The Narnia code
Paternoster, 193 pages, £8.99,
I grew up with C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and am looking forward to introducing them to my children, especially teaching them about Christ through their spiritual symbolism.
So it was with great intrigue that I began reading this book claiming to ‘unlock the secret to Narnia’, not least because in reading the first chapter I realised there was much about Narnia that I did not understand.
For example, what place does Father Christmas have in Narnia? Why do some of the chronicles seem to reflect Scripture more than others? Is there a logic that unites the seven stories?
We’re told that Lewis said the chronicles are ‘about Christ’, and as a Christian and theologian, as well as Lewis expert, Michael Ward shares his literary eureka of how Lewis achieved this.
With scholarly diligence succinctly and accessibly packaged, Ward presents his theory of the stories’ ‘hidden music’, derived from Lewis’ appreciation of the pre-Copernican solar system’s seven ‘planets’ — Luna (moon), Mercury, Venus, Sol (sun), Mars, Jupiter, Saturn — orbiting the earth.
The central chapters of the book examine each chronicle in turn and expose its associations with a particular planet and its symbolism, not least that derived from Scripture. (You’ll have to read the book to match the chronicles to planets!)
Most satisfyingly, each of these chapters finishes by looking at the planet’s ‘silent music’, what Lewis sought to communicate about Christ by allowing that planet to inspire the chronicle.
Consequently, we are brought to a much richer appreciation of the biblical truths communicated through Narnia. Ward helpfully reminds us that Lewis’ aim was that his readers might focus on God, and him through his creation, for, as in Lewis’ favourite psalm, ‘the heavens declare the glory of God’.