Neorxnawang

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Neorxnawang (also Neorxenawang, Neorxnawong; possibly "field of contentment"[1]) is an Old English term used to translate the Christian concept of "paradise" in Anglo-Saxon literature.[2] The term is often theorized as originally having referred to a mythological "heavenly meadow", or place without toil or worries, in Germanic paganism.[3]

Etymology

While the second half of the word, "-wang", is widely considered to mean "field" and waggs appears for "paradise" in Gothic, the first half of the word has not resulted in a standard form, though at least a dozen attempts have been made to interpret it.[2] Scholar Rudolf Simek states that it is possible to consider the term as a Proto-Germanic term for "Asgard" or "Other World" due to the unclear meaning, that Christian authors who used it seemed to have a poor understanding of it as well, and that it corresponds with the North Germanic terms Iðavöllr (possibly "field of activity" or "the continually renewing, rejuvenating field") and Glæsisvellir ("the shining fields").[2]

19th century scholar Jacob Grimm comments that etymological connections have been proposed between Norn and Neorxnawang, but says that the theory raises etymological and lore problems: "The A. gen. pl. neorxana, which only occurs in 'neorxena wong' = paradisus, has been proposed, but the abbreviation would be something unheard of, and even the nom. sing. neorxe or neorxu at variance with norn; besides,the Parcae are nowhere found connected with paradise."[4]

Late 19th and early 20th century philologist James Bright proposes that the variant neorxena- element derives from the phrase ne wyrcan, meaning "no working".[5]

In a 2012 paper, Joseph S. Hopkins and Haukur Þorgeirsson propose a connection between Old Norse Fólkvangr, an afterlife location overseen by the goddess Freyja, and a variety of other Germanic words referring to the afterlife that contain extensions of Proto-Germanic *wangaz (including Old English Neorxnawang), potentially pointing to an early Germanic '*wangaz of the dead'.[6]

See also

  • Muspilli, an Old High German poem where pagan vocabulary and Christian concepts mingle
  • Þrúðvangr, the field of the god Thor
  • Welkin, an Old English term for the sky, heavens, and clouds

Notes

  1. ^ McKinnell (2005:51).
  2. ^ a b c Simek (2007:229).
  3. ^ Jeep (2001:554).
  4. ^ Grimm (1882:405).
  5. ^ Bright (1913:334).
  6. ^ Hopkins and Haukur (2012:14-17).

References

  • Bright, James Wilson (1913). An Anglo-Saxon Reader. Henry Holt and Company.
  • Grimm, Jacob (James Steven Stallybrass Trans.) (1882). Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. I. London: George Bell and Sons.
  • Hopkins, Joseph S. and Haukur Þorgeirsson (2012). "The Ship in the Field". RMN Newsletter 3, 2011:14-18. University of Helsinki.
  • McKinnell, John (2005). Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend. D.S. Brewer ISBN 1-84384-042-1
  • Jeep, John (2005). Medieval Germany: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 0-8240-7644-3
  • Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1
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