BEOWULF: Defining God The epic poem of Beowulf is truly one-of-a-kind. What other old world poem can lay claim to withholding its own pagan roots and references while being transcribed by a Christian poet? Like other poems of the ‘old world’, Beowulf’s story has its beginnings in oral tradition. Around 850 AD the stories were culminated and written down in the Anglo-Saxon language of the time by a Christian poet.
The poet doesn’t let the fact that they were Christian severely affect the poem either.
That does not mean that his opinions are kept quiet. There are plenty of references to the Christian God throughout the entire poem. It makes you wonder exactly how many different ways can someone refer to “Almighty God”. And let us not forget the ubiquitous Bible lesson; “And from Cain there sprang misbegotten spirits, among them Grendel, the banished and accursed”[1265-1266]. But our poet does not loose sight that these people are pagans with this reference; “… s he advanced, hurrying to address the Prince of Ingwins”[1318-1319]. Ingwins are the friends/worshipers of the god Ing; in other words the Danes of this poem. Being pagan, they are also unaware of the origins of the ‘misbegotten’ as noted when Hrothgar says: “They are fatherless creatures, and their whole ancestry is hidden in a past of demons and ghosts” [1355-1356]. Give credit where credit is due, the poet remained true to both religions without compensating for the other; “praise God”1398. OK, which one?