Vikings Under the Son

We often regard conversion in terms of its endpoint, but of course it involves crucial intermediate stages as well. The Christianization of Viking Scandinavia was a complex, protracted affair, yet is all the more fascinating for that reason. A critical step in the process was an episode in which the Norse people apparently began to contemplate what once might have been unthinkable for them: the staggering possibility that their deities—Thor, Odin, Loki, and the rest—for all their potency, might be mortal. For at the end of the age, according to Norse myth, the entire pantheon would perish in an apocalyptic scenario known as Ragnarök, traditionally translated as "The Twilight of the Gods."