Epic of Beowulf - Contradictory Christian Elements in Beowulf

1964 Words 8 Pages
Contradictory Christian Elements in Beowulf

In Beowulf the Christian element, which coexists alongside the pagan or heathen, sometimes in a seemingly contradictory fashion, is many faceted.

Certainly the Christian element seems to be too deeply interwoven in the text for us to suppose that it is due to additions made by scribes at a time when the poem had come to be written down. The Christian element had to be included by the original poet or by minstrels who recited it in later times. The extent to which the Christian element is present varies in different parts of the poem. In the last portion (2200–3183) the number of lines affected by it amounts to less than four per cent., while in the section dealing with
…show more content…
with the corpse in the burial mound overlooking the sea. Including such heathen rites enables the poet to “communicate his Christian vision of pagan heroic life.”(Bloom 2). Additonally, earlier in the poem, the Danes, when under extreme pressure from Grendel, reverted to Satan-worship:

At times they prepared sacrifice in temples,

war-idol offerings, said the old words aloud,

that the great soul-slayer might bring some comfort

in their country’s disaster. Such was their custom,

the hope of the heathen; they remembered Hell

in their deepest thoughts. They knew not the Lord,

the Judge of our deeds, were ignorant of God,

knew not how to worship our Protector above,

the King of Glory (175ff)

The minstrels’ catechesis seems poor because their allusions to the church and to the Bible are quite indistinct, vague, indefinete, thus reflecting a vague knowledge of Christianity on their

More about Epic of Beowulf - Contradictory Christian Elements in Beowulf

Open Document