Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.

                         

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Thursday
May102012

Thorvald the Far-Traveled Viking from Iceland

During medieval times, it was widely believed and taught that a pilgrimage to Jerusalem was the only way to atone for serious sins—and by serious, I mean murder and rape and such like. There was lots of sinning, so there were lots of pilgrims. 

By the tenth century, many Norse pilgrims were coming [to Jerusalem] even though most of their countrymen were still pagans. “Most Scandinavian pilgrims liked to make a round tour, coming by sea through the Straits of Gibraltar and returning overland through Russia.” Like the Franks, the Norse converts were “very devoted to Christ if not to his commandments.” Among them was Thorvald the Far-Traveled, who came all the way from Iceland. Thorvald was a renowned Viking who had converted to Christianity and then “tried to preach the new faith to his countrymen in 981.” He undertook a pilgrimage in 990 seeking to atone for having killed two poets who had mocked his faith and another man who had criticized his preaching. Following his pilgrimage he devoted his missionary activities to Russia and died there, presumably without murdering any Russian pagans. 

Just one of the intriguing tidbits from history in God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark.

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Reader Comments (5)

Rebecca,

As a Dane (sadly, no longer a "pure blood"), I have a bit of the Viking blood coursing through these veins of mine. As a pastor, I like this Thorvald guy. I can relate to the zeal, at least. While having never slain anyone who's criticized my sermons (that's not to say I haven't violated Christ's seriousness toward the command, even regarding anger), I'm glad that I don't have to make a pilgrimage to atone for it.!

Fascinating and intriguing book.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Sorensen

He killed a guy who didn't like his preaching? I guess being criticized on the internet seems kind of tame in comparison.

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim Shay

I'm glad that I don't have to make a pilgrimage to atone for it.!

At the same time, it's kind of weird that they thought that was enough.

I guess being criticized on the internet seems kind of tame in comparison.

Oh, the internet seems tame in comparison to pretty much everything back then. :)

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

(((Oh, the internet seems tame in comparison to pretty much everything back then. :))))

The internet certainly has been responsible for a LOT of murders and I won't produce any of the facts now but on the other hand we GOD's Children don't get, percentage wise, quiet as angry as they did back then. At least that's the way I see "IT" so far but I'm just a Canadian like you Rebecca!

I hear ya Victor! I've heard that they certainly are having a lot of fun in The Good Old U.S.A. with their new President. :)
http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/

Peace

May 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

This is very interesting!

So it seems that one of the first missionaries from Iceland is Thorvald the Far-Traveled - this is encouraging for me as I am a missionary who was raised in Iceland! It's good to know that missionaries left Iceland as early as 990's :o)

An interesting fact is that Iceland became officially Christian in the year 1000, only 10 years after Thorvald left. In the year 2000 we celebrated 1000 years of Christianity in Iceland. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

Thanks for sharing this, it brought a smile to my face :o)

May 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Sewell

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