Is The Poem, Beowulf A Christian Or Pagan Time Period? Albion College: History 258 Essay

1296 words - 6 pages

Haley Nugent
Medieval England
February 26, 2018
Anglo-Saxon Era
The Anglo-Saxon period is an era filled with some of the greatest achievements and discoveries in culture, society, and religion. Almost every Anglo-Saxon of the sixth century had strong Pagan beliefs. It was not until the year 596 where missionaries started to make an effort to convince the Anglo-Saxons to convert to the religion of Christianity. About 50 years later, almost all of England believed in and followed the Christian faith. A controversy lies within the great story of Beowulf. Beowulf is an Old English poem based on events of the early sixth century before Christianity became a well-known religion however, the poem contains numerous references to Christianity. The poet of Beowulf makes various references that establishes Christianity during this time, but we know that Christianity was not founded until almost the seventh century. In Beowulf, many themes stem from the fables written in the Old Testament, but also pagan beliefs of monsters and demons fall into place. I believe that the poem Beowulf is a pagan work with Christian elements added, some other people believe it is the opposite. In the epic poem, the character, Grendel, is being referred as a descendant of Cain, there is a reference to the Great Flood, and there's countless references to God that show how the poet tied Christianity into the pagan story of Beowulf.
In the poem Beowulf, there is a monster that goes by the name Grendel. Grendel is believed to be a descendant of Cain. The reference of Cain comes from the story of Cain and Abel from the Book of Genesis. Cain and Abel were the first two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain worked the soil and brought fruits from the soil as an offering to God. Abel was a shepherd who took care of the herd. God wanted their family to sacrifice one of the lambs to show their appreciation for him and to give God the ability to forgive their family for their sins. Abel's sacrifice was much more thoughtful to God and that is why God favored Abel over Cain. Cain became angered with Abel because God showed greater love towards Abel and he ended up killing him. Cain became the first murderer and after was cursed for his sin of killing. This curse is carried into the poem of Beowulf. The monster, Grendel, in Beowulf has a physical appearance of a "monster". This hideous appearance is caused by the curse of Cain because Grendel is believed to be one of his descendants. "He spawned in that slime of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God, punished forever for the crime of Abel's death" Beowulf (26). Grendel shares Cain's exile from all that is good and bright. Grendel was abandoned by God and all who followed in his faith. It is this abandonment that causes Grendel to kill anyone in his way. Since the Lord denies him, he wants to destroy anyone who follows the lord. The poet of Beowulf makes one of the main character's personality to fit the one of a biblical reference. This shows t...

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