Goldwlance: A Christian Apology For Beowulf And Treasure

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One of the greatest works of Anglo-Saxon literature to be passed down and translated is a poem about an epic hero, Beowulf, who conquers multiple monsters. The story of Beowulf is one that has been told throughout many generations. For hundreds of years Beowulf was only passed down orally and into the hands of the next generation. During this time, transformation of their society occurred. The Anglo-Saxons slowly left their pagan views behind and began accepting Christian beliefs. This transformation brought different religious elements into Beowulf. Beowulf critics have attempted to decipher these elements and decide which is more prominent. The articles, “Goldgyfan or Goldwlance: A Christian Apology for Beowulf and Treasure” by Joseph E.…show more content…
The article “Goldgyfan or Goldwlance: A Christian Apology for Beowulf and Treasure” by Joseph E. Marshall recognizes the pagan elements within Beowulf but believes that Christianity remains more prominent. Immediately critics attempt to discredit the Christian elements due to Beowulf’s motives which have been deemed “un-Christian.” While the function of the treasure within the poem and what it represents is undecided upon, most critics agree that Beowulf shows greed and avarice towards the end of the poem. Many believe that Beowulf leaves the Geats in destruction because he is attempting to replenish his own greed. However, this is not the case. Marshall’s article addresses this in saying, “Consequently, his decision to fight the dragon for his treasure is not motivated by greed because he does not desire the treasure for himself; rather his decision to fight stems once again from love for his people.” This is a basic example of Christian love and sacrifice for others. Beowulf even gives thanks to the Lord for leading him to the dragon’s treasure. Even on his death bed, Beowulf distributes his last treasures to Wiglaf thanking him for his loyalty. If Beowulf was exhibiting un-Christian behaviors he would have urged Wiglaf to bury the treasure with him. Instead, Beowulf insisted that the treasure be distributed to the Geats in order to…show more content…
“The beginning of this poem captures God’s boundless mercy and generosity, for the poet employs deliberate repetition: God deals, God gives, and God sends his special-gifts,” stated by Moorman and this is completely true. In the welcoming supper for Beowulf, the Geats and Danes address and thank the Lord for everything they have been given. After defeating Grendel, a great treasure is hidden within his mere. When given the chance to collect this treasure, Beowulf humbly declines. This is very similar to Beowulf’s dealing with the dragon except Beowulf seeks after the final treasure and loses his life over it. Many critics claim this is because Beowulf did not only grow old during this poem but also greedy and full of avarice. Though this may seem to be the case, a key difference was Beowulf’s title as king. He was just a young man at the time, so he did not believe he needed the treasure from Grendel’s lair. However, after returning to Geatland and reigning as king for more than over thirty years, Beowulf’s priorities changed. He knew death would come soon and believed that sacrificing his life in order to obtain the dragon’s treasure could help his people rebuild their

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