4 Comments

Lindisfarne Gospels and Vikings

In the History Channel’s new series on the Vikings there is an episode where the Vikings raid the Island of Lindisfarne, a small island off of England’s Northumbrian coast. The raid is thought to be the beginning of Viking adventures on England, Scotland, Ireland, France and just about everywhere else their longships could carry them.

The Vikings were active in England from about 793 to 1066 AD. At one time most of northern Britain was called the Danelaw because Danish Vikings ruled there.

The Vikings were active in England from about 793 to 1066 AD. At one time most of northern Britain was called the Danelaw because Danish Vikings ruled there.

In the episode the Viking leader, Ragnar, takes prisoner a Saxon monk by the name of Athelstan. Athelstan speaks the language of the northmen and that’s what probably saves his life. As the Vikings loot the monastery of its treasures (crosses, chalices, candle holders, etc, made from precious metals) Athelstan hides a book under his robes. Ragnar catches him and asks quizzically why the monk would save a book when saving a treasure would make more sense.

Athelstan replies to the effect that the book, is the Book of John from the Bible and it is indeed a treasure worth far more than precious metals.

It’s a compelling scene. Ragnar decides to keep Athelstan alive for his own purposes and makes him a slave, although at this point in the series they seem to have more than a slave\master relationship as Ragnar trusts Athelstan with the care of his family when Ragnar goes on another raid to Northumbria.

This link goes to an excellent link from the BBC that discusses the “Lindisfarne Gospels” and how they were painstakingly created and preserved by the Anglo-Saxon monks over the course of many years.

Before the invention of the printing press monks painstakingly copied the Bible and other works of literature by hand.

Before the invention of the printing press monks painstakingly copied the Bible and other works of literature by hand.

Few people could read during Europe’s Dark Ages (500-1000 AD roughly) so the work of the monks was vital in passing down the Gospel of Jesus Christ and preserving it in a wonderful work of art that survived devastating Viking raids.

The scene in the History Channel’s series, Vikings, with Ragnar and Athelstan is not far-fetched and Christians everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to those monks who labored in the preservation of the Bible, something we tend to take for granted now.

About these ads

4 comments on “Lindisfarne Gospels and Vikings

  1. It’s a fascinating series, thus far. I was fortunate to briefly visit Lindisfarne once… it was amazing watching the tide swiftly come in to “create” the island.

  2. [...] Lindisfarne Gospels and Vikings (broeder10.wordpress.com) [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 633 other followers

%d bloggers like this: