We now return to our regularly scheduled Character Connections! I’m glad my special Easter edition seemed to go over so well. I’m sure many of you were either thinking or hoping I’d cover such a topic sooner or later, and Kristi suggested that Easter was a great time to do it. But now I return to my usual articles, and as for my subject matter, I have chosen a topic that I’ve seen debated around the site before. I’ve seen this Narnian compared to a few Biblical personalities. So I figured it was time to throw my two cents in and write about King Edmund the Just and the figure I think he best compares to: none other than the apostle Paul.
A Persecutor of the Faithful
Let’s start at the beginning. Paul’s first appearance in the Bible is not as Paul, but as Saul. (He changed his name to Paul later on.) We first see him at the beginning of chapter eight of Acts, giving approval to the death of Stephen, a follower of Christ and the first recorded Christian martyr. And one chapter later we are told that “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” When we are first introduced to Saul, we see him as a persecutor of Christians. We are told he “asked [the high priest] for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:2, here ‘The Way’ is another name for Christianity.) In the same way, though perhaps not to the same degree, Edmund also ‘persecutes’ his siblings. He betrays them all, running off to the White Witch’s castle and telling her of their location. He holds a dislike for them that seems similar to Saul’s dislike of Christians.
Encountering the Lion
However, this is not the end of the story for these two. Both have an amazing experience with the Great Lion, be He Aslan or Jesus, that marks a turning point in their lives. Just a few verses into Acts 9, we read that Saul encounters a bright light on the way to Damascus, and hears a voice ask “Why do you persecute me?” The voice reveals itself to be Jesus, and as a result of the experience, Saul is blinded. After three days, he is healed by a man named Ananias, and it was then that he started to “preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:20) It is a bit tougher to pinpoint a specific time where Edmund’s ‘conversion’ happened, but certainly one element that most likely contributed to it was his talk with Aslan in chapter thirteen of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Few details are given, but we are told that “it was a conversation which Edmund never forgot.” Both Saul and Edmund experienced a tremendous change of heart, aided by an encounter with either the Great Lion or the Lion of Judah.
Both of these two went on to do great things for a cause they had once worked against. Saul, after changing his name to Paul, went on to spread the Word of the Gospel and write numerous letters that would end up becoming a good part of the New Testament. Edmund went on to rule Narnia during its Golden Age, and as stated in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “long and happy was their reign.” Paul and Edmund, both former persecutors, ended up providing many good things for the very people they once persecuted.
Again, there are few more interesting comparisons to bring up. For one thing, neither did their work alone. Paul had the help of such figures as Barnabas, Silas, and Timothy, among others. Their stories can also be found later in the book of Acts. Edmund had his siblings, and later, his cousin Eustace, along with such Narnian figures as Caspian and Reepicheep. Both also did extensive travelling, as Paul spread the Gospel all over the Roman Empire, and Edmund traveled across the Eastern Sea as can be read in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
I hope you all enjoyed this edition. This was an interesting one to write, as there were many directions it could go. I’ve seen people compare Edmund to Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter as well, and there are indeed valid comparisons for both. However, this only serves as yet another reminder of the fact that the Chronicles are not direct allegories, and not all aspects of a character will match up with those of Biblical figures. Again, though, the similarities are there, and I hope you enjoyed reading about those that I found between Edmund the Just and Paul the Apostle.