Pagan myth in confrontation with Christianity: Skírnismál and Genesis

  • Gro Steinsland
Keywords: Christianity, Norse Religion, Paganism, Myth, Bible, Genesis, Eddas, Scandinavia


Skírnismál is the only one of the Eddaic lays which is dedicated to the god of vanir, Freyr. The poem deals with the offer of marriage to the giantess Gerör which the messanger, Skírnir, takes to htunheimr on Freyr's behalf. Regarding the question of age and interpretation of the lay, various suggestions have been made by scholars. A central question for scholars has been whether the poem contains genuine pagan myth. In recent years several scholars have argued that the lay is late and that, in spite of its preoccupation with pre-Christian mythology, it deals mainly with medieval ideology. We shall focus instead on a point which has not hitherto been recognized: the possible connection between Skírnismál and the Jewish-Christian myth of the fall in Genesis. It is possible that the poet of Skírnismal borrowed ideas from several traditions, from Nordic, mythological ones and at the same time from biblical tradition, from the myth of the fall in Genesis. This conclusion means that the pagan, mythological tradition of the North was recreated at the time of Conversion, for the biblical elements in Skírnismál are used within the frame of a lay which, in its deepest conception, belongs to the pre-Christian tradition.
How to Cite
Steinsland, G. (1990). Pagan myth in confrontation with Christianity: Skírnismál and Genesis. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 13, 316-328.