In the introduction to his translation of the Volsung Saga, Jesse Byock points out that the scene of Sigurd slaying the dragon was employed on numerous churches throughout Scandinavian countries. The Christological dimensions of a dragon-slayer are obvious, but there is even more going on with Sigurd: He not only kills the dragon and gains the treasure, but also, by eating the heart of the dragon, is able to understand bird speech. In short, he becomes something more than a hero by killing Fafnir; he becomes a sage, or even a prophet. The fact that he does this by eating the heart of the dragon must also be significant in some way ?Eincorporating the wisdom of the serpent, for instance. Though the writer of the Saga makes no typological play of these events, it is easy to see why Christian readers would have done so.

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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