Grace In Christianity


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grace in christianity Paganistic Beliefs in Beowolf

The epic poem Beowolf is one of the founding pieces of literature known to man. The author of the poem is unknown. It is believed that he was a monk or someone of the Christian faith. Although during the time of Beowolf there would not have been Christian beliefs. Although in the poem there are more than twenty-five lines of references to the Christian belief. The poem is about good vs. evil, or the heavens vs. hell. Paganistic implications are also in the poem. Paganism would be the true religion in the time when this poem was written, or first told. An idolatrous person is a pagan. A pagan is someone who worships many gods. Pagans believe in fate. They think that your life is inevitably happening as though it has already been determined by a higher source or power. Which religion, paganism or Christianity, is more dominant and decides more in the poem Beowolf.
In Beowolf Grendel is described as a powerful, murderous, loathsome man-eating monster that lives at the bottom of a foul mountain lake. In the poem Grendel is portrayed as one of the devil's creature or the devil himself. The following passage shows us how Grendel was born in evil;
Conceived by a pair of those monsters born
Of Cain, murderous creatures banished
By God, punished forever for the crime
Of Abel's death....(20-23)
Grendel is a horrifying creature.  If he feels love, it is only that of killing people and drinking their blood. There is never a passage describing him as any type of a good being. He is always referred to as a demon, monster, or evil savage. In today's society when anyone thinks of the devil they

Kirkland2
think of dark, gloomy, grotesque places or settings. In the poem Beowolf the only time that Grendel comes out is when there are these same type of settings. This is one description of where Grendel stalked;
That shadow of death hunted in darkness,
Stalked Hrothgar's warriors, old
And young, lying in waiting, hidden
In mist, invisibly following them from the edge
Of the marsh, always there, unseen.(74-78)
Here is another more descriptive passage, "Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty/Hills and bogs, bearing God's Hatred, Grendel came,..."(92-94). When referred to in the bible the devil is everyone's enemy. In this line Grendel is referred to in the same perspective, "So mankind's enemy continued his crimes, "(79). The devil is also thought of as the one and only who is against God and his people. The devil is known to tempt people to do sinful or wrongful things. It is almost like a battle between the devil and the people of the Christian belief. Here is a reference to that battle as if Grendel is the devil, "So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous,/One against many, and won;..."(59-60). Good also wins a fight in the poem. When Beowolf is battling Grendel, it is as if God is battling the devil. This is seen in these passages,
Screams of the Almighty's enemy sang
In the darkness, the horrible shrieks of pain
And defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel's
Taut throat, hell's captive caught in the arms
Of him who of all the men on earth

Kirkland3
Was the strongest.(467-472)
In the battle between Grendel and Beowolf a paganistic belief comes into play. The death of Grendel is said to be controlled by fate. The poem reads, "...But fate, that night, intended/Grendel to gnaw the broken bones/Of his last human supper...."(416-418). Then a few lines later Christian thoughts are brought back when describing the death of Grendel. Like in these lines, "And yet his time had come, his days/Were over, his death near; down/To hell he would go,..."(486-488). The question arises, is Grendel's death controlled by a paganistic destiny or the Christian belief of what life brings you. Since Grendel was a son Cain, which is a Christian belief, the reader should think that Grendels death was one without fate and only the sinful death he deserved.
The death of Beowolf is much like that of Grendel. They are both described in paganistic and Christian ways. The pagans believe that their life has already ... more

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Beowulf (Christianity vs. Paganism)

Christianity vs. Paganism

In the story of Beowulf, there is a noticeable struggle between Christianity and Paganism, and the characters personal battle between the two.  Throughout the story the characters display actions that lead towards Paganism and Christianity.  Contrary to Pagan belief Beowulf is seen as the epitome of good and beneficent to all of mankind.  In Beowulf, the people showed their faith and love in God, however due to horrific events, paranoia caused them to look for a quick fix and turns them to Paganism.
The pagan elements in the epic poem Beowulf are evident in the characters superhuman personifications. Beowulf is depicted as a superhero. Beowulf takes it upon himself to save the Danes from Grendel. In his battle with Grendel, Beowulf chooses not to use weapons; he relies on his super strength. During the fight, Beowulf's strength takes over, and Beowulf wrestles with Grendel until he is able to rip one of the monster's arms out of its socket. Superhuman feats also appear in the fight with Grendel's mother. When Beowulf enters the water, he swims, without the use of oxygen, downward for an entire day before he sees the bottom. During the battle with Grendel's mother, Beowulf realizes that Unferth's sword is useless against the monsters thick skin. He grabs an enormous sword made by giants, almost too heavy to hold, and slashes through the monster's body. This superhero strength continues into the battle with the dragon. By this time Beowulf is an old man. He decides that he must avenge his people and fight the dragon. Although Beowulf is fatally wounded himself, he still manages to deliver the final blow that kills the dragon. Grendel is also seen as a superhuman monster. Grendel has no knowledge of weapons, so he, too, depends on his extraordinary strength to destroy his enemies. The dragon is also seen as a super-powerful adversary.  The dragon in Beowulf spits fire with such intense heat that it melts Beowulf's shield to his body. The author has exalted the fights with fabled monsters into a conflict between the powers of good and evil. These battles are examples of epic folklore during pagan times.
While many pagan influences appear in the poem, Christian overtones dominate. Many of the characters exhibit Christian characteristics. Beowulf has a Christ-like behavior in his good-heartedness and charity. Beowulf understands the plight of the Danes that are being oppressed by the evil monster Grendel just as Christ knew of the oppression of the Jewish people. Both set out on a venture to save their people. To free themselves from the monster, the Danes need a savior, and Beowulf, through his desire to disperse their suffering, comes to save them. When Beowulf battles Grendel, he exhibits a sense of fairness when he refuses to use a weapon. The idea throughout the poem of living right, of loyalty, and of being a good leader can all be seen as traits of Christ. Just as Beowulf exemplifies Christ, Grendel mirrors Satan. Beowulf and Grendel represent the Christian beliefs of good verse evil. Grendel is referred to as a descendant of Cain, whom Satan tricks into sinning and committing the first murder. He is the image of a man fallen from grace through sin. Like Satan who is jealous of the happiness and joy that Adam and Eve have in the Garden of Eden, Grendel is jealous of the happiness and joy in Heorot. Grendel, as with Satan, is an adversary of God and poses a great challenge to Beowulf. Grendel lives in an underworld as Satan lives in hell. Grendel is referred to in the poem as "the guardian of sins".
In conclusion, the author of Beowulf was very effective in combining pagan and Christian ideas in his poem. The technique of combining two different ideals made the poem Beowulf very interesting to read. In mixing Christian and pagan ideas, the poet of Beowulf was able to emphasize the morals of his time and to enhance his characters with Christian values and pagan legends.

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