The Dream of the Rood is a poem written by an unknown author, which dates back to 8th century inscriptions found on the Ruthwell Cross. The complete versions as we now know it came about from within the 10th century Vercelli Book. Rood in modern English means pole or in the case of this poem crucifix. The poem details the crucifixion of Christ from the viewpoint of the Rood and it is interesting to see the story through the Roods unique viewpoint. Christianity of course heavily influences the poem and there are also some paganistic elements as well (The Dream of the Rood, 2011).
The Dream of the Rood is first and foremost a Christian piece. The poem details the death and resurrection of Christ, the triumph over sin and evil, and stresses the importance of the Rood or Cross as we know it. The death and resurrection of Christ is very important in the Christian religion, it is because Christ gave his life for mankind in the ultimate sacrifice to forgive mankind of their sins. When Christ rose again on the third day he made his triumph over sin and evil and proved he was the true Son of God. The Rood shares this triumph with Christ over death. Instead of fearing death they face it refusing to bend or bow. The Bible says not to fear for the Lord is with you and the account of the Rood enforces this idea. Another Bible verse that enforces the idea of triumph over death in this poem is I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die (John 11:25-26, New International Version). These are just a few examples of why his Poem has Christian influences. The Dream of the Rood also has Paganistic elements as well. There is a talking tree, which is similar to how Pagans have talking elements or spirits. There is the idea of ritualistic sacrifice, and the tree is recognized as an object of worship. In the Bible Christ says For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul (Leviticus 17:11, King James Bible), also animals are frequently sacrificed in the old testament as offerings to God. Although these are examples from the Bible they can show how the Christian religion has similarities to certain Pagan beliefs such as ritualistic sacrifice, such as the sacrifice recounted in the Dream of the Rood. The tree is also seen as an object of worship in the poem it is adorned with gold and jewels and its triumph over death is celebrated. These examples show how the poem shows some Pagan influences but over all it is still mainly a Christian influenced piece.
The Dream of the Rood. (2011). In Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/171238/The-Dream-of-the-Rood