What is Eternity?: Beowulf and The Rule of St. Benedict College

At their deepest level, both The Rule of St. Benedict and Beowulf deal with the question of how one can go about using his short time on earth to achieve a form of eternity in the face of a dangerous, threatening, unpredictable world. The Rule of St. Benedict, for example, is a set of Christian rules introducing the “tools of the spiritual craft” that are meant to be “used without ceasing, day and night” (St. Benedict, 14) so that on the Day of Judgment, “our wages will be the reward the Lord has promised” (St. Benedict, 14). Alternatively, Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic that glorifies the heroic duties of warriors and warrior-kings in a way that only reputation will perpetuate a warrior’s existence after death. Therefore, while St. Benedict proposed that the way to an eternal life is by leading a righteous and Godly life, Beowulf suggests that the way to an eternal life is through the Germanic heroic code; furthermore, both texts reveal similarities and differences in the value systems of these societies.

In The Rule of St. Benedict, eternity is a place where those who have lived in holy obedience will get to experience (St. Benedict, 14), and those who have not will spend their afterlives in the “torments of hell” (St....

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