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Christianity and Literature 542 the author of the Gospel that bears his name, is a brilliant theologian and also a magnificent storyteller. Perhaps he is a storyteller first, then a theologian … it is from stories, real-life stories, that his theology has developed and grown” (30). How will one walk away from a thorough read of In the Beginning Were Stories, Not Texts? That will depend on a number of things. One’s theological background, generation, and pedagogical preferences will no doubt impact the read. Some will find it provocative. Others will find it perplexing or puzzling. Still others will find it provoking and persuasive. Wherever the reader lands, what cannot be denied is the ability of story to communicate to the East and the West, particularly to a postmodern audience currently characterized as oral-preferenced learners. These individuals, who John Sachs calls “digitorials,” prefer stories and images over statistics and abstract concepts; screens over printed texts. Is it time to reintroduce a story-based theology to regain a lost perspective (particularly in the West) of Scripture? Is it time to provide propositions a story-based home from which they emerged? Song would answer these questions with a resounding, “Yes!” Tom A. Steffen Biola University The Conversion of Scandinavia: Vikings, Merchants, and Missionaries in the Remaking of Northern Europe. By Anders Winroth. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. Pp. 238. $28.00. In The Rise of Western Christendom Peter Brown observed, “When they came to accept Christianity, the Northmen preferred to remember having done so on their own accord. … In [AD] 1,000, the farmers of Iceland voted at their annual Assembly at Thingvellir, to adopt a single ‘Christian law…’” In this volume, Anders Winroth very much accepts this historical event in Iceland as a model for Scandinavia’s institutional acceptance of Christianity. The opposite model for him is found in the case of Saxony in northern Germany which had no such vote by its chieftains, but found itself entangled in a thirty-years war of resistance against Charlemagne’s Christianity, to which it was finally forced to submit by superior force of arms. Initially, I found this book somewhat perplexing, despite rewarding insights and connections not previously seen, and this difficulty was caused by the unusual lack of correspondence between the title of the book and its contents. The author calls the book The Conversion of Scandinavia, which creates expectations, but then divides his book in a way that does not seem to correspond to the title, whether 543 Book Reviews “conversion” is understood as the official, institutional date of conversion, or as the very long time period of gradual Christianization. The book, like Gaul, is divided into three parts. The first and longest part consists of an introduction and seven chapters that are devoted to a review of Viking history and achievements with the perceptive slant of seeing Viking history as driven by its comitatus structure: the Vikings’ socioeconomic world. The second part, chapters 8, 9, and 10, deals with the issue of institutional (official) conversion to Christianity, and the third part, chapters 11 and 12, conclude the work by discussing the introduction of monarchy and towns as replacements for chieftains and halls, as well as the economic gifts that Scandinavia brought, not to Christendom, but to Europe. In Winroth’s book there is a correspondence between the socioeconomic history of part one and the political changes in part three. They complement each other. The forty-two pages of the middle chapters on the religious conversion of Scandinavia seem a bit thin and out of place. The conversion section of the book appears ill at ease in the volume, for a number of reasons; one is the lack of dealing with religion except as a community creator. Were it not for Hallfred’s poem in the beginning in which he objects to the new religion on the basis of the gods, the norns, and their poetry, religious myths would be absent except on the book cover. Odin barely gets a mention. Freya and Christ, are found only in Hallfred’s poem. Neither figure is even mentioned by name in the index. A second reason is that the concluding...


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pp. 542-545
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