The Little Christianity of Beowulf

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There are three initiators for the conversion of Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. The First was the sixth-century Irish saint Columba. Columba founded Iona, from which later extended Christianity to the Thames. The second was Augustine. Popo Gregory sent Augustine as a missionary to Kent. The third was Aldhelm. Aldhelm combined the Celtic and the Roman strains of Christianity. Aldhelm was also the greatest apostle in Wessex during the seventh century and into the time of Bede. Many might believe Beowulf was filtrated by religious filters that were created by Aldehelm.

While reading the poem, many people tend to lean toward discovering a high degree of religious sophistication. However, that may be arguable with the suggestion that the poem displays little knowledge of Christianity aside from two stories from the first nine stories of Genesis.

Due to the fact that the poets references to Christian matters are not persistent and uneducated, it seems he may have had a minimal gasp of the Christianity that is well known today. A missionary may have only informed the poet of the teachings of Jesus Christ in a way that would the most relatable and simple to understand by mixing the gospel or relating it to the native stories of that time.

The husk of Beowulf may therefore contain a corn of spiritual nutriment, and the corn may be Phenolic allegory (with which anagoge may conveniently be grouped), or Pauline typology, or hybrid deriving from an adaptation of the petrology itself or of the liturgy. The first of these, allegory as an abstract homily, would be the easiest to discover. Yet the approach of Philo may be rejected out if hand, because traditional formulas, shaped by generations of oral poets, cannot be thought a suitable medium for a permeating second sense in the form of moral discourse. But the approach of Paul, because of the distinctness in its premises and inferences, remains a strong possibility. (Whallon, William. The Christianity of ?Beowulf.

Modern Philology, vol. 60, no. 2, 1962, pp. 81“94. JSTOR, JSTOR,
When Beowulf finds Grendels mother in attempt to murder her, his friends stayed by the bank deem believing that he would not be returning and assuming he had died in battle. They do not know that he had defeated Grendels mother with a magical sword. He then returns with Grendels head. This scene in the poem may have been influenced by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. During the sixth to ninth hour, a darkness lasted over the earth. This relates to the amount of time Grendels friends spent believing their savior was dead. Jesus Christ the defeats death and returns with holes in his hands that were left from the nails that pinned him to the cross. Beowulf returns alive with Grendels head similar to the proof of victory of the Jesus Christs hands.

In Conclusion, though many people have the tendency to interpret Beowulf in a high level of religious sophistication and knowledge, it is proven that it may be arguable with the suggestion that the poem shows minimal knowledge of Christianity aside from two stories of Genesis. This has been proven by examining the history of this poem and the contex. The fact that this was written during a time of transition from Paganism to Christianity explains the immaturity in regards to the mix of the two.

It has been analyzed that the poet had only the knowledge of two stories from the first nine chapters of the book of Genesis. One might argue that the lack of biblical knowledge might suggest that the Anglo- Saxons (including the poet) were not real Christians, however others would argue that all that is important in a Christian life is the relationship one would have with Jesus Christ.  

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The Little Christianity of Beowulf. (2019, May 13). Retrieved May 25, 2024 , from

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