A former coworker and a very good friend recently read my thoughts on Mary GrandPré's 'Deathly Hallows' cover and he was kind enough to provide some observations of his own via e-mail. He allowed me to post what he wrote here. Among the myriad of things we used to talk about at work, literature was chief among them. Our mutual love for C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien led us to discuss Harry Potter and the possible Christian overtones in the series. Keep in mind that he has never read the Harry Potter novels, although he has watched the movies, so without further adieu:
It does seem to me that Harry has conjured something or someone, someone who Voldemort fears greatly, but it is someone in whom Harry has full confidence. It looks to me very much like the return of Christ, or a Christ-like saviour who is coming to deal with Voldemort at last. Harry is the vehicle through which this "savior" is enabled to come into this world. It may not be Christ at all; but rather some evil being that Voldemort has utilized and tied his dark soul to and/or deriving his power from, but who has now been enabled to claim Voldemort's soul. All I know is that Harry is not afraid of this entity, and he knows that it is after Voldemort. It is Voldemort's "just deserts", so to speak. Harry seems to have been given the knowledge he needs to bring this entity, whoever it is, into the world to bring about the end of Voldemort.
There is some kind of structure around them that looks to me like a Roman coliseum, and this setting is often used in stories in a "contest" context; a contest of champions, so to speak. The curtains reinforce this idea. This contest or battle between the two powerful wizards is being watched, and the victor will be rewarded somehow with greater status. It seems to me that it is the hour of doom for Voldemort, but the moment of victory for Harry. Harry knows what he is doing, but Voldemort is completely surprised and undone by Harry's action. There is the look of shock and dread in Voldemort's stance. The outcome of this contest of champions has universal implications, and will determine the futures of many; most probably the crushing blow that brings about the end not just of Voldemort, but also those who follow him (are "marked" as belonging to him) and all the dark forces he represents. He is an Antichrist figure.
I do not get the sense though that Harry is the Christ figure, only that he is the one chosen to open the door through which the actual Christ figure will make his debut. Look for the death of some great sage or wizard earlier than this who might come back from the dead or rise in glory and power to take care of Voldemort -- that is the One who is off page, that is if it is a Christ figure. If it is a dark power that Voldemort has made a deal with or getting his power from, again, Rowling may give a brief reference to that being earlier. Where does Voldemort get his power from? It would have to be a being darker and more powerful than he, who is coming to "stake his claim" on Voldemort, or collect the soul as was agreed. I hope that helps. I don't know anything about the storyline in Harry Potter-- and have not read the books, only seen the films, but Rowling is accessing themes and archetypal characters that redemption stories always contain-- to her credit!
P.S. Keep "Hallows" in mind. It may be tied to "Dawning", or "debut". It looks like Harry is welcoming the entrance of someone of great deadly power.