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Snorri and the Jews

Cole, RKE; (2017) Snorri and the Jews. In: Hermann, P and Mitchell, SA and Schjødt, JP and Rose, AJ, (eds.) Old Norse Mythology - Comparative Perspectives. (pp. 243-268). Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.

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This essay considers the mythological writing of Snorri Sturluson (d. 1241) in its most temporally proximal comparative context: the intellectual culture of thirteenth century Christian Europe, specifically one particular area of the High Medieval imagination: Christian narratives about Jews. Particular attention is paid to Snorri’s use of anti-Jewish typology in his depiction of Loki and the Muspellssynir “The Sons of Muspell” (the agents of the apocalypse who break loose at the end of the world). The essay argues that Snorri's configuration of Loki's status amongst the Æsir might well have been drawn from contemporary thinking about the status of the Jew amongst Christians: both were considered outsiders, whose presence was tolerated because they were thought to have special abilities, even while they were widely held to be untrustworthy and deleterious to society. Loki’s apocalyptic comrades, the Muspellssynir, obviously originate in the eddic poem Vǫluspá, but I argue that Snorri’s account of them is strongly coloured by the medieval motif of the “Red Jews”, menacing Jewish warriors who would break out of their subterranean tomb during the Last Days and ride forth into Christendom with warlike intent.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Snorri and the Jews
ISBN: 0674975693
ISBN-13: 9780674975699
Publisher version: https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=97806...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Mythology, Norse, anti-Semitism, anti-Judaism, The Red Jews, Vǫluspá
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045285
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