Harry Potter and the Prophet of Doom
Is Harry really fated to kill or be killed? A closer look at the seer's dire prediction.
But how does prophecy in the magical world of Harry Potter compare with prophecy in the biblical tradition, particularly from a Christian perspective? The fulfillment of prophecy was crucial for the early church's proclamation. The Gospel accounts (especially the Gospel according to Matthew) are punctuated by claims that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah.
Obviously, there are several key differences between biblical prophecy and "magical" prophecy of the kind we find in the Harry Potter books. But there are also similarities. Looking at Harry's dilemma through a religious lens can provide us with some resources to see Harry's future differently.
Consider the Source
Prophecy in the Bible is always surrounded by a good principle of journalism:consider the source
. A false prediction compromised the integrity of the prophet and thus tainted everything else the prophet had to say.If we apply this rule of discernment in the case of Harry Potter, we might wonder about the prophecy's validity. After all, the Seer who made the prediction about Harry's mortal duel was none other than Madame Trelawney, introduced to us inThe Prisoner of Azkaban
as Hogwarts' resident quack--something Hermione quickly discerned. Trelawney regularly makes wrong predictions (especially concerning the annual student death count). Given her miserable track record, it's hard to know why Dumbledore seems so convinced thatthis
prophecy (about Harry and Voldemort) is real. With the prophecies concerning Voldemort, her altered, trance-like voice seems convincing. But even then, we need to consider the source. What if Trelawney's prophecy is akin to Harry's dream: a trap set by Voldemort? If Dumbledore operated with the biblical criterion of source suspicion, Trelawney's prediction should be disregarded.