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Christianity In Beowulf

In England’s history, the country has had many different cultures come and go as the main population of the land. First there was the pagan population consisting of many barbaric groups like the Anglo Saxons whose way of life consisted of pillaging, brotherhood, and materialism. However, the Romans soon conquered the lands, bringing their own Christian religion. This changed the landscape of the country entirely, as Christianity preached peace, God, and righteousness. Beowulf was written by a Christian monk in an attempt to convert the previous Pagan population to the increasingly popular Christianity. As a result, Beowulf tracks the transition of the aging Anglo Saxon way of life to the new and improved way of life with Christianity. The author…show more content…
The eponymous of the poem, Beowulf, is the greatest warrior of his time, yet he cannot make such a huge impact without the help of God. Beowulf represents a lot of what the Anglo Saxon culture emphasized on. He is an excellent monster slayer, has a band of warriors he is extremely loyal to, and, through all of his hard work, gains an immense amount of gold and glory to his name. However, in this epic poem, that still is not enough. Although he is mightiest of all the Geats, Beowulf still needs the help of God during his battles in order to come out victorious. After his close fight against Grendel’s mother, Beowulf acknowledges the role God played in helping him succeed, saying that he would “have been dead at once, and the fight finished, the she-devil victorious if our Father in Heaven had not helped [him]” (Beowulf 71). This allusion is supposed to represent how ultimately the Anglo Saxon way of life is not good enough anymore, and these people need God to help in their struggle of life. Because Beowulf has such a strong relationship with God, it is no surprise that any wicked monster he meets just becomes another trophy to add to his collection. When Beowulf swims down to the…show more content…
Grendel, his mother, and every monster just like them were “spawned in that slime, [c]onceived by a pair of those monsters born [o]f Cain, murderous creatures banished [b]y God, punished forever for the crime [o]f Abel’s death” (Beowulf 6). Anglo Saxon culture centers around the slaying of monsters in the pursuit of gold and glory, however this obvious allusion to the Bible allows the author to incorporate some Christianity to explain the origin of these creatures. Both Grendel and Cain share the same evil nature about them, bringing horror and grief to the people they came in contact with, and they pose as enormous threats to their kingdom. Since they do not live like good Christians, God banishes Cain and Grendel from their respective kingdoms and dooms the two to a horrible afterlife. Of course, God had banished Cain on his own, removing him from Eden and sending him down to Earth; however, God banishes Grendel with the help of Beowulf. This infusion between the will of Beowulf to banish the threat of Grendel from Herot and the fate set by God for not being a good Christian foreshadows what eventually happens to any unfaithful Christian. The author makes it abundantly clear that “all non-Christians, no matter how virtuous or heroic, were damned” (Brown 2). This served to not only convert the Anglo Saxon audience but reminds them to stay faithful to Christianity’s pillars or they would be doomed to an eternity of

Epic of Beowulf Essay – Lindisfarne and Christian Influences in Beowulf

Lindisfarne and Christian Influences in Beowulf

The Beowulf manuscript, written around the year 1000 and containing approximately 70 Christian references/allusions, could owe part of its Christianization to the Catholic bishops, priests, monks and laity who made The Lindisfarne Gospels a reality about 300 years prior.

“. . . the poem is the product of a great age, the age of Bede, an age which knew artistic achievements of the kind buried at Sutton Hoo, an age in which art and learning were united to produce great gospel books like the Lindisfarne Gospels, now in the British Museum, . . . (Stanley 3). The Lindisfarne Gospels was written and artistically decorated about the year 700. About the middle of the tenth century a Catholic priest named Aldred, after translating The Lindisfarne Gospels from Latin into Anglo-Saxon, wrote on the last leaf of the manuscript a colophon naming the four Catholic religious responsible for making The Lindisfarne Gospels:

Eadfrith, Bishop of the Lindisfarne Church, originally wrote this book, for God and for Saint Cuthbert and – jointly – for all the saints whose relics are in the Island. And Ethelwald, Bishop of the Lindisfarne islanders, impressed it on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems and also with gilded-over silver – pure metal. And Aldred, unworthy and most miserable priest, glossed it in English between the lines with the help of God and Saint Cuthbert….(Backhouse 7).

Janet Backhouse in her book The Lindisfarne Gospels, says that these gospels were made in north-east England “less than a century after the introduction there of Christianity” (Backhouse 7). This statement is quesstionable. Consider that the conversion of Britain to Christianity began quite early. The Catholic priest Venerable Bede, born in Bernicia, Northumbria, around 673, states in Bk 1, Ch 4 of his Ecclesiastical History of the English People that while Eleutherius was Bishop of Rome (175-189AD), a king of Britain named Lucius requested of the Pope that the king be baptized a Catholic by papal decree:

In the year of our Lord 156 Marcus Antoninus Verus was made emperor together with his brother Aurelius Commodus. He was the fourteenth after Augustus. In their time, while a holy man called Eleutherius was bishop of the church at Rome, Lucius, a king of Britain, sent him a letter praying him that he might be made a

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