Mystery. Enigma. These are two words to describe Tom Bombadil. Ever since his first appearance in The Fellowship of the Ring, published in 1954, he has left readers guessing and debating about who he is. Many have spent decades conjecturing who this character could be, speculating anything from an earth spirit all the way to God Himself. Joseph Pearce states that Tom Bombadil ‘is an enigma, a puzzling riddle who continues to baffle and confuse readers and those critics who endeavor to explain him’.1 Pearce dedicates a chapter to solving the mystery in his book Frodo’s Journey and Daniel Cote Davis and Michael Organ have recently published an entire book on the subject entitled Guests, Hosts and the Holy Ghost: Who Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are and why it really matters.
In his chapter entitled ‘The Enigma of Tom Bombadil’, Pearce looks at the evidence about Tom available to us in The Lord of the Rings and finds him and Goldberry to be ‘emblematic of the unfallen Adam and Eve’. To support his conclusion that Tom is prelapsarian, Pearce cites Tom’s remembering of the first raindrop and acorn, his speaking poetically, his naming of the hobbits” ponies, and the fact that he ‘knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless’.