Essay Jesus - the Epic Hero

990 Words Nov 4th, 2012 4 Pages
Jesus – the Epic Hero
Although the Bible’s description of Jesus and his crucifixion has not been changed, the perception of the people about Jesus has been changing throughout the ages. The poem “The Dream of the Rood” is good example of a unique view of Jesus and his crucifixion. The poem is referred as “one of the first and most successful treatments of the crucifixion” in Old English poetry (Burrow 123).
The poem consists of a mixture of Christian and epic elements and has a very unique style. It represents the crucifixion as a battle and Christ as an epic hero, similar to Beowulf, which is quite different from the texts in the Bible. This contrast can be observed in the description of Jesus’ action during the crucifixion, and in the
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Jesus’ willingness to die shows his courage which is very important characteristic for an epic hero. This behavior is similar to Beowulf’s when Beowulf goes to battle the dragon, knowing that this would be his last battle; Beowulf says, “By my courage, or else mortal combat, /doom of battle, will bear your lord away” (2536-7).
In Anglo-Saxon poetry the relationship between the lord and his warriors is very important. “The warriors vowed loyalty to his lord,… in return, the lord was expected to…reward them richly for their valor”(Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams 30-31). The loyalty of Chris’ thanes is shown in Jesus’ burial. The burial of Christ in the poem is described as a burial of an epic hero rather than a burial of Jesus presented in the Bible. According to the Bible, Jesus is simply buried in tomb near by the place where he is crucified (John 19: 41-42). “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. /… since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” (John 19: 41-42). In “The Dream of the Rood” Jesus’ burial is much similar to a burial of a great warrior like Beowulf. Beowulf’s people built “a mound on a headland,… their hero’s memorial”(3156,3160). In the poem Jesus’ “warriors” “began to build him an earth-house in the side of his slayer, carved it out of bright stone; they set there the

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