Epic of Beowulf Essay - Lindisfarne and Christian Influences in Beowulf

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Lindisfarne and Christian Influences in Beowulf

The Beowulf manuscript, written around the year 1000 and containing approximately 70 Christian references/allusions, could owe part of its Christianization to the Catholic bishops, priests, monks and laity who made The Lindisfarne Gospels a reality about 300 years prior.

“. . . the poem is the product of a great age, the age of Bede, an age which knew artistic achievements of the kind buried at Sutton Hoo, an age in which art and learning were united to produce great gospel books like the Lindisfarne Gospels, now in the British Museum, . . . (Stanley 3). The Lindisfarne Gospels was written and artistically decorated about the year 700. About the middle of the tenth century a Catholic priest named Aldred, after translating The Lindisfarne Gospels from Latin into Anglo-Saxon, wrote on the last leaf of the manuscript a colophon naming the four Catholic religious responsible for making The Lindisfarne Gospels:

Eadfrith, Bishop of the Lindisfarne Church, originally wrote this book, for God and for Saint Cuthbert and – jointly – for all the saints whose relics are in the Island. And Ethelwald, Bishop of the Lindisfarne islanders, impressed it on the outside and adorned it with gold and with gems and also with gilded-over silver – pure metal. And Aldred, unworthy and most miserable priest, glossed it in English between the lines with the help of God and Saint Cuthbert….(Backhouse 7).

Janet Backhouse in her book The Lindisfarne Gospels, says that these gospels were made in north-east England “less than a century after the introduction there of Christianity” (Backhouse 7). This statement is quesstionable. Consider that the conversion of Britain to Christianity began quite early. The Catholic priest Venerable Bede, born in Bernicia, Northumbria, around 673, states in Bk 1, Ch 4 of his Ecclesiastical History of the English People that while Eleutherius was Bishop of Rome (175-189AD), a king of Britain named Lucius requested of the Pope that the king be baptized a Catholic by papal decree:

In the year of our Lord 156 Marcus Antoninus Verus was made emperor together with his brother Aurelius Commodus. He was the fourteenth after Augustus. In their time, while a holy man called Eleutherius was bishop of the church at Rome, Lucius, a king of Britain, sent him a letter praying him that he might be made a

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