Beowulf: Jesus and Beowulf Ll. Essay

Submitted By lokon601
Words: 1110
Pages: 5

Beowulf : A Parallel of Two Cultures
Beowulf is a classic epic that originates in the time of the Anglo-Saxons. It was created in the oral dialect, but was transcribed by Christian monks. It tells the impossible feats of a man who is almost God-like. What many people who read the story do not realize is that this man, Beowulf, is so God-like, he becomes a Jesus figure. The reason for this status is because, as words were translated into writing, adaptions were made to the epic, Beowulf which made it parallel the bible.
Although cleverly placed throughout the epic, the minute changes made to Beowulf alter an Anglo-Saxon tale into a biblical representation of an Anglo-Saxon hero. A prime example of changes made in the translation of the epic can be seen as Grendel is terrorizing Herot, because although he pillages the halls of Herot, “He never dared touch King Hrothgar’s throne, protected by God, God whose love Grendel could never know” (Beowulf ll. 83-86). Grendel, as fearsome as he appears to be, is no match for an object under the direct protection of God. Grendel’s actions are extremely similar to the bible because Lucifer, the perfect Angel, is cast out of Heaven after sinning persistently, thus losing the love of God. He cannot attack God directly so instead, he corrupts and attacks man, indirectly creating an offensive against the Lord. One of the most prominent examples of these indirect attacks is seen in the story of Adam and Eve. Grendel indirectly attacks powers higher than himself as well. Because he cannot simply attack King Hrothgar or his throne, he needs to go for the next best option and terrorize Herot. Once Grendel is done pillaging Herot, just like when Lucifer is done terrorizing man, he returns to a shelter in an underground place, a place so evil, “...A stag with great horns…Hunted through the woods by packs of hounds…prefers to die on those shores than save its life in that water” (Beowulf ll. 555-560). Grendel resides at the bottom of a lake so sinister that animals would prefer to die on its shores than to venture into it. This parallels the description of the Christian version of such a place, Hell. In the bible, Hell is described as a place where the good do not go, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8). The use of a lake in Beowulf mimics the very description of hell from the bible. This only supports the claim that Christian monks tweaked the epic of the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf to parallel the bible. As the epic draws to a close, King Beowulf, a now old and defeated version of his younger self is called upon once more by his people to slay a dragon. Beowulf has doubts in his own abilities and may even know that this will be his last battle, for he calls upon the help of his most loyal men. He faces the dragon, a seemingly impossible battle and as “He struck at the dragon’s scaly hide, the ancient blade broke…cracked and failed him…now when he needed it most” (Beowulf ll. 727-736). Beowulf sees now the impossibility of slaying such a powerful opponent, a view taken by Jesus Christ when Pontius Pilot and the people of Rome condemn him to death. At a time when Jesus needs the faith and loyalty of his closest friends, the Apostles, they, in fear for their own lives, desert him. One prime example is the denial of Jesus by his Disciple, Peter: “But when the moment came, Peter had cut and run just as Jesus predicted: when confronted in the courtyard of the High Priest, he denied ever knowing Jesus. When he realized what he had done, and that Jesus had been right all along, Peter was deeply shamed, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Just as Jesus’ men betray him, so to do Beowulf’s men, because as he is engulfed in the…