Is the Thor Myth Based on Jesus?

In the final battle of the last war between good and evil, the Son of the Father-God will defeat evil in the form of a serpent but, in doing so, will give up his own life. Sound familiar? There are some striking parallels between the Norse myth of Thor at Ragnarok and the Biblical prophesies of the Messiah. Is it possible, since Christ preceded the Norse myths, that Norse myths were actually informed by the Gospel? 

Excited for the release of Thor: Ragnarok? Check out all the eerie similarities between the myth of Thor and the life and prophesies of Christ below!



1. A Tale of Two Serpents

The Bible refers frequently to the ancient serpent, the Devil. He appears in the Garden of Eden in the beginning and reappears at the end, waiting to devour the child of the Virgin Queen in the Book of Revelation. There is also a great serpent in Norse mythology. It is called the Midgard Serpent or  Jörmungandr




Jörmungandr simply means "huge monster" in Old Norse. Jörmungandr is the child of Loki by Angrboda, a giantess of Jotunheim, and it is the sibling of the Fenris-wolf, and Hel, who presides over a realm of the same name. As told in the Younger Edda or Prose Edda, Odin took the serpent and dropped it into the sea. Odin cast Hel into Niflheim, where she was to apportion men dead of sickness or of old age. Hel also had "great possessions" according to the paragraph XXXIV of Edda:


[H]er walls are exceeding high and her gates great. Her hall is called Sleet-Cold; her dish, Hunger; Famine is her knife; Idler, her thrall; Sloven, her maidservant; Pit of Stumbling, her threshold, by which one enters; Disease, her bed; Gleaming Bale, her bed-hangings. She is half blue-black and half flesh-color (by which she is easily recognized), and very lowering and fierce. 


The serpent Jörmungandr grew so large in the sea that, after encircling the world, it was able to bite its own tail. Jörmungandr is, therefore, an example of an ouroboros, a snake biting its own tail, which also occur in Egyptian and Greek mythology.  


2. Ragnarök & Armageddon

Ragnarök is basically the Armageddon of Norse mythology. These are the final battles between good and evil. The final battle between good and evil in the Book of Revelation occurs in the plains of Megiddo, hence the name "Armageddon". Christ's passion, death, and resurrection occur in the Gospels, but they also reoccur allegorically in the Book of Revelation. 



The children of Angrboda and Loki reappear elsewhere in Norse mythology. Jörmungandr and Fenris-wolf are both significant figures at RagnarökAt Ragnarök, it is prophesied that Fenris-wolf will be pitted against Odin, the Father-god. It is further prophesied that Thor, Odin's son, will battle Jörmungandr. 

Check out these parallels: 1) Thor is the son of the father-god, Odin. Similarly, Jesus is the Son of God, the Father. 2) The final battle between good and evil in Norse myth is at Ragnarök and between Thor and the serpent, Jörmungandr. The final battle between good and evil in Christianity is at the Cross between Jesus and the serpent, Satan.  

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, Ragnarök begins with the crowing of three roosters. In the 42nd stanza, the crimson rooster Fjalar (Old Norse for "hider" or "deceiver") crows in the forests of Jotunheim, then the golden rooster Gullinkambi crows to the Aesir gods in Valhalla, and finally the unnamed soot-red rooster crows in Hel. 



Another parallel: The final battle in Norse myth begins with the crowing of three roosters. Similarly, the rooster crows at the beginning of Christ's Passion. See, for example, at Matthew 26:34Jesus tells Peter, "this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." 
Next at Ragnarök, according to the Völuspá account, the Norse god Heimdall blows his horn, similar to the trumpet blasts of Revelation, cf. Revelation 8:7. Yggdrasil, the World Tree, then shudders and groans, similar to the hammering of nails into the tree on which Christ is crucified. 

The serpent Jörmungandr begins writhing in the sea, creating massive waves like tsunamis. The ship Naglfar breaks free of its moorings due to the thrashing of the serpent in the deep. The ship, made entirely of the fingernails and toenails of the dead, sets sail from the east. 

According to the Gylfaginning account of Ragnarök, the Fenris-wolf charges on Odin. The wolf's eyes and nostrils spray flames, and its mouth is wide open. Its upper jaw scrapes the heavens while its lower jaw drags against the earth. At the same time and even beside the Fenris-wolf, Jörmungandr also charges and fills the air and the sea will a spray of venom. The sky is rent in two and the "sons of Muspell" ride forth across the Bifrost wreathed in flames, similar to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at Rev 6:1-8. 



Odin and his son, Thor, together charge out to meet the wolf and the serpent along with the rest of the Æsir. The war god Tyr is also paired with the hound Garmr. Odin rides onto the plains of battle at the head of war party wearing a gold helmet and an intricate coat of mail and carrying his spear Gungnir. Odin advances against the Fenris-wolf. Thor moves to Odin's side, but is unable to assist his father because he engages the serpent in combat.

Odin dies fighting the Fenris-wolf and is swallowed whole. Another of Odin's sons, Víðarr, avenges his father by tearing the wolf's jaws apart and stabbing it in the heart with his spear. 

Jörmungandr opens its giant mouth against the charging god of thunder. Thor kills Jörmungandr, but is poisoned by the serpent. Thor walks nine steps before falling to the earth dead. So ends Ragnarök.



3. The Serpent's Strike: The Last and Most Amazing Parallel  

The last parallel between Thor and Jesus is the most significant, but it might take some explaining. 

The passion, death, and victory of Christ are all foretold in the Book of Genesis. In just a couple short lines of Genesis, the entire Gospel is prophesied. This is called the Proto-evangelium, which translates as "The First Gospel". Here it is, Genesis 3:15: 

I will put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and [the serpent] shall bruise his heel.

The Protoevangelium is packed with prophesies, but we will only address those that pertain to Satan, which is the serpent, and Christ, which is the seed of the woman. For more on this, check out these other posts: The Greatest Verse in the BibleThe First Prophesy in Human History.



It is prophesied that Christ will "bruise" the serpent's head, but Satan, the serpent, will "bruise" the heel of Christ. These bruises are wounds, mortal wounds at that. Jesus will crush the serpent's skull and defeat him. In so doing, however, the serpent will strike Jesus' heel, and Jesus will be poisoned by the serpent's venom. Are you starting to see the connection to Thor and his battle with the serpent???

Jesus literally strikes the serpent's skull. Sometimes, as in The Passion of the Christ, Jesus is depicted as crushing the serpent's skull with his heel in the Garden of Gethsemane. But there's still a more literal moment. Christ is crucified at Golgotha, which, in Hebrew, is called "the place of the skull." The Cross of Christ, therefore, is stabbed into the skull. 

Lastly, Christ's defeat of Satan, the ancient serpent, on the Cross requires his own death, as the sacrificial Lamb of God. In this way, the prophesy of Christ being killed by the serpent is fulfilled. Christ's heels are actually pierced by nails, as well. Jesus dies on the cross and the serpent claims his victim. 

The final parallel: 
1) In the final battle, Thor kills the serpent, Jörmungandr, but is nevertheless killed by the serpent's venom. 
2) In the final defeat of evil, Jesus kills the serpent, Satan, but is nevertheless killed by serpent striking his heel.  

I'll leave you with this question: Since Norse mythology developed long after the Crucifixion, is it possible that the origins of Norse mythology were, in part, Christian? 

Share your thoughts and comments in the comments section below! And don't forget to share the article, as well. Thanks for reading! 

17 comments:

  1. Even if Jesus has a fundamentally more real existence than Thor we only know of Jesus via our culture's Jesus Myth. And it is this myth that interacts with our psyche and transforms it. Even if atheism is technically true (Unitarian "me" speaking here), not something I hold, similar myths have similar transforming effects on humanity.

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    1. "Fundamentally more real existence than Thor" because Jesus actually existed? What is the "Jesus Myth"? It is the historical person of Christ that interacts with our psyche and transforms it.

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    2. We know of Jesus through the Gospel narrative and associated "stories". There has been a distinction made in some Biblical scholarship circles between the "Historical" Jesus and the "Biblical" Jesus. We only experience Jesus via Bible stories (...yes, and tradition...and "psychological 'peak' experiences). I once put it to an evangelical Christian that "even if" Jesus never existed then the Gospels would not be invalidated. That Jesus was an invention, but a "holy" one, is believed in some circles...

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    3. Ananda Coomaraswamy (Hindu holy man): "Myth embodies the nearest approach to absolute truth that can be stated in words."

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    4. Myths do not seeking emboding, they are, together with science, always result of human beings seeking the truth. Please read the Gospels with an open mind and realize true people and true stories. We need parents, not myths, to become alive. We need God to understand our own mythology. Jesus of Nasareth is God embodied and He will love being testified and rejected as a presumptively myth.

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    5. In my Irish Unitarian church someone said: "I am a Unitarian but Christianity is my 'native tongue' " For a culturally ancient Norse person the Thor narrative would have had the same immediate impact as the Jesus story has to Christians in our culture. Jesus the man most probably existed but the purpose of his life and mission has a particular meaning to Christians...and not to the same extent to non-Christians. To the ancient Norse the Thor story and other such stories are a part of the make up of Norse people.

      I'm not 'anti-' Christianity here, I assure you...

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  2. A Christ only for Christians? A Christ made up by human beings? That’s definitly not my faith. We have to take Jesus serious, recieve Him as our saviour or reject him as s false prophet. Just tolerating or being kind is really anti-Christ and -serious because we have our New Testament which is chrystal clear about God, The Word becoming flesh.

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    1. Kant said We know nothing of how things are in themselves, only how they apear to us. This is not solipism.
      To the traditional Unitarian Jesus was A prophet, a true one. We Unitarians will tend to admit we may well be Jacks of all trades but masters of none when it comes to religious matters. Catholic Bibles have 6 books the Reformed Churches regard as, not heretical, but less than Divinely inspired. And another 6 in Orthoxox Bibles.
      If mainstream Christianity is the religion most on track then non-Christian societies will mirror Christianity to a significant extent.
      To the orthodox Christian Socrates must surely seem very Christ-like in his life and mission and not just a jolly nice chap.

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    3. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. How can an unitarian calling Jesus a true prophet? If we nevertheless not need Jesus as our way, our truth, our life (or only orthodox Christians need him that way) then Jesus is a false prophet.
      What's the problem with catholic and reformed bibles? It's about what we need and what is useful to receive the word of God. If a boy 4 year old is using 20 words about his father, and his older brother using 200 words, is the solution believing none of them?
      Immanuel Kant was putting Reason in one box and Faith in another box. Well, we have one unique life, a very short one, and we can't doing schizophrenia about how it appear to us. We are responsible in one — not multiple — person with both our reason and our faith.
      If...Jesus is the true prophet, the Son of God, our savior, I think He will help us with reason and faith. He could also confirm much of the wisdom of Socrates and all the others, but not being replaced.

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    4. A Unitarian reply - God dwells within everyone and everything. To find this God within us is why are here. Jesus found His way to this God and sought to help others to find their way there. That othere might have found this way is possible. The way must always have existed - or parrallal ways. What is of fundemental importance is that we should seek God. Taking good advice on this quest is important.

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    5. You are probably tired of my comments now... And I have to respect you and your unitarian way.
      But...but...I feel sad about all these alternatives, parallells, seeking without really finding.

      This post started with parallells between the Gospel about Christ and the Norse myths.
      I'm living in Norway, near the coast. My ancestors was the Vikings seeking the truth with the god Thor. Although there is good parallells with the Gospel, the fruit av the Norse mythology was evil, like what IS is doing in our time. As Irish(?) you have heard about the Vikings and their raid on Lindisfarne. I'm not proud of that!

      Thanks to God, my Lord Jesus, and thanks to the Irishmen who sent missionaries to the coast of Norway, telling us about Jesus Christ! After some years my ancestors stopped doing evil things in other countries, taking many wifes as the husband wanted, leaving unwanted children in the forrest, pushing old people from a ledge in the mountains, revenging killing with new killing, sacrificing human beings if the earth not yielded its harvest.

      Many years later norwegian missionaries arrived Madagascar and gave them the Gospel, the good news. And the natives asked: "For how long have you known this? Why didn't you told us before?"

      May the good news about Jesus, The Lord, again arrive Ireland! :) With greetings from a friend, with Google translate..., in Norway.

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    6. Yes, of course. Much of the early attraction to Christianity in non-Roman Europe was that it ended the 'need' for human sacrifice.

      A few years ago my wife (the Legion Sister) and I holidayed in Copenhagen. We entered a pub to get a meal. "Tourists?" the local asked. "Yes, from Ireland. We've come for our chalices and manuscripts." Smiles all around.

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    7. Haha, nice comments! I don't mind the theft of chalices, so long as it represented a Trojan-horse invasion by Christ :)

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  3. For those looking for an antidote to the suggestion of a unhistorical gospel and unhistorical Jesus I suggest you read, The Case for Jesus. It authors are Brant Pitre and Robert Barron. It is a well-reasoned and thorough presentation of the evidence.

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    1. Thank you for your suggestion! Looks interesting, with preview at Amazon, I think I will order it.
      Also a good introduction in the interview on Wordonfire. Thanks!

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    2. Agreed! I've read Dr. Pitre's The Case for Jesus twice now and it is VERY good. Also, Dr. Pitre was my professor many times at Notre Dame Seminary. Wonderful man! Dr. Pitre demonstrates through Scripture that Jesus didn't claim to be merely a prophet but God, Himself, e.g. the "ego eimi" statements in John. He also completely exposes the lie of the anonymous Gospels theory. Awesome book!

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