Kristni saga

Kristni saga (the book of Christianity) is an Old Norse account of the Christianization of Iceland in the 10th century and of some later church history. It was probably written in the early or mid-13th century, as it is dependent on the Latin biography of King Olaf Tryggvason written by the monk Gunnlaugr Leifsson around the last decade of the 12th century.[1][2] This results in Latinate forms of some names. The author also used work by Ari 脼orgilsson, probably the now lost longer version of the 脥slendingab贸k, and Laxd忙la saga.[2] Based on the region of Iceland with which the text indicates the greatest familiarity, it was probably not written at Sk谩lholt.[1]

Kristni saga is written in "sober, almost dry language".[1] Its structure is odd: after recounting the conversion, it skips some fifty years ahead to the lives of bishops 脥sleifr and Gizurr, and then gives an account of the feud between 脼orgils and Hafli冒i that was probably added later, perhaps by Sturla 脼贸r冒arson.[1] Finnur J贸nsson agreed with Oskar Brenner, who wrote an early book about it, in attributing the work as a whole to Sturla; it shows a similar skill in depicting character through telling incidents, a similar use of verses and conversation, its opening sentence, "Here begins how Christianity came to Iceland", continues directly from the ending of Sturlub贸k, and it is preserved only in the Hauksb贸k manuscript, where it immediately follows Landn谩mab贸k.[3]

Whereas many accounts of Iceland's conversion to Christianity occur within the context of longer works, lives of 脫l谩fr Tryggvason or Sagas of Icelanders, Kristni saga sets out to tell the history of Icelandic Christianity independently, as its opening sentence explicitly states: N煤 hefr 镁at, hversu kristni kom 谩 脥sland 鈥楴ow this is the beginning of how Christianity came to Iceland.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Jan de Vries, Altnordische Literaturgeschichte Volume 2 Die Literatur von etwa 1150 bis 1300; die Sp盲tzeit nach 1300, Grundriss der germanischen Philologie 16, 2nd ed. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1967, OCLC 270854789, pp. 191鈥92 (in German)
  2. ^ a b "Kristni saga", Rudolf Simek and Hermann P谩lsson, Lexikon der altnordischen Literatur, Kr枚ners Taschenausgabe 490, Stuttgart: Kr枚ner, 1987, ISBN 9783520490018, p. 219 (in German)
  3. ^ Sverrir T贸masson, "Old Icelandic Prose", in A History of Icelandic Literature, ed. Daisy Neijmann, Histories of Scandinavian Literature 5, Lincoln, Nebraska / London: University of Nebraska, 2006, ISBN 978-0-8032-3346-1, pp. 64鈥173, pp. 83鈥84.

Further reading

  • Oskar Brenner. 脺ber die Kristni-Saga: kritische Beitr盲ge zur altnordischen Literaturgeschichte. Munich: Kaiser, 1878. OCLC 4214831 (in German)
  • Claudio Albani. Ricerche attorno alla Kristnisaga: nota. Milan: Istituto Lombardo di Scienze e Lettere, 1968. OCLC 3545921 (in Italian)

External links