Þorlákur Skúlason

Þorlákur Skúlason (24 August 1597 – 4 January 1656) was bishop of Hólar from 1628 until his death in 1656. During his tenure, he oversaw publication of the second Icelandic translation of the full Bible.

Þorlákur Skúlason
Bishop of Holar
ChurchChurch of Iceland
In office1628–1656
PredecessorGuðbrandur Þorláksson
SuccessorGísli Þorláksson
Personal details
Born24 August 1597
Eiríksstaðir, Iceland
Died4 January 1656
Hólar, Iceland
Nationality Icelandic

Early lifeEdit

Þorlákur was born in Eiríksstaðir in Svartárdalur [is] to the farmer Skúli Einarsson (d. 1612) and Steinunn Guðbrandsdóttir (b. 1571), the daughter of Guðbrandur Þorláksson (with Guðrún Gísladóttir), bishop of Hólar.[1]

He grew up in Hólar with his grandfather and studied under the bishop to become a priest. In 1616, he departed Iceland for Denmark where he earned a degree at the University of Copenhagen. He returned to Hólar in 1619 to oversee the Hólar College, but in 1620 he resumed his studies in Copenhagen. After returning to Iceland in 1621, Þorlákur was installed as a priest in Hólar in 1624.[1] One of his early tasks was to seek wood for a new cathedral.

Bishop of HólarEdit

After the death of Bishop Guðbrandur on 20 July 1627, Þorlákur was elected as his successor.[2] He was ordained as bishop on 16 May 1628 in Copenhagen and arrived back in Hólar on 2 August of the same year.[1]

Páll Eggert Ólason described Þorlákur as: "A gentle man and untroubled, generally more quiet than noisy. However, the church government did well under him. He was cheerful and humorous, a gentle Latin poet with brilliant talents."[3]

Scholarly workEdit

As bishop, Þorlákur continued the publishing of religious works as his grandfather, Guðbrandur, had done. In total about 30 books were published under his direction, most notably the second full translation of The Bible in Icelandic. Known as Þorláksbiblía [is], it was largely a reprinting of the earlier Guðbrandsbiblía, but with revisions made based upon the Danish-language 1607 translation by Hans Poulsen Resen [da].[4][5] Halldór Ásmundsson, the printer at Hólar, began printing the Þorláksbiblía in 1637 and completed it on 16 June 1644.[6] He also translated several books by the German theologian Johann Gerhard, including Meditationes Sacrae in 1630 and The Daily Exercise of Piety in 1652.

Þorlákur was also interested in archaeology and natural history, keeping up active correspondence with others in Iceland and abroad, including the Danish scientist Ole Worm.[7] In 1647, he published in Latin a description of Iceland's natural world.[8] Among other works, Þorlákur published was Björn Jónsson's history of the 1627 Barbary pirates' raid on Iceland.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1630, Þorlákur married Kristín Gísladóttir (27 February 1610 – 10 June 1694), and they had several sons and daughters, including Gísli Þorláksson, who succeeded Þorlákur as Bishop of Hólum, and Þórður Þorláksson, who became Bishop of Skálholt.


  1. ^ a b c Kaalund, Kristian (1902). "Skúlason, Thorlákur". In Bricka, Carl Frederik (ed.). Dansk Biografisk Lexikon [Danish Biographical Dictionary] (in Danish). Vol. XVI. pp. 94–95. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  2. ^ Allen, W. Sidney (1991). "Three Icelandic Bibles". Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society. 10 (1): 75–85. JSTOR 41154805.
  3. ^ Páll Eggert Ólason. Íslenskar Æviskrár (in Icelandic). Vol. V.
  4. ^ Cameron, Euan (2016). The New Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume 3, From 1450 to 1750. Cambridge University Press. p. 434. ISBN 978-1-316-35174-1. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  5. ^ Green, Daryl (25 November 2011). "52 Weeks of Fantastic Bindings: Week 24". Special Collections blog. St. Andrews, Scotland: University of St Andrews. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  6. ^ G.M. (October 1984). "Hóla-biblíurnar gömlu" [The Old Hóla Bilbe]. Prentarinn (in Icelandic). 4 (4): 18. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
  7. ^ Jón Helgason (1941). "Ole Worm's correspondence with Icelanders". In Jakob Benediktsson (ed.). Bibliotheca Arnamagnæana. E. Munksgaard. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  8. ^ Þorvaldur Thoroddsen (1897). Geschichte der isländischen Geographie [History of Icelandic Geography] (in German). Translated by Gebhardt, August. Teubner. p. 120. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  9. ^ Þorsteinn Helgason (2018). The Corsairs' Longest Voyage: The Turkish Raid in Iceland 1627. Brill. pp. 258–259. ISBN 978-90-04-36370-0. Retrieved 9 June 2020.


  • Páll Eggert Ólason: Íslenskar æviskrár V.
  • Páll Eggert Ólason: Menn og menntir siðskiptaaldarinnar á Íslandi.
Preceded by Bishop of Hólar
Succeeded by