Home Forums TH 407: St. Athanasius of Alexandria TH 407: Lesson 5 (Sample)

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    • #7834
      Julian Roberts

      Where can you see the influence of St. Athanasius in the Chronicles of Narnia?

    • #13169

      I can see the influence of St. Athanasius throughout C.S. Lewis’ writings in “The Chronicles of Narnia”. I will give an overview of places that stand out to me in this influence.
      Aslan, the great lion, is like Christ. He creates Narnia and all of its creatures, and he lays “deep magic rules” into its governing laws of reality. He is the supreme ruler of Narnia, like Christ is King over all. Deep magic parallels God’s governing Law. I now see God’s Law more as a governing Law of reality, having read “On the Incarnation”. These deep magic rules laid by Aslan contradicted what the White Witch of the story knew. The White Witch represents Satan. This allowed for Aslan to be able to return to life because he sacrificed himself when he didn’t need to, on behalf of Edmond who had betrayed him.
      Furthermore, the White Witch was present when Aslan created Narnia, but she was not present when Aslan laid the Deep Magic Rules. I see St. Athanasius’ influence in this as well, as St. Athanasius stressed that only God in the Holy Trinity was before creation and therefore by implication His Law in the Creation. The White witch came from the “older world”, and she was accidentally transported when she wasn’t supposed to by humans. This represents humans bringing sin and evil into the world. The White Witch casts spells on Narnia putting it into an eternal Winter, representing corruptibility.
      On the flipside, when the Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Edmond, first enter Narnia, Aslan returns to Narnia, and this enacts the slow thaw and gradual return to Spring, which represents life. I see a strong influence of St. Athanasius here.
      In the story, Edmond betrayed Aslan, as well as his siblings Peter, Susan, and Lucy to the White Witch in exchange for Magical Turkish Delight. This represents temptation, and then sin and death (The wages of sin is death). When the White Witch had rights to kill Edmund because he partook of the Turkish delight, this represents man becoming corruptible after partaking of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to which God had warned that if man partook, he should surely die. The White Witch, like Satan, is the tempter in this.
      Aslan makes a deal with the White Witch, agreeing to die in Edmond’s place. The White Witch has Aslan tied up and shorn, and kills him upon the altar, by stabbing him, as Christ was killed on the Cross at the hands of his enemies, of his own voluntary will. Christ and Aslan both understood the reason they would need to lay down their life, in order to enact salvific powers they have over death, sin, and corruption under fulfillment of the Law or in Aslan’s case, the Deep Magic. Aslan resurrects the next day, like Christ Resurrected on the third day. Aslan resurrects, because being like Christ, he holds the power of his resurrection, as he knew the Deep Magic’s Laws.
      Aslan next goes to the White Witch’s castle and breathes upon the stone statues who were creatures that had been turned to stone by the White Witch. The creatures come back to life. Having read “On the Incarnation”, I see this as a clear parallel to Christ sending His grace, His Holy Spirit, to man, restoring man’s image, giving man life. Christ is Life, and His grace bestowed upon man is life giving.
      After Aslan frees people from stone in the castle, he goes to fight the White Witch’s army alongside Edmond, Susan, Lucy, Peter and the native Narnians.
      In the battle, Edmond, once the betrayer who fell to temptation by eating the White Witch’s Magical Turkish Delight, breaks the scepter of the witch keeping her from being able to turn more people to stone. Edmond displays repentance and redemption. The influence of St. Athanasius I see here is that Edmond’s breaking of the scepter represents deification of man: becoming like God by nature through grace. Edmond was brought from being a betrayer, to being saved by Aslan, and then to the place of himself having a god-like nature to defeat evil. Edmond afterwards is crowned king (alongside his co-ruling siblings) and he, from then on, is always very just and fair and doesn’t doesn’t judge others wrongly. He displays true repentance, wisdom, and humility, further representing deification. His crowning represents his glory as we will be glorified in Christ. His siblings are also crowned, a parallel to receiving the Holy Spirit, and being crowned and glorified by Christ. It also represents co-ruling with Christ, under Christ. Christ and Aslan rule all.
      The great battle in Narnia represents struggling against evil. The humans and creatures help fight evil. In the battle, Aslan kills the White Witch, defeating evil, and by parallel, Satan. This represents how only Christ can overthrow Satan’s power, as St. Athanasius showed in “On the Incarnation”.
      One more thought in parallelism comes to my mind. The wardrobe represents a thin veil, like a stepping stone, from one world to another. On the Incarnation St. Athanasius talks about how death is simply a stepping stone to the next life.

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