Crossing Cultural Barriers - The Heliand (Saxon Gospel)


(SeanO) #1

The Saxons were forcefully converted to Christianity from pagan religions. They had little to no knowledge of Jewish customs or laws and for obvious reasons did not think kindly of the religion of their masters. However - an unknown author made an attempt to reach them using words and concepts familiar to them through The Heliand.

I have been reading through The Heliand and pondering how we reach cultures who have a negative historical interaction with people claiming Christ.

Please share any thoughts / questions that these excerpts spark.

Description from Wikipedia-----------------------
The Heliand (/ˈhɛliənd/; historically [ˈheːljand]) is an epic poem in Old Saxon, written in the first half of the 9th century. The title means saviour in Old Saxon (cf. German and Dutch Heiland meaning “saviour”), and the poem is a Biblical paraphrase that recounts the life of Jesus in the alliterative verse style of a Germanic epic. Heliand is the largest known work of written Old Saxon.

A Few Excerpts

“Then there came a decree from Ft. Rome, from the great Octavian who had power over the whole world, an order from Caesar to his wide realm sent to every king enthroned in his homeland and to all Caesar’s army commanders governing the people of any territory.… It stated that all warrior heroes were to return to their assembly place, each one was to go back to the clan of which he was a family member by birth in a hill-fort….The good Joseph went also with his household, just as God, ruling mightily, willed it. He made his way to his shining home, the hill-fort at Bethlehem. This was the assembly place for both of them, for Joseph the hero and for Mary the good, the holy girl. This was the place where in olden days the throne of the great and noble good King David stood for as long as he reigned, enthroned on high, an earl of the Hebrews.

“I have heard it told that the shining workings of fate and the power of God told Mary that on this journey a son would be granted her, born in Bethlehem, the strongest child, the most powerful of all kings, the Great One come powerfully to the light of mankind—just as foretold by many visions and signs. . . And it came to pass just as wise men had said long ago: that the Protector of People would come in a humble way, by his own power to visit this kingdom of earth. His mother, that most beautiful woman, took Him, wrapped Him in clothes and precious jewels, and then with her two hands laid Him gently, the little man, that child, in a fodder-crib, even though He had the power of God, and was the Chieftain of mankind. There the mother sat in front of him and remained awake, watching over the holy Child and holding it.”