It is human nature to question our surroundings. Even dating back to the earliest days of mankind, the “caveman,” there are records suggesting our ancestors believed in something bigger than themselves—a life beyond what they could see. This belief carried thousands of years, in many forms, including polytheism and monotheism. Two of these belief systems are those of the Norsemen and those of Christians. Set over a thousand years apart from each other, and in completely different parts of the globe, the highly contrasting traditions and folklore do not have much in common on first glance. However, despite the obvious cultural and spiritual differences between Norse and Christian mythos, a multitude of similarities can be found, mostly relating to the human condition.
The location of the Norsemen greatly contributed to their mythology. Situated in Old Scandinavia (what is now parts of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and Ireland), they had a deep connection with nature and the seasons. The long, dark winters were bitterly cold, and the rocky and mountainous terrain was unforgiving, especially for poor farmers, giving rise to large cult followings of fertility gods, and gods that controlled the weather, such as Thor, god of Thunder, Wind, and Rain. During the Middle Ages, the Icelandic volcano Hekla, was prone to frequent, violent eruptions (World Mythology). This, along with the contrasting frozen landscape, gave fruit to numerous stories, including those of the creation of the world and the apocalypse. The personalities and values of the Scandinavians, who were considered great warriors and adventurers, or “Vikings,” were reflected in their gods as well. Unlike the beautiful pagan gods of Greece and Rome, the Norse gods were not perfect. They were brutal and war-torn, with some of the main gods having only one eye or one arm, and had many human vulnerabilities. They enjoyed unearthly amounts of food and drink, played practical jokes, and were given to fits of rage or jealously.
In contrast to the Norsemen, the Hebrew people, from whom Christianity sprung, were a small and frequently enslaved race. They were bound by powerful outside forces on multiple occasions, including rules by Egyptians, Assyrians, and Romans. In the time of Jesus, the major government to deal with was that of the Roman Empire. The Romans, with their many gods, further enforced the Jewish people’s desire for a liberator—a lone God and Savior who would release them from their enemy’s bonds.
According to Norse mythology, in the beginning only three things existed: Niflheim, the land of fog and ice; Muspelheim, the land of fire and destruction; and Ginnungagap, the void in between. When Niflheim and Muspelheim grew too close to each other, the ice of Niflheim began to melt, and the drops became the first two life forms: Ymir, the first Frost Giant, and Audhulma, a primordial cow that gave Ymir milk. As Ymir slept, the race of Frost Giants was born from his...