A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Beowulf vs. the Dinosaurs!

I discovered this article through a list-serve I'm on. Truly, I'm in awe, because this reads at times almost as if it were a piece from Lark News. The author, Ruth Beechick, asserts that the Old English poem Beowulf is based on historical fact. Well, thus far, she's not unique: I think other people have suggested that there may have been some chief, warlord, or prince named Beowulf, hundreds of years ago. Such people usually assert that, as in the case of King Arthur, the real exploits of this character have been embellished in legend, such that the finished tale may bear little resemblence to his actual life.

Ruth Beechick will have none of that demythologizing of medieval mythology! She believes that not only was Beowulf real, but the monsters he fought were real, too. They were, you see, dinosaurs. Mmm hmm. The dinosaurs, like all God's creatures, survived the Flood in Noah's ark, and some of them lingered on in the world. Indeed, I should not say "linger," but "lingered," for Beechick claims that:

Most dinosaurs are extinct now or almost so, but now and then some sightings show that a few survivors remain in the world.

Perhaps this is a reference to the Loch Ness monster and her ilk? I grant that there have been interesting reports of sea beasts throughout the world, but I myself would be very very hesitent to claim that those reports add up to anything like proof.

In any case, Beechick makes this bizarre claim about Beowulf scholarship:

Why, then, do so many literature critics say that Beowulf is fiction? It is because they do not believe that dinosaur creatures lived at the same time men lived. Their evolutionary worldview says that dinosaurs lived long ages before men evolved on the earth. Therefore, in their minds, this all must be fiction. But with a Biblical worldview, we can see that dinosaurs entered the ark with Noah—land species at least—and they lived on the earth again after the Flood. But the post-Flood earth was not so hospitable to large creatures and they eventually became almost extinct.

Of course! Our readings of Beowulf have been completely warped by our belief in evolution! It's so simple, once you stop to think of it. Oh, those evil liberal academics, denying the truth of this great Christian hero's exploits! Shame on them!

No, of course I don't mean that. Shame, rather, on for publishing such bullshit. And shame on "scholars" like Ruth Beechick who are so blinded by a pet theory about the development (or non-development) of life on earth that they not only produce shoddy readings of literature, but then insult all dissenting Beowulf scholars. I pity any children who may be taught from the book Beechick is currently writing, if this is a fair taste of her work over all.


Blogger Geech said...

I can't believe anyone actually tries to argue the Arc as historical fact. Are you sure it isn't just astonishingly clever satire?

10:10 PM  
Blogger Teresa H.T. said...

Are you sure it isn't just astonishingly clever satire?

Well, I've considered that. If so, I have to applaud the author. It would be a nice parody of certain styles of apologetics defening the Bible. (Disclaimer: I think it's good to defend the truth of the Bible. But there are good and bad ways of defending the Bible just as there are good and bad readings of it.)

But if this article WERE satire, it must have fooled the webmaster at, which isn't a satire site. They posted this with the homeschooling materials.

11:00 PM  
Blogger La Mama Loca said...

No, this is not satire. Not even close. This stuff is rampant in the homeschooling community, although I've never seen it extended to literature. MOST Christian science materials are young earth, 6 day creationist materials. You see books like "What really happened to the dinosaurs?" which contain images of cavepeople and dinosaurs together, asserting that they lived at the same time. Some claim that dinosaurs were killed off by the flood, others, like Beechick here, have different theories. It is difficult to find science materials designed for homeschooling that don't have this bias, IME. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right place.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Kevin Jones said...

"A remarkable book, After the Flood by Bill Cooper, gives the history of Beowulf and of other European genealogy, tracing king lines all the way back to Noah."

I wasn't aware some Fundamentalists were such slavish antiquarians. Plenty of European cultures tied their earliest ancestors into Genesis or the Trojan War epics, and sometimes both. I wonder what these writers make of Homer and Vergil?

3:17 PM  
Blogger Leopoldtulip said...

How cah Grendel be a dinosaur if he's also supposed to be a "descendent of Cain?" Of course, Cain was so wicked that he killed his own brother, so I guess unnatural relations with a dinosaur is not out of the question.

10:47 PM  

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