Whodathunkit

I’m currently doing a course on Old English literature, and although sometimes the words make me want to poke a crochet hook up my nose and pull my brain out bit by bit, I am loving the course. It is, without a doubt my favourite course outside the actual lit section so far. (It might have ‘literature’ in the course title, but it is most definitely philology.)

Not only do I love how the Anglo-Saxons turned everything into EPIC WAR in their poetry and prose, I also enjoy the fact that Aelfred was all about culturally uplifting his people, not to mention the culture that he was so crazy about.

Christianity was a large part of that culture. I’ve been interested in it since my first year at uni, when I took a Cultural Backgrounds course. We had to read the classics and the King James Bible. I was familiar with the classics, thanks to my gymnasium high school thing. (Here in the Netherlands, that doesn’t mean that you’re good at sports–it means you’re taught Greek and/or Latin, and you’re made familiar with classical culture. For the record, I was dreadful at most sports, unless it involved doing lots of sit-ups, being really flexible, or hockey.)

I can tell you about the odd plumbing reference in Piramus and Thisbe (and how, unfortunately, Shakespeare left this out of Romeo and Juliet), but my knowledge of Christianity still feels lacking. Luckily for me, I’m friends with the awesome Matthew Baugh, a pastor who writes wonderfully pulpy fiction in his spare time. He’s helped me learn a lot about religion and spiritual matters, and has done so in a kind and understanding way. 

Now, the denizens of the Interwebs who are not fortunate enough to have Matthew as a part of their lives can read his musings on this subject in his blog God and Stuff.

It’s readable, interesting, accesible, and just plain good.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Whodathunkit

  1. Matthew

    Yeeps! You made me blush!
    🙂

  2. Like I posted on hyves (I also dislike hyves blogging. And hyves in general >_>)

    I still believe other mythologies are better than the Christian ones. If you like old English mythologies, you should totally look into pagan mythology. Celtic mythology for instance.

    You’d be surprised how many Christian traditions have their roots deep within pagan traditions 😉

    A stroll past some Christian churches in Great Britain reveals a lot about the pagan origin of the people who built the churches. And it is no secret that the Christian devil is based on Cernunnos (or His greek/roman counterpart Pan). Even the myth of King Arthur has strong pagan themes.

    Long story short, if you want to find out about real old english mythology instead of middle eastern (I mean, that’s where the bible is from ;)), read up on your Celtic lore. It is beautiful!

  3. Matthew

    I’ve got to agree about liking the Celtic stories. I read a bunch of the Irish stuff in collect and loved it (my personal favorite is the Book of Invasions). You make a fair point about the Pagan roots of some Christian festivals.

    But no worries, it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. If I know Leah she’s going to read, and make good use of, both the Bible and the Celtic writings.

    The connection between Satan and Pan is fascinating. The character of Satan is entirely from the Bible, but there is nothing like a visual description given, and Jewish art shied away from visual representations, which could be considered ‘graven images’. When Christians wanted to depict him in art is seemed natural to them to draw on the image of Pan, possibly because he was the most unnatural-looking of the Roman gods. I’ve also heard the suggestion that the Devil’s pitchfork was inspired by Neptune’s trident.

    It’s all theory, because nobody ever wrote down: “I’ve been looking for a good design for the Devil and had a great idea…” but it’s a pretty decent theory.

  4. One theory I read suggests that the early Christians linked the image of Cernunnos (or Pan) to the Devil, in an attempt to convince the pagans that their deity was in fact evil, to get them to join the Christian church. But again, this is theory.

    In fact, if I recall correct, wasn’t Lucipher originally an angel of the Lord? Shouldn’t he at least look something like the other angels then? (I could be mistaken about this though ;))

  5. Matthew

    Oh no! We’re taking over Leah’s blog. 😮

    I have heard of what you’re tlaking about. I want to say that it was either James Frasier or maybe Robert Graves who came up with it. I can’t say much it because I honestly don’t know where contemporary historians have gone with it. I can only say that There’s probably not much solid evidence linking this with Cernunnos since the only written records we have of him are two short inscriptions, one in Germany and the other in France.

    The only place in the bible that Lucifer is mentioned is in Isaiah 14, and that is really an oracle against the King of Babylon. It sounded enough like the story of Satan thrown out of heaven in Revelation 12 that some early Christian writers blended the stories.

    Anyway, the fallen angel image and the Pan-like image were the the main contenders for the imaginations of Christian artists. Many of them hit a compromise and blended the two into a reptillian satyr with bat wings.

  6. Leah

    Hey, I’m all for discussion taking over my blog! So long as it stays respectful, I’m a happy bunny. As soon as it strays away from the path of awesomeness, I will come in to kick shins and take names.

  7. Haha, if it’s discussions you want Leah, then you can have them anytime 😉

    I cannot guarantee that they will always be awesome though. I have my bad days. (Especially the ones where you have to get op at 5:30am ¬¬)

  8. Matthew

    😀

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