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Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth

Content
Introduction   
Summarized Description   
The introductory text   
Interpretation   
Comments   


Introduction    

This is one of the most remarkable works written by the Master, believed by Chr.Tolkien to have been created in 1959, though most probably initiated four years earlier. It was published within Volume X of the HoMe - series.

It's title is translated as

The Debate of Finrod and Andreth

and is associated with the the 'Second Phase' of the post - {Lord Of The Rings}? history of The Silmarillion (Chr.T.)


Summarized Description    

The work is organized into 2 main parts:

An Introductory text
The Debate

these are followed by :

Notes - by Chr.Tolkien
Commentary - by J.R.R.Tolkien
Author's Notes on the "Commentary"
Tale of Adanel - a tale related to the main essay
Glossary of Names
Some additional comments by Chr.Tolkien
Notes - by Chr.Tolkien
Appendix - "'The Converse of Manwe and Eru' and later conceptions of Elvish reincarnation; with comments by Chr.T.


The introductory text    


Interpretation    


Comments    

The philosophic dilemma which Tolkien addresses in "Laws and Customs..." and the "Athrabeth..." (two of Tolkien's later essays which are IMO closely connected) is this:

The postulation - or maybe the hope/wishful thinking/illusion - is the "eternal harmony" of hra and fa (~body and soul).

Men's souls are not confined to Arda (the Universe), they could be eternal, but their bodies perish after a short while. Even if we assume the latter would be because of the "fall" there remains the problem that an "earthly" body can hardly claim "eternal" life. So Menkind clearly fails to fulfil this "harmony"

The Eldar have it for the time Arda (the Universe) lasts, which may appear long, but compared to eternity it is still only a short timespan. And they - mostly - believe that for them there is nothing beyond that, hence they fail to fulfil the "harmony" forever.

So, Men have only "part of the harmony" but it is "eternal" (in case of the soul) and Elves have the "harmony" but it is not "eternal".

Other "logical discrepancies" on this issue are: the possibility of re-incarnation for the Elves, and the bond between body and soul in a way where the fa can "uplift" the hra.

I think that the Athrabeth in many ways expresses the dissensus between Tolkien the Philologist (or maybe the Philosopher) and Tolkien the Catholic or the struggle between Tolkien's (catholic) beliefs vs. Tolkien's educated intellect.

-- ChW


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