Reconciling Ingrained Traditions with Newly Emerging Christianity

1203 WordsJul 15, 20185 Pages
Before the eighth century, England was a pagan society, the English originated from a society marred in idolatry and polytheism. The intermingling of Christian and pagan elements in Beowulf are consistent with the attitudes toward religion that are found in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Beowulf was written in the Middle Ages (500-1000) on Scandinavia, which was a highly pagan society, however the narrator is telling this story within the timeframe of medieval Anglo-Saxon Britain, which was undergoing Christianization. Hence, within the author’s structure of the poem bear a resemblance to the society presented in Bede. Both books while highlighting the intermingling of Christian and pagan elements did not shy away…show more content…
It was under kingship of Ethelbert that the English first converted to Christianity in Bede. Letters from Pope Gregory King Ethelbert highlight the problem of idol worship that persisted in the English society during their first conversion to Christianity. Even those who converted to Christianity such as king Redwald often got “apostatize(d)” back by their societies, as most people were still ingrained in paganism. For Redwald, it was wife who led him back into pagan practice. After his reversion to pagan practice Redwald tried to “serve both Christ and the ancient gods, and he had in the same shrine an altar for the holy sacrifice of Christ side by side with a small altar on which victims were offered to devils.” It is such amalgamation of practices that illustrates the intermingling of Christian and pagan elements in both the sources. Areas such as the East Saxons and Essex often lapsed back into paganism. For instance, the East Saxons appostized under king Sigbert and reconverted to Christianity “by the preaching of Cedd.” Another example is that of the Northumbrians who returned to paganism in 634 C.E after the death of king Edwin. This reversion to paganism was evident in Beowulf when Grendel terrorized the Danes, who resultantly turned back to idol worship even though they acknowledge the existence of the Christian God and his power of creation in a song they sang about

    More about Reconciling Ingrained Traditions with Newly Emerging Christianity

      Open Document