From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: Two Book Reviews by Jordsvin
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Two Book Reviews by Jordsvin
I highly recommend that Heathen scholars and writers spend some time in a major research library. Fortunately, there is one less than ten minutes from my door! It is amazing what treasures you can unearth just by browsing certain shelves. Just look up such topics as "Norse religion," "Sagas," "Vikings," "Norse mythology," and "runes" on the computerized library catalogue, note which call numbers keep popping up, and go look over those sections of shelving. Take note cards to compile a working annotated bibliography of the books which, upon a cursory examination, appear to be useful. I'll do that this winter break at the University of Kentucky's new Young Library and report back on what I find.
This summer, I happened across two very unique books. The first is the published proceedings of a conference and is entitled Old Norse and Finnish Religions and Cultic Place-Names: Based on Papers Read at the Symposium on Encounters between Religions in Old Nordic Times and on Cultic Place-Names held at Abo, Finland, on the 19th-21st of August 1987, edited by Tore Ahlbäck (Abo: 1990, The Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History, Abo/Finland). The level of scholarship is very high in the 22 published articles, of which 6 are in German and the rest in English. The viewpoints are not very pro-Christian, and seem at times to be almost pro-Heathen! Some of the titles of papers published in English include: "Old Norse and Finnish Religions," "Singing of Incantations in Nordic Tradition," "The Study of the Christianization of the Nordic countries. Some Reflections," "The Position of the Individual Gods and Goddesses in Various Types of Sources - with Special Reference to the Female Divinities," "Pagan Myth in Confrontation with Christianity," "Old Scandinavian and Christian Eschatology," Scandinavian-Saami Religious Connections in the History of Research," "Personal Piety in Nordic Heathenism," "Views on Cultic Place-Names in Denmark: A Review of Research," "The Change of Religion and the Names," and "Cult Sites in Northern Sweden." Some of the articles even include maps. US and Canadian readers should be able to borrow this unique and highly informative volume via Interlibrary Loan for a very nominal fee. The ISBN number is 951-649-695-4. If you'd like to do some browsing in a large library, check out the vicinity of the Library of Congress cataloging number BL863 .S950.
The second book is really something else to put it mildly! The title sounds promising enough: Norse Medieval Cryptography in Runic Carvings by Alf Mongé and O. G. Landsverk, published by Norseman Press of Glendale, California in 1967. However, the authenticity of the scholarship is contingent on every runic inscription found on the North American continent being authentic. I need say no more on what this says about the authors' gullibility. Still, I do recommend this book, especially to advanced students of the Runes, for several reasons. First of all, it is very illustrative of the sort of misinformation on the Runes that is out there. Secondly, there are probably several useful bits of information to be gleaned on the subject of rune-codes, runic calendars, Norse history, and the like in the midst of all the talk of Benedictine monks (!) and their runic scholarship. There are copies of genuine runic inscriptions along with their transliterations into the Roman alphabet and their English translation. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a useful bibliography of actual scholarly books in English and the Scandinavian languages, which the authors have no doubt badly misinterpreted. There is no ISBN number due to the age of the book, but its Library of Congress call number is E105 .M78.
In closing, I encourage other Heathens engaged in research on various aspects of Germanic religion, history, culture, etc. to submit their findings to Idunna, be they in the form of articles, annotated bibliographies, or book reviews!
last modified 07/21/2003