Are Voldemort, YHWH and Jesus One and the Same?
Though Lord Voldemort is the villain of the series and is present in every book except the third one, he is seldom named by the characters, except Harry and Dumbledore. Instead, he is called, You-Know-Who and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He is so evil a wizard that people are afraid of his very name. They call him by obvious appellations. Only Dumbledore calls him by his proper name and later on Harry learns to do it from him. By the fifth book, Ron and Hermione also start calling him Voldemort.
We first hear the phrase, You-Know-Who quite at the beginning of the first book, as Mr. Dursley is hurrying home. He knocks off a wizard, who instead of being mad at him congratulates him for You-Know-Who is dead.
On their first meeting, Hagrid tells Harry about Voldemort but asks him never to make him say his name again. Similar is Ron’s reaction, when he first hears Harry taking Voldemort’s name.
Later on, when Dumbledore and McGonagall leave Harry at the home of his relatives, the Dursleys, Dumbledore tries to convince McGonagall to call Voldemort by his proper name.
“As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone —”
“My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense — for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort.” Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice.
“It all gets so confusing if we keep saying ‘You-Know-Who.’ I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort’s name.”
“I know you haven’t,” said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. “But you’re different. Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of.”
Dumbledore considers it absurd to be afraid of the name of Voldemort. Later on he instructs Harry to call him by his proper name, as the fear of the name increases the fear of the thing itself.
“Sir?” said Harry. “I’ve been thinking . . . Sir — even if the Stone’s gone, Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who —”
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Rowling makes a very important point here: an authority which rules by instilling fear in the hearts of its subjects is evil. A wizard who does not even allow his name to be taken is necessarily evil and such a force should be opposed in practice as well as in theory.
There is a very interesting comparison to make here. Yahweh, the Biblical God is also a character whose name is taken with fright and sometimes not taken at all. Peter Watson makes this point in his book Ideas:
Many scrolls of scripture were regarded as sacred, especially the early ones that contained the name of God. YHWH. Later texts excluded this name, for fear that gentiles might use it in spells. Not mentioning the name also implied that God could not be defined or limited.
Jews believe that taking the name of their God is bad. They believe that taking his name is akin to blaspheming it and so it should not be taken irreverently. They support their argument by the Scripture:
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.
The Ten Commandments also command the followers not to take the name of the God in vain. The third commandment says:
Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it and supports its arguments from the Bible.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
The similarities between Voldemort and YHWH are striking.
- Voldemort wants to purify Hogwarts and the wizarding world of the Muggle-borns and Half-bloods. YHWH wanted to purify Israel of the worship of false-gods.
- Voldemort does not like many ways of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. He wants wizards to follow just the way of Slytherin. YHWH wanted his subjects to follow just him and banish other gods and other ways of worship.
- Voldemort instills fear in the hearts of his followers. So does YHWH.
There is another chilling similarity between a Biblical character and Voldemort: that character which is similar to Voldemort is Jesus itself. Dumbledore warns again and again that the primary quality of Voldemort is to sow discord among his opponents and then reap its benefits. He first expresses it in the fourth book:
“I say to you all, once again — in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”
Hermione reminds Ron and Harry of this warning in the Order of the Phoenix. The Bible contains a verse in which Jesus is revealed to have the similar quality: the ability to sow discord between friends and family.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
The character of Jesus described above is strikingly similar to that of Voldemort described by Rowling. For a new ideology to take seed it is necessary for the population to be divided. Jesus understood the necessity and acted accordingly. Prophets heralding new religions have repeatedly followed the same tactics.
Since J K Rowling has not spoken on the matter, we may not know whether she intentionally made the connection or it is just a coincidence that the villain she is describing and the god of the Bible and Christ are similar in their attributes. More likely it is unintentional. Tolkien talked of applicability. He claimed that he did not put hints in his works intentionally. A writer has a worldview of good and bad and the mythology erected on that view has some parallels in the real world. This coincidental overlapping of the ethics of the fictional and the real world is called as the ‘applicability’.
We may take similar view here. Rowling may not have intentionally put the allusion that Voldemort is YHWH or Jesus, but it is applicable. The qualities attributed to the three are essentially the same.
The God of the Bible and Christianity is a tyrant, who imposes his authority by force on his followers. Similarly Jesus sowed discord among the population, in order to gain new converts. Voldemort is a similar figure. The villain of the Harry Potter series, the God of the Bible and the Christ are one and the same.
 Rowling, J K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic Inc. 1997. p. 11.
 Ibid. p. 298.
 Watson, Peter. Ideas: A History of Thoughts and Invention, from fire to Freud. New York: HarperCollins. 2005. p. 152
 Good News Bible. New York: American Bible Society. 2001. Genesis 6: 2-8
 Ibid. Genesis 20: 7
 Rowling, J K. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. New York: Scholastic Inc. 2000. p. 723.
 Rowling, J K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. New York: Scholastic Inc. 2003. p. 223.
 Good News Bible. New York: American Bible Society. 2001. Matthew 10: 34-39.