Judaism and Character Beowulf

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In the story of Beowulf, written by an anonymous writer between 700 and 1000 A.D, there are many references to Paganism and Christianity. People believed that the writer of this poem was indeed a Christian even though he held strong Pagan views. Many ask the question is Beowulf a Pagan or a Christian hero, but the real question to be asked is what is the true religion behind this English epic poem? Although there are many Christian references in the poem, they are only used in order to draw familiar parallels to the character Beowulf’s’ belief in Paganism.

During the time of Beowulf, society was gradually converting from Paganism to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons were struggling with this conversion and having a hard time believing in only one God. The narrator clearly tries to make Beowulf a story of Christian influences. However, looking at the main character Beowulf, we know he is a Pagan and this poem will always be a Pagan poem at heart.

Beowulf encounters three major battles as he progresses throughout the poem. In his first battle he fights a Giant named Grendel who terrorizes Herot Hall for many years. Grendel went to Herot Hall looking to kill everyone in his path, “Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty Hills and bogs, bearing God’s hatred, Grendel came, hoping to kill anyone he could trap on this trip to High Herot” (392-394). The narrator describes Grendel as having hatred as strong and powerful as God. Hatred is looked down upon in the religion of Christianity but is strongly practiced Paganism. It is understood that God does not have hate in his heart and that he loves every living thing. The narrator uses God only to show how mighty Grendel’s hatred is for Herot Hall. The narrator also compares Beowulf’s strength to that of God, “Now He discovered—once the afflictor of men, tormentor of their days—what it meant to feud with Almighty God: Grendel saw that his strength was deserting him, his claws bound fast, Higlac’s brave...
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