The study of the Christianization of the Nordic countries: some reflections

  • Ragnhild Finnestad
Keywords: Methodology, Christianity, Scandinavia, Norse, Christianity and paganism, Missions -- Scandinavia


The focus of this paper is some problems that appear in the study of the transition from old Norse religion to Christianity, which requires further reflection. The problems may be said to arise from the need for clearer and more pragmatic definitions of analytical categories and, also, for more precise explications of the object of study. One of the most popular concerns of the study has been to ask whether a particular idea or custom or value is "Christian" or "old Norse". Often the question tacitly, but evidently, presupposes that "Christianity" and "old Norse religion" refer to well-defined sets of ideas, customs, and values, fixed within their respective systems. But, in the first place, Christianity did not come as a homogeneous entity to the North, but as differing versions. There are grounds for presuming that "old Norse" religion displayed a heterogeneous picture, as well. Secondly, no living religion is fixed, but is continually changing. Among the most influential factors in this dynamic process are what a religion adopts from other religions, and in this respect Christianity and old Norse religion have influenced each other over a long period of time, a fact which complicates the question of identity.
How to Cite
Finnestad, R. (1990). The study of the Christianization of the Nordic countries: some reflections. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 13, 256-272.