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.
There were many Irish illuminated books of this period; however, the Book of Kells was the most magnificent of all (Meehan 9-10). The Book of Kells, is a Latin version of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Book of Kells, was quite large and was usually placed at the altar (NGA 2000). Although the Book of Kells is Christian in theme and principle, its illuminated decorations illustrate a pagan origin. The Irish monks who produced the illuminated manuscripts retained local artists to do the artwork (Nordenfalk 109).
For example, Christianity is displayed in a paraphrase of Genesis in which "A skillful bard sang the ancient story/ Of man's creation" (lines 88-89). On the other hand, pagan beliefs are obvious in the description of the Geats as "Boar-heads glittered on glistening helmets" (line 298). Although the Anglo-Saxons were leaning toward Christianity, they still had skeletons in the closet. Beowulf functions as a historical document to depict a collage of Germanic societies. It represents a relatively advanced eighth-century Anglo-Saxon nation recently converted to Christianity that looks on its Scandinavian past with pride.
The research paper, shall be concerned with discussion Gothic architecture in Europe-namely England, France, Germany, and Italy starting from 12th to the 16th Centuries. Architecture was the most original and lasting form of art during the Gothic Period, which lasted for four centuries starting from the mid 12th century. The impetus for this architecture was the Roman Catholic Church, which sought to portray their houses of worship as something which transcended the realm of mankind. It is interesting to note that many of the Northern European areas were predominately pagan, and only recently brought into the Church. The imagery provided by Gothic structural design was something these peoples could more readily understand, as they used symbols in their pagan worship on a regular basis.
During the poem, one would also be able to find many references to Christianity which were abruptly followed by Pagan references. One instance of abrupt flow is in the first episode. The quote, “... Hrothgar’s glorious throne, protected by God” (Beowulf 83-84), obviously speaks of god, only to be suddenly followed by the quote, “Sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone gods,” (Beowulf 90), which makes a blatant reference to the practice of Paganism; the old stone gods refer to the Germanic gods that were worshipped in Paganism. In this particular case, the reader is first told that God protects the throne and soon after, that after suffering Grendel’s wrath, King Hrothgar resorted back to his Pagan beliefs hoping to alleviate the suffering Grendel has thrown upon the kingdom. In this part of the poem, one can infer that King Hrothgar is man with Christian belief, but only momentarily, as a last attempt, resorted to his old ways.
The tales of Beowulf were already ancient legend when the poet began his work (whenever that was; dating the poem seems to be another of those old controversies with dates ranging from the 7th to the 11th centuries). The author skillfully uses this material to construct an entertaining tale while at the same time attempting to reconcile the concepts of the pagan wyrd (fate) and dom (renown or worth) with the Christian concepts of grace and final judgement. So it is that we have a poem that is overwhelmingly a pagan story, suffused with the old Germanic warrior culture ethos, yet sprinkled with many loosely Christian comments and a few explicitly Christian passages. However, it should be noted that while we refer to these passages as Christian, no reference to Christ is to be found within the poem. The first of the Christian passages occurs when we are introduced to Grendal: God had condemned them as kin of Cain.
The combination of Christian and pagan elements and references now shows Beowulf’s position in English history. These elements, that have been so uniquely combined in the poem, help define who Beowulf is. In conclusion Beowulf is a great poem whether it is a Christian or pagan poem.
Every culture has its ways to differentiate itself from other cultures and express itself through many things. Music, Food, Language, Arts and more are some of the vital ways cultures established themselves among others. One of those cultures is the Anglo Saxons. Anglo Saxons were around in the fifth century living in Great Britain. Unfortunately in 1066, the Anglo Saxons were no more after the Normans with France came invaded the country under the leadership of Harold.
After the British were defeated, though, the Angles and the Saxons continued to fight over their religion for many years (Irvin, Vacca, Probst, Beers, p.46). Before the year 596, almost everybody had strong pagan beliefs. In 596 missionaries had begun to attempt to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. By the year 650, almost all of England had converted to Christianity- at least in name. Although almost everyone claimed to be strong believers in Christ and the church, most still held on to their pagan beliefs and traditions.
The Scop in Beowulf and Widsith. The scop in Anglo-Saxon times had a very defined role. A comparison between the scop in Beowulf and the scop in Widsith will more clearly define for us what that role was. The 142 verses of Widsith are the oldest in the English language, and form the earliest output in verse of any Germanic people. Widsith contains a huge catalog of 70 tribes and 69 important people, many of whom are proven to have lived in the third, fourth and fifth centuries.