Christian Elements in Beowulf

Christian Elements in Beowulf

The epic poem Beowulf which was written in pagan times, it is complete with many allusions to topics relating to the Christian faith that can be used as evidence of a Christian influence. For instance passages containing biblical history, displeasure with heathen ideas, and the mention of doctrines typically Christian can be found in the text of Beowulf. This is important because it will prove that a Beowulf was written by a Christian author to inform and entertain a Christian audience and also spread the beliefs and ideas of the religion.

One of the first Christian influences noticed were the passages that contained biblical history or allusions to some parables in the bible. These include references to Cain the first murderer, Abel the first victim of murder, and the flood. The following quote describes Cain’s evil lineage with an example from the bible. Grendel was the name of this grim demon haunting the marches, marauding round the heath and the desolate fens; he had dwelt for a time in misery among the banished monsters, Cain’s clan, whom the creator had outlawed and condemned as outcasts. For the killing of Abel the Eternal Lord had exacted a price:

Cain got no good from committing that murder because the Almighty made him anathema and out of the curse of his exile there sprang ogres and elves and evil phantoms and the giants too who strove with God time and again until He gave them their reward. (102-114) (Heaney) This quote illustrates why Grendel was evil. It describes him as being a descendant of Cain and banished from the grace of God In addition, there are passages containing expressions in disapproval of heathen worship. There is one of these in the introduction to the Danes near the beginning of the poem. Sometimes at pagan shrines they vowed fferings to idols, swore oaths that the killer of souls might come to their aid and save the people. That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell. (175-180) (Heaney) The author shows some discomfort at the fact that they worshiped at pagan shrines and made offerings to idol by saying that they would soon remember hell because they were doing something prohibited in Christianity. Lastly, proof for the Christian influences in Beowulf is also in the passages containing references to doctrines in the Christian faith like references to heaven, hell, fate, blessings from the Lord and God Almighty.

Some examples of these can be found in this quote. The monster wrenched and wrestled with him but Beowulf was mindful of his mighty strength, the wondrous gifts God had showered on him: He relied for help on the Lord of All, on His care and favour. So he overcame the foe, brought down the hell-brute. (1269-1274) (Heaney) Beowulf was conscious of the fact that his strength came from God, and the author also praises God in this passage by calling Him the Lord of All. He also calls attention to the fact that the monsters are hell spawns.

There were many passages in the text of Beowulf that contained allusions to biblical history, displeasure with heathen ideas, and the mention of doctrines typically Christian can be found in the text and be used as evidence of a Christian influence. This is important because provided evidence that the epic poem, Beowulf, was written by a Christian author to inform and entertain a Christian audience and also spread the values and ideas of the religion. Bibliography Heaney, Seamus. Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. Farrar,Straus, and Giroux, 2000.