Christian and Pagan Elements in Beowulf

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María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards


The poem Beowulf is full of Pagan and Christian elements, this combination gave place to many discutions about the origin of the poem. On the one hand some scholars have said that this is the result of a transcription made by some monks where they added the christian elements, on the other hand it is believed that the poem was written in a period in which the Anglo-Saxons were being converted from their worship of Germanic Pagan gods to the Christian God.

“It was long held that the most substancial surviving Old English poem, Beowulf, was a pre-Christian composition which had somehow been tampered with by monastic scribes in order to give it an acceptably Christian frame of reference.”1 “The poem is strongly linked to the Germanic roots of the English nation and displays the qualities of English before the language and literary tradition became quite intermingled with French, classical and other non-Germanic cultures.”2


SANDERS, Andrew, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, Oxford, University of Oxford, 1996. pp. 21 2

C. ROBINSON, Fred, Beowulf, The Cambridge companion to Old English Literature, ed. Malcolm Godden and Michael Lapidge, Cambridge University Press, New York, United States of America, 2008. pp. 142

In the story we can find the Christian philosofy which says than man can only survive through the protection of God, that man must be humble and unselfish. But we can also find that there is a stong sense of heroic pride which contrasts with these Christian Values. Many times Beowulf says that God is his protector. One of these times is when he tells his battle with Grendel’s mother, he says that God guarded him. We can get the idea that a warrior must be true to his values in order to earn God’s protection.

There are several references to the Bible in the poem. The first one is that Gredel is a descendant of Cain. There is also a reference to...
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