35) For this reason, then, the absence of a purposeful act of sacrifice by Odinn leaves no obvious void in the motivation for Baldr's killing--that is, why Baldr was killed.
Because what is said in Voluspa about the death of Baldr is not then plainly inconsistent with what Snorri tells us, it may appear that Snorri's narrative simply and uncontroversially 'fills in' from some native source the details absent in Voluspa.
It is suggestive, though, that, as I have shown, these elements do provide linked answers--and significantly, slightly unsatisfactory ones--to central questions which the absence of the element of Odinic sacrifice leaves hanging: the misdetoe becomes (improbably) lethal because of its exclusion from the inviolability oath, not because of an Odinic transformation; the game of target practice offers a (rather unseemly) context for the harmless throwing of weapons at Baldr, in place of a ritual which needs Odinn's intervention to make it lethally effective; Hodr's blindness enables (to a certain extent) Loki's manipulated accident in place of Odinn's mysterious but purposeful sacrifice of his son.
In arguing that the mistletoe's exclusion, the target practice, and the blind shooter were not part of the earlier versions of the myth, I will review a suggestion made long ago for a non-native analogue to the exclusion of the mistletoe from the vow not to harm Baldr, and then suggest other possible sources outside Old Norse-Icelandic tradition for, firstly, the game of throwing things at Baldr, and finally, and in most detail, the blindness of Hodr requiring the guiding hand of Loki--the lethal shot of a blind man.
As Turville-Petre has noted, Sophus Bugge, in the course of a remarkable investigation of Christian and classical parallels to the Baldr myth, alludes to a medieval Jewish story in which every tree swears not to act as the cross on which Christ was crucified--all except the unlikely cabbage stalk, which eventually forms the Cross.
That the AEsir gather around Baldr firing missiles at him for fun is the second aspect of Snorri's narrative which has no counterpart in the earlier versions of the story we have considered.
In conclusion, then, it may be that Snorri's account of the death of Baldr owes almost as much to Christian and, eventually, Jewish tradition as to earlier Norse myth, though it is impossible to say whether Snorri's failure to present the death of Baldr as an Odinic act was due to ignorance or distaste.
In suggesting that Snorri's account of the death of Baldr has been influenced by Christian and ultimately Jewish tradition, I have tried to limit myself to specific texts and particular times.
Neckel, for example, regarded the incident as having been an actual historical event which the poet has reworked in order to emphasize its similarity to the killing of Baldr (Beowulf, ed.
10) For instance, Turville-Petre opens his discussion of the story of Baldr with a long quotation from Gylfaginning, the first section of Snorri's Edda (E.
12) Snorri quotes two lines from Ulfr Uggason which identify Baldr as the son of Odinn (Edda Snorra Sturlusonar, p.
Peter Fisher (Cambridge, 1979), book III Jean Renaud has recently compared Saxo and the Old Norse accounts of the death of Baldr in 'Godsognin um Baldur i medforum Saxa malspaka', in Heidin Minni: Greinar um fornar bokmenntir, ed.