Origins in the English Tradition

Michael Fox

in The Oxford Handbook of English Literature and Theology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544486
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Origins in the English Tradition

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It has repeatedly been remarked that early medieval theology is conservative, derivative, and primarily oriented towards practical application. Nevertheless, at the significant points of intersection between theology and the earliest English literature, such as in Cædmon's Hymn, The Dream of the Rood, Beowulf, and the Genesis poems, one sees a highly sophisticated ‘blending of traditions’. Mainly, these traditions are Christian and pagan and Latin and vernacular, but there is also evidence of an innovative blending of styles or genres, particularly between poetry and homiletic prose, in ways that anticipated and influenced the literature and thinking of post-Conquest England. Just as how, for Gregory, the race of the Angles signified, in their appearance, angels and salvation to come, so too did what must originally have been a completely pagan notion of fate, or wyrd, become subordinated to a Christian God.

Keywords: medieval theology; English literature; Genesis poems; Beowulf; homiletic prose; post-Conquest England; Gregory

Article.  9608 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity

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