of heart. Harry was tempted by The Mirror of Erised, which showed him the deepest desire of his heart, and tempted him to dwell on dreams and forget to live. However, after Dumbledore explained the mirror to Harry and removed it, Harry briefly dwelt on it, but soon stopped thinking of it.(125) Harry also has an amazing ability to resist the Imperius Curse,(126) and overcame the Veelas power after being exposed to them only once.(127) Likewise, when the Jews tried to force Christ to be their king, he would not, as that was not his mission at that time.(128) Out of obedience to his Father, he resisted using his great power against his enemies, even as they led him to his death.(129)
PROBLEMS WITH AUTHORITY
Both Harry and Christ have issues with authority, or at least unjust, corrupt, discriminatory authorities. For Harry, it is the Ministry of Magic; for Christ, it was the Pharisees and religious leaders of his time. Both were persecuted for speaking out and for not adhering to commonly accepted social mores. Harry spoke the truth about the return of Voldemort,(130)
declared that the convicted murderer Sirius Black was innocent,(131)
and regularly breaks the rules.(132)
Christ spoke about a relationship with God that is not based on rigid rules,(133)
declared peoples sins to be forgiven,(134)
and regularly broke the rules of the corrupt authorities of the time.
Not So Mr. Nice Guy
When the authorities acted inappropriately, neither Harry nor Christ were afraid to say so. They were both quite outspoken and chastened authority figures when they felt it necessary. Harry called an official of the Ministry of Magic a liar when she denied Voldemorts return, and practically got into a shouting match with her when she refused to admit the truth.(135) He further publicly contradicted the Ministry by giving a newspaper interview about the return of Voldemort.(136) After the Ministry finally came to their senses, Harry refused to give the Minister of Magic information that he wanted, or to become the Ministrys poster-boy to help them improve their image.(137)
The religious leaders of Christs time were as wrong about how to follow God as the Ministry of Magic was about Voldemort's return, and Christ was not afraid to say so. At a dinner in the home of a Pharisee, Christ criticized the Pharisees sharply. He called them greedy, uncharitable, power-hungry, wicked and corrupt. He blamed the teachers of the religious law for the murder of Gods prophets.(138) He publicly spoke against both,(139) referred to them as snakes and sons of vipers(140) and repeatedly called them hypocrites.(141) He told them even corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.(142)
Friend of Outcasts
Another commonality between Harry and Christ is their proclivity for making friends with unlikely and unpopular people (and in Harrys case, creatures). On occasion, this caused problems for both, as the general public expected better from both Harry and Christ.
Harry Potter is a friend to many who are shunned by society. His first friend in the wizarding world, Rubeus Hagrid, is one such example. Very early in Harrys acquaintance with Hagrid, Harry found out that Hagrid was not well looked-upon by some in the wizarding world. Draco Malfoy called Hagrid savage, and shared that he lives in a hut on the school grounds and every now and then he gets drunk, tries to do magic, and ends up setting fire to his bed. Rather than deciding that he didnt want to spend time with Hagrid because of this, Harry responded coldly, saying, I think hes brilliant.(143) He has maintained a good friendship with Hagrid throughout his time at Hogwarts, even helping him to smuggle his illegal baby dragon, Norbert, to safety at great personal risk.(144) Harry felt no qualm about being friends with Hagrid even upon finding out he is half-giant, despite the implications of this fact.(145)
Harrys two best friends are something of outcasts. Hermione is Muggle-born, and considered by some students to be a frizzy-haired, buck-toothed know-it-all. Ron is from a poor family, and some consider his father a failure. Harry is also friends with no less than a werewolf (Lupin); a ghost (Nearly Headless Nick); a house-elf (Dobby); Neville Longbottom, who is unconfident, inept and unpopular(146); and Luna (Loony) Lovegood, who is considered extremely odd because of her unusual style and inclination to believe in unlikely things.(147) He is not merely acquainted with these outcasts; they are truly his friends. He sees no reason why Lupins lycanthropy should prevent him from teaching.(148) Harry kindly attended Nearly Headless Nicks Deathday Party, even though he preferred not to, and it was not very pleasant.(149) He is kind and gracious to Dobby the house-elf, has always treated him as an equal, and even helped him to escape slavery.(150) And when Romilda Vane offered Harry a seat in her train compartment so that he didnt have to sit with Neville and Luna, Harry coldly responded Theyre friends of mine. Luna gets to the heart of the matter with her insight People expect you to have cooler friends than us.(151)
Christ was also regularly in the company of people who werent accepted in their society; his critics called him a friend of sinners.(152) Among the 12 [Apostles] were fishermen, a tax collector [tax collectors were often corrupt], and a revolutionary. The Gospels record the constant failings, struggles, and doubts of these twelve men who followed Jesus Christ.(153) His closest friends were not the keepers of the law, not the aristocratic or wealthy or powerful, they were mostly just ordinary working class guys. When he eats with Matthew and a group of other tax collectors, the Pharisees ask the disciples, Why does your teacher eat with such scum?(154) Christ made no secret of the fact that he would spend time with such people, and invited himself to dinner at the home of another tax collector, Zacchaeus, while surrounded by a crowd that was listening to his teachings.(155) He conversed with a Samaritan woman,(156) at a time when Samaritans and Jews (he was Jewish) hated one another.(157) He truly respected women in a time when many looked upon women as second-class citizens.(158) He even goes so far as to touch a leper(159) - the outcast of outcasts and someone whose disease was contagious through physical contact.(160)
Problems with Rules
When rules have stood in the way of helping other people and doing what was right, both Harry and Christ have disregarded the rules. Harry ran towards a troll to rescue Hermione rather than back to his dorm as instructed, because to him, people are more important than rules.(161) Christ healed a blind man on the Sabbath(162) because to him, people are more important than rules (the Pharisees, who could not perform miracles, nonetheless considered themselves justified to regulate them and so determined that it was against the law to heal on the Sabbath). Both spoke out again and again about what they believe, despite how angry they made the authorities or what anyone did to stop them.
MISUNDERSTOOD AND MISTREATED
Harry and Christ were both persecuted for doing what is right by the very people they were trying to help. Harry was accused of being a dark wizard, and was accused of causing the attacks he was trying to stop.(163) Christ was accused of being evil and working for the devil, even as he cast out evil spirits.(164)
Neither was treated with respect by those who should have known them best. Harrys family treated him with neglect and cruelty,(165) as though he were something very nasty...like a slug.(166) Christs brothers ridiculed him,(167) and his family tried to prevent him from ministering to the people because they thought he was crazy.(168) People from his hometown refused to believe what he said,(169) and even went so far as to try to kill him because of the claims he made about himself.(170)
When they spoke the truth Harry about Voldemort, and Christ about God they were not believed and subsequently persecuted. The Ministry of Magic used their connections at The Daily Prophet to launch a smear campaign against Harry,(171) and the Pharisees asked many complicated theological questions in a continual campaign to incriminate Christ.(172)
A Chance to Sever Ties
Its not easy to follow a maverick. Friends of both Harry and Christ suffered for their association with these two radicals. It must have been tough to trust some of the crazy things they said. Consider Christs statement that his disciples must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life,(173) or Harrys claim to hear a voice in the walls that no one else could.(174) How strange it must have seemed to Peter to be told to step out of a boat onto the water,(175) or to Ron and Hermione when Harry wanted to go to a spiders funeral in order to convince someone who wouldn't even be there to give him vital information.(176) Friendship with the persecuted, hated, and unorthodox can also be dangerous, especially when both the authorities and the wicked try to stand in the way of doing what is right.
Both Harry and Christ realized the suffering that their friends endured because of them, and both offered their friends a chance to leave. For example, when attempting to protect the Sorcerers Stone, Harry had planned to operate alone; when his friends tried to accompany him he protested that they could get expelled,(177) and later told them, If you want to go back I wont blame you.(178) After Harry had been ridiculed and vilified for months by the Ministry of Magic and his peers, Rons brother Percy suggested that Ron sever ties with Harry, who he calls unbalanced. Harry offered him that opportunity.(179)
After Christs audacious and confusing statement about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many were offended and none understood that he was speaking in a spiritual, not physical, sense. Many who had been following him chose to desert him. Christ asked the twelve whether they would like to leave as well.(180) He warned them that spreading his message would cause them to be persecuted and threatened, and might cause even their families to turn against them.(181)
A Trap is Set
Neither the Ministry of Magic nor the Pharisees were pleased with our rule breakers. Both, in the opinion of the authorities, were to be stopped by whatever means necessary.
The Pharisees were always trying to catch Christ doing something wrong eager to have a crime, however petty, of which to accuse him. They schemed and plotted and tried to trick him into implicating himself. They found a woman in the act of adultery and brought her to him for his judgment, thinking that they had finally created an impossible situation.(182) The [religious] law required that both parties to adultery be stoned . . . (Note that those who brought the woman had violated the law themselves by neglecting to bring the man for judgment as well.) If Jesus said the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse him of violating [the religious] law. If he urged them to execute her, they would report him to the Romans, who did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions. [Israel was part of the Roman Empire at this time].(183) After they demanded that Christ answer as to her judgment, he told them All right, stone her, but let those who have never sinned throw the first stones,(184) which caused all the people, each knowing that they were not without sin, to walk away one by one. Christ had neither violated Moses law, nor acted in a way that would anger the Romans. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were unsuccessful in trapping him, in this and many similar plots.
Harry was set up in a similar way by Dolores Umbridge of the Ministry of Magic, who sent dementors to attack Harry in order to force him to do magic illegally. Her confession of ordering the attack is telling. They were all bleating about silencing you somehow discrediting you but I was the one who actually did something about it. [The Minister of Magic] never knew I ordered the dementors after Potter last summer, but he was delighted to be given the chance to expel him, all the same.(185) The trap set for Harry was meant to be impossible. He could either allow the dementors to suck out both his own soul and that of his cousin Dudley, or defend himself with magic. When Harry defended himself and his cousin from the dementors, the Ministry immediately sent an owl telling him that since he had broken the law by performing magic outside of school and in front of a Muggle, he was to be expelled from Hogwarts, and his wand destroyed.(186) Only through Dumbledores intervention was this injustice averted.(187)
When James and Lily Potter heard that their son was to be targeted by Voldemort, they hid to protect Harry. They employed the Fidelius Charm, an immensely complex spell involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul.(188) The chosen Secret-Keeper was Peter Pettigrew, a supposed friend of the Potters. However, Peter betrayed Harry and his parents,(189) claiming it was out of fear of Voldemort.(190)
Just as Harry, through his parents, was betrayed by a trusted friend, so was Christ betrayed. One of Christs closest friends delivered him to those who wanted him dead, for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave.(191) The Pharisees, who had been plotting Christs death since the beginning of his ministry, wanted to capture Christ without arousing attention.(192) They ordered anyone who knew his whereaboutsto report it.(193) They made a deal with Judas Iscariot, who led a mob to Christs location and pointed him out by a prearranged signal, a greeting of a kiss.(194)
Mock Trial (or Making a Mockery of the Justice System)
Harrys trial for using magic against the dementors was immensely unfair, even before it started. Protocol was completely thrown out the window. Rather than a simple disciplinary hearing before the head of Magical Law Enforcement, which was appropriate given the offense, Harry was tried before the entire Wizengamot, the high court of the wizarding world.(195) The time and the location were changed at the last minute, apparently in an attempt to make Harry late so that he would look bad,(196) and to try to prevent Dumbledore from being there to assist in Harrys defense.(197)
Harry was not allowed to speak to defend himself, and when he tried, was made to look like a fool and a liar. He was not allowed to explain mitigating circumstances,(198) and past offenses which had nothing to do with the trial at hand were used in attempt to sully his character.(199) His witness was allowed only after Dumbledore insisted,(200) and Harry was not allowed to defend himself regarding the aforementioned past offenses.(201) Those charging Harry treated everything he said to explain himself as though it were a laughable, obviously false tale, a very nice little cover story.(202) Harrys only salvation from the unfair charges against him and their subsequent punishment was Dumbledores intervention.(203)
Christs trial was an equal miscarriage of justice. After he was arrested, he was bound and subjected to two trials, both conducted at night, in secrecy, which was illegal. The normal elaborate system of screening witnesses was thrown aside(204) as they tried to find witnesses against Christ,(205) so they could put him to death.(206) Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.(207) Those present hit, beat, slapped, spat on, insulted, and mocked Christ.(208) A third trial took place at daybreak, before the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of Jewish law,(209) in order to formalize the verdict of the previous night in an attempt to make things look legal.(210)
Since the Romans would not allow the Jews to carry out the death penalty, they then had to take Christ before the Roman governor, Pilate.(211) Christ was sent back and forth between the Roman authorities, who were unable to find any charge against him. But the religious leaders worked up the crowd, and they demanded Christs death. Eventually Pilate gave in and sentenced Christ to death because he didn't want a riot.(212)
THE CHOICE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS EASY
Though Harry and Christ were born to shoulder a certain burden,(213)
both were given a choice. They did not have
to fulfill the ultimate outcomes of the prophecies about them. As Dumbledore and Rowling both stress, a choice must be made between what is right and what is easy.(214)
Though Harry has made a decision to risk his life by attempting to eliminate the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort,(215)
his true decision between what is right and what is easy is yet to come.
Christs choice between what is right and what is easy was whether to allow himself to be arrested and killed in order to defeat sin and vanquish Satan. His choice was motivated by love.(216) This did not make it an easy choice, however. He knew exactly what was coming and had told his followers beforehand.(217) He agonized, even sweating blood over the decision. He asked if there was another way. He finally said to God the Father, Not my will, but yours be done.(218)
ITS ALL LEADING UP TO THIS
Love as a Weapon
The prophecy said that Harry is the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, and that he has power the Dark Lord knows not. As Dumbledore told Harry, that power is his heart,(219) which he defines as not only Harrys capacity to love, but also his pureness of heart.(220) Harrys weapon to defeat evil will be love. This was also Lilys weapon, which provided protection for Harry when Voldemort attempted to kill him as an infant. Her love was a shield over him, which caused Voldemorts Killing Curse to rebound off of Harry and back onto himself.(221) If her name is any indication, Lily was also pure of heart. Lilys love was manifested in her sacrifice. She chose to protect her son at the cost of her life.(222) Her love also left a lingering protection over him thereafter.(223) [Lilys] blood became [Harrys] refuge.(224) It stands to reason that Harrys use of love as a weapon will also require a sacrifice. As Christ said, There is no greater love than to lay down ones life for ones friends.(225) Up to now, in the only incidence Rowling has given us of love as a weapon, it was used as a defensive weapon, which required Lily to sacrifice her own life.
Christs weapon against Satan is also the purity and love in his heart. Love led Christ to sacrifice himself, and by his sinless life and pureness of heart he was a worthy sacrifice. Though he was innocent,(226) he was sacrificed for sin, and by his choice he bore the sins of all men, so that they might be made free from the power of sin(227) and reconciled to God, who demands payment and recompense for sin because he is a holy God who cannot sanction any impurity. For those who choose to follow Christ, his blood remains their refuge. As Lilys sacrifice protected Harry, so Christs sacrifice frees his followers from the burden of sin and protects them from the devils grasp.(228) Only by dying could Lily protect Harry, and Only by dying could Christ break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.(229)
From what we know of Harry, we can easily believe that he might sacrifice his life, either to save another or in the fight against evil. From his first year at Hogwarts, when he faced Voldemort, Harry showed that fighting evil is more important to him than his own well-being.(230) As Hermione states, Harry has a saving people thing.(231) He is not afraid of death and has chosen many times to risk losing his life to save the life of another. One such example occurred when Harry and his friends were fighting the Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. All he could think of doing was to draw the Death Eaters away from the others.(232) I believe that Harry will choose death in order to thwart evil, because not doing so would result in the continual suffering and probable destruction of all that is good in both the wizard and Muggle worlds. The only real question is how this will occur in the final book. Will he die in an attempt to save someone, or, if he is himself a Horcrux, as some have suggested, will he sacrifice himself in order to cause Voldemort to once more be mortal?(233)
Return from Death
The defeat of Satan was not complete without Christs resurrection, which was necessary to prove to the world that Christ was who he claimed to be and that he was a worthy sacrifice for sin. If Christ had simply died, Satan would have won. Therefore, if Harrys weapon is love, and if love must be manifested in a sacrifice in order to be used as a weapon, and if the sacrifice must include death, then only through his resurrection can Harry have true victory.
Rowling has given us a hint that a resurrection may occur. She seems to have slipped up in answering an interview question, and her need to correct herself bears examination. When a reader suggested that Harrys mother will return from the dead, Rowlings response is, Im afraid there will be no coming back fro- for Harrys parents.(234) It seems as though Rowling starts to say, there will be no coming back fro-m the dead, however, she feels the need to edit herself, and instead says for Harrys parents.
The problem that some may see with this analysis is what Rowling said immediately preceding this statement. Although she states that magic cannot bring dead people back to life, she says the natural law . . . of death applies to wizards as it applies to Muggles and there is no returning once youre properly dead, you know, they might be able to save very close-to-death people better than we can, by magic . . . they have certain knowledge we dont, but once youre dead, youre dead.(235) Nonetheless, this does not rule out Harry coming back to life. The natural law of death, which Rowling refers to as applying to Muggles and wizards alike, certainly did not stop Christ from rising from the dead. It is important at this point to remember the symbolism from Harrys wand it represents holiness, repels evil, and represents death and resurrection. The natural law of death does not apply to phoenixes and neither will it keep Harry Potter in the grave.
A POSSIBLE SCENARIO
Though I cannot hope to guess every plot twist, in order to show that the allegory can be successfully completed, I present here a possible scenario. While Harry could die in battle, in order to effectively complete the allegory, it is more likely that Harry will voluntarily choose, out of loving sacrifice, to do something that will most assuredly result in his death.
Many believe that Harry may be a Horcrux. This theory would certainly correspond with the theory of Harry as Christ, especially if the Horcrux is encapsulated within his scar. Christ, taking all the worlds sin upon himself, sacrificed himself to destroy sin. The Horcrux within Harry may represent the sin that Christ bore, and in order to destroy the Horcrux, Harry will have to sacrifice himself, just as Christ did.
However, if Harry sacrifices himself to destroy the Horcrux inside him, the bodily Voldemort would still remain. Harry would, of course, want to finish the job himself, so he must find a way to simultaneously sacrifice himself and kill Voldemort.
Harry may end his life (and Voldemorts) by going through the veil in the death room (or death chamber) of the Department of Mysteries. Evidence for this theory appears on the cover of the American edition of Deathly Hallows. Harry and Voldemort are shown in a coliseum-like space with a curtain pulled back on both sides and dark figures in the background. It is believed by many, myself included, that this place is behind the veil. The drawn curtain is likely the veil itself. The figures in the background are likely the souls of the dead, watching Harry and Voldemort.
The veil may represent the curtain in the Jewish temple that separated the people from the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God. At [the moment of Christs death, this curtain] was torn in two, from the top to the bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.(236) Might the veil in the death room also tear? Might it happen at the moment of Harrys death? Might the dead, at least Harry, come back out of it? The cover of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows shows the curtain pulled back, with rubble in the foreground. Cover artist Mary GrandePré assures us that all aspects of the cover art have significance.(237)
The American cover of Deathly Hallows also shows Harry and Voldemort without wands. Harry, looking hopeful, seems to be welcoming something coming from above; Voldemort, on the other hand, looks terrified. Remember the locked room in the Department of Mysteries? The one that contains a force that is at once more wonderful and more terrible than death, than human intelligence, than nature(238) the love room? Remember also Voldemorts inability to possess Harry because he could not bear the love inside Harry?(239) What if, because he went through the veil willingly, as a loving sacrifice, Harry is given the ability to open a door from behind the veil, directly into the love room? That would certainly terrify Voldemort. The (very carefully worded)(240) prophecy says that Harry will vanquish Voldemort, not kill him. To vanquish means to defeat, conquer, or subjugate, but not necessarily to kill.(241) Christs final victory will come when Satan is thrown into the fiery pit for eternity.(242) As Dumbledore tells Voldemort, there are things much worse than death.(243) Perhaps Harrys final victory will be to lock Voldemort in the love room, to be tortured for eternity by that which he hates.
Harrys love sacrifice will allow him to freely leave the love room, exit the Department of Mysteries, and return to his friends. (Voldemort, however, will be trapped.) Because the Horcrux within him will be destroyed, Harry will emerge without his scar. This scenario would certainly explain why Rowling (Editor's note: At least until recently!) tells us that the last word of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is scar.(244)
There is one thing that if anyone guessed I would be really annoyed, as it is kind of the heart of it all. And it kind of explains everything...everything has been building up to it, and Ive laid all my clues.(245)
laid her clues. She has said she couldnt answer questions about the books religious content until the conclusion of book seven.(246)
When questioned about her belief in God, Rowling avoids the question.
This is so frustrating. Again, there is so much I would like to say, and come back when Ive written book seven. But then maybe [I] wont need to even say it cause youll have found it out anyway. Youll have read it.(247)
She cautiously contradicts an interviewers assertion that her books are free of references to God. Um. I dont think theyre that secular, she says, choosing her words slowly. But, obviously, Dumbledore is not Jesus.(248) Of course he isnt Harry is.
She has told us where to look to find out what is coming in the final book her Christianity. She has told us that its so easy a 10-year -old could figure it out.(249) The secret to Harry Potter is tied to Rowlings Christianity. The master of the red herring has done it. She has tricked the entire world. What appears to be a book about witchcraft is a story about Jesus Christ.
Posted by: Sara