Christian Elements In Beowulf

What are the Christian elements in "Beowulf"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is a recurring tension between Christianity and native heathenry throughout the world of classic Germanic literature and legend. Though all Germanic nations ultimately adopted Christian belief, pre-Christian ideas, characters, and themes persisted in art and storytelling. For example, the Icelandic figure Snorri Sturluson stands as the source of much of what we know about the Norse religion and pantheon; his well-known Edda presents characters like Odin and Thor as historical figures who existed in a Christian world and were mistakenly identified as gods, thus preserving these ancient deities while maintaining a Christian framework.

Beowulf, a story dating to these pre-Christian times, was recorded by an unidentified author who likewise placed the characters and events into a Christian context. While we will never know the fully heathen version of the tale, the Christian elements are easily identified.

A very clear reference comes from Beowulf’s first opponent, the monster Grendel....

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 761 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team