The Brothers Grimm published their famous fairy tales in 1812 which may lead us to believe that the classic fairytales we have all come to know and love are more modern inventions, perhaps a few hundred years, maybe even 500 years, but certainly not predating Christ or Christianity. Surely, any Christian elements in these tales must post date Christianity’s arrival into Europe.
Recent linguistic evidence however has found that European Fairy Tales, such as the ones written down by the Brothers Grimm, are 5,000 years old! This information published in Royal Society Open Science lends credence to a personal theory I have held for years.
Europe seemed remarkably ready for Christ’s teachings when they arrived. True, many were converted by influence, both positive and negative, from the royalty and many converted on pain of death, but Christianity has not flourished anywhere in the world like it has in Europe, including even in its birth place of the Middle East.
Christianity and Europeans seemed made for each other, a glorious marriage. Under Christianity Europe has thrived. During the christianizing Middle Ages art and technology expounded rapidly, giving us the iron plow, gravity propelled water mills, wind mills powering water pumps, gothic cathedrals and written music.
Other societies in Europe had made huge technological and artistic leaps before the Middle Ages, Greece of course being the most dominant force but when we take a look at Ancient Greece we find that they too seemed primed for Christianity.
In Greece the intellectual elite paid little credence to the pagan gods but rather came to a conclusion about God based on logical dedication. This God, first proposed by Plato, was a God very similar to the Christian God. Unlike the pagan gods, Plato’s God was one of monotheism. He had created the universe and had control over all things (though Plato thought he stood back and did not exercise that control).
This very Christian-like concept of God led Clement of Alexander to remark that Greek philosophy was a school master meant to bring the Greeks to Christ just as the Old Testament had meant to bring the Jews.
In Western European, Scandinavian and British Isles fairy tales we also find a school master. Within many of these stories are reoccurring themes of good verses evil, commandments, proper behavior, etc. We see characters fall into sin, fail to admit to that sin, and approach death only to find redemption in confession and then intervention from an other worldly/magical source.
I would theorize that just as Greek theology was a school master meant to bring the Greeks, and other parts of Eastern Europe, to Christ, so were the lovely fairy tales of our Northern and Western European people a school master which prepared the loveliest of brides, Europe, for her bridegroom, Christ.