Genesis and The Magician’s Nephew

“Child,” he (Aslan) replied, “that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but you loath it ever after” – The Magician’s Nephew

Although The Magician’s Nephew was the sixth book written in the seven book series The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, it takes place several decades before the first published book in the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Magician’s Newphew describes the creation of the land of Narnia, and how humans came to be associated to the world. Geared towards a younger audience, the narrative draws heavy allegories from the creation story of Genesis.

Lewis created the main young characters Digory and Polly as a literary technique to appeal to a young audience. When Narnia is created in the novel, it is seen through the perspective of these two children.

In fact, children are used throughout the entire series of Narnia to echo Jesus’ teaching, reflecting that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, one must become and accept creation like children.

The creation of Narnia by the lion Aslan in The Magician’s Nephew represents the Biblical creation story. In Genesis, God spoke the world into being, just like Aslan sings and everything comes to life.

In the novel, Polly and Digory enter a pool that transports them into a lightless dimension (Narnia):

“We do seem to be somewhere, said Digory, “At least I’m standing on something solid.” – p.91

This dialogue represents the beginning of Narnia. In Genesis, God creates the heavens and earth then He created light. This is directly correlated to Aslan creating Narnia.

The frist thing Digory sees when light is introduced into Narnia is the stars:

“If you had seen and heard it, as Digory did, you would have felt quite certain that it was the stars themselves which were singing” p. 93-94

This is drawn from a Biblical image in Genesis:

“Let them serve as signs to mark the seasons and days and years, and there be lights in expanse of the sky…” Gen 1:14-15

While Genesis appeals to adult sensibility, referring to the stars as a calendar, Lewis establishes a creative way of expressing creation, connecting it with the youthful reader.

In Genesis, God creates animals that inhabit on the 5th day:

“God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.’ and it was so.” Gen. 1:24-25

This verse may be the inspiration for Lewis to write his creation of Narnia and his idea for talking animals and magical creatures.

In The Magician’s Nephew, the animals are produced by the land, out of the ground:

“In all direction it was swelling into humps. They were of very different sizes no bigger than mole-hills, some big as wheel-barrows, two the size of cottages. And the humps move and swelled until they burst, and the crumbled earth poured out them, and each hump there came out an animal.” p.105

Another apparent allegory of Lewis’s creation is the character Aslan the Lion:

“The Lion opened his mouth…he was breathing out a long, warm breath; it seemed to sway all the beasts as the wind sways the tress.” p.108

This image correlates to a passage in Genesis:

“The Lord God formed the man form the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Gen. 2:7

Through numerous allegories and imaginative narrative, Lewis is a able to show the creation story of Genesis in a fictional setting, appealing to a child’s imagination and innocence.

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