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Norse Monotheism


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Thorfinn Stormarksgothi,

 

I have noticed many ancient polytheistic societies often had a small out-growth which was in some way monotheistic, whether by force, choice, or theological evolution. Was there ever a pre-Christian monotheistic strand of ancient or even modern Norse religion?

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I have noticed many ancient polytheistic societies often had a small out-growth which was in some way monotheistic, whether by force, choice, or theological evolution. Was there ever a pre-Christian monotheistic strand of ancient or even modern Norse religion?

 

Jarl Galinn,

 

Which ancient polytheistic societies inspired you into asking this question?

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Jarla Unna,

 

The most immediate example is that of Egypt wherein, for a short period of time, the Pharaoh Akhenaten forced his vision of monotheism in the sun god. Greek philosophers, in the midst of their polytheistic societies, often came to very monotheistic solutions to theological and philosophical problems. The Romans, known for their absorption of gods, had some cults which were accepted into the pantheon, but were really more monotheistic than anything else; not to mention a few strands of Hinduism which have monotheistic traits. The various mutations of both monotheistic and polytheistic faiths interests me greatly, which made me curious about Norse religion in general.

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Thorfinn Stormarksgothi,

 

I have noticed many ancient polytheistic societies often had a small out-growth which was in some way monotheistic, whether by force, choice, or theological evolution. Was there ever a pre-Christian monotheistic strand of ancient or even modern Norse religion?

 

Not in the same way as the Egyptian Akhenaten, as far as I am aware.

 

However, there are significant differences which make a direct comparison difficult. The Egyptian religion was inextricably intertwined with the Kingship and church structure of the priests of Amun. Religion did not have such a central political place in Norse culture.

 

There were likely individuals, or even small communities that worshiped one deity to the exclusion of others at times throughout the Norse era, I would expect, but the lack of a really centralized priesthood declaring official doctrine means that doing so would not have caused the kind of upheaval and change that was seen in an Egyptian context.

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