This essay probes the purpose of the encounter between Tom Bombadil and Frodo and his friends, within the overall narrative of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It asks: Why do the hobbits encounter Tom at this point in their journey? Why does Tom rescue, care for, equip and send them on? Why does Tom not accompany them further, and why does he never meet them again? Then it proposes an explanation based on comparisons with Bible stories that include theophanies and angelic appearances, and shown to provide answers to the questions, and suggestions for Tom Bombadil’s wider function. Finally, possible parallels between Bombadil and God are considered.



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