Visions of the Afterlife in Old Norse Literature
Over the past few decades, scholarship within the field of Old Norse studies has increasingly recognised the influence of Christian thought and art in shaping the distinctive cultural heritage of this region. The formative impact of these impulses on native literature should not be underestimated. Scriptural texts, homiletic writings, saints’ lives, and theological treatises found their way to Iceland and Norway at an early stage following the political conversion of these countries around 1000 AD. Examples of these major branches of Latin literature survive in translation among the earliest written documents from Western Scandinavia, datable to around 1200. Visionary accounts of the Christian hereafter represent one further distinct Latin genre which has left substantial early traces in Northern codices. This genre’s evolution in Western Scandinavian literature forms the object of investigation here.