157

In the Narnia series, the character of Aslan bears many similarities to Jesus Christ:

  • worshipped as a god but only the son of a much greater god (the Emperor-over-the-Sea)
  • sacrificed for the sake of his people but then resurrected
  • very powerful but sometimes taking the form of a lamb

Out of universe, parts of the series were clearly intended as Christian allegory (and there are quotes by Lewis to confirm this). But my question is about in-universe. Some say that Aslan is actually the same person as Jesus, taking the form of a lion when in the world of Narnia.

The most relevant quote I've found is the following:

"Dearest," said Aslan very gently, "you and your brother will never come back to Narnia."
"Oh, Aslan!!" said Edmund and Lucy both together in despairing voices.
"You are too old, children," said Aslan, "and you must begin to come close to your own world now."
"It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
"But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan.
"Are — are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.
"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."

-- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Chapter 16: The Very End of the World

This says that Aslan does have an alternative identity in our world, but doesn't say explicitly who this is. Is it necessarily Jesus, or could it be another religious leader or legendary historical figure?

Is Aslan Jesus?

A more specific quote from the books would be great for an answer, though I'm pretty sure Jesus is never mentioned explicitly. Quotes from Lewis would also be fine, provided they're about an in-universe rather than allegorical identification of Aslan with Jesus.

  • 17
    "Laurence can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before." - C.S. Lewis – Valorum Feb 8 '16 at 23:47
  • 1
    ...or God - which of course is basically the same thing in Christianity, but let's not forget that Aslan not only "sacrifice himself" and is "resurrected" - he also "creates" Narnia and all it's inhabitants by singing. – Baard Kopperud Feb 10 '16 at 13:12
  • 8
    On a side note, Lewis maintained that the story was not allegory. "If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality, however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all." – FuzzyBoots Feb 10 '16 at 16:16
  • To add to that, in Colossians 1:16 and John 1:3 it says that Jesus is the Creator of the world. He is referred to as "The Word" which God spoke in Genesis 1 to bring everything into existence. In "The Magicians Nephew" Aslan is bringing everything to life through His song. – kojow7 Feb 12 '16 at 21:19
  • Aslan means "lion" in Turkish. Lewis also used "Turkish delight" in his books. In the movie, the tents at Aslan's soldiers' camp great resemblence Ottoman and Turkish war tents. Peter is known as Peter the Magnificient just like the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman. Lewis used many things from other cultures (mostly Turkish and Middle Eastern), it wouldn't be surprising if Aslan was based on Jesus Christ. – apollo Feb 25 '16 at 8:16
176

Yes.

There are a few quotes by C.S. Lewis relating to Aslan and Jesus.

In a letter to a young girl named Sophia, Lewis writes, "I don't say. 'Let us represent Christ as Aslan.' I say, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia, and supposing, like ours, it needed redemption, let us imagine what sort of Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection Christ would have there.'" - NarniaWeb

Aslan is the representation of Christ in the world of Narnia. He is the savior of Narnia who redeems the people.

And also

An 11-year-old girl named Hila wrote to Lewis and asked what Aslan's other name in our world was (mentioned in VDT). Here is Lewis' response: "As to Aslan's other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the great Emperor. (3.) Gave himself up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb... Don't you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!" - NarniaWeb

If there is another person who meets that description, I am ignorant of them.

Then you have the quote supplied by Richard.

Laurence can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. - C. S. Lewis on Loving Aslan More Than Jesus

Laurence isn't capable of loving Aslan more than Jesus, because they are the same.

  • 19
    @JanusBahsJacquet The middle one is the clincher and definitely in-universe, since it's a response to asking "what Aslan's other name in our world was (mentioned in VDT)". – Rand al'Thor Feb 9 '16 at 2:08
  • 25
    "Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas." Well that rules out Jesus given he wasn't actually born at Christmastime. – JAB Feb 9 '16 at 13:42
  • 8
    @Mazura: do you know CS Lewis’s other work at all? He wrote very seriously about Christianity in multiple genres. Whatever he considered Aslan’s relationship to Jesus to be, it was almost certainly deeply thought out from the start, not some after-the-fact response to criticism. – PLL Feb 9 '16 at 14:42
  • 11
    @Mazura, FWIW: CS Lewis explicitly avowed that Aslan is not an allegory; he is "suppositional" (supposing Narnia were real). In modern terminology Lewis would call him "parallel universe" Jesus. – Foo Bar Feb 9 '16 at 15:44
  • 10
    @Shane, off the top of my head I can tell you, you are totally wrong about Krishna, Zoroaster(who isn't even a divine figure at all...) and Mithra. – Ryan Feb 9 '16 at 20:31
29

Appears to be "Yes"

I haven't found a primary source for this, but numerous secondary sources claim that Lewis once wrote:

'[Aslan] is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, "What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?"

Which seems to be a pretty affirmative answer to the question; given that Narnia exists (which, in-universe, it plainly does), Aslan is the result of Jesus going into that world and doing the whole "Jesus" thing.

  • Good quote, but still a little too out-of-universe... – Rand al'Thor Feb 9 '16 at 0:07
  • 1
    Now this raises the (fascinating, I think) question: is there a world in which Jesus, under whatever name and appearance, is not (required to be) killed and resurrected? Or is that the universal purpose of this entity? Question for Worldbuilding.SE, maybe... – Josh Caswell Feb 9 '16 at 19:36
  • 6
    @JoshCaswell If you want C S Lewis' thoughts on that question, you could read The Cosmic Trilogy, which addresses that question amongst others. – trichoplax Feb 9 '16 at 20:16
  • 1
    Interesting, @trichoplax, thanks for the tip! – Josh Caswell Feb 9 '16 at 20:20
  • @JoshCaswell Please don't ask that on WB. We'd close it as off-topic pretty quickly. A better place would probably be Philosophy. – Frostfyre Feb 10 '16 at 13:31
15

Since nobody else has quoted it yet, I think this is the most relevant passage in the actual text, from the very end of The Last Battle (abridged slightly):

'There was a real railway accident,' said Aslan softly. 'Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.'

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion. [...]

Combined with the passage you already quoted (and given that Lewis was a Christian and unlikely to be referring to anyone other than Jesus with a capitalized He) I don't really see any room for doubt that Aslan was indeed Jesus.

  • Wow. This adds a haunting quality to everything. It gives me goosebumps. I’ve read these books a half dozen times. How could I have possibly forgotten this? – dgo Oct 2 '18 at 5:06
-1

Yes! there are clues in all the movies and books. Aslan was there when the laws of Narnia were written and Jesus was there when the earth was created. "with him the foundations of the earth were laid out"(may not be the exact words but that's what the bible say's. Another similarity is when Aslan say's "it is finished" and "that by knowing me here for a little you will know me better there." Jesus uses similar wording in the bible before he leaves. Basically his true identity is supposed to be Jesus thus the "know me better there" part.

-2

Aslan is Aslan. Jesus or God or Jawaeh or Allah are simply names for the truth of Aslan that we know in our world, another aspect of the shadowlands. In universe Aslan is closer to the Truth that is Aslan's country and Jesus is a farther away avatar of the Creator that we reach through our understanding of our world. So the answer is really both yes and no. Jesus and Aslan are true while all other worlds except Aslan's are shadow. It is more accurate to say that Aslan is who he is but takes on the form of Jesus in our our world. The children learn about Aslan in Narnia because the veil between Truth and Shadow is thinner there. They must learn of Aslan's nature in their own world because that is where they are from. I suggest reading The Last Battle as many answers are in there.

-2

I resoundingly agree with Harry Johnston's explanation.

In-universe, it's most accurate to say that Aslan is the Narnian expression/ incarnation/ avatar of the same creating, teaching, guiding force that Jesu is the Earth Christian expression of. And that Krishna is the Earth Hindu expression of. Etc.

Oh and more philosophically, Tash was the Calormen name for the same force, EXCEPT only to the truly faithful, just, kind, charitable, etc. Recall that in The Last Battle, Aslan states that those who worship Tash with good deeds are really honoring Aslan, and those doing evil in Aslan's name only empower Tash. This shows that the force Aslan embodies in Narnia is recognized by many cultures and may validly be called by other names.

This is similar, but NOT the same as a multi faith leader saying "those who call it God or Allah are honoring the same thing, as long as they are not violent and destructive, because that just invokes Satan." And note this applies to Christian crusader terrorists as well as Muslim dissident terrorists, or to anyone else. But it was not exactly meant to be an allegory, it's just a fictional culture that is very superficially similar to the classic Western impression of the Islamic world as completely harsh and foreign. Just a sort of off the cuff, invented, not carefully representative world.

Also I got the firm impression in The Magician's Nephew that Aslan knew all about Jadis' world of Charn (if I recall the name) because the same goodness force (but not exactly "Aslan") had once held influence there. The statues of ancient rulers looked benevolent and wise. Janis has never heard the name Aslan, but she recognizes his character archetype of powerful governing creator.

One more point: Father Christmas shows up in Narnia. WTF. He's not a Narnian version similar to Father Christmas, he is literally THE Santa reindeer-driving Claus. If Lewis did something that blatant, then he could have put Jesu directly into Narnia if he wanted to. He did not, because Aslan is Aslan. Even if he represents the same exact role of power and sentiment that Christians describe as The Christ.

Yes Lewis was Christian. Yes he was also very intellectual and that apparently gave him trouble with the less logical or sensible specifics of that particular faith. He held a religious and philosophical outlook which led him to write these stories as a sort of thought-experiment. He wrote up, without really planning it carefully, a multiverse cosmology in which other worlds exist (for instance Narnia), and he figured that, since Christianity sees our daily life as a temporary prelude to the "more real" afterlife, these other worlds would be no more or less real than our own Earth. So Jesus is no more or less real than Aslan.

-4

Nah he's an analog of God. Although some would say that God and Jesus were the same being, I guess restrained somewhat so as not to blow the locals' minds when Jesus talked about his father rather than himself. Maybe the god entity is more than can be termed as embodiment in our 3 dimensional thinking. (making presumptions from sayings like "I am eternal" meaning I dont exist inside the thing you perceive as time).

But I digress... he's God and here's why I draw this conclusion.

In "The magician's nephew", they have the creation story of Narnia and its inhabitants, and in that scenario it was Aslan who "spoke" the "word". So my conclusion is that He is the God character in the story. Still my favourite story in the series.

  • Since this question is about in universe, you need to approach it from Lewis' perspective. As far as I'm aware, Lewis accepted the Bible as true. So we can cite John 1:3 NIV, "Through [the Word] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made," and John 1:14 NIV, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." A plain reading of John 1 makes it clear that (as far as the Biblical claim goes) Christ is indeed responsible for creating the universe. – jpmc26 Feb 9 '16 at 23:08
  • Seriously ? The formation of narnia was an analog of genesis, if you feel you must quote a bible, try that part. – rbnzdave Feb 11 '16 at 3:04
  • 1
    John 1:3 is talking about the events of Genesis. It's saying that Christ existed from the beginning of all things and participated in their creation. The Bible is not a series of isolated stories that have nothing to do with one another; it's all one complete telling of history. Many different books talk about the same events, casting different emphasis on them to communicate different lessons and principles. – jpmc26 Jan 6 '18 at 1:36

protected by SQB Oct 1 '18 at 8:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.