Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Gospel According to Thor; or Thor vs Jesus


This is part of what I hope will be an ongoing series on my blog. This will be a continuation of a series of blog posts that compare Jesus to pagan and ancient figures whom skeptics claim at best inspired Christian understanding of Jesus and at worst stole their ideas. I've compared several figures and god to Jesus and found none come close to who the Bible says Jesus is and who I have found Jesus to be myself - a perfect savior.

I think the conclusions that people like James Patrick Holder have reached are correct in that the truth is that because many ancient myths were not written until after the Bible was completed and distributed it is far more likely that they where influenced by Christianity and not the other way around. I think that this is especially true today in fictional myths and stories are in circulation today. I wonder if Jesus' Second Coming is delayed for another 2000 years, will skeptics then think that Christianity was informed and influenced by comics books and film instead of the other way around?

In this Post - Thor

Let's see how Thor (historical myth, Marvel Comics character, and 2011 film) has been related to Christianity. It's important to remember that because there is a longing in the human heart - an incompleteness - It makes sense that people would try to fill the void and their solutions would in some ways be similar to the real solution.

The Myth

A god, named Thor, was worshiped by the Vikings and in northern Europe.Thor was the god of thunder and what the Norse people believed was that lightning storms were the result of Thor's enchanted hammer, Mjölnir, smacking frost giants into submission. He was called upon by people for protection. He had a magic belt, gloves, and aforementioned hammer. He could throw the hammer like a boomerang. One big difference between Norse mythology and the mythology of ancient cultures is that their story has an ending. An apocalyptic event they called Ragnarök - where like the British Sci-Fi series Red Dwarf - most of the characters (all the gods and most of humanity) all die. Thor dies taking out his nemesis - the giant midgard serpent. I admit Thor's personality is definitely entrenched in Viking culture. From what I have read he isn't like Superman at all. He fights because he like to fight not because he has to and not to just protect others. He is vulnerable to magic and can be tricked. Thor was the kind of person that the average Viking strove to become and had their weaknesses.

Marvel Comics

As for the comics, when Stan Lee decided to adapt Thor for Marvel Comics, he not only just took Thor but his whole back story, gave it a modern twist, and in some ways unconsciously Christianized the story. Odin sends Thor to earth to teach him humility. There are several things that were changed that I really liked. For example only worthy people can use the hammer. The Marvel Universe is full of fictional races of beings. By making one such race the Asgardian gods has fueled years of great stories. It was also genius to make Thor a member of the superhero community at Marvel. Thor can fly. In those first stories Thor spoke in Elizabethan English like Shakespeare and the King James Bible. Forsooth. Verily.

Loki is quite a bit different in the comics than he is from mythology. Loki wants to destroy Thor and rule Asgard. He comes off a lot more like Satan than he does in the Norse stories.

2011 Movie

The movie version of Thor definitely matches the Marvel version to a tee. One of the things liked best is the short suggestion that Norse people may had perhaps met Asgardians and thought that they were gods. The other things is like the Comic Books, Thor grows into a hero - someone who cares more about others than he does himself. The movie dealt with issues of sacrifice and parenting. Odin's relationship to Thor is complicated. But in the movie, he truly want what is best for his sons, Asgard, and to avoid war. Sounds familiar?


Here is the important point of the post. Jesus is very different from Thor in all of Thor's incarnations. Jesus came to earth voluntarily. Jesus doesn't just wield lightning. The wind, rain, and lightning all obey Jesus at His word. Jesus can do more than protect you from being stepped on by a frost giant, or getting killed by super villain. Jesus not only protects us but save us from ourselves and gives us eternal life. You also should remember that there was a time when Jesus and Thor were in direct competition when the Norse people were Christianized millinia ago. Jesus won. Christianity won so big that Norse mythology was rewritten so that at the end of Ragnarok, the only thing that survived was the great tree, Yggdrasil, - and born within it was a man and woman who remake the world - an And and Eve. The other thing is that Jesus is not like us. He doesn't approach life or circumstances as any of us would. If you were going to make up a messiah, he/she would look a lot more like Thor than Jesus Christ.

I found an interview with Merrill Kaplan, who teaches Norse literature and folklore to college students.

"In its way, Norse mythology is still alive," she said. "I don't mean paganism is alive, although there are people who have tried to revive rituals regarding these stories. But there has never been a point at which no one has been interested in this stuff.

"When the age of Norse paganism closed in history," she said, "the age of geeks opened."

The age of geeks?

Kaplan laughed, explaining that most of what we know about Norse mythology comes from monks and Christian writers who weren't worshipping these gods, but were just "geeking out" about how "cool" the stories were.

"Some of them were men in monasteries, professional men of the clergy, who thought these stories were really cool," she said. "It's the age of geeks that kept Norse myth alive. And I guess it's what continues to keep it alive."

Kaplan said there are also influences from Norse mythology that most people don't even realize. For example, "Thursday" derives from "Thor's Day."

"Somebody is always naming something after a Norse god or goddess or something in the myths," she said, citing Norwegian oil platforms called Thor and Odin. "In a way, the story of Norse mythology is still going on."

Concluding Remark

The stories are good and fun to read for sure. And Thor lives on in Comic Books but we must not forget that Jesus is a better savior than Thor could ever be.


THORSDAY: The Mythological Versus the Marvel THOR

Ragnarok - Wikipedia
Thor, Jesus and the Old Testament | HILLS BIBLE CHURCH BLOG
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character - Thor
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