Darkness in the East

Darkness in the East? Eastern influence in Scandinavia during the Viking Age
and Early Middle Ages
The paper focuses on an ongoing discussion as to whether impulses from the Greek
Orthodox Christianity influenced the earliest stages of Christianity in Scandinavia. It
is a debate that has engaged modern archaeologists on one hand, who have found
ample evidence of eastern influence, and a modern generation of church historians on
the other hand, supported by a few art historians, who has flatly denied any such
In the paper I will take a critical look on the type of arguments used by
the church historians and their art historian colleagues. Partly inspired by the situation
in the western part of pre-crusade Finland with its 11th-century Christian burials and
the survival in the Finnish language of remnants of a Church Slavonic Christian
vocabulary I will also briefly introduce the concept Varangian Christianity as a
vehicle to explain both eastern influence on early Christianity in Scandinavia
(including parts of Finland), observed by archaeologists, and the western
(Scandinavian) influence on early Christianity in Rus’, which so far has attracted
little attention.