Even though Christianity has been around for quite some time, not all Christians really act uniformly. And so it goes with Christianity with the early Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon peoples. Since all of their literature was written by Christian monks, the stories and sagas have Christian spins on them. Beowulf, one of the major texts to be referenced here, was written down after the Anglo-Saxon conversion to Christianity and has many Christian quips written in it, even though the story was transmitted orally long before the conversion. It contains no information on what the Anglo-Saxons were like pre-conversion and whether or not Christianity actually changed the ways their society operated. Njal’s Saga, on the other hand, has the narrative of Iceland’s conversion embedded within it. This lends for a better examination of the people before and after the incident. Even with the evidence of the conversion of the country, though, it can seem hard to determine how Christianity changed the then-current Icelandic culture. To shape the idea of how biblical Christianity works, Ephesians 4:22-24 gives a good idea of how somebody should behave post conversion. It says, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (NIV). Once a person—or country in the case of
Beowulf would be an extremely different poem without christian references. As the geats await Grendel's arrival in the mead hall the author makes it clear that God rules all. Beowulf claims that, “The truth is clear: Almighty God rules over mankind and always has.” Allowing the reader to understand that all things are decided by God. This poem would lose the ability to reach a reader's beliefs without the christian references. Not only do they reach out to readers but God helps Beowulf throughout the poem. Instances of this are shown when the magical sword used to slay Grendel and his mother appears, or the strength Beowulf was gifted. Beowulf also makes many references to God being his protector and friend. Not only does Beowulf refer to God,
Beowulf is one of the most well-known poems in the world. It is considered the “mother poem” of England and has been for centuries. Christianity and Paganism do not go hand in hand as they are both well distinguished, but opposites throughout Beowulf. In the poem, the Christian monk reveals how the characters react to different situations using both religions. The core values of Paganisms believe in retaliation and vengeance, whereas Christianity’s core values signify forgiveness. Both of these attributes contradict each other through the course of the poem because the warriors look to God for guidance and protection before battle. However, when things do not go as planned they then blame it on fate. The “unknown author” in Beowulf distinguishes both religions in the poem by providing symbolism and ideologies for both Christianity and Paganism and how they contradict one another.
The story of Beowulf deals with life, death, violence, kings, and monsters. Written around 800 CE, and then picked up hundreds of years later to be rewritten by a monk, it is written well after the coming of Christ. It could be simply read as an action adventure, filled with conquests and elaborate feasts, as were common of Old English tales. The story is not that simple though, and gives us a peek into a culture going through some drastic changes. Once built upon a Pagan belief system void of Christ and saturated with values such as revenge and violence, the Anglo-Saxons did not immediately adopt all of Christianity. There was a lengthy time in which both sets of beliefs were muddled and weaved together haphazardly, where no one religion was distinct. Beowulf is an example of these cultural influences crashing together. While Christianity in Beowulf, the Old English epic poem, looks different than the Christianity we recognize today, the story is built with Christian values.
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.
Within the poem Beowulf, the poet utilizes the Christian religion to symbolize the elements of good and evil and Heaven and Hell. Beowulf is the oldest known English epic poem. The manuscripts date back to about 1000 A.D., when two scribes wrote it down for posterity. The poem was handed down from the Anglo-Saxon period, and through the retelling of the poem, it changed a little each time. The poem creates an oral depiction of an epic hero who strived to fight against the forces of evil. There really was a “historical” Beowulf who helped the Geats and Danes fight off pirates, but he was neither King of the Geats nor Danish hero at any time. In fact, he was not considered a man of any
In Beowulf the Christian element, which coexists alongside the pagan or heathen, sometimes in a seemingly contradictory fashion, is many faceted.
Both Beowulf and Jesus have many similarities. Beowulf displays many Christ-like qualities throughout the book and even receives godly assistance in his times of need. Beowulf and Christ are very similar throughout each of their stories. Therefore, Beowulf is the Christ figure of Beowulf.
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.
Throughout the story of Beowulf, the concept of religion plays a significant role. The Christianity ideology views state that man can survive and do great things through the protection of God. A strong desire of pride is also represented in the form of a hero in Beowulf, which in a sense goes against Christian morals. This clash with Christian morals in Beowulf was in the context of pride vs. humility and selfishness vs. sacrifice. In the book, Hrothgar first explained to Beowulf that pride without humility will only kill him. Beowulf struggles to find his roots as a follower of God, as well as maintaining his views and actions of Paganism.
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.
Given, the current high profile debate with regard to dating the epic poem Beowulf, it is quite surprising that some scholars go as far as placing it during the Vendel era around 550 - 793 CE. Even though it is considered as a kind of folk tale, many are those who believe it happened towards the early Vendel era. As a rebuttal to this point, it might be?convincingly argued?that this period is also referred to as the Germanic Iron Age. Moreover, this era saw the rise of Norse mythology, which is very fatalistic in nature; it focuses on a world coming to an end in a great cataclysm. Along with
In eighth-century Anglo-Saxon society, an important transition occurred from the use paganism to the new traditions of Christianity. Beowulf is an epic poem in which the main character Beowulf has an internal conflict regarding two religions. To further understand why Beowulf has both Christian and pagan influences you must first understand the Anglo-Saxon culture. In the eighth century, Christianity was evolving into the orthodox religion for the people. However, aspects of pagan culture were still being observed, but to a lesser extent. This connection led to many works of the time being of both religions. Beowulf was written by an anonymous Christian monk; the ideals of the epic poem represents Christianity, paganism, and coexists as both faiths.
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.
The Althing in Iceland accepted Christianity in 1000 A.D. (Roesdahl 269). Before that, I majority of Icelanders practiced the old faith, worshiping multiple gods. Many elements of Christianity were introduced though Viking exploration and cooperation with Christian nations, however. This is exemplified in The Saga of Gisli Sursson. Gisli died around twenty years before the particular Althing, but many aspects of his life indicate he was influenced by Christianity. The saga never mentions the faith by name, but references to the religion are there. Through the events portrayed in The Saga of Gisli Sursson, support is given for Christianity.