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Narnia–Allegory or no?

November 3rd, 2005 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Two questions from the Narnia front today.

Is Narnia religious? The question is obviously significant from a marketing standpoint. Today’s Washington Times write-up quotes a Disney exec and a Zondervan exec offering opposing view points.

On the one hand:
Dennis Rice, Disney’s senior vice president of publicity, hedged on whether the film reproduces the Christian character of the book. “We believe we have not made a religious movie,” he said. “It’s just a great piece of cinema that is true to a great piece of literature.”

On the other hand:
Zondervan, the evangelical imprint for publishing giant HarperCollins, is calling the film’s release one of the season’s “biggest religion stories.”

“It is the product for the fall,” spokeswoman Jana Muntsinger said. “In the Christian world, they are just salivating over this. C.S. Lewis is the evangelical gold standard.”

I offer no opinion, other than to suggest that to interpret the book as being simply “mythic” without being “religious” is to divorce the categories unnecessarily. “Myth” (or worldview) seems to be the sort of thing that is inherently religious.

(2) Is Narnia an allegory? I’ll leave the answer to Tabletalk, who points out that the resolution hinges on what Lewis meant by “allegory.” Drawing on letters Lewis wrote, Craig Williams is persuasive in his conclusion:

Lewis will say that Aslan is “like” Jesus in our world. But there is no one-to-one correlation between them. The attempt of allegory is to make this one-to-one assertion. Lewis will not take the place that would put his Aslan on equal footing with Jesus. Aslan suggests Jesus to us, but does not explain him.

(HT: Mark Daniels)