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Beowulf is a fascinating epic poem for a number of reasons. It gives scholars a glimpse into the language spoken in Britain at the time, it is a perhaps unique example of the oral tradition of poetry that has been written down and, as this analysis will consider, it mixes together both Pagan and Christian elements in a remarkable manner…
In this way Beowulf can be seen as a remarkably 'modern' piece: it is not limited by a single doctrinal view.
As Tolkien (2002) first suggested some sixty years ago, Beowulf can be considered on its literary merits as well as its more esoteric usefulness as a source for Anglo-Saxon scholars. One of the central questions of the work is the extent to which it is actually Christian and/or Pagan. Yaeger (2007) poses the questions which are central to this dilemma:
That the scribes of Cotton Vitellius A.XV were Christian is beyond doubt; and it is equally certain that Beowulf was composed in a Christianized England, since conversion took place in the sixth and seventh centuries. Yet the only Biblical references in Beowulf are to the Old Testament, and Christ is never mentioned. The poem is set in pagan times, and none of the characters are demonstrably Christian. In fact, when we are told what anyone in the poem believes, we learn that they are idol-worshipping pagans. Beowulf's own beliefs are not expressed explicitly. ...
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