When the Norns Have Spoken: Time and Fate in Germanic Paganism

Synopsis

"This book argues that, within Germanic paganism, considered not as mere cult but as a system of beliefs, it is possible to identify a conceptually coherent understanding of the idea of fate that has nothing to do with time, but is instead an implicit theses about the nature of truth. Germanic cosmogony - the interrelationship of space, time, and causality - as represented in such precise images as a world-tree, provides the context for analyses of specific metaphors for the operation of fate as woven or spun by such figures as the Norns, the Norse goddesses of destiny. The persistence of a residual pagan idea of fate following the Christian conversion may thus be understood in a new and fascinating light: only with this modification - not obliteration - of fate into God's Providence could it at last become temporalized. One of the most striking aspects of the process of conversion of paganism into Christianity is the manner in which certain key religious concepts were modified, without being totally obliterated from the new religious language. Residual pagan beliefs persevered, at least for a time, notably that concerning fate. The argument concludes that only after pagan fate was transformed into the concept of god's Providence could the problem of death and salvation in relation to God's power be made fully manifest. Fate had become linked with death as a new beginning within Christian eschatology, and was thus, finally, temporalized." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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