When asked how everything in the world was created and formed the beginning of life, many people will turn to the Book of Genesis in the Bible. This story explains to Christians exactly how God created the world and man. However, this has not always been the go-to response to answer the question of our beginning. Creation myths spring from almost each and every type of civilization and each one brings different ideas and support to back up their theories. The differences between Eastern and Western creation myths are very easy to spot, but what makes them interesting is the fact that they are all trying to explain the same thing. For the ancient Viking folk from the Eastern continents, it was normal to believe in Norse mythology.
Before the stories from the Book of Genesis and Norse creation myths can be remotely compared, there must be one key distinction between the two. People of the Norse believed in a polytheistic religion, meaning that they believed in multiple gods. After making this distinction, the stories become more and more different as they try to explain each separate phenomena of the world. The Book of Genesis explains the creation of the world in a fairly simple way. To put it bluntly, God created everything. He fashioned the world in six days and rested on the seventh. (Linder) All in all, this creation myth has a little more detail to it but is very simple and concise. Contrary to the Book of Genesis’ creation story, the story of creation in Norse mythology is much more elaborate and magical.
As the Book of Genesis is to the Christian faith, The Prose Edda is the book that contains the stories of Norse creation. In the beginning, the first world to ever exist was named Muspell. This world is covered in fire, lava, and volcanoes all over. This planet contained so much heat on its surface that even the space around the planet was too hot for any hope of human life. The next place of importance was named Niflheim. This was the exact opposite of Muspell. Landscapes of ice, glaciers, and snow covered the entire surface of Niflheim. The distance between all the worlds of this solar system was named Ginnungagap, the dark void. Ginnungagap is similar to what scientists consider outer space nowadays. When the fiery winds of Muspell and the icy blizzards of Niflheim reached across Ginnungagap and clashed, they created the first being of life, known as Ymir. (Ashliman)
Ymir was a frost giant that was born from the mixture of hot and cold from the two distant planets. The frost giant’s cool skin would sweat as he slept with the intense heat from Muspell, but the freezing temperatures from the frost world regenerated the ice in his body. The sweat of Ymir’s armpits eventually created the first man and woman. Another creature named Audhumla, a gigantic cow, was birthed from Ymir’s sweat and lived by licking the ice from Ymir’s body, and in turn Ymir fed by drinking from her teats. (Lemmen)
Eventually Audhumla uncovered a man in the ice blocks that she licked. This man was known as Buri (Lemmen). Buri ended up raising a family and ended up having the three most powerful gods of Norse mythology as sons. Odin, Vili, and Ve were all born from the relationship that Buri had with a woman named Bestla. (Ashliman) These three gods then grew up and rebelled against the frost giants and ended up wiping nearly every one of them out. After they killed Ymir, they took individual parts of his body and fashioned the Earth out of it. His skin became the ground, his bones became the mountains, his blood became the waters, and his hair became the foliage of the Earth. (Lemmen) These gods then began to expand life on Earth, also known as Midgaard, populating areas with animals and humans.
This piece of the creation story of Norse mythology only explains how life and the Earth began. It continues to explain why almost each and every phenomena of the world happens and how it happens. When looking at the comparison of the Book of Genesis and The Prose Edda, one can see the numerous differences between the two. The concept of myth is one of the few things that is common between the two. From the beginning to the end, humans will always find ways to explain how and why certain things happen, and these myths make up a strong basis for what our society believes in today.
Linder, Doug. (2004), “ The History of Genesis and the Creation Stories.” UMKC
School of Law. N. p., n. d. Web. 16 Sept. 2012.
Ashliman, D. L.. “ The Norse Creation Myth.” University of Pittsburgh. N. p., 17 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2012.
Lemmen, Kainen. “ Norse Creation Myth.” Angelfire. N. p., n. d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.