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Tree of Salvation


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Realization

I: In Wood and Stone
2. The Norwegian Stave Churches
3. Bornholm's Round Churches and Baptismal Font
4. The Viking Crosses at Middleton

II : In Poetry and Runes
5. The Dream of the Rood and the Ruthwell Cross
6. Yggdrasil and the Runes of the Elder Futhark

III : In Yuletide Carol and Evergreens
7. Yggdrasil and the Christmas Tree

Select Bibliography

About the Author

G. Ronald Murphy is George M. Roth Distinguished Professor of German at Georgetown University.


"There is much to recommend in ree of Salvation...it is full of interesting and nuanced reflections on the relationship between the Cross and the central sacred tree of the pagan Norse cosmos, and Murphy has a keen eye for the exegetical potential of literature, architecture and artefacts. He demonstrates a sensitivity to the nature of belief which transcends mundane and reductive approaches to the subject, and offers a reflective reconstruction of
the manner in which the tree served as a central symbol for mediation and meditation in the medieval North. It is on these grounds that Murphy makes his case, and on these grounds that this book is
"A brilliant book that liturgists ought to know...The book is clearly written, easy to follow, excellently illustrated, and wonderfully engaging in its argumentation...I do not know of a better account of specific cases in the history of liturgical inculturaltion than this book."--Worship
"Murphy's scholarship is superb... Tree of Salvation is a labor of love: a love which is palpable and apparent throughout its pages." --Mythlore
"Tree of Salavation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North is a highly original, insightful, and sophisticated study. The book will be much cited." --Church History
[A] clearly written book...Recommended. --CHOICE
"A most inspiring and insightful book, and it was so wonderful to read a scholarly work spanning centuries and disciplines and written in beautiful prose....an unforgettable book."-- Kirsten Wolf, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Amazing book...one of the finest examples I know of a history of liturgical inculturation."--Gordon Lathrop, Professor of Liturgy Emeritus, Lutheran Theological Seminary
"At the center of this book stands a tree-but is it the evergreen Yggdrasil connecting the three worlds of Asgard, Middlegard, and Hel, or the Cross upon which the Maker sacrificed himself to bring salvation to his creation? This brilliant book shows us how both images can be true. Fr. Murphy transports us into a world where the myths of the North become once again potent and filled with mystery. Especially wonderful is Murphy's refusal to pit one religion
against the other: this is a story internal to a culture, the new dispensation reflecting itself through the old, much as within Christianity, the New Testament is seen as a realization of the Old. Murphy
makes both Yggdrasil and the Rood of the Dream come alive for us. This exciting, readable, persuasive, and beautifully argued book will enthrall specialists in early medieval history, art history, and literature, and everyone who has ever decorated a Christmas tree." --Rachel Fulton Brown, University of Chicago
"While Boniface wielded his ax to destroy paganism in eighth-century Germany, Christian conversion in the North operated in a much more culture-sensitive manner, as G. Ronald Murphy beautifully illustrates in his new study focused on the visual and literary material from the Old-Norse world. Through his careful study of the Nordic architecture and the use of the tree in lieu of the cross, combined with a meticulous reading of the Eddic texts and the Old-Saxon
Heliand, Murphy uncovers a breathtaking story of how Christianity was merged with the old Scandinavian belief system in order to achieve conversion." --Albrecht Classen, editor of The Handbook of
Medieval Studies (2010)
"G. Ronald Murphy, S.J. leads us on a fascinating pilgrimage, investigating the pre-Christian to Christian transition from one worldview to the new concept of God and the universe. Central to his groundbreaking thesis is church architecture of the transition period and new insights regarding pre-Christian burial customs and the Tree of Salvation-Yggdrasil, the World Tree-and its mythological story of Odin on the tree, of Lif and Lifthrasir for whom the tree
opened to safety, and Germanic myth foreshadowing Christianity." --James E. Cathey, Professor Emeritus of German and Scandinavian Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst
"In this clearly written book, Murphy presents a fanciful exploration of the Nordic world tree [...] Murphy provides novel interpretations[, ... his] reading of the bracteates and the runes inscribed on them is interesting." --T.R. Tangherlini, University of California, Los Angeles, CHOICE
"The story told in this book is a beautiful one. Just as Christianity sought to see prefigurations in the Old Testament of events described in the New Testament, so it was that when Christianity was spread among the heathen Germanic peoples of northern and northwestern Europe, similar connections were established between the old religion of the converts and Christianity."--The Journal of Religion

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