In the story of Beowulf, there is a noticeable struggle between Christianity and Paganism, and the characters personal battle between the two. Throughout the story the characters display actions that lead towards Paganism and Christianity. Contrary to Pagan belief Beowulf is seen as the epitome of good and beneficent to all of mankind. In Beowulf, the people showed their faith and love in God, however due to horrific events, paranoia caused them to look for a quick fix and turns them to Paganism.
Although the story of Beowulf is filled with references to religion and faith, many discrepancies occur throughout the story that suggest that Beowulf is not a Christian epic. The character of Beowulf frequently speaks to God and obviously believes in His existence. However, pagan practices are mentioned in several places. Beowulf often refers to another being rather than the Christian God. Pagan practices of cremation and blood-drinking are included in the epic. There are also frequent allusions to the power of fate, the motive of blood revenge, and praise of worldly glory. All of these aspects make Beowulf a pagan tale with a few Christian elements.
Written at a time when Pagan and Judeo Christian beliefs were both in the Scandinavian region, Beowulf provides a unique blend between the two, creating a vibrant and fascinating world full of monsters, magic sword, and mighty heroes who save the innocent. God plays an immense role in Beowulf as defender of men, giver of victories, and provider of Beowulf. What is unique about the God in Beowulf is He is not truly Christian or Pagan, but rather a blend created from the beliefs of the Celtic people. This God upholds righteousness and condemns immorality. He decides the outcome of battles through Fate and guides leaders decisions on vital matters. “But the Lord was weaving a victory on His war-loom for the Weather-Geats”(696-697). This clear
In Beowulf the Christian element, which coexists alongside the pagan or heathen, sometimes in a seemingly contradictory fashion, is many faceted.
The expression “Jesus take the wheel” is quite common in today’s world, but just because it is a modern saying does not mean that it did not have any relevance in earlier time. Throughout the story of Beowulf, a comparison between Christianity and paganism had always been a topic discussed both within the text and spoken aloud in the classroom. Likewise, in this instance, man-made issues serves as a mirror of paganism and trust in God becomes Christianity. Many factors throughout section three revert to paganism rather than Christianity because there was no trust in God. Details such as pride, arranged marriage, and death are the major aspects of man-made issues in this section.
Throughout the ancient society of Anglo-Saxons, the pagan beliefs commonly caused people to do things for their own personal gain of fame. On the other hand, Christianity, which had just started to emerge in this society taught values of selflessness and respecting God. Although the story Beowulf was written down by Christian monks, pagan beliefs are prevalent throughout the epic. Beowulf is a character who acts on many values promised by paganism that make up the who he is.
The significance of Paganism and Christianity are both present in Beowulf. Beowulf was written between the 8th and 10th century’s, when the Anglo-Saxon society was beginning to change from Paganism to Christianity. Many believe that this is essentially a pagan work since the Christian faith hadn’t fully arrived in the Anglo-Saxon society. However, according to Douglas Wilson, “The poet could easily have known individual Christian Anglo-Saxons who had converted from paganism”(page.31); this showing how the author would have been able to retrieve information about the customs and morals of Christianity. Christianity is a religion based upon monotheistic beliefs, belief in one personal and transcendent God and based through Jesus’s teachings. This religion teaches that God has a path for everyone, that people may choose to follow and live by him. The epic poem through the years, has been based upon Christianity but still contains a good deal of Pagan elements. Paganism is a religion founded before Christianity, having no belief in a personal god and based more on the concept of fate, that people do not have control over their life. In Beowulf, God is praised for all of his works by Beowulf himself, and the other characters. While also believing that fate controlled the character’s lives.
Christianity arrived in Northern Europe over one thousand years ago. This is evidenced by some of the earliest pieces of literature that we have. The epic poem, “Beowulf”, shows many references to the influence of Christianity on English culture. There are many parallels between characters in “Beowulf” and characters from the Bible. Many Christian themes and virtues are also portrayed in “Beowulf”. Throughout “Beowulf”, the theme of Christianity manifests itself through Christ-like images of Beowulf as well as his strength in God allowing him to ward off monsters of paganism.
Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic that was transmitted verbally for hundreds of years before it was written down. Around the time of its composition, Christianity was beginning to gain prominence in England and was quickly replacing the animistic religion of the Celts. As a result of the dueling religions of the time, the poem includes influences from both Christianity and paganism, leaving its readers to wonder which religion had the most sway over the poet. Beowulf is a fundamentally more Christian epic on account of Beowulf’s resemblances of Jesus Christ, its allusions to the Bible, and its intimation of a supreme, monotheistic religion.
In the epic poem Beowulf, the struggle between good and evil reveals its omnipresence in even the oldest of tales. The many allusions and symbols throughout the story relate to Christianity and other Pagan beliefs. By looking at them, it becomes apparent that the author of Beowulf believed that the constant war between good and evil is not only fought by the common man but also in the ranks of their highest esteemed rulers and warriors, and even in their dreaded nightmares where monsters lurk and wait for the death of man. Beowulf was written during the budding of Christianity in England, when it was newly forming. In the story there are obvious references to Christian rituals.
"How the Almighty had made the earth a gleaming plain girdled with waters; in His splendor He set the sun and the moon to be earth's lamplight, lanterns for men and filled the broad lap of the world with branches and leaves; and quickened life in every other thing that moved."(Line 92)
A merger of pagan and Christian beliefs that occurs in the poem, “Beowulf” is the representation of Grendel. Grendel’s ancestry and evil denote Christian beliefs. Grendel is a descendant of
Beowulf's Christian Elements There are several cases within Beowulf in which elements of Christianity may be found. Such cases are not always easily spotted within the text of the book; some are much more obvious than others. If looked at closely, there are several subtle cases of Christianity, along with the more obvious ones. However, with enough examination, it is possible identify and compare each instance with Biblical references.
Beowulf has both pagan and Christian influences. Throughout the story there are many elements of Christian teachings: that man survives only through the protection of God, that all earthly gifts flow from God, and that the proper bearing of man is to be humble and unselfish (csis.edu, 2011). While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones are more prevalent, exhibiting many elements of Christian heroism in the poem. An example is when Beowulf says “God must decide who will be given to death's cold grip” (Norton, lines 174-175). He knows that God has already created an ending to this battle with Grendel, and he is lavished with peace. He shows true Christian character, bravery, and faith in the manner in which he
Beowulf was obviously, in its origin, a pagan text. There are several examples of pagan elements throughout the story. The belief in wergild, a term meaning man-price, is one of the strongest of these ideas. It also incorporates the pagan ideas of fate, the fashion in which lords are buried, and symbols of paganism. The text is clearly one that tells a Germanic heroic narrative, which is not acceptable to the Judeo-Christian ideals.