Book Series Knowledge, Scholarship, and Science in the Middle Ages, vol. 1

Faith and Knowledge in Late Medieval and Early Modern Scandinavia

Karoline Kjesrud, Mikael Males (eds)

  • Pages: 306 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:19 col., 6 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57900-9
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-57901-6
  • E-book
  • Available

This book studies the interconnectedness of faith and knowledge – two concepts today often construed as mutually exclusive – in medieval and early modern Scandinavia.


“This volume contains an exemplary array of works that bring continuities across divisions into focus and explore essential inter-relatedness across the multiple divides: between the Middle Ages and early modern, between pagan and Christian, between religion and magic, between faith and knowledge.” (Roderick McDonald, in Parergon, 38/1, 2021, p. 234)



This book investigates the interface between faith and knowledge in Scandinavia in the centuries before and after the Reformation, a period in which the line between belief and knowledge was often blurred, and local traditions remained influential. While Scandinavia was undoubtedly an integral part of Latin Christendom before the arrival of Lutheranism, the essays gathered together in this volume demonstrate that religious discourse still took a unique form in this region. Faith was influenced by magical practices centred on remnants of Nordic paganism, local wisdom literature, and metaphoric language about the divine that diverged considerably from that of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Texts, motifs, and practices that were common throughout Europe were also transformed and altered within this northern setting.

Covering the late medieval up to the early modern period, this volume offers new insights into intellectual culture in Scandinavia, and the remarkable longevity of local beliefs even into the early post-Reformation period.


Introduction: Learning the Truth — KAROLINE KJESRUD AND MIKAEL MALES

The European Challenges of Faith & Knowledge in the Late Middle Ages: The Concepts of Nature and Knowledge — AKSEL HAANING

The Distribution of Authority as Reflected in Literary Transmission — KAROLINE KJESRUD

‘Apparuit ei Christus in eodem loco’: Physical Presence and Divine Truth in Birgitta of Sweden’s Revelations from the Holy Land — MARIA H. OEN

Mapping Hagiographical Literature in Medieval and Early Modern Iceland — NATALIE M. VAN DEUSEN AND KIRSTEN WOLF

How Do We Know, How Did They Know? The Cult of Saints in Iceland in the Late Middle Ages —MARGARET CORMACK

Denoting the Holy in Skaldic Tradition — MIKAEL MALES

‘Að allra orða undirstaðan sie riettlig fundin’: The Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit in Lilja 90 — MARTIN CHASE

Faith and Knowledge in Nordic Charm Magic — STEPHEN A. MITCHELL

Christian Knowledge in Late Medieval Norway — ELISE KLEIVANE

The Cross before Christ: Ecclesiastical History and Esotericism in the Antiquarian Scholarship of Johannes Bureus — MATTHEW NORRIS

Biblical Magic as a Manifestation of Folk Belief in the North — ALESSIA BAUER