To distinguish the changeover from the two religions (Paganism and Christianity) it is unquestionably vital to understand what Paganism actually is. “Sometimes at pagan shrines they vowed/offerings to idols, swore oaths/that the killer of souls might come to their aid/and save the people. That was their way,/their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts/they remembered hell.” (Heaney 170-180). The Danes engaged in several pagan practices such as idol... ... middle of paper ... ...oots, whether appreciated or not Paganism helped form Christianity to what it is today. Works Cited Stanley, Tim.
Before the invention of the printing press or written history, oral history, especially in early Germanic culture, became the foremost means of transcribing values, and past events. Written down in approximately 1,000 A.D. by an unknown author, Beowulf, originally a pagan fable, became a Christian allegory upon its transcription by Christian monks. However, as scholars have debated over the religious context in Beowulf, the attempts by the monks to turn the epic poem into a Christian parable ended merged, including both original and Christian aspects. Throughout Beowulf, the epic combines pagan ideals of fate or wyrd and the will of God, the similar concepts of the afterlife, and the contrasting ideas of the individual. In Beowulf, a tension arises between the natural construction of the poem and the Christian ideals added.
In many instances, however, the poem's pagan basis shines through. Among these idiosyncracies it is important to note funeral rites and the pagan practices that surround them. When missionaries first introduced the Christian ideology to the Anglo-Saxons, they left the people with a clear choice; Pagan deities could not coexist with the Christian God. Therefore, they must abandon these ancient icons in order to hold a more monotheistic view. Unfortunately, most of their culture is built around upholding a heroic code instead of a single deity.
The Christians are monotheistic in beliefs, meaning that Christians believe in only one God. The Anglo-Saxons on the other followed paganism, meaning the Anglo-Saxon people believed in many gods. Having the main hero of a myth that originated in pagan culture make references to the god of another religion, that would be considered not only a crime of blasphemy in Christianity and showing disrespect the pagan’s gods and beliefs as well. The third, and probably the biggest, place we see evidence of Christianity in the story of Beowulf is the character of Beowulf and how similar he is to Jesus. Beowulf 's character is very much similar to that of Jesus ' in many ways.
A key pagan reference in Beowulf is the entity Wyrd. “Now if Wyrd, Ruler of All, will permit, my stout sword will sing its greedy war-song....Wyrd always weaves as it must”. The Christian tradition clearly states the existence of only one supreme entity. It also states that anyone worshipping “false idols” is subject to punishment. If Beowulf was truly a Christian, he would not call to Wyrd for any type of assistance.
The characters openly speak to and appeal to non-Christian gods and they doubt divine justice, suggesting that, 'They kill us for their sport.' This therefore creates a pagan setting for the play. However, there are definite Christian ideas running throughout the play which manifest themselves mainly in Edgar and Lear. Therefore, there is an inclination to agree with J C Maxwell, as despite the setting of the King Lear being Christian, its morals and concepts of atonement and redemption, lean towards Christian theology.
The Beowulf poet makes sure to include small but meaningful references to the paganistic background of the epic poem. There are too many pagan symbols scattered throughout the work to be ignored, and too many rules of the Christian religion are broken by the characters of the poem for an argument to be made against the paganism of Beowulf. Also, we must not forget that ideas such as fate and revenge, which are shunned in Christianity, are two of the main themes in this story. Consequently, even though the Beowulf poet may have been Christian, as for the poem itself, all signs point towards paganism. Works Cited: Beowulf.
This ritual was one that was extremely important to Perpetua because she actually participated in it and was very highly persecuted for participating. Baptism is used to convert people to Christianity by anointing them in holy oils, immersing them in holy water, anointing them again, then wrapping them in white robes to symbolize the purity of their new state (p.76). This ritual was purposely deeply alienating to separate the catechumen, people in the process of converting, from their old lives as Romans. By alienating them from their old lives, it made it easier for the converts to completely cut ties from their old lives and families. This is important because in order to be “reborn,” they cannot be mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, etc.
The poem and Beowulf both show paganism and Christianity ideals and beliefs. In Beowulf there is fate, humility, fame, loyalty, and so much more that did not even get mentioned. Although the poem appears to be originally a pagan story, there are many clues in the text that point to Christian influence and traditions. In addition to Beowulf and his heroic deeds against Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon the author combines elements of Christian ideal and pagan ideal. The combination of Christian and pagan elements and references now shows Beowulf’s position in English history.
Warnings against this development were voiced by such leading theologians as Eusebius, who being the most diligent glorifier of Constantine, characterized the use of images of the Apostles Paul and Peter as well as of Christ himself as a pagan custom (1,1). One reason that some Christians balked at the idea of icons was because of the emperor's cult. It was through anti-Christian legislation that Christians were compelled to venerate the imperial images by offering sacrifices to them. The refusal to make the sacrifice was the chief cause of martyrdom at the time. Thus, after the church was recognized as the Roman imperial church, its reaction was expressed in the riotous destruction of the pagan divine images.