Religion and literature have been closely related to each other as far back as one of the oldest existing poems in the English language, Beowulf. This epic poem certainly comes from a Christianized culture, yet never names either the pagan gods or Jesus. The Beowulf poet has an absolute knowledge of the Hebrew scriptures in the Bible. Some historians believe that the poem was originally pagan and the Christian elements were incorporated at a later date. We may never know whether Beowulf was initially pagan or Christian. While the poem contains ideas pertaining to both pagan and Christian beliefs, it emphasizes more of the Christian elements. .
There are many pagan influences that add to the basic knowledge in this poem. Beowulf is the "ideal hero" and has reference to many of the typical ideas of the Nordic-Germanic society. The monster in this story also has pagan characteristics. Grendel has roots in Scandinavian folklore. In Old Norse literature, monsters like this make their appearance as draugar, animated corpses. He is said to be an evil being. "Of his blood was begotten an evil brood, Marauding monsters and menacing trolls, Goblins and giants (L. 70-72)." At one point, Hrothgar is referred to as "Ing", an epithet of the Norse god Frey when speaking of his authority of the Danes. " the leader, the Ingwine lord (L. 884)." Comitatus, a creed of great importance to the early pagans, is also spoken of. There are many pagan ideas that expressed great importance in this story.
There is much emphasis on the Christian elements in Beowulf. There is reference to God very early in the introduction of the poem. "And Scyld passed on to the peace of God (L. 13)." Scyld is the legendary founder of the Danish royal line. Beowulf is given many characteristics of believing in God himself. He continually gives thanks to God throughout the entire story as well as believing that what is meant to happen will happen.