Beowulf and Christianity

There are stories told all over the world handed down from generation to generation. Some remember these stories by memory, but are lost in time, and some write them down to be remembered forever as a part of history. Beowulf is one such story that has been mysteriously remembered for many centuries. I’ve very much enjoyed reading Beowulf. However, since this story has been around for so long many people have added, reduced, or omitted bits and pieces of the story.

In other words, it has become an almost epic legend, never knowing if it was real or if it is rumor. And like any rumor being told to others, the story gets better and better over time like a fine wine. Since this poem has been around for many centuries, it is clear in much of the readings that Christianity is highly incorporated, even though the poem is composed of a Scandinavian hero that is pagan and the poem gives us an overview of what Anglo-Saxon culture would have been like.

Most scholars are sure that this poem was composed in England and that it was written sometime between the 8th and 11th century. We read in many books that during the 6th and 7th century, England was converting to Christianity. In view of the fact that most of the sayings in Beowulf are Germanic paganistic sayings I believe that since the narrator was Christian, he incorporated many of the sayings to be in beatitude form and that it seems clear that he only referred to one god instead of many which is the ideal way of Paganism.

When we first begin to read Beowulf even the description of Grendel as the “grim demon” has many translated words of a Christian culture. The narrator depicts Grendel as “a powerful demon” and a “fiend out of hell” and even incorporates where this abomination is derived from. The narrator tells us that he emerged from the curse of “the Creator” in which he “condemned as outcasts”. This story is derived from the book of Genesis in the bible. In which states, “And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him”-Genesis 4:15.

The narrator refers to one god many times in the story and incorporates many sayings in the bible from the Old Testament as well as some from the New Testament, such as the beatitudes. The beatitudes can be found in the New Testament in Mathew 5:1-12. The beatitudes are said to be the teachings of Jesus, which opens the Sermon on the Mount. In the bible are also many forms of “Blessed is he” in which we also see in Beowulf. “But blessed is he who after death can approach the Lord and find friendship in the Father’s embrace.

This verse in the poem not only acknowledges that there is one God the father but also acknowledges that there is a son for you can’t be a father without having a son. We know that the people in Beowulf are believed to be pagan and maybe the father/son reference is to the god Odin and his son Thor, but there is much evidence to support that the God is the “almighty” father as Christians know there one God to be. This verse also resembles much of the verses from Psalms and Proverbs in the New Testament.

Many scholars are well aware of the fact that the poem is written by a Christian because of the believed time period that this poem was inspired from. The amount of mysteries surrounding the origin of this poem is innumerous but since the poem was believed to be composed around the middle of the seventh and tenth century the composer must have had a sense of wanting to depict paganism and in a way keep it alive but throughout time it has lost most it’s pagan ways of thinking I believe. In result of this Christian belief is highly incorporated into this poem and is noticeable to all.

Even Beowulf himself says, “if God had not helped me the outcome would have been quick and fatalBut the Lord of Men allowed me to behold” I most enjoy as well the story Hrothgar tells of the King who bathed himself in power and the wrath God set upon him. It seems as though that more of the Old Testament is intertwined in the poem more than the New Testament but without a doubt many hidden references to the teachings, for example the beatitudes and proverbs, and existence of the son of god is well interpreted in Beowulf by including words such as “Almighty Father” and “God the Father”.

All in all establishing that Christianity is well throughout the poem is obvious, but I believe that somewhere before the Christians interpreted Beowulf that these Scandinavian characters and heroes well understood and somewhat knew that there is one God and they expressed this in terms that is understand today as the Beatitudes.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment