Beowulf and Religious Affiliation Essay

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Beowulf and Religious Affiliation

When we look at Beowulf through the eyes of religion, we see two distinctly different elements mingled together as one. In this period, before Christianity took root throughout the world, pagan religions were still widely practiced. There is evidence of this throughout Beowulf. There is also, however, evidence of strong Christian influence as well. Because of the diversity of peoples living in the land at that time, different cultures were mixed together, each taking on characteristics of the other. In Beowulf, the author has combined traditional hero-worship with the ideals and beliefs of Christianity. Needless to say, this combination makes for a distorted view of both beliefs. Both elements,
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Made heathen vows, hoping for Hell’s support, the Devil’s guidance in driving their affliction off. That was their way, and the heathen’s only hope, Hell always in their hearts, knowing neither God nor His passing as He walks through our world, the Lord of Heaven and earth; their ears could not hear His praise nor know His glory.”

It is evident that the writer was well grounded in the Christian faith. Notice that the pagan deities are referred to as “the old stone gods”. This shows that the culture had moved on from the old beliefs and into the new Christian faith. Grendel himself, the very embodiment of evil, was based on the Christian belief of the Devil and Hell. Beowulf, the God-empowered hero, shows how good will triumph over evil in the end, and all other routes lead to destruction. Yet even Beowulf, the personification of good, was rooted in pagan tradition. All brave men, and even most cowardly men, are labeled righteous and holy in this tale. Beowulf’s strength alone granted him a god-like status. The fact that he was a celebrated personage ensured his righteousness in the eyes of his people. This does not follow Christian beliefs that the only way to heaven and righteousness is Jesus Christ, therefore it may be labeled pagan. There is evidence of this type of belief in the funeral of Beowulf. This passage, though open to

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