In the scholarly journal, Goldgyfan or Goldwlance: A Chrisitan Apology for Beowulf and Treasure, Joesph Marshall explains the critics of Beowulf and questions the poems actual elements as a Christian poem. Marshall goes through a number of different critics explaining the elements in the poem that proves Beowulf as a character more focused on his treasure thirsty intentions that prove him to be less as a Christian leader. Marshall explains the first critic, Malone as the first on the scene during the 1960’s to display scrutiny that Beowulf’s fond of the dragon’s hoard symbolizes “ the vanity of worldly goods.”1 This idea that Beowulf was more interested in the treasure than that of being an ideal hero is consistent through most of Marshall’s critic examples.
In class we discussed Beowulf as a god like hero. In my opinion I felt that during the scene where Beowulf fights Grendel, and we discussed when he emerges out of the lake and he is covered in blood and his sword has melted down to symbolize as a cross, he is almost a Christ figure. His abilities as a warrior are far further than any man in the kingdom. To me Beowulf looks a savior for the people. In class we discussed Beowulf’s abilities to influence people. I believe he is acting as god on Earth and relating this idea to Marshall’s article he later agrees.
Marshall explains Beowulf was adamant about finding this treasure because he was a selfless person who is willing to dispense gifts to his retainers.2 After the dragon destroyed his entire kingdom, Beowulf has virtually nothing to distribute to his men. Finding this treasure Beowulf now has the ability to provide again. Without a treasure or wealth the Geats people have a little chance for survival. Marshall quotes Beowulf in lines 2794-2801 where he states, “to the Lord of all, the King of glory, the eternal Lord, I say thanks with words for these treasures, which I gaze on herem because I was allowed to acquire such (treasure) for my men before (my) death-day. Now that I have exchanged my old life-span for the hoard of treasures, (they) will perform the need of the people henceforward; I cannot be here longer.”3 Marshal finds the Beowulf was only thankful for his treasure because he could provide for his men. This selflessness made for Beowulf to be a savior or as Christ in this poem.
In this article Marshall goes through and explains the valid arguments critics have against the poem as a Christian valued poem. The ideas of the critics throughout his journal seem to focus consistently about Beowulf’s fondness of acquiring treasure. Yet. Marshall uses Beowulf’s fighting abilities as a symbol for him to be a provider and savior for his people. I believe that through Beowulf’s selflessness he is a Christ like figure and if not for Beowulf could the Geats people have survived? Therefore in Christianity if not for Jesus could people have ever escaped sin?
1 Marshall, Joseph E.. "Goldgyfan of Goldwlance: A Christian Apology for Beowulf and Treasure." Studies in Philology 107.1 (2010): 2. Print.
2 Marshall, Joseph E. 5-6
3 Marshall, Joseph E. 6-7