Monday, 6 February 2012


Tolkien's ‘Ents’ literalise a deeper, older riddle than Shakespeare’s. He has in mind Mark 8:23-4:
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
Commentary upon this passage tends to stress its mimetic potential: the blind man’s sight does not return immediately, but by a process of indistinct strengthening and gradual improvement (the next verse is ‘Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.’) ‘I see men; for I see [them] as trees walking"-that is, he could distinguish them from trees only by their motion; a minute mark of truth in the narrative, as Alford observes, describing how human objects had appeared to him during that gradual failing of sight which had ended in blindness.’ [Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary] Presumably there’s also a typological reading here too: for Christ is the tree of life (the dead wood of his cross, and his own dead body, become vivid and in motion once again, to spread across the world).

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