The Heliand is an epic poem written in continental Old Saxon, sometime in the first half of the 9th century. Heliand means ‘Saviour’, literally ‘healer’. The poem is sometimes referred to as a ‘Saxon Gospel’ because it tells the Gospel story within the context of Saxon culture and syncretizes many elements of the pre-Christian religion with that of the official narrative. Together with other early Christian Saxon literature, it forms the basis of an interesting ‘Saxon Christianity’ that reflects the culture and values of a Christianised Saxon people.
There are two manuscripts, and four fragments, from which modern translations have been made, but unfortunately neither are complete. It takes up about 6,000 lines.
I do not claim to have translated this myself and have mainly drawn from two existing sources; those by G Ronald Murphy and Tonya K Dewey. However, this is my interpretation of the Gospel and so it differs in many ways from both. I have also on several occasions sought to translate specific words in my own way. My aim is to have made it more readable to the average reader as the translations I have seen have tended to be rather literal, academic and sometimes dry. I hope the use of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ in speech gives it a bit of an oldy worldly charm. Above all, I hope that it will help people to restore a traditional Saxon Christian ethos and culture we can call our own.
I do not seek any financial reward from this work which has taken me a good ten years on and off and am happy for it to be shared with like-minded friends. As I say, my aim is to spread the good news of the Saxon Gospel!
God’s Good News Is Written Down
Many there were whose hearts moved them to begin telling the word of God, the secret runes1, famous feats that mighty Christ achieved amongst men in words and deeds. (1 - 5)
Many of the wise, the children of men, wished to praise Christ’s teachings, the holy Word of God. And with their own hands write a bright shining book, telling how they, the sons of heroes, should carry out His commands. From amongst all of these, were four who had the power of God, help from heaven, the Holy Spirit, strength from Christ. They alone were chosen to write down the Good News, God’s speech, to write in a book the commands of God, the holy heavenly word. No one else amongst the heroic sons of men were to attempt this, since these four had been chosen by the power of God. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were their names. They were dear to God, worthy of the work. The all-wielding Ruler had placed the Holy Spirit into their heroic hearts, with wise words, a deep understanding and courageous thoughts, so that they could lift up with holy voices to chant God’s spell.2 These words have no equal anywhere in this world! Nothing can ever glorify the Ruler, our dear Chieftain more! Nor better fell every evil creature or work of wickedness, or better withstand the hatred and enmity of the enemies. For the one who taught them God’s speech, had a strong heart, merciful and good; the noble, almighty creator himself. (5 - 31)
And so, with their own fingers, these four were to write it down. To set down, sing and proclaim what they had seen and heard of Christ's great strength. Tell of all the many wonderful things, in words and deeds that the mighty Chieftain Himself proclaimed, taught and accomplished amongst men. And also of all the things the Ruler spoke from the beginning, when He, by His own power, first made the world and formed the whole universe with one word. The heavens and the earth and all that they hold, both alive and not alive, everything was firmly held in place by God's sacred words. He then determined which of the tribes would rule the widest of lands and at what times the ages of the world would come to an end. One age still stood before the sons of men; five were past. The sacred sixth age would come through God's power, the Holy Spirit, and Christ's birth. He is the best of Healers, come to this middle world to be a help to many, to give human beings an advantage over the hatred of the enemy and their hidden snares. (32 – 53)
At that time the Lord God granted to the Romans the greatest of kingdoms. He strengthened the heart of their army so that they conquered all nations. Those helmed warriors of Rome’s high stronghold had won an empire. Their military governors sat in every land and they had authority over the people of every race. Herod of Judea was chosen to be king over the Judean people. Caesar, ruling the empire from Rome, placed him there, amongst the warriors, even though Herod did not belong by clan or tribe to the noble born tribe of Israel. He did not come from their kinsmen. It was only thanks to Caesar in Rome, who ruled the empire, that the descendants of Israel, those hero-warriors renowned for their toughness, had to obey him. They were Herod’s very unwavering friends; as long as he held power, for as long as he had authority over the people of Judea. (53 – 72)
There was a venerable man, wise and experienced and with a courageous heart. He was of the people of Levi’s kin, Jacob’s son, of good family. His name was Zachary. He was a blessed and happy man, who loved to serve God and acted according to his will. His wife did likewise. She was an elderly woman. But no heir had been granted to them in their youth. They lived without fault, praising God and were obedient to the King of Heaven. They honoured the Lord and never desired to do any evil amongst mankind. Yet, they also lived in sorrow because they did not have an heir of their own, for they were childless. (72 – 87)
There, in the temple3 in Jerusalem, as was oft his turn, Zackary fulfilled God's bright and clear command to celebrate the holy worship of the Ruler, the divine service of God, the King of Heaven. He was very happy and carried it out with a devout mind. (87 – 93)
1 Runes are the sacred symbols of the Germanic world, symbolic representations of the mysteries of creation. Reference to them here is suggesting that the Gospels also contain deep, hidden mystery and secret knowledge set out as a form of magic spell. The word Gospel itself can be seen as a play on words meaning both ‘Good News’ and God’s ‘Spell’ (or magic). Our forebears were almost certainly aware that the true meaning of the Gospel stories was deeper than the surface stories.
2 Again we see the Gospel being referred to as God’s spell or magic words.
3 The actual word used is uuiha (Weoh) which properly translates as ‘holy place’, shrine or sanctuary.
Zackary Sees The Chieftain’s Angel In The Sanctuary
Then the time came, which had been foretold in words by wise men, that Zackary was to attend at the Holy Place of God. Many of the Jewish people were gathered there in Jerusalem to ask the Lord for his grace that the ruling God, the King of Heaven, might deliver them from evil. The people stood around the holy house as the noble man went inside. The remaining crowd, the Hebrew people, waited outside, around the altar, until the venerable man had finished doing the will of God. (94 – 106)
Inside, the old man carried the incense through the Sanctuary and went around the altar with his censer, worshipping the Mighty One. He was performing his duty wisely, the divine service, with a clear mind (the way one should gladly follow one’s lord), when a fear came over him. Then, he saw an angel of God inside the holy house. The angel spoke to him in words and told the venerable man not to be fearful. “Thy deeds are pleasing to the Ruler,” he said, “as is thy word. Thy service to Him finds favour, that thou hast such faith in His power alone. I am His angel; Gabriel I am called. I stand forever before God, always in the presence of the All-Ruler, except when He wishes to send me off on His errand. Now He has sent me on this journey and told me to let thee know that a child will be born to thee and thine aged wife. He will be wise in words in this world and will never in his lifetime drink strong fruit-wine. Thus have the workings of Wyrd, the Time Measurer4 and the might of God marked him out. God also commanded me to tell thee that thy child will be a warrior-companion of the King of Heaven. He said that thee and thy wife should care for him well, raise him with troth5 and that He would grant him many honours in God’s kingdom. God said that this good man is to have the name John and He commanded that thou call the child by that name when he comes. He said that the child would become a warrior-companion of Christ, His own Son, in this world, and that both of them would be coming here very soon”. (106 – 138)
Zackary then spoke and conversed with this same angel of the Lord and he began to wonder about these words and deeds. “How can this happen,” he said, “at our age? It is all too late for us to bring about what thou art saying. For we both already had twenty winters in this world before this woman came to me. We have now been together, sharing bed and board, for seventy years since the day I took her to be my wife. If we were not able to accomplish this in our youth, if we were not able to produce our own heir, raised under our own roof, how are we to do it now that we are old? Old age has taken away our vigour so that we are both weakened in sight, our faces have gone slack, our loins are lax, our flesh is loose, our skin is poor, our desire is gone. Our bodies are dried out, our appearances have changed and so have our minds and strength. So many days have we been in this world. And so I wonder how it is that thou art saying with thy words could happen.” (139 – 158)
4 Wyrd is the Germanic concept of fate, that which ‘has been’, ‘is’ and should be’, as an outcome of past and present actions. it was such an important concept to our pre Christian ancestors that it transferred into early Germanic Christian literature. The ‘Time Measurer’ is a reference to ‘Metod’, an aspect of Woden (Odin). We each have an allotted time set by Wyrd.
5 Troth (honour and loyalty to one’s Lord) was a fundamental virtue of the Germanic warrior culture. John was to become a ‘GesiÞ’ or ‘warrior-companion of Christ.
The Birth Of John The Baptist
Then the King of Heaven’s messenger was pained that Zackary doubted his message and did not want to believe that God could restore him to the youth he once had, should he so wish. So the angel set upon him as a punishment that he would not be able to say a single word, not even move his mouth, “until a son is born to thee, until thy elderly wife bears thee an earl, a newborn baby of good kinstock, shining in this world. At that moment thou wilt speak again, thou shalt regain control over thy voice, and thou shalt be dumb no longer”. And so it came to pass, then and there. What the angel of the All-Ruler said in the temple came true: the old man lost his speech, although he kept a clear mind in his head. (159 – 174)
Outside the Temple, the people had been waiting all day long and everyone was wondering why the revered and good man was taking so long to perform his service. No other thane had ever taken so long to perform the worship service with his hands. Then the good man came out of the sanctuary. The earls crowded in closer, they were very curious to hear what he would say to them and what truth he would reveal to them. But he was not able to utter a single spoken word to the warriors of his retinue, he was only able to let the people know with his right hand that they should follow the commandments of our Ruler. The people understood that he had truly seen something of God, but that he could not say anything about it, make known the truth. (174 – 190)
And so it was. He had performed the worship of our Ruler when it was his turn as was marked by men. (190 – 192)
Soon afterwards the power of God, His mighty strength, was felt: the wife Elizabeth, a woman in her old age, became pregnant. Soon the husband, that godly man, would have an heir, an infant boy born in the stronghold. (192 – 196)
The woman awaited the workings of Wyrd. Winter rushed by and the year turned. John came into the light of his folk. His body was beautiful. His skin was fair, as were his hair and his fingernails. His cheeks shone! Many of their friends and wise-men who travelled there, were amazed at what had happened. They wondered how two such old people could bear a child, unless it was a command of God Himself. They recognised immediately that there was no other way for such a happy event to occur. Then, a man of many years, gifted with wisdom and wise words, spoke and asked with great interest what the boy’s name would be in this world. “Methinks he is better than we are, both in the manner of his birth and in his appearance. For this reason, I believe that God Himself has sent him directly to us from heaven.” Soon afterwards, the mother of the child spoke, the one who had borne the child as a baby in her womb. “A solemn order came here last year from God,” she said, “a solemn order that by God’s word he was to be called John. I would not dare to even think about changing this in the slightest, even if I could”. Then an arrogant relative, who was from her clan territory, spoke up. “No nobleman ever born into our folk has had that name before,” he said. “Let us choose a more suitable name for him, one he might like”. (196 – 224)
Then the older man spoke, the one who had just given a great deal of wise counsel. “I never advise any warrior to start altering the Word of God. Just go and ask the father, a wise gentleman sitting over there in his mead-hall. Even though he cannot speak a single word, he can give us a message by writing the name in letters.” At that, he approached Zackary and put a beech-wood stave6 on his lap asking him earnestly to carve in wisely crafted words what this holy child was to be called. Zackary took the book into his hands and gladly turned his thoughts to God. He wisely carved the name ‘John’ and immediately regained the power of speech. He spoke with intelligence and wisdom. The affliction had left him, the harsh punishment which holy God, the All-Mighty, had inflicted upon him, so that he would never in his heart forget Him, should He ever again send one of His servants back to him. (225 – 242)
6 Zackery is depicted as carving Runes onto a beech-wood stave in the traditional Germanic manner.
It was not long afterwards that it was all completed just as All-Mighty God had so often promised to mankind, that He would send His heavenly child, His own Son, to this world to free all the clans of folk here from evil. His messenger Gabriel, the angel of the All-Ruler, then came to Galilee. There he sought out a respected and lovely young woman, a girl who had reached her maidenhood and ruled the fates. Her name was Mary and she was a virgin. And she, a daughter of David, was betrothed to Joseph, a nobleman. She was a virtuous woman, a precious bride. There in Nazareth the angel of God spoke to her face to face, calling her by her name and saying to her from God, “Good health be with thee, Mary. For thou art dear to the Lord, precious to the Ruler for thy wisdom, O woman filled with grace. Thou art to be blessed more than any other woman. Do not have a weak heart or fear in thy soul. I have not come here to harm or trick thee. Thou art to be the mother of our Chieftain here amongst mankind. Thou shalt bear a child, the Son of the high King of Heaven. His name amongst the peoples will be Healer. And of the wide kingdom over which he will rule as a great leader, there shalt be no end”. (243 – 269)
Then the maiden, the most beautiful and radiant of women, replied to the angel of God. “How can this happen,” she said, “that I will bear a child? I have never known a man in all my life.” The angel of the All-Ruler had his answer ready for the woman. “The Holy Spirit will come to thee from the meadows of heaven, through the power of God. From Him, a child will be given to thee in this world. The All-Ruler’s power will bathe thee in light from the most high King of Heaven. Never amongst human beings will there ever be as beautiful or so great a birth as this one, when it comes, by the power of God, to this wide world!” After this, the woman’s heart and mind were drawn completely into accordance with God’s will. “I stand here ready,” she said, “to perform any service He may wish of me. I am the maid-servant of mankind’s God. Be it done unto me according to thy words, whatever my Lord wills. My mind is in no doubt, neither in word nor in deed.” (269 – 288)
And so I have heard it said that the maiden gladly received the message of God, with good faith and loyalty and with a pure heart. The Holy Spirit became the baby in her womb. And she understood in her heart and her breast what had happened. She told whoever she wanted to hear that the power of the All-Ruler, coming in holiness from heaven, had made her pregnant. (288 – 295)
However, Joseph was troubled in his heart and mind, since he had already paid a dowry for the maiden, this virtuous woman, this lady of the nobility, to be his bride. He could see that she had a child in her body and could not believe that she had guarded herself well. He did not yet know about the Ruler’s happy message. He no longer wanted her to be his bride, his wife within his hall, and he began to think how he could let her go in such a way that she would not get hurt or suffer hardship. He also did not want all this made known to the crowd. He was afraid that the sons of men might take her life. That was the custom of those people, the Hebrews, back then, according to the old law. If ever a woman lived or slept with anyone unlawfully, she always had to pay the price for it with her life. There was no woman so good that she could remain alive for long amongst those people or who could last for long amongst the crowd. (295 – 312)
And so Joseph, that wise and good man, began to think of ways to let the girl go secretly. Then it was not long before the messenger of the King of Heaven, the Chieftain’s angel, came to him there in a dream and commanded him to keep her and love her in his heart. “Do not be angry with Mary, thy young lady, she is a proper wife. Do not think too harshly of her. Thou art to keep her safe, thou art to protect her well in this world. Continue with the betrothal which thou made, and foster loving friendship between thee. Do not let her be loathsome to thee because there is a baby in her body. That child in her womb comes from the meadows of heaven by the order of God, the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus Christ, God’s own boy, the Ruler’s Son. Keep her well, in a holy way. Do not let thy mind doubt or thy heart be disturbed.” Joseph’s mind was changed with these words. He took the maiden to be his wife and gave her his love. He acknowledged the power of God and the order of the Ruler. He had a great desire to keep her in a holy way and he took care of her amongst his warrior-companions. (312 – 334)
And she carried, all for the glory of God, the Holy Spirit, that Divine Man, until the workings of Wyrd told her powerfully that she should bring forth the light of men and the best of all who have ever been born. (334 – 338)
The Birth Of Christ
Then there came a decree from Rome, an order from the powerful Octavian, to all the people across his wide realm. Caesar’s message was sent to every king enthroned in his homeland and to all his army commanders governing the people of any territory. It said that all foreigners should return to their homeland upon receipt of the message. They were to return to their kinfolk and the strongholds of their homeland. (339 – 348)
The order was sent out over the whole world. People gathered at all the towns. The messengers who had come from Caesar were book-wise men who could read and write and they carefully wrote everyone’s name down in a report, both names and nationality, so that no one could escape paying the tax which each earl had on his head. (348 – 356)
The good Joseph went with his household, just as Mighty God, the Ruler, willed it. He made his way to his shining home, the fortress at Bethlehem. This was the homeland of both of them; the hero Joseph and the holy maiden, Mary the good. This was the place, where in olden days, the throne of the great and noble King David stood for as long as he reigned, an earl of the Hebrews, holding the high seat. Joseph and Mary were both kin of his household, they were of good family linage, of David’s own clan. (356 – 367)
I have heard it told that the bright workings of Wyrd and the power of God told Mary that on this journey a son would be granted to her, born in Bethlehem, the strongest of children, the most powerful of kings. The Great One would come, mighty, into the light of men, as it had been foretold by visions and signs in this world many days before. (367 – 374)
And it all came to pass, just as wise men had foretold it; that the Protector of People would come in a humble way, by His own power, to dwell in the kingdom of earth. His mother, that most beautiful woman, took him and wrapped him in clothes and precious jewels. Then, with her two hands, she laid Him gently, the little man, that child, in a fodder manger, even though he had the power of God and was the Chieftain of all men. There, the mother sat in front of Him and remained awake, watching over the holy Child and holding Him. And there was no doubt in the mind or in the heart of the holy maid. (374 – 386)
Then what had happened became known to many over the wide world. The guards heard it, the horse-guards7 out there, men on duty, watching over the horses, beasts in the field. They saw the darkness parted in two in the sky and the light of God come shining through the clouds and surround the guards out in the fields. They became fearful in their hearts. Then they saw the mighty angel of God coming towards them. He spoke to them and told them that they should not fear any harm from the light. “I am going to tell thee”, he said, “something very wonderful, something very deeply desired. I shall make known great power. The Christ is now born, on this very night, God’s holy Child, the good Chieftain, in David’s city. What joy for all men! Thou shalt find Him, the mightiest Child, in Bethlehem. Take this as a sign that I speak truthful words. He is there, lying in a manger in swaddling clothes, even though He is king over all the earth and the heavens and over the sons of all peoples, the Ruler of the world.” And as he spoke these words, an enormous host, the shining people of God, came down to the angel from the meadows of heaven, saying many words of praise for the Lord of Mankind. They then began to sing a holy song as they wended their way through the clouds towards the meadows of heaven. (386 – 415)
The guards heard how the power of the angels praised the All-Mighty God with words. “Glory be”, they sang, “to the Lord Most High Himself, in the highest reaches of heaven, and peace on earth to the children of men, folk of good will, for those who recognise God with pure hearts.” (415 – 422)
The guardsmen understood that something great had been told to them – a happy message! So they took themselves to Bethlehem that night; they wanted very much to see Christ himself. (422 – 426)
7 The traditional Christmas story of shepherds watching over their flocks is transformed into a military scenario of Horse Guards (the King’s personal Guard) performing sentry duty. It may be that shepherds were considered to be too lowly in the social order to guard over the new born King.
The Baby Is Brought To The Sanctuary
The angel of God had truly shown them, with bright, shining signs, that they should go to Him, God’s child. They soon found Him, the Chieftain of Clans, the Lord of Peoples. And so they praised God, the Ruler, with their words and made it known widely all over the shining city how they had been shown there in the fields a brilliant, holy vision from the meadows of heaven. The woman, the holy maid, kept all of this that she heard the men speak of in her mind and in her heart. (428 – 437)
Then the mother, the loveliest of fair women, raised him with love; the Chieftain of men, the holy heavenly Child. (438 – 440)
Many of the earls, heroes and very wise men, spoke with the maiden of God on the eighth day. They said that the Child should have the name ‘Healer’ just as the angel of God, Gabriel, had said in true words when he, as God’s messenger, gave this command to the woman when she had first conceived the Child, glorious to this world. She very much wanted to keep Him in this holy way, she was very keen to take care of Him. The year slipped further by, until God’s Child of Peace was forty days and forty nights old. Then, there was a duty which parents were obliged to perform. They had to bring Him to Jerusalem and present Him to the Ruler at the Temple. That was their custom then, the tradition of the people, which no Hebrew woman could avoid. The first time a woman gave birth to a son, she always had to present him there at God’s Temple. And so Joseph and Mary, those two good people, left Bethlehem with the baby, the holy Christ, and went to find the house of God in Jerusalem. There they were to worship the Ruler at the Temple according to the ways of the Jewish people. (440 – 463)
There at the Temple they found a good man, old and of noble birth, who had lived there many winters and summers of his life, where he performed the divine praises with a pure heart. He had within him the Holy Spirit, a holy heart. He was called Simeon. The Ruler’s power had shown him a long time ago that he would not leave this light, make the journey from this world, until his wish to see the holy Christ Himself, the holy King of Heaven, was granted. And so his heart was very happy within him, when he saw the Child of God come into the Temple. He gave thanks to the Ruler, the All-Mighty God, that he had seen Him with his own eyes. (463 – 476)
The old man approached them and gladly took Him in his arms. He fully recognised the beacons and signs and also the Child God, the holy King of Heaven. “Now Lord”, he said, “I will gladly ask Thee, since I am now very old, that Thou allowest Thy devoted servant go away from here, to travel under Thy peaceful protection to where my forefathers, brave warriors, went when they left this world. My wish is fulfilled on this most precious day, now that I have seen my Chieftain, my gracious Lord, just as it was promised to me long ago. Thou art a powerful light to all the nations who have not yet recognised the All-Ruler’s might, and Thy coming, my Lord Chieftain, brings glory and honour to the sons of Israel, Thine own clan, Thine own dear people”. (477 – 492)
The old man spoke wisely at the Temple with the good woman and foretold what her Son would become over this Middle Earth. How he would be the downfall of some of the children of men and for others a comfort and joy to those who follow His teachings, but a scourge for those who do not want to hear the teachings of Christ. “Thou shalt have sorrow in the future”, he said, “thou shalt suffer pain in thy heart when the children of heroes torture Him with weapons. This will be thy great challenge: to bear sorrow”. The young girl understood the wise man’s words completely. (492 – 503)
Then an old woman came walking into the sanctuary, Anna was her name, Phanuel’s daughter. She had served her Chieftain well in gratitude, she was a mature woman. She retained her maidenhood, until she, a noble girl, was married to an earl. For seven winters she and her bridegroom ruled his lands together.8 (503 – 510)
I have heard it told that then sorrow came to her, that the mighty power of the Measurer separated them, the cruel workings of Wyrd. After that, she was a widow at the Temple of peace for eighty-four winters of her lifetime. She never left the Temple, but served God, her Chieftain well, day and night. (510 – 516)
She came walking towards them at the same moment and immediately recognised God’s Holy Child. She let the heroes know, the warriors at the Temple, the great and welcome news. She said that the salvation of the Rescuer, help from Heaven’s King, had come to them. “Now the Holy Christ, the Ruler Himself, has come to this Temple, to redeem the people, the poor people who, for so long now, have been waiting in this middle world, for such a long time. Let mankind rejoice over this!” Many of the people at the Temple were overjoyed as they heard the great and welcome news being said about God. (516 – 528)
The woman had then performed the sacred rite there, the worship at the altar, just as it was commanded in their law and in the books of the bright shining city. The holy family, Joseph and Mary, then set off for home from Jerusalem. They always had the King of Heaven, the Son of the Chieftain, the Protector of Multitudes as their companion. And so it was that the news did not spread any further in this world than He wished. That was the King of Heaven’s intentions. (528 – 537)
8 Women ruling lands was common in Germanic culture, although alien to the Middle East.
Three Wise Men From The East Follow A Star
Although the holy men recognised Christ, it had not yet become known at the king’s court to those men who were not disposed towards Him. The truth about Him was therefore kept hidden from them by words and deeds until men of the East, very wise men, three strong thanes, came to the people, walking the long road over the land to get there. They were following a bright-shining beacon, and sought the Child of God with pure hearts. They wanted to kneel to Him, to become His followers. God’s Workings of Wyrd were leading them on. (537 – 547)
They found Herod there, the powerful man sitting in his hall, the slithery-tongued king, angrily speaking with his men. He was always fond of murder. The wise men spoke to him properly and politely in his palace, as befitted a king. Straight-away, he asked them what business brought these warriors out on a journey far from home. “Are ye bringing wound-gold as a gift for someone? Why are ye travelling like this, walking on foot? I do not even know where ye come from, earls of another people! I can see that ye are of noble birth, clansmen of good family. Never before have such messengers come here from other peoples since I have ruled this noble and wide kingdom. Ye are to tell me truthfully in front of these people of our country why ye have come to this land.” (548 – 542)
Then the men from the East answered him, those word-wise warriors. “We can easily tell thee the truth of our business and say to thee openly why we have journeyed here from the East to your country. Long ago there were noble men, well-spoken men, who with truthful words, promised us so much good, help from the King of Heaven. At that time, a long time ago, there was a wise man, venerable and knowledgeable, our ancestor from there in the East9. Since then, there has never been any man who spoke as wisely. He was able to interpret God’s speech10, because the Lord of mankind had granted him the ability to hear in this world the Ruler’s words from on high. This gave him great wisdom and foresight”. (543 – 576)
“When the time came for him to depart, fare-forth from this earth and the company of kinsmen, to leave the joy of this world and seek another light, he called his followers, his heirs, to come closer to him. He then told them truthfully in soothsaying, everything that has since come to pass, everything that has happened in this world. He said that a wise king, great and mighty, was to come here to the middle world. He would be of the noblest blood. He said that he would be the Child of God and that he would rule this world forever, both the earth and the heavens, for days without end. He said that on the same day on which His mother gave birth to Him, the Blessed One, a bright star would shine in the east, a star such as we have never seen before between the earth and the heavens, nor anywhere else. Neither such a child nor such a beacon! He ordered that three men of the people should prayerfully prepare immediately and that we should follow it as it went before us, westwards over this world”. (576 – 597)
“Now this has all happened, come to pass by the power of God. The King is born, bold and strong. We saw His beacon shining brightly amongst the stars of heaven and so I know that the holy Chieftain, the Lord All-Mighty, placed it there Himself. Each morning, we saw the bright star shining and we followed it, all the time pursuing the beacon over roads and through forests. The greatest of our desires was to be able to see Him, the Lord of this Kingdom. Tell us into which clan He has been born”. (597 – 606)
On hearing this, Herod’s heart pained him within his chest, his mind began to reel, his spirit was worried. For he had heard it said that there was to be an overlord, a more powerful king of good kin and good standing amongst warriors, who would rule over him. (607 – 611)
So he commanded all the good men to gather together in Jerusalem. All of the wisest in speech and most learned of book-craft in their breasts. With words, he carefully asked them, that evil-minded man, the king of those people, where Christ, the greatest Man of Peace, was to be born in this earthly realm. Then the people spoke to him, in truthful reply, saying that they knew He was to be born in Bethlehem. “It has been recorded thus in our books, wisely written by soothsayers, very wise and learned men. They foretold long ago, by the power of God, that the beloved Protector of the Land would come into this light from Bethlehem. This Mighty Counsellor will rule the Jewish people and will distribute His gifts generously11 throughout the middle world to many peoples”. (611 – 629)
9 ‘Our ancestor in the east’ is an allusion to the origin of the Aryan people from the East, probably around the Caucasus mountains and to their north, spreading eastwards and south-wards into Persia and North India and westwards into Europe, bring with them a common knowledge and religion. It is suggesting that our pre-Christian ancestors had access to God’s word and that the story of the wise men is symbolic of that religion being restored and fulfilled in Christ.
10 A further allusion to this ancestor being able to interpret God’s word, implying again divine revelation in the pre-Christian Germanic religion.
11 Germanic kings, unlike Middle Eastern rulers, were expected to be generous gift-givers.
The Three Wise Men Present Their Gifts To God’s Child
I have heard it told that soon after this, the cruel-hearted king repeated the words of his soothsayers to the foreign heroes, who were earls in their homeland and had travelled from afar. He asked them when, on the eastern roads, they had first seen the King’s star coming, the sign shining down brightly from heaven. They did not wish to hide anything from him and so they told him the truth. He then instructed them to go on with their journey and to make a full report of the news about the coming of the Child. Then King Herod himself, the lord of the Jews, commanded the wise men very sternly, that, before they left the West, they should let him know where he could find the Child himself. He said that he wanted to go there with his warrior-companions to adore the Child. But, he was hoping, with the edge of the sword, to become the Child’s murderer. (630 – 644)
However, the ruling God’s thoughts were against these things. He, the Child, had more to accomplish in this world. His light must shine longer, making known the power of God.12 (645 – 648)
The wise men were ready to continue their journey, following the bright sign, shining amongst the clouds. They were eager about their mission! They wanted to see the Child of God Himself. There were just the three of them, there were no other warrior-companions. These wise men were learned in many things, the ones bearing gifts. (648 – 654)
Then, under the cloudy sky, they studied the heavens above with wisdom, how the bright stars moved. They recognised the shimmering sign of God, which had been created by Christ for His world. They walked on after it, following it faithfully, helped by the power of God. The star shone brightly over the house where the holy Child had chosen to live, where the woman, the maiden, was taking proper care of him. Then the hearts of the thanes became happy within their breasts as they understood from the beacon-light that they had found God’s Peace-Child, the holy King of Heaven. Then, they walked inside the house with their gifts, those road-weary warriors from the east, and immediately recognised the Christ, the Ruler. The foreign warriors fell on their knees in front of the good child and greeted Him in the royal manner. They carried the gifts to Him: gold and incense as a sign of divinity, and myrrh as well. The men stood there ready, respectful in the presence of their Lord, and soon received him, the Child, in a fitting manner in their hands. (655 – 677)
Then the wise men departed, road-weary, to the guest-hall. There, as they were sleeping, during the night, God’s angel showed them, in a dream, what the Chieftain Himself, the Ruler, wanted. It seemed to them that a man was telling them in words that they, the earls, should leave the place by another way when they went back home, and that they should not go back to that loathsome man Herod again, that angry, violent king. (677 - 685)
Then morning came, shining to this world and the wise men began to tell one another of their dreams13. They recognised the Ruler’s word, for they had great wisdom in their hearts. They asked the All-Ruler, the high King of Heaven, that they might go forth in His grace and carry out His will. They said that they had changed their minds and their hearts that morning – for every morning! (686 - 693)
Then the men, earls from the east, set out on their journey, just as the angel of God had instructed them. They took another road, following God’s directions. The messengers from the east, road-weary men, would never tell the Jewish king a thing about the Child’s birth, but wended their way home in accordance with their will. (693 - 699)
12 Christ is demonstrating his superiority over the workings of Wyrd (fate).
13 dreams were a common means of prophecy in Germanic culture.
Herod Orders His Warriors To Behead All Two Year Old Boys Around Bethlehem
Soon after this, the angel of the ruling God came to speak to Joseph. The Chieftain’s messenger told him in a dream, whilst he was sleeping in the night, that the cruel-hearted king would come looking for God’s Son in order to kill Him. “Thou art to lead Him away from here to Egypt and live amongst those people with God’s Son and with the good maiden. Thou shalt dwell amongst them until word comes to thee from thy Lord that thou may leadest the holy Child, thine Chieftain, back into this land”. Joseph sprang up from the dream in his guest-hall and immediately understood God’s command. The noble warrior, together with the virgin, began the journey away from there, seeking another people across the wide mountains. He was determined to get God’s Son away from His enemies. (700 - 715)
Not long after this, Herod the king, sitting on the throne of his realm, was told that the wise men had returned from the west to their homeland in the east, taking a different route. He realised that they did not want to report to him again in his throne room. At this, his mind became troubled; his mood worried. He said that those men, those heroes, did this to insult him. As he sat there with so much pain and rage in his breast, he said that he had another idea, a better plan. “I know His age, the number of His winters, and therefore I can see to it that he never ever grows old on this earth, here in this realm”. (715 - 727)
Then Herod sent a strict command throughout his kingdom, ordering his warriors, as king of the people, that by the strength of their hands they were to behead all the boys around Bethlehem, as many as had been born there and who had reached two years of age. The king’s warriors carried out this terrible crime. So many men-children died there in their childhood, innocent of any sin. Never before or since has there been a more tragic departure for young men-children, a more miserable death. The women were crying, many mothers saw their infants slaughtered. But they were not able to help them. Even if she held her own boy, sweet and small, tightly in her arms, the child still had to give up its life, in front of his mother. The criminals who carried out this outrageous crime saw nothing evil, nothing wrong, in what they were doing. With the weapon’s edge, they did an enormous work of evil, cutting down many a man in his infancy. The mothers wept over the violent deaths of their young children. Sorrow was in Bethlehem, the loudest of lamentations. Even if their hearts had been cut in two with a sword, nothing more painful could ever happen to them in this world, the many women, the brides of Bethlehem. They saw their children in front of them, men in their childhood, violently killed, lying in blood in their laps. (727 - 751)
The murderers killed the innocents and didn’t care at all about the evil they were doing for they wanted to kill mighty Christ Himself! But Mighty God had saved Him from their hatred. Joseph and his men had led Him away from there by night into Egypt, to the green meadows by the best earth, where a river flows northwards to the sea, the fairest of streams, the mighty Nile. (751 - 760)
There God’s Peace-Child dwelt in grace until Wyrd removed Herod the king, so that he left the children of heroes, the mad revelry of human beings. His heir was then to have power over the region. His name was Archelaus, army commander of the helmet-wearers. He was to rule the crowds around Jerusalem, the Judean peoples. (760 - 767)
Then word came to Egypt, to that honourable man Joseph. God’s angel, the Chieftain’s messenger, spoke to him and told him to take the boy back home to His country. “Herod the king”, he said, “has left this light. He was always trying to kill the Child, to trap Him. Now thou canst lead Him back in peace to thy kin-folk now that the king is no longer alive, that arrogant madman of an earl!” Joseph fully complied with this sign from God. They prepared themselves immediately, the thane and the girl; they both wanted to leave quickly with their Son. They were accomplishing bright-shining Wyrd, the will of God, even as He had told them before with His words. (767 - 779)
Mary And Joseph Find The Holy Child At The Sanctuary
Then Joseph and Mary returned to Galilee, the holy household of the King of Heaven were in Fort Nazareth. The saving Christ grew up there amongst the people and was filled with wisdom, God’s favour was with Him. He was well liked by His mother’s kin. He, the Incarnate, was not like other men in His goodness. (780 – 787)
When He was twelve years old, the time had come for the Jewish people to worship their God in Jerusalem14, to carry out His commands. Inside the sanctuary in Jerusalem, the Jews had assembled, a great crowd of men. Mary herself was there in attendance and had her Son with her, God’s own Child. (787 – 794)
The earls performed the worship service there as commanded in their law, in accordance with their country’s customs. The people then departed, the men going wherever they liked. The mighty Son of God stayed at the shrine, without His mother knowing anything about it. She thought He had left with the men, travelling with her friends. She found out the next day, that woman of noble lineage, blessed girl, that He was not amongst their companions. Mary then became deeply troubled; worry seized her heart. When she could not find the holy child amongst the people, God’s young maiden began to mourn. (794 – 806)
They decided to return to Jerusalem to look for their Son. They found Him sitting there inside the sanctuary, where wise and intelligent men read and learnt in God’s law of how to praise the One who made the world in human words. There He was, sitting in the midst of them, the mighty child of God, the All-Ruling Christ, and they did not recognise Him at all. And they were supposed guarding the shrine! (806 – 813)
He was asking them questions with great interest and in wise words. They were all amazed that a young man, a child, could say such words with His mouth. The mother found Him there sitting in their company. She greeted her son, a wise man amongst the people, and spoke to him in these words, “How could Thou give Thy mother such worry, dearest one, that I, a poor sorrowful woman, would have to go asking for Thee amongst these people?” Then the Son replied to her in wise words. “What? Thou knowest very well,” He said, “where I belong and where I by rights would want to be, where My mighty Father is the Ruler!” (814 – 828)
The people, the men at the sanctuary, did not understand why he spoke words like that with His mouth. Mary retained it all. She hid in her heart whatever she heard her Son say in wise words. (828 – 832)
Joseph and Mary then decided to leave Jerusalem. They had the Son of the Chieftain in their retinue. He was the best of Sons, the best of those who have ever been born as a baby from a mother!” They loved Him with a clear mind; and God’s own Son was very humbly obedient to His kinsmen and parents. (832 – 839)
He did not want to reveal His mighty strength to mankind so soon in his childhood, nor let them know that He had such power and authority in this world. Therefore, He decided to wait for thirty years amongst the people, as was proper, before He would give them any indications or let His companions know that He was Himself the Chieftain of the human race here in the middle world. (840 – 846)
The holy Son of God thus stilled His voice and His wisdom and the knowledge that was beyond all, as well as His incredible mind, so that no one could discern from His speech nor from His words, that He had such wisdom, that the thane had such thoughts. Instead of that, He, very properly, awaited a clearer sign. But the time had not yet come that He was to tell the whole middle world about Himself, when He was to teach the people how they were to have faith, how to carry out the will of God. (847 – 855)
Many people in the country knew, however, that he had come to the light, but they were not sure that they recognised Him until He himself decided to tell them. (855 – 858)
14 The reference to ‘their’ God distinguishes the God of the Jews to the God of Jesus and the Christians, a God the people of the conversion era believed they and their ancestors had always acknowledged.
John Announces Christ’s Coming To Middengeard
John had grown up in a wilderness. There were no other people there, apart from him a solitary thane, serving the All-Ruling God. He removed himself from the crowd of people, the community of men. There in the wilderness, a mighty word came to him from heaven, the divine voice of God, and told him that he was to announce Christ’s coming and powerful strength throughout the middle world. He was to say truthfully in words that the heaven-kingdom, the greatest of delights, had come to those heroes’ sons, to people, to the soil of that country. John was very willing to tell of such fortunate blessings. (859 – 872)
And so he took himself, walking to where the Jordan’s water flowed freely. There, every day he instructed the crowd, the people of that country, that they could make up for their many faults, their own sins, by fasting. “Be clean,” he said. “Heaven’s kingdom, the most delightful of dwellings, is approaching the sons of men. Now, in thine hearts regret thy sins, the loathsome things ye hast done in this light. Listen to my teaching and change thy ways according to my words. I will gladly baptise ye in water, so that by the work of my hands thou canst be washed clean of evil, but I do not have the power to take away thine sinful deeds.” (873 – 886)
“But the Mighty-One has come to this light, to human beings, and is standing in thy midst, though ye do not want to see Him. He will baptise you, in the name of thy Lord, in the Holy Spirit. He is Lord over everything. He is able to free any human being from his evil-minded sins, everyone who has the wish to be happy in this world, that he is willing to carry out whatever orders the Child of God gives them. (886 – 895)
“I have come to this world on a mission for Him, to prepare the way and to teach these people how to hold to their faith with clear heads15 so that they need not descend into Hel’s realm, to the heat of that infernal place. (895 – 899)
“Men will rejoice over this for many an hour. Whosoever gladly forsakes evil deeds, the commands of the loathsome one, whosoever is clearly loyal to the All-Mighty God up above, will stand in the good favour of the King of Heaven!” (899 – 903)
Many earls, when they heard this teaching, truly thought that he was himself the ruling Christ since he spoke so much wisdom in truthful words. This became widely known to everyone throughout the promised land as warriors talked in their homes. (903 – 909)
Then Jewish people arrived from Jerusalem looking for him, messengers from their cities asking if he was God’s Child, “the One who honest people said long ago would come into this world.” John answered them and spoke boldly, “I am not”, he said, “God’s Child, true Ruler Christ, but I am here to prepare the way for Him, who is my Lord.” (909 – 917)
The heroes, earls on a mission, messengers from the city, asked, “If thou art not God’s Son, are thou art perhaps Elijah who lived amongst these people in days gone by? He is supposed to come back again to this middle world. Tell us, who art thou! Art thou one of those wise soothsayers who were once here? What shall we say to the people truthfully about thee? Never before has another man like thee come to this middle world with such great deeds. Why art thou performing baptisms amongst the people if thou art not one of the prophets?” (917 – 929)
John the Good had a clever answer ready. “I come before the Lord, my dear Chieftain. I am to prepare this land and its people according to His will. From His Word within me, I have a strong voice, even though many people here in this wilderness will not understand it.” (929 – 935)
“I am not in any way like my Chieftain. He is so powerful in His deeds, so great and mighty. It will be known to many after this age that I am not worthy of this, that even though I am His personal servant, I am not worthy to untie the straps of the shoes of so powerful a Chieftain! He is so superior to me. There is not a single messenger in this world who is equal to Him, not now nor will there ever be. Hold on to this people, your faith. Your hearts will be happy when you forsake the power of hel and the company of the loathsome ones and seek for yourselves God’s light, the home up above, the eternal realm, the high meadows of heaven! Do not let thy minds doubt!” (835 – 948)
15 The use of the phrase ‘with clear heads’ suggests that the author is telling people that they are to have a ‘clear-minded’ grasp of the Christian faith, which means that they should not compromise their older Germanic beliefs and culture.
Christ The Chieftain Is Baptised In The Jordan
And so the young man spoke, proclaiming God’s teachings to the people. Many of the sons of Israel were gathered there at Bethany. The king’s warriors came there to John and people restored their faith through his words. (949 – 953)
He baptised them every day and rebuked them for their misdeeds, the will of the evil ones, and praised the Word of God, his Lord, to them. “The kingdom of heaven”, he said, “is at hand for any man who thinks of God, and who openly wants to believe in the Healer and carry out His teaching”. (954 – 959)
It was not long before God’s own child, the dear Chieftain’s son, came to him from Galilee, seeking baptism. The Ruler’s child was now fully grown and had thirty winters amongst the people in this world. Now it was His wish to come to the River Jordan where John was lovingly baptising many people all day long. (959 – 967)
The moment he saw his Chieftain there, his dear Lord, his heart was filled with joy, for this was what he wanted. John, that very good man, then spoke to Christ in these words, “Thou hast come to me for baptism, my Lord Chieftain, greatest man of the people. I should come to Thee, since Thou art the most powerful king of all!” Christ Himself, the Ruler, told him not to speak any more words like these. “Thou knowest that it is proper for us,” He said, “to fulfil all laws whatsoever from this point forward, according to God’s will.” (967 – 977)
John stood there every day, baptising the mass of people in the water with his own hands, including ruling Christ, the High King of heaven, in the best of baths. And he bowed to Him on strong knees in prayer. (977 – 982)
Fair Christ rose radiant out of the water, the Peace-Child of God, beloved Guardian of the people. As He stepped onto the land, the doors of heaven opened up and the Holy Spirit came down from the All-Ruler on High to Christ. It was like a mighty bird, a magnificent dove, and it sat upon our Chieftain’s shoulder16, staying with the Ruler’s Child. (982 – 989)
Then there came a voice from heaven, loud from the skies above, and greeted the Healer Himself, Christ, the Best of all Kings. It said that God Himself had chosen Christ from His kingdom, and that He was the most beloved to Him of all children. (989 – 993)
John saw and heard all of this as was God’s will. Soon afterwards, he declared to all that they had a mighty Lord right there. “This is,” he said, “the King of Heaven’s Son, the All-Ruler. I want to be a witness to this in the world because the Word of God, the Chieftain’s voice, told me, when He commanded me to baptise people in the water, that wherever I saw the Holy Spirit descend with power to this middle world from the meadows of heaven onto one man, that man will be Christ, the dear Chieftain’s Son. He will baptise people in the Holy Spirit and heal the evil deeds of many men.” (994 – 1007)
“He has the power of God to forgive the sins and transgressions of any person. This is Christ himself, God’s own Child, the best of men, deliverer from the enemy. This should make thy hearts joyful in this world, that it has been granted to thee in thy lifetime to see the country’s Guardian Himself”. (1007 – 1014)
“Now, may many souls go into God’s light, free of sin, those who want to live loyally with their friends and to believe firmly in the Ruling Christ. That will be a great reward to any man who does these things gladly.” (1014 – 1019)
16 There is a subtle change from the original Gospels in which the dove ‘hovers’ over Christ rather than ‘sits’ on his shoulder. This is a clear allusion to Woden and the two ravens, mind and memory, that sit on his shoulders In Germanic mythology.
The Saviour Resists The Devil
I have heard it told that John then praised the teachings of Christ, his Lord, to all people, telling them that they could win the greatest of good things, blessed eternal life, the kingdom of heaven. Then, after the baptism, the good chieftain, the Ruler’s Son, went into the wilderness. The Lord of Earls was there in the wilderness for a long time. He did not have any people, warriors, companions with Him. This was as he wished it to be. (1020 – 1029)
He wanted to let powerful wights test Him17, including the devil who is always spurring men to sin and malicious deeds. He understood Satan’s mind and angry ill-will. How in the beginning he seduced the first earth people through sin, how he misled the couple, Adam and Eve, with lies, into disloyalty18 so that the souls of the children of men would go to Hel after their faring forth. (1030 – 1039)
Mighty God the Ruler wanted to change this. He wanted to grant these people the high heaven-kingdom and for this reason sent them a holy messenger, His Son. This pained Satan a great deal in his mind. He did not want the people to have access to the heaven-kingdom. He wanted to tempt the mighty Son of the Chieftain with the same things he had deceived Adam in days long ago. God had, as a result, become hostile to Adam. Satan had deceived him with sin and now he wanted to do the same thing to the healing Christ. (1039 – 1049)
But the Ruler’s Child held firm in His heart and stiffened His mind against the evil deceiver. He intended to win the heaven-kingdom for people. (1049 – 1052)
The Guardian of the land, the Lord of men, fasted for forty nights, eating no meat. For a long time, the evil creatures, including the hate-filled Nidhog fiend19, did not dare to approach Him, nor speak to Him face-to-face! Satan thought He was simply Mighty God, the holy Guardian of Heaven, without anything of human nature. But when, through His human nature, He felt hunger and began to want food after forty days, then the enemy came closer. Then, thinking now for sure that He was just a man, the murky causer of harm, the spear-enemy greeted Him in words. (1052 – 1064)
“If Thou art God’s Son,” he said, “Why dost Thou not command these stones to become bread? If Thou hast the power, best of all those born, heal thine hunger!” Then the holy Christ responded. He said, “the children of men cannot live on bread alone, but they shall live on the teaching of God in this world and they shall do the works proclaimed aloud by the holy tongue, by the Voice of God. This is the life of men, to do whatever is commanded by the Ruler’s Word.” (1064 – 1074)
Then the evil enemy came closer and began to try another way of tempting his Lord. The Peace-Child endured the will of the evil one, and granted him power, so that he could test His mighty strength. He allowed the people-harmer to lead Him to Jerusalem, to the shrine of God, up above everything, on the highest of all houses. The devil said to Him mockingly in a mighty voice, “If Thou art God’s Son,” he said, “jump down to the ground! It was written long ago in books, that the All-Mighty Father has commanded His angels that they are to be Thy guards in every way and to hold Thee in their hands. Thou shalt not be allowed to even hit Thy foot against a rock, or a hard stone!” (1075 – 1091)
Then the holy Christ, the best of children, spoke in reply. “It is also written in books,” He said, “that thou shalt not tempt thine Lord and Master. This does thee no credit.” (1091 – 1094)
Christ then let the people-injurer take Him on a third journey up onto a high mountain. There the leader of evil let Him look over all the human-folk of the world, all the joyful possessions of the realm of this world and all that this earth holds of happiness and beauty. The enemy then spoke to Him and said that he would grant Him all of this splendour, the high princely kingdoms, “if Thou wouldst bow down before me, fall at my feet, have me as lord and pray at my lap. Then I will let Thee enjoy all these possessions which I have shown Thee.” (1095 – 1105)
Now the holy Christ did not want to listen any longer to this loathsome word, and so He drove him away from His grace. He brushed Satan away. Soon after, the best of Children spoke. He said that one should pray to the All-Mighty God on High and devoutly serve Him alone. For many noble thanes, heroes by His grace, “there is the help for every man.” Then the evil crime-doer, Satan the enemy, left that place in a very bad mood and returned to the valleys of Hel. (1106 – 1115)
A great host of the All-Ruler’s angels then came down from above to Christ, those who were forever after to serve and follow Him. And so this is how one should serve the Lord, the King of Heaven, with humility in accordance with His grace. (1115 – 1120)
17 The temptation of Christ is portrayed as a Germanic style ‘trial by ordeal’ and the devil’s accompanists as evil Wights of Germanic mythology.
18 The act of disobedience to God’s command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge is portrayed as an act of disloyalty, a grave sin in Germanic culture.
19 The author also presents Nidhog, the evil dragon/serpent of Germanic mythology as tempting Christ. We may presume that Nidhogg is also the serpent who beguiled Adam and Eve.
Christ, The Mighty Chieftain, Chooses His First Warriors
The happy Child of God remained for a long time in the deep forest until the time came when He felt ready to make known His great strength to people. He then left the protection of the woods20, the shelter of the wilderness, and sought once again the company of earls, the great crowds of people and the joy of men. (1121 – 1126)
He went to the shoreline of the Jordan. There John found Him, God’s Peace-Child, his Lord, the Holy King of Heaven. When John saw Him walking along there, he said to his followers, the heroes, “This is the Lamb of God, the great Chieftain, the Strongest of Kings, who will take away evil sin, the crimes of mankind, from this wide world!” (1127 – 1134)
Christ, God’s own Child, then set off for the Galilee, journeying to His friends, to the place where He was born and honourably raised. There He, the most powerful of kings, told His kin-folk in words how they should repent of their own sins. He told them that they should make themselves regret their many harmful deeds and chop down all the evil they had done. “Now it has come to pass what the ancients said long ago when they promised ye heaven’s kingdom as thine help. It has come to ye through the power of the Redeemer. Ye can enjoy it from now on. Anyone who is willing to serve God and act according to His wishes!” Many of the people were delighted at this; the teachings of Christ were so sweet to the word-wise warriors. (1134 – 1148)
It was there He began to gather men to be His companions, good men to be His word-wise warriors. He walked along the shore of an area of water where the Jordan had created a sea on the border of the Galilee. There He found the brothers, Andrew and Peter, sitting by the stream where they worked hard setting out their nets21 on the wide waters as they fished in the current. It was there, on the sea-shore, that the Peace-Child of God Himself spoke to them and told them to follow Him. (1148 – 1158)
He told them that He would give them so much of God’s kingdom. “Just as ye catch fish here in the Jordan river, ye shall haul in the sons of men hand over hand, so that many people can be led to the heaven-kingdom by thy teaching.” Both of the brothers became very happy over this, they recognised God’s Son. They left all they had there, by the water, the sea shore. They wanted so much to join up with God’s Son, to be His warriors and to receive the blessed reward. This is what all good people do who want to win the Lord’s favour and carry out His will. (1158 – 1172)
As they came up further along the seashore, they came across an old man and his two sons, James and John, young men, sitting by the sea. The father and his sons were sitting alone on the sands, hard at work with both hands repairing and reweaving the nets that they had torn the previous night in the sea. (1172 – 1179)
God’s blessed Child told both of these young men to come with Him on the journey. James and John, very young men, both came along. Christ’s words were so important to them in this world that there on the shore they left their elderly father alone by the flowing water and all their possessions, nets, and nailed ships22. They chose the Redeemer Christ, the holy One, to be their Lord. They wanted to win His favour. This is how all thanes feel, all warriors in this world. (1179 – 1189)
Then the Ruler’s Son continued his journey with the four. Christ chose the fifth at a market place, one of the king’s servants, an intelligent man. His name was Matthew and was in the service of the nobility. His duty was to collect in his hands taxes and tolls for his Lord. He was a man of great loyalty and noble appearance. He abandoned the gold and silver, many gifts and precious jewels, and became the Chieftain’s man. A thane of the king chose Christ for his Lord, a more generous jewel-giver than his former chieftain in this world had ever been! Matthew chose the happier thing for himself, the longer-lasting gain. (1189 – 1202)
It became known then to all the people, from town to town, that the Child of God was assembling companions23 and that He spoke many words of wisdom, demonstrated many bright truths and worked many signs in this world. It was clear from His words as well as His deeds, that He was the Chieftain, the heavenly Lord, who came to this middle-world, to this light as a gift for the sons of men. (1202 – 1211)
20 Christ’s temptation is set in the deep forest rather than the desert of the Middle East. Saxons would and still do understand the context of being alone in the woods in a way they do not understand the desert.
21 Saxons set out or staked their nets in the water rather than cast off as they did in the Middle East.
22 Norse and Saxon ships were well built with overlapping wooden planks nailed together to make them light and fast.
23 ‘Assembling companions’ gives a sense of a Chieftain assembling an army.
The Mighty Chieftain Calls The Twelve To Be His Men
He often showed His power in that land, performing many wondrous deeds. He healed the lame and the blind with His hands and cured many people of the worst diseases and sicknesses, long-term suffering, which the enemy had inflicted on the sons of men. The people came every day to the place where Our Lord was with His warriors, so that there was a great crowd of people there from many clans, though they did not all come for the same reason, nor did they all want the same thing.24 (1211 – 1222)
Some were looking for the Ruler’s Son. Many of the poorer people needed food and sought donations of meat and drink from the people in the crowd there, since there were many good thanes who gladly gave their alms to those in need. (1222 – 1227)
Some of them were of the Jewish clan, crafty people25. They had come there to spy on Our Lord’s deeds and words. They had a sneaky attitude of mind and ill-will. They wanted to make the Ruling Christ loathsome to the people so that they would not listen to His teaching or act according to His will. (1227 – 1233)
Others were wise men, worthy before God, learned men chosen by the people. They came to the teaching of Christ in order to hear His holy Word, to learn and obey it. They had firmly grasped their faith in Him with devout minds. They became His thanes so that after their last days, He would lead them up to the greatest thing for a human being. God’s kingdom. (1233 – 1241)
He gladly received so many men and promised them His protection for a very long time, as He well could do! There was a large crowd of people assembled there around the famous Christ. He saw them coming together from every region and from all the wide roads, warriors from powerful peoples. The story of His fame had spread afar to many people! (1241 – 1248)
Then the Mighty One, the Most Powerful of Children, took Himself up onto a high mountain and sat there alone. There, He chose for Himself twelve good, loyal men to be the followers whom He, the Chieftain, wanted to have around Him every day in His personal warrior-company from this day forward. He called them by name and told them to approach Him. Firstly Andrew and Peter, the two brothers and with them both James and John, they were precious to God. He was well disposed towards them as they were by birth the sons of one man. God’s Son chose them, good men to be His followers, many men, truly outstanding. Matthew and Thomas, the two Judases and the other James who was His own cousin. They were born of two sisters and came from the same clan, Christ and James were close kinsmen. (1248 – 1266)
Christ the Redeemer had brought the number up to nine loyal men. He then told a tenth, who was called Simon, to go join the companions. He also told Bartholomew and Philip who was with him, loyal men, to leave the other people and to come up onto the mountain. Then the twelve walked together, fighting men headed for a secret council26, to the place where the wise Ruler sat, the Protector of many people, who wanted to help all of mankind against the evil of Hel, the inferno. He wanted to help anyone who would follow the blessed teachings which He intended to explain to the people there with His great knowledge and understanding. (1266 – 1278)
24 The author is alluding to some of the poor having dishonest intentions as they were more interested in begging from the crowds than listening to the words of Christ. We see here a reflection of the Saxon notion of the deserving and undeserving poor.
25 This is probably an allusion to Pharisees rather than to all Jewish people. there does seem to be a distinction throughout the Gospel to those ‘Good’ Jews, or rather Judaens, who follow Christ and those who do not.
26 The word Runu (Rune) is used here for ‘secret’ implying that the Council will reveal secret, hidden, knowledge embedded in the Runes.
The Commandments On The Mountain
Then the warrior-companions, chosen from amongst the people, gathered around Christ, the Ruler and Redeemer. Wise men stood around God’s Son, eager to hear His words. They remained silent, wondering what the Folk Chieftain, the Ruler Himself, would want to say out of love for these people. (1279 – 1286)
Then the Land’s Herdsman, God’s own Son, sat down in front of the men. He wanted to teach them great wisdom with His words, how to praise God in this world-kingdom. The holy Chieftain sat there in silence and looked at them for a long time with tender feelings for them in His mind and generosity toward them in His heart. Then He unlocked His mouth and the Ruler’s Son instructed them in words about many amazing things. Christ spoke in wise and truthful words, soothsaying27, to the men who He had picked to come to hear Him, those most precious to God, all of mankind. (1286 – 1299)
He said that those men in this middle world were blessed who were poor in their hearts through humility, “to them is granted the eternal kingdom in all holiness, eternal life in the meadows of heaven.” (1300 – 1304)
He said that meek-mouthed gentle-men are also blessed, “they will possess the great earth, this same realm.” (1304 – 1306)
He said that those who regretted their evil deeds were blessed, “in return, they can expect the very consolation they desire in their master’s kingdom.” (1306 – 1308)
Also blessed are those who wanted to do good things here, those fighting men who wanted to judge fairly. In return, they will be filled to satisfaction in the Chieftain’s kingdom for their wise actions; they will attain good things. Nor will any people want to deceive them with secrets when they are seated there at the feast!”(1308 – 1312)
Also blessed are those who have kind and generous hearts within a hero’s chest. The powerful, holy Chieftain will Himself be kind and generous to them. (1312 – 1314)
And also blessed are the many people who have purified their hearts28. They will see Heaven’s Ruler in His kingdom.” (1314 – 1316)
He said that those are blessed “who live peacefully amongst the people and do not want to start fights or court cases by their own actions.29 They will be called the Chieftain’s sons for He will be merciful to them. They will long enjoy His kingdom.” (1316 – 1320)
He said that those fighting men were blessed who wanted justice and, because of that, suffer more powerful men’s hatred and verbal abuse. To them is granted afterwards God’s meadow and spiritual life for all eternity. And for them, the end of joyful bliss will never come!” (1320 – 1325)
And so the Ruling Christ taught the earls in front of Him the eight blessings. With them, anyone will always reach God’s kingdom, if he wants to. If not, he will have to do without possessions and happiness for endless days, from the moment he gives up this world, the fate of this life on earth and goes to the other light. For better or for worse, depending on how he treated people here in this world, just as Christ the All-Ruler said it there with His words, the most powerful of kings, God’s own Son, to His followers. (1325 – 1333)
“Ye shall also be blessed,” He said to them, “the people of this country will make accusations against ye and say repulsive things to ye. They will make fun of ye and arrange to hurt ye greatly in this world. They will punish ye and cover ye with verbal abuse and hostility, deny thy teaching and do great wickedness and harm to ye because of thy Lord. But let thy minds always enjoy life, since in God’s kingdom thine reward is standing ready for ye. Every good thing, in full abundance, is given to ye as payment, since beforehand ye suffered hardship and punishment here in this world. (1333 – 1347)
“But something worse will be given to those others, a grimmer thing, to those who had possessions here and were very well-to-do in the world. They spent their joys here, took pleasure in abundance. In return, they will have less after their departure. They will weep over their misery, those who had been joyful, who lived according to their every desire, the ones who did not want to forsake a single thing, no immoral idea or dirty deed which their emotions spurred them on to. When their reward, evil hardship, comes to them, their hearts will be pained. Those who so much followed the will of this world will become deeply sorry in mind and in heart. (1347 – 1359)
“Now, ye are to rebuke them for such evil deeds and stop them with words as I will now teach ye, My companions, in true words, in soothsaying. From now on ye shall be the salt of the earth, to heal the deadly deeds of sinful men, so that they can turn to better things, and cease from doing the enemy’s work, the devil’s deeds, and seek God’s heavenly kingdom. (1359 – 1366)
“Thus, ye are to change many of the people towards My will through thy teaching. If, however, any of ye turns away from this and abandons the teaching which he is supposed to be doing, then he is like the salt which people scatter all over the beach. The sons of men will kick it with their feet when they are on the sand. It is worthless. So it will also be with the man who is to tell God’s word to human beings. If he lets his mind doubt, so that he does not wish with a pure heart to draw people towards the kingdom of heaven with his speech, nor to recite God’s news, but instead turns away from the word, the Ruler will become angry at him and so also will the sons of men! He will be despised by all the peoples of the world, by everyone, if his teaching is empty.” (1367 – 1380)
27 The author presents the Beatitudes as soothsaying, or fortune telling, which is Christianised into a form of prophecy.
28 A subtle distinction from the Gospels which refer to those who have pure hearts. We see here a Germanic call to action, people are called to purify their hearts.
29 A sensitive issue for an audience of warriors! However, we see here an early allusion to ‘just war’. The Christian ideal is for peace and we are called to not go around picking fights for the sake of it. But the author is not saying that those who refuse to fight under any circumstances are blessed. They would be seen as cowards.
The Commandments On The Mountain
And so He spoke wisely and told of God’s news. The Guardian of the land taught His people with a pure heart. Heroes stood around God’s son, warriors intent on His words. They pondered on what He said in silence and listened to the Chieftain of the People speak the law of God to the children of men. He promised them the heaven-kingdom and said to them, “I also tell ye, My companions, in truthful words, that from now on ye shall be the light of this world, shining peacefully upon men, bright and beautiful. Thy great works cannot be hidden, nor the intent with which ye proclaim them, any more than a great city on a mountain, a high steep-sided hill, can be hidden. Neither can thy words and deeds be concealed from human beings in this middle world. Do as I teach ye: let thy great light shine on the people, on the children of men, so that they understand thy feelings, thy works and thy will. And so praise the ruling God, the heavenly Father, with a clear mind in this light, because he gave ye such teaching. (1381 – 1404)
“Nor should anyone who has the light hide it from people, keeping it concealed, but rather he should set it up high in the house so that all who are inside, the heroes in the hall, can see it. Likewise, ye shall not hide thy Holy Word from the people of this country, concealing it from mankind’s heroes, but instead ye shall spread God’s word high and wide throughout the countryside, so that everyone born will understand it and live it. Just as in the olden days when earls held the old law, very wise men spoke in words, so now I say to ye, just as it was commanded in the old law, that each and every man should serve God all the more. (1405 – 1419)
“Do not think for a moment that I have come to this world to destroy the old law, to chop it down among the people and to throw down the word of the prophets. They were truthful men, clear in their commands. Heaven and earth standing firm now will crumble before even a small part of their words, in which they gave true commands to the people here, goes unaccomplished in this world. I did not come to this world to fell the word of the prophets, but to fulfil them; to increase them and to make them new again for the children of men, for the good of this people. (1420 – 1431)
“It was written before in the old law, ye hast often heard word wise men say it, that whosoever in this world steals another’s old age from him, robs him of his life, the sons of men shall put such a person to death. But I want to add to this, to take it further, and say that whosoever is so angry in his heart with somebody that they want to kill them, even though they are kin, belonging to the blessed people of God, the same clan and family, then that person is already guilty of murder. He is condemned to lose his life-spirit, receiving the very same sentence as the other man who by the strength of his hand robbed another early of his head. (1431 – 1446)
“It is also written in the law in true words, as ye all know, that one should love his neighbour fully in his heart30, be kind to his relatives, be good to his clansmen, be generous in his giving, be loving to each of his friends, and shall hate his enemies, resisting them in battle, and with a strong mind shall defend himself against their wrath. (1446 – 1453)
“Now I say to ye truthfully, more fully before this folk, that ye are to love your enemies in your hearts, just as ye love your family, in God’s name. Do good for them, extend friendly loyalty to them with a pure heart. Offer love for their hatred. This is long-lasting advice for every man, this is how a person’s feelings against his enemy should be directed. Then, ye shall have thine reward, the gift that ye can be called the Heaven-King’s sons, His happy children. Ye cannot have anything better than that in this world. (1453 – 1463)
“I also say to ye in all truth, to everyone born, that ye cannot offer anything of thine own to God’s house, to be worthy of His acceptance, with an angry heart or for as long as thou art thinking anything hostile or vicious against another. Ye are to reconcile thyself with thine adversary beforehand, reach an agreement, then afterwards ye may donate thy treasure at God’s altar. Then they are worthy of the King of Heaven. Ye should serve God more according to His grace, following His will, more than other men do, if ye want to own the eternal kingdom and see everlasting life. (1463 – 1475)
“It is also commanded in the old law that one earl must not seduce another man’s woman, his wife, into immorality. But, I say to ye in all truth that a man’s eyes can quickly lead him astray, into evil behaviour, if he lets his emotions entice him on so that he begins to yearn for someone who can never go with him. At that point, he has already committed a sin himself, on his own, and shackled the penalty of Hel into his heart. If, then, a man’s eye or his right hand, or any other member of his body, wants to lead him off onto the path of evil, then it is better for any earl, any of the sons of men, that he remove it from his body and throw it away. It is better to come up to heaven without it than, with all his members intact, a man wend his way, healthy, to the inferno, into the pits of Hel. (1475 – 1491)
“Human weakness means that no one should follow a close friend if the friend entices him into crimes, to sin. It does not matter how closely he is related to him by clan, nor how powerful their family ties are. If the friend is urging him to murder, pushing him to commit crime it is better for him that he cast the friend far away from himself, avoids this relative, and not have any love for him, so that he will be able to go up to the high kingdom of heaven by himself, rather than that they both go together to the extensive tortures and hideous hardship of Hel’s oppression. (1492 – 1501)
30 The word used here in the text is ‘mode’ (mood) which is the sum total of all our characteristics or ‘inner self’. Love, rather than hate, should therefore be the guiding principal of our whole being. However, we need to be careful not to misunderstand ‘love’ for not bothering about anything than does or might harm us. Acting in the interests of our folk is an act of love. Furthermore, the original Saxon concept of ‘leof’ (love) is more about ‘respect’ than ‘lovey-dovey’ agape type love. And respect cuts both ways.
The Commandments On The Mountain
“It is also written in the law, in truthful words, as ye all know, that everyone should avoid false oaths and not commit perjury as it is a great sin and leads people onto an evil path. But I tell ye that no one should swear any kind of oath at all, neither by high heaven, since that is the Lord’s throne, nor by earth beneath it, since that is the Lord’s bright footstool. Neither should anyone swear any oath by his own head, since he cannot turn a hair of it black or white unless God in His power decided to make it so. And so Earls, ye must avoid making too many oaths. Anyone who swears often, always gets worse, since he cannot control himself. (1502 – 1516)
“I will now tell you in truthful words, that ye are never to swear any stronger, greater, oaths by men than the ones that I command ye here. If a man is on trial, let him tell the truth; say ‘yes’, if it is so, admit what is true; say ‘no’, if it is not so. Let that be enough for him. Whatever a man does beyond this to hide falsehood in their words will do no good for the folk, since no earl will ever believe the word of another.31 (1517 – 1527)
“And I also say to you truthfully, as it was commanded in the old law, that whoever takes the eye of another man, separating it, or any other limb, from his body, he shall immediately pay for it with the same limb of his own. But now what I teach ye is that ye must not avenge evil deeds in this way, but that ye should humbly tolerate all evil and wrongdoings, whatsoever people may do to ye in this world. Let every earl do good and profitable things for the other man, just as he wishes that the sons of men do good for him in return. Then God will be generous with him and with every person who desires to behave in this way. (1527 – 1539)
“Honour the poor! Share thy possessions with needy folk! Do not be concerned whether ye are given any thanks or repayment in this transitory world. Instead, think of thy gifts as tribute to thy beloved Lord, so that God, the Mighty Protector should praise ye for them; for whatever ye doeth, doeth out of His love. If, on the other hand, ye would give thy bright shining coins to good men, hoping to make more profit in return, then why would ye expect any reward from God as repayment in this world for what is only transitory wealth? (1540 – 1548)
“If ye would get similar things back in return in both word and deed, then why would our ruler owe ye anything for giving in such a way? Give thy possessions to the poor who can never pay ye back in this world, and strive towards thy Ruler’s kingdom. When ye give thine alms to the poor man with thine own hands, do not do it loudly! Do it for the man gladly and humbly and for God’s appreciation. Then ye shall receive wealth in return, the beautiful payment in the place where ye will long enjoy its bountiful profits! (1549 – 1559)
“Whatever ye give away in secret and with good intentions is valued by Our Chieftain. Do not boast too much about thine giving for the sake of vanity or fame. No one should do that, for then it will not be worth any return. It is before the eyes of God that ye should receive the reward for good works. (1559 – 1564)
“I also command ye that when ye kneel in prayer and ask the Lord for help, so that He might deliver ye from evil things, from the crimes and sins that ye hath wrongfully done here, do not do it in front of other people! Do not tell it to everybody so that they will praise ye for it and hold thine action in high esteem. Otherwise, thy prayer to thine Chieftain gets lost for the sake of the vanity of fame. If ye wouldst pray to the Lord and modestly ask His help, something ye really need, so that thy Victory-Chieftain will take away thy sins, then do it secretly. Thy holy Chieftain in heaven already knows it Himself, since there is nothing in words and deeds that is hidden from Him. He then lets it all happen just the way ye ask Him when ye kneel in prayer with a pure heart.” (1565 – 1580)
Heroes stood around God’s Son, eager in their hearts, intent on His words. They thought and kept silent. They needed to think about the many wondrous things that the holy Child had told them for the first time in words. Then one of the twelve, one of the more intelligent men, spoke in reply to God’s Son. (1580 – 1587)
31 In the Saxon warrior culture, an earl simply had to swear an oath in court that he was innocent of the crime he was charged with and he would be deemed innocent! The author is interpreting the Gospel passage against any oath taking into a Saxon culture in which he is pointing out the obvious truth that is oaths are misused, they will lose their credibility.
The Commandments On The Mountain
“Our good Lord,” he said, “we need Thy gracious help in order to carry out Thy will and we also need Thine own words, Best of all Children, to teach us, Thy followers, how to pray, just as John, the good Baptist, teaches his people with words each day how they are to speak to the ruling God. Do this for thine own followers; teach us the secret runes.32 The powerful One, the son of the Chieftain, had a good word ready right after that in reply. “When men want to speak to the ruling God,” he said, “to address the most powerful of all kings, then say what I teach thee:
Father of us, the children of men,
Thou who art in the high heavenly kingdom,
Blessed be thy name in every word.
May Thy mighty kingdom come.
May Thy will be done over all this world
On earth as it is up there
In the high heavenly kingdom.
Give us Council33 each day, good Chieftain,
Thy holy help, and pardon us, Protector of Heaven,
From our many sins, just as we do to others.
Do not let evil wights lead us astray
To do their will, as we deserve,
But help us fight against all evil deeds. (1588 – 1612)
This is how men should pray in their words when they bow in prayer to ask the ruling God to pardon the evil of mankind. If ye are willing to pardon the violent crimes and sins that others do against ye, then the ruling God, the all-mighty Father, will forgive thine own enormous deeds of evil and sin. But if thine emotions get too strong for ye so that ye are not willing to forgive other earls, other men, their wrongdoing, then God the Ruler will also not forgive ye thine own grim actions. Ye shall receive His payment, the extremely loathsome reward that lasts a long, long time, for all the injustice that ye do to others here in this light, since ye did not reconcile with thy fellow men over a problem before ye departed on the journey from this world. (1613 – 1628)
“I will also tell ye in truth how ye are to carry out My teaching. When ye wish to fast to diminish thy bad behaviour, do not let the multitude know ye are doing it. Avoid doing it in front of other men. God, the mighty Ruler, knows thine intention, even if other people, the children of men, do not praise ye. Thine holy Father in the heaven-kingdom will grant ye thy reward in the heaven-kingdom because ye served Him with humility and holiness amongst the people. Noble warriors, do not wish to acquire wealth unjustly, but work for God for a higher reward. That is a greater thing than living in riches and worldly possessions here on earth. (1628 – 1641)
“If ye follow My words, then do not collect a great treasure of silver and gold here in this middle world, a treasure-hoard, because it turns to rust, thieves steal it, worms ruin it, the clothes get torn, golden wealth disintegrates. Do thy good works, collect a greater hoard in heaven; one made of much brighter coins, one which not a single enemy can take even the smallest bit away from ye! Thy wealth stands ready for ye in heaven. Whatever good ye heroes heap up by the gifts of thine hands, thine hoard! Keep thy minds firmly set on this because the emotions and thoughts of each and every human being, heart and mind, are where his hoard, his treasure, lies collected. (1641 – 1655)
“Nor is anyone ever so blessed that he is able to do both of these things in this wide world; both live richly on this earth, enjoying every worldly delight, and at the same time serve God with gratitude. Rather he will always abandon one or the other of these two things; either the delights of the body or eternal life. (1655 – 1661)
“Therefore, do not worry about thy clothing. Instead keep thy thoughts firmly on God. Do not be concerned about what ye are to eat or drink tomorrow, or what clothes ye warriors are going to wear. The ruling God knows what those who serve Him well here need, those who follow their Lord’s wishes. Ye can truly understand this from these birds here in this world. They travel about clad in feathers. They cannot earn a single coin, yet God, the chieftain, gives them help every day against hunger. Ye men can also consider this in the case of thy clothes. Think about how the plants that are here out in the field are beautifully adorned, blooming brightly. Even Solomon the king, guardian of hill-forts, who had attained an enormous treasure, the largest jewel-hoard in one man’s possession, with the choicest of goods and all clothing, even though he held power over all this country, he was never able to get clothing for his body equal to what the plants standing here in the field are wearing so beautifully; the lilies with their lovely flower. They were clothed by the Ruler of the land from the meadows of heaven. (1662 – 1682)
“Yet, He cares more for this clan of heroes. He loves people much more, the human beings whom the Ruler created on this land in accordance with His desires. Therefore there is no need for ye to be worried about thy wardrobe. God will supply everything, help from the meadows of heaven, if ye are willing to gain His favour through service. Always be concerned first about God’s kingdom and then act in accordance with His good works. Strive for more important things. The rich and powerful Chieftain will give ye every good thing if ye will follow Him in the way I am saying to ye here in true words.” (1682 – 1690)
32 Another reference to the Word of God (this time the Lord’s Prayer) as secret Runes and God’s ‘Spell’. The entire Gospel is seen as a revelation of God’s Spell or secret Runes.
33 The petition is for wise Council rather than ‘daily bread’ follows the Vulgate version of the prayer. This would have been more acceptable to the warrior’s sense of being able to provide food and sustenance for his family, but being comfortable with seeking advice and support from his Lord.
The Commandments On The Mountain
“Ye shall never commit any sort of injustice or evil on any man, for that judgement will be returned to whoever speaks unjustly of another and it will be he who is filled with sorrow. Never let any of thy men, when offering tribute or payment here in the middle world, deceitfully give another man an unjust measure. For every earl will be dealt with as he deals with others, however much he might want to hide his sins. (1691 – 1701)
“I will also tell ye, how ye should guard against the greatest of evils, the greatest amount of wickedness: that ye should not rebuke a man, thy brother, because ye see a tiny straw in his eye, when ye are not willing acknowledge the huge beam, the hard and heavy tree, that ye hath in thine own eye. Consider first, how to remove the beam from thine own eye, then the light will shine before ye, thine eyes will be opened. And then ye may be able to cure thy friend’s eye. (1701 – 1711)
“Likewise, everyone here in this world should concentrate more on the wrong things that they do themselves than watching other people’s crimes and sins where they have done worse. If a person wants to do a good deed, they should first free themselves from sin, separate themselves from evil deeds. After that, they can be a help to heroes with their teaching, once they know themselves to be pure in heart and safe from sin. (1711 – 1720)
“Nor should ye put thy pearls before pigs or scatter thy treasure. For they will crush the holy medal around thy neck34, trample it into ground and defile it in the dirt for they know nothing about cleanliness or beautiful jewels. There are many people like that here. They do not want to hear thy holy word or follow God’s teaching. They know nothing about goodness, but prefer empty words and useless things over the God of men. They are not worthy to hear thy holy word, if they will not think about it in their minds, learn from it and carry it out. Tell them nothing of thy teaching so that ye waste not God’s speech and spells on people who are not willing to believe the words of truth. (1720 – 1734)
“As ye fare through this land, be on thy guard against these people, so that their deceitful teachings do not seduce ye with false words or deeds. They will come to ye in robes with the finest of jewels, but they have deceitful hearts. May ye recognise them, as ye see them coming. They will speak wise words, but their deeds are of no use, worthless are the thoughts of those thanes! For ye know that wine-berries do not grow on thorns, nor the finest fruits. Neither will heroes ever pick figs from a thorn briar. Understand this too, that a bad tree standing on the earth never gives good fruit and neither did God ever ordain it that the good tree should ever bear bitter fruit for the children of men. Each and every tree brings to this world the kind of fruit that comes from its roots, either sweet or bitter. (1734 – 1750)
“Likewise, people reveal their deepest thoughts and feelings, speaking with their mouths the feelings and thoughts in their hearts. They cannot hide it. From an evil man, will come poor counsel, bitterly negative speech, just as he holds in his chest chained around his heart. His thoughts and his will always make themselves known in his words and his deeds follow on from this. (1750 – 1758)
“But from the good man comes an intelligent and wisely thought-out answer, just as he always speaks in his words. Out of this man’s mouth comes forth the treasure he holds in his heart. This is where the holy teaching comes from, beautiful words, and his deeds will accordingly be good for the people and will be appreciated by many thanes. This is just as the Ruler Himself, God All-Mighty, the Lord of heaven, grants to good men. Without His help, they could not accomplish any good works at all in words or deeds in this middle world. It is for this reason that all of the children of men should believe in His power alone.” (1759 – 1770)
34 This may be a reference to the Thor’s hammers worn by pre-Christian Saxons and an appeal to the audience not to throw away the symbol of the faith of their ancestors but rather to adapt it to the new faith.
The Commandments On The Mountain
“I will also show ye how, in this light, there are two paths on which all the peoples of the earth, the children of men, travel. One of them is a broad and wide highway. Many people take this path, much of mankind, because their mood, the world-lust of warriors, urge them onto it. But this road leads them onto the wrong side, where they become corrupt heroes in Hel, where it is hot and dark, terrifying inside. This journey is easy for the sons of men, though it brings them no good. Then there is the other road in this world, much narrower, not much travelled, few people take it. The sons of men do not like to walk it, even though it takes earls to God’s kingdom, to eternal life. (1771 – 1785)
“So take the narrow one. Even though it is not so easy for human beings to travel on, yet it will be to the advantage of whoever walks it to the end. That person will get his prize, the very long-lasting reward and life everlasting, eternal bliss. Ye should always ask the Chieftain, the Ruler, that ye will take this path from the start and keep going on it all the way to God’s kingdom. He is always ready to give to those who really ask Him, to the sons of men whenever they ask. Seek thy Father above in the eternal kingdom. Ye can find Him there, to thine advantage. (1786 – 1797)
“Announce thine arrival at thy Chieftain’s doors! They will open for thee, heaven’s gates shall be unlocked, so that ye can walk into the holy light, into God’s kingdom, and see eternal life! (1797 – 1801)
“I will also tell ye, in front of this crowd, a true story so that whoever wants to keep My teachings in his heart, and to think about them in his mind, and carry them out in this land, is acting as wise men do, who have knowledge and wisdom. He chooses firm ground to build his home and works walls on rock where neither wind, nor wave, nor water’s stream can do any harm to it. There it will stand for him, against all storms, on the rock above, because it was built on solid foundations that support it from below, defying the winds, so that the house does not have to yield. (1801 – 1814)
“On the other hand, not everyone wants to hear My message, nor follow any of it, but rather behaving like an unwise earl, men of no understanding, who want to build a home on sand, by the water’s edge, where the west wind, the waves in the sea, and the ocean breakers beat it to pieces. Sand and pebbles are not able to help the house resist the wind and so it will be thrown down there and fall apart in the water, for it was not built on firmer earth. And so each earl will fare in accordance to how he responds to what I say and holds My commands holy.” (1815 – 1826)
Then many of the great crowd began to sense wonder in their minds. They heard the wonderful teachings of mighty God. They were not used to hearing such things said in the past in their land, neither in words nor in deeds. Wise men, though, understood that He taught in this way, the people’s Chieftain, in truthful words, because He had power, unlike all those who in former times had been chosen from amongst the people and clans to be teachers. They did not have the words of Christ, nor were they equal to Him as He spoke in front of the crowd, up on the mountain, commanding. (1826 – 1837)
The Commandments On The Mountain
He then gave them two instructions; to always speak with His words how one should get to the kingdom of heaven, the great wide land. He also gave them power so that they could heal the lame and the blind, those with harsh illnesses, people on their sick-beds. (1838 – 1842)
He also commanded them Himself, that they were not to accept payment from any person for this; no precious jewels. “Remember,” He said, “where thy craft, thy knowledge and wisdom comes from and the power that was given to ye by the father of all men. Therefore, ye have no need to buy it with any money, nor to pay for it with jewels. So, be generous when ye help human beings. Teach the sons of men long-lasting truth, something good that lasts. Criticise acts of wickedness, severe sinfulness. Do not let silver or gold, the fair money treasure, become of such worth to you that it comes to control ye. It cannot do ye any good at all, nor bring ye any happiness. (1843 – 1855)
“Neither should ye earls own more clothes than ye wear at times when ye have to go out in public. Ye should never spend a long time worrying about your meat, or about your food, since the people should feed their teachers. Indeed, what ye sayeth to the people is worth support, worth a loving repayment. The worker is worth being well fed. The man who is going to care for so many souls and get so many spirits on the road to God’s meadow is worth his food. It is a greater thing to care for many souls and to care about how to bring them to the heavenly kingdom than to provide the bodies of the sons of men with food. For this reason people should dearly hold those in honour who show them the road to heaven’s kingdom, who hold off the evil, harm-inflicting enemy, and who rebuke acts of wickedness, severe sins. (1855 – 1873)
“I will now send ye off into this country like a lamb amongst wolves, that is how ye will travel in the midst of thine enemy, amongst many peoples, amongst different people. Keep thy feelings opposed to them, stay intelligently face-to-face with them, just like the yellow snake, the coloured serpent35, when it becomes aware of its hated enemy, so that no one of the world-people can sneak up on ye during the journey. Ye should take care that human beings are not able to twist the thoughts of thine heart or thine will. Be as truly against this, against their deceptive deeds, as one would be against enemies. (1873 – 1883)
“Then ye should also be like a dove in thy deeds. Have a simple, straightforward mind towards every earl, be generous spirited, so that no one comes to be deceived because of thy deeds, tricked because of thy sins. (1884 – 1888)
“Now ye shall fare on the journey, on a mission. There ye will suffer many hardships among the people and many and diverse needs when ye teach the people in My name. For that ye will receive bad treatment and punishment before the kings of the world. Often ye will stand in shackles in front of rulers because of My true Word, and ye will endure both ridicule and insulting language. But do not let thy minds doubt because of that, nor let thy spirit waver. (1888 – 1896)
“There is no need for ye to worry at all in thy mind, when they order ye to come before the noble lords in the guest hall. Speak to them face-to-face in good words spoken wisely. Strength will come to ye, help from heaven, and the Holy Spirit will speak mightily from thy mouth. Therefore do not be afraid of human beings’ hatred, do not fear their hostility. Even though they have power over thy life-spirit, in that they could take away the body’s life by striking with the sword, they cannot do anything at all with the soul. Fear the ruling God, revere your father, enjoy doing His bidding, for he has power both over people’s life and over their body, as well as over the living soul itself. If ye should lose thy life-spirit on this journey because of these teachings, ye will be able to find it again before the light of God, because thy Father, holy God, will hold it for ye in the kingdom of heaven.” (1896 – 1914)
35 The serpent in this context refer to the mythological dragon who guards treasure.
The End Of The Commandments On The Mountain
“Not everyone who calls Me Protector will come to heaven. There are many who want every single day to bow to the Lord and ask Him for help, but who are thinking of other things, of doing deeds of wickedness. Their words do them no good. The people who will come to the light of heaven and go to God’s kingdom, are the ones who are glad to carry out the works and the will of the all-ruling Father. There is no need for them to call on God for help in many words, since God knows the feelings and thoughts, the words and the will, of every man, and He pays everyone with his works reward. (1915 – 1926)
“When ye travel on a journey, ye should be concerned about how ye will complete the mission. When ye journey through the countryside, all across the world, wherever the roads take ye, the broad road to the fortress, always look right away for the best men in the population. Let them know what is on thy mind, then be willing to live at the house with them and reward them well. Pay them back with goodness, consecrate them in words to God Himself and promise them sure peace, the holy help of Heaven’s King. (1927 – 1939)
“Then, if they do not do thy work and follow thy teaching, leave those people quickly, travel on, away from those folk. Return that peace to thine own journey and let them continue in their sin and wickedness. Look for another fortress, another large group of men, and do not let any of the dust cling to thy feet from a place where they do not want to receive thee. Shake it off thy shoes, so that those people will be shamed, and it will become public knowledge how worthless their accomplishments are. (1940 – 1949)
“I say to ye in all truth: when this world comes to an end and the glorious day comes upon mankind, on that day the Fortress of Sodom, which because of its sins was burned to its foundations by the force of the flame, will have more peace and a more generous Protector than those men who will not act on thy words and cast ye out. (1950 – 1956)
“Whosoever does receive ye with a pure heart, a generous spirit, has done My will and has received ruling God, thy Father, the Chieftain of Mankind. The Ruler Himself knows and rewards the will of each person, whatever good he does, even if, for the love of God, they willingly just give a drink of water from a cold spring to heal the thirst of a needy man. (1957 – 1967)
“These words will come true. It will not be long before a man shall receive his reward, payment before the eyes of God, in many forms, for whatever he has done because of love of Me. Whosoever denies Me to the sons of men, of the heroes within this crowd, I will do the same Myself to him in heaven. Up there, in front of the all-ruling Father and in front of all His angel forces, in front of the great multitude! Whosoever of the sons of men in this world does not avoid the words, but instead says ‘yes’ in front of the crowd, that he is My follower, I will recognise him in return before the eyes of God, in front of the Father of all mankind, when the great throng of mankind all walk to judgement before the powerful One, the All-Ruler. Then I will rightly be the gracious Protector of whoever hears My words and does the things that I have commanded up here on this mountain.” (1967 – 1983)
The Ruler’s Son had truly taught the people how to praise God. He then let the people depart from that place. They went in every direction, crowds of humanity, journeying homeward. They had heard holy teaching, the word of the Heaven-King Himself. Whosoever of the many members of the human race throughout the middle world is wiser in word and deed when He speaks, is one who heard the spell spoken on the mountain by the most powerful of those born. (1984- 1993)
The Marriage Feast At Cana
Three nights after this, the Lord of the people took Himself off to the Galilee, where He, God’s Son, had been invited to a wedding. There, a bride was to be given away, a beautiful maiden. Mary, the holy maiden, the Mighty One’s mother, was there with her son. The Protector of People, God’s own Child, went with his followers to the high house were the crowd of Jewish people were drinking in the mead-hall. He was there at the wedding too and it was there that He made known that He had God’s strength, the Holy Spirit, help from the Father in heaven, the wisdom of the Ruler. (1994 – 2005)
The warriors were merry, the people were enjoying themselves, the men were feeling good. The servants went around pouring from pitchers, they had clear wine in goblets and jars. The joy of earls in the drinking hall was a beautiful sight and the men on the benches had reached a very high level of bliss. They were really happy! Then the wine ran out on them; the people had no more apple wine. There was not the smallest drop left in the house that the servants could take to the crowd. The vats were empty; the liquor was gone. (2005 – 2016)
Now it was not very long before the loveliest lady, Christ’s mother, found out about this. She went and spoke with her Child, with her Son himself, and told him in words that the hosts did not have any more wine for the guests at the wedding. Then she asked the holy Christ earnestly to arrange some help for the people, for the sake of their happiness. The mighty Son of God had His answer ready and said to His mother, “What is it to me and thee,” He said, “what happens to these people’s liquor, to these warriors’ wine? Why art thou talking so much like this, woman, and command me in front of all these people? My time has not yet come.” (2016 – 2028)
The holy maiden, however, trusted well in her mind that, even after these words, the Ruler’s Son, the best of healers, would help. Then the most beautiful of women told the servants, those pouring and those in charge of the wine barrels, all the ones who were serving the crowd, that they were not to repeat any of the words or actions that the holy Christ would tell them to do for the people. (2028 – 2036)
Six stone vats were standing there empty. God’s mighty Child gave His orders very quietly so that people would not know for sure how he spoken with His words36. He told those who were pouring to fill the vats there with pure water and then He made the sign of the cross over it with His fingers. With His own hands, He worked it into wine! Then He ordered it poured into a drinking vessel, drawn off with a pitcher and, speaking to a servant, He told him to give it to the most important person at the wedding, to put it right into the hands of the one who had the most authority over these people after the host. (2036 – 2048)
As soon as he drank the wine, the man could not contain himself from speaking, in front of the crowd, to the bridegroom. He said that it was always the best apple wine that every earl serves first at his wedding, “the men’s minds wake up with the wine, so that they start feeling ever more merry. Drunk, they rejoice! Then, after that happens, one can serve the cheaper apple wine: that is the custom of these people. (2048 – 2055)
“But thou, as host, hast made thine arrangements for the crowd in a most amazing way! Thou hast commanded thy servants to bring the worst wine to these folks and to serve it first at thy wedding. Now thy guests are full, the whole wedding party is drunk. They are very merry. Now thou hast ordered the loveliest of all apple wines brought out that I have ever seen lifted anywhere in this world. This is what thou shouldst have given to the guests earlier today. At that time, every one of us would have received it with gratitude!” (2055 – 2066)
After these words, and after they had drunk the wine, many a thane became aware that the holy Christ had worked a sign there inside the house. They had more trust in His protection after that, more confidence that he had the power and authority of God in this world. It became widely known to the Jews throughout Galilee how the Chieftain’s Son right there in their country, had changed water into wine. That was the first of the wonders which He performed there in Galilee for the Jewish people as signs. (2066 – 2076)
There is no one who can tell, no one who can say for certain, what the wonders were that were done afterwards amongst the people as Christ the Ruler taught the Jewish people in God’s name all day long. He promised them the kingdom of heaven and He protected them against Hel’s oppression with words. He told them to look for God’s attention and eternal life. That is where there is the light of souls, God’s comings and goings, daylight, the glory of God! There, many a guest lives most happily. They are the ones who kept obedience to the Heaven-King’s command well in mind. (2076 – 2087)
36 There is an emphasis on Germanic cultural notions of spells being ‘said’ with words. This belief has given rise to the concept of the Gospel and indeed the Eucharist itself being a being a powerful divine spell.
Jesus Heals A Centurion’s Servant
When He left the wedding, Christ, the most powerful of kings, decided to go to the great fortress at Capharnaum with his followers of good men, his happy warrior-company, assembled in front of him. They wanted to hear his sweet and holy word. (2088 – 2093)
A Centurion, a good man, then approached him and earnestly asked the holy One for help. He said that he had long had a frail cripple amongst the members of his household, a sick person in his house. “Not a single man is able to heal him with his hands. Now he needs Thy help, my good Lord.” Then the Peace-Child of God spoke to him, replying immediately and saying that He would come and would rescue the child from this affliction. At that the man came closer to him, leaving the crowd behind, to exchange words with the mighty one. “I am not worthy, my good Lord”, he said, that Thou shouldst come to my house or enter into my hall. For I am a very sinful man in both what I say and what I do. I believe that Thou hast power, that Thou canst work his cure from here, my Lord Ruler. If Thou sayest with Thy words, then his sickness will disappear immediately and his body will become whole and restored, if Thou givest him Thy help. I am an officer. I have attained sufficient property and prosperity for myself. Though I am under the command of a noble king, I have a troop of earls, loyal fighting-men of the army, who are so obedient to me that they do not fail to anything, in either words or deeds, that I order them to do in this land. They march off, they carry out my orders and they come back loyally to their lord and master. Even though I have extensive property and plenty of people, fight-minded warriors, at my residence, I do not dare to ask Thee, God’s Holy Son, to walk to my house, to go into my home, because I am so sinful. I know my wrong-doings.” (2093 – 2124)
Then Christ the Ruler replied to him, the man spoke to his followers and said that He had not found anyone amongst the Jews, the descendants of Israel, like this man. No one in this country who believed more clearly in God and in heaven. “Now I want Thee to listen to what I am going to tell Thee here in true words. There are many tribes of people, from the east and the west, who are to become the holy people of God, in the kingdom of heaven. There they can rest in the lap of Abraham, of Isaac himself, and of Jacob too, those good men, and will enjoy property and happiness; a life of pleasure. A good life in God’s light! (2124 – 2138)
Then many of the Jews, the sons of this kingdom, will be robbed, deprived of these glories and will lie in dark valleys at the farthest ends of the infernal regions. There Thou wilst hear those heroes lamenting, biting their teeth in their anger. There awaits them the grim, greedy fire, the hard hellish torture, hot and dark, black eternal night. The reward for sins, for wrathful wrongdoing, paid to whoever did not have the desire to save himself before he gave up this light before he fared forth on his way from this world. (2138 – 2149)
“Now thou mayest may go on thy way, if thou wilst and return to thy house. At home, thou wilst find the young man healthy. In good spirits! The boy is cured just as thou asked of me. It all happened because thou hast faith firmly fixed in thy mind.” The officer then said his thanks to the Heaven-King, to the all-ruling God, in front of the people for helping him with such a problem. What he wanted had been happily granted to him. (2149 – 2157)
He then set out from there on the journey and willingly went to where he had his property, his house and his lands. He found the boy, a man in childhood, healthy. Christ’s words were fulfilled! He had such power to perform signs, that no one on this earth can tell or count all the famous deeds he did by his own strength in this middle world, all the wonders he worked, because everything, heaven and earth, is under his command. (2158 – 2166)
Christ Raises A Widow’s Son From The Dead
Then the holy Christ decided to keep on travelling. Every day the All-Mighty good Chieftain did loving things for his people. With words he taught them God’s will. He always had many followers with him, warrior-companions, the people of God, a powerful force of men from many clans, a holy army. His work was good, he was generous to human beings.37 (2167 – 2175)
At that time, God’s Son, the Healer, was coming with his noisy crowd to the high fortress at Naim. There his name was to become famous amongst mankind.38 Christ the Healer strode purposefully toward it until He, the best of all healers, was close to it. At that moment they saw people bringing out a corpse, a lifeless body. They were carrying it out the fort’s gate on a stretcher. It was a very young man. The mother was walking behind the corpse, her heart was grief-stricken, she was beating herself with her hands, lamenting and crying over her child’s death, the poor woman. It was her only child. She was a widow, she had no more joy except for this one son. He was all that was left to her of happiness and delight, until Wyrd took him from her, the great Measurer’s doings. A crowd of the fort people followed as they brought the young man on the stretcher to his grave. (2175 – 2192)
The Son of God was filled with compassion and spoke to the mother. He told the widow to stop crying, to stop lamenting over the child. “Thou shalt see power here, the work of the Ruler, a favour will be granted to thee here, consolation, in front of these people. There is no need for thee to mourn over the life-spirit of thy boy.” Then He walked up to the stretcher, and the Chieftain’s Son touched him with holy hands and spoke to the hero39, telling the young man to get up, to rise up from his resting place. The young fighter sat up on the stretcher. His spirit had come back into his chest by God’s power and the man began to talk to his relatives. Then Christ the Healer gave the young man into the hands of his mother. Her heart was consoled. The woman was full of happiness that such a favour was granted to her. She fell at Christ’s feet and praised the people’s Chieftain before the crowd, because He had protected a life-spirit so dear to her against the workings of the Measurer.40 She understood that he was the mighty Chieftain, the Holy One who ruled heaven and that He could help many, all the earth’s peoples. (2192 – 2212)
Then, many noticed the wonder that had happened amongst the people. They said that the Ruler himself had come in power to make many wise and that He had sent a great wizard41 to them in the kingdom of the world, one who had done such a great deed for them here. (2212 – 2215)
Many an earl was seized on the spot by terror. The people became frightened when they saw the boy’s own life-spirit looking at the light of day, the life spirit which death had already taken from him when he died on his sickbed. He was healthy once again; the young child came to back life. (2216 – 2220)
This became known everywhere amongst the descendants of Israel. By the time evening came, there were assembled at the place all the sick people, people with crippled hands and legs, every single sick person living in the area was being brought there. They were coming to Christ, coming to the place where He with his great power was helping them and healing them and then letting them go on their way wherever they wished – healed. (2220 – 2227)
Therefore, one should praise his work and appreciate his deeds, for this reason. He is the Chieftain himself, the mighty Protector of mankind, of any persons who believe in his words and in his works! (2227 – 2230)
37 Christ is depicted as a Germanic Chieftain travelling through his lands and handing out gifts to his people.
38 Fame is an honoured Germanic goal and here there is a sense that Christ was fated to be famous.
39 In the Heliand, Christ touches the boy rather than the stretcher as in the Gospels. Whereas touching the dead was taboo in Hebrew culture, it gives a greater sense of intimacy and the power of Christ’s ‘magic’ in the Germanic version.
40 As in the Zachary story, the author acknowledges the power of fate (the measurer) in determining life-span, but shows that Christ is more powerful.
41 the word ‘uuarsago’ literally means ‘soothsayer’, ‘wizard’ or fortune-teller. They were the ancient equivalents of Prophet’s and were held in very high regard in Germanic culture as a ‘wise person’ and ‘wonder-worker’. In many ways, they would seem to be the Germanic equivalent of a Druid or at least some of the Druid orders.
Christ Commands The Wind And The Sea
Then a crowd of so many people came to honour Christ, for His mighty protection, that God’s Son wanted to visit the sea, a flood’s stream on the border of Galilee, with His companions. He told the others to travel on ahead and decided to get into a boat with a few of the companions to get some sleep. The rescuing Christ was worn out with His journeys. The weather-wise warriors hoisted up the sail and, keeping the wind aft, they ran before it over the ocean swells, until the Ruler and His crew came to the middle. Then the weather began to increase in strength, the storm wind rose, the waves grew, thickening darkness rushed in, the sea began to move, the wind battled the water! The men were worried, the ocean was so angry, not one of the men thought he had much longer to live. It was then they woke up the country’s Guardian with their words and told Him about the strength of the storm and asked the saving Christ graciously to protect them from the water. “Otherwise we are going to be drowned here in the terrible sea!” (2231 – 2250)
Then He arose, the good Son of God, and spoke to His companions. He told them not to be afraid that the storm was closing in on them. “Why are ye so afraid? He said, “ye are still not sure in your minds, thy faith is still too little. It will not be long before the waves will be calmer and the weather nice!” Then He spoke to the wind, and also to the sea itself, and quietly commanded them both to behave more calmly. They carried out the command, the Ruler’s word. The storm winds died down and the sea became calm. Then the people who were with Him began to wonder and some said it with their own words, what kind of a more powerful human being He might be, that both the wind and the waves obeyed His word of command. (2250 – 2264)
The Son of God had saved them from peril. The boat glided onwards, the high-horned ship.42 The heroes made land. They gave praise to God, glorifying His great strength. (2264 – 2268)
Many people came to God’s Son. He gladly received anyone who came there with a pure heart looking for help. He taught them their faith and He healed their bodies with His hands. It did not matter how badly hurt by sickness the person was. Even if Satan’s deceitful followers had a man in their hands with all their hostile strength and had so twisted his mind and wits that he went about like a raging maniac amongst the people, the healing Christ always gave him back his life-spirit. If the man came to His hands, Christ drove the devils away with the Chieftain’s power,43 by words of truth, and gave him back his wits. He made the man whole again, against the hate-filled ones, gave him peace again against the enemy and then let him go on his way to whatever land he loved the most. (2268 – 2283)
42 A ‘high-horned’ boat is a description of a typical Saxon or Viking vessel and adds to the sense of these events taking place in the North Sea rather than the Middle East.
43 The ‘devils’ here, or the ‘evil little creatures’ described elsewhere are ‘deorc elfs.’
Mighty Christ Heals The Cripple Lowered Through The Roof
The more the Chieftain’s Son did good works every day with His followers, the more the Jews refused to believe in His mighty power! Nor did they believe He was the All-Mighty Ruler of everything, land and country. They are still receiving their reward for that, held to account, because they fought against the Son of the Chieftain Himself. (2284 – 2290)
Then the holy Healer turned back to Galilee with His warrior-company. God’s own Son journeyed to His kinsmen, to the place where He had been raised and where he grew up as a child in the midst of His folk. An army of people gathered around Him, there were many happy thanes amongst the warrior-company. Some earls were carrying a sick man in their arms. They wanted to bring him before Christ’s eyes, before God’s Son. The man needed healing, needed the heaven’s Ruler, the Protector of Mankind, to restore him. His limbs had been crippled for so many days that he did not have any power at all over his body. (2284 – 2302)
Yet, there were so many people there, that they were not able to bring him before God’s Son. They could not force their way through the crowd to tell Him about such a needy sick person. The healing Christ went inside into a hall. A mob formed around Him in there, a great crowd of people. Then the men who had long been carrying the weak crippled man, bearing both him and his bed, began to talk about how they could get him in front of the Son of God, through the people inside so that the ruling Christ would Himself catch sight of the man. Then those warriors walked up to the place, they lifted the sick man up with their hands and climbed up on top of the house. They cut open the hall from above and let him down with ropes into the shrine where the powerful One was, the strongest of kings. (2302 – 2315)
When He saw the man coming down through the rafters of the house, Christ understood that these men, in their hearts and with their feelings, had a powerful faith in Him. He then spoke before the crowd and said that He would free the sick man from his torment of sin. (2315 – 2320)
Then the people spoke back at Him, hard hearted Jews who were spying on the words of God’s Son. They said that this could not be done, the forgiving of sins, except by God alone, the Ruler of this world. The Ruler of the world had His answer ready. “I am doing this,” he said, “for this man who lies here so sick and in terrible pain in this hall, to show that I have the power to forgive sins as well as to heal people. I do not even need to touch him.44 (2320 – 2329)
The Chieftain then spoke to the sick man who was lying there lame and, in front of the people, told him to stand up, completely healed. Then he told him to put his bed clothes over his shoulders and carry them on his back. He carried out the command immediately, in front of the warrior-companions, and walked out of there restored, leaving the house healthy. (2330 – 2335)
A great number of the heathen men, warriors, were amazed. They said that the Ruler Himself, All-Mighty God, had given Christ greater power, strength and knowledge than any of the sons of men. The Jewish people, however, did not want to recognise that he was God, nor to believe His teaching. They fought Him in a dirty way and waged war on His words. Thus they loaded weariness onto themselves, a miserable reward, one that still will last for a long time, for they did not want to hear the teachings that Christ, the King of Heaven, was making known everywhere over this world. (2335 – 2346)
He let them see His works and deeds every single day. He let them hear His holy word which He spoke to help human beings and showed them so many mighty signs in order that they would be able to trust His teaching more and believe in it. He freed so many bodies from evil illness and healed them. He gave the life-spirit back to the dying, the hero who was ready to fare forth into Hel, was restored from death by the mighty power of Christ the Healer and allowed to continue enjoying happiness in this world. (2346 – 2356)
44 This shows the importance of touching to Germanic magic, but also the strength of Christ’s power that he did not have to do this.
The Story Of The Earl Who Sowed Good Seed
And so He healed the lame and crippled. He restored the sight of the blind and let them see the eternally beautiful bright light of day. He released from sin, the grim deeds of mankind. The Jews, however, loathsome people, did not ever get better in their faith in the holy Christ, but they kept hardened hearts towards Him. They resisted Him and did not want to understand that the enemy fiends had ensnared them into doing their will with their traditions. (2357 – 2365)
Yet the Chieftain’s Son did not give up because of this. Rather, He said in words how the Jews could come to heaven’s kingdom, taught across the countryside, and turned so many of these people to Him with these words, that a great crowd followed Him. (2365 – 2370)
The Son of God said much to them in stories, which they could not readily understand, grasp in their hearts, until the holy Christ would explain it by His own power to the crowd of earls in open words, and tell them what He meant. (2370 – 2375)
Once, an enormous crowd of people thronged around Him. They felt a great need to hear the Heaven-King’s words of solid truth. He was standing on the shore by the water and, with such a large crowd, a whole clan of thanes, He did not want to teach them up on the land. So the good One, His followers with Him, moved closer to the water and got into the boat. He told them to push it away from the land so that all these people would not crowd in on Him. (2375 – 2385)
Many a thane stood there by the water where Christ the Ruler spoke and taught all those people. “My warriors! I would like to tell ye how an earl began to sow good wheat grain on the ground with his hands. Some of it fell on top of hard rock. It had no earth in which it could grow and take root and be supported and sprout. So the wheat that was lying there on the rock was lost. Some of it fell on land, on noble soil, and right away began to grow happily and take root, thriving happily. That land was so fertile!” (2385 – 2398)
“Some of it fell on a road, hard-packed from many feet, the tread of horses’ hooves and the footsteps of heroes. It had some soil there and so the wheat grain sprouted and began to grow on the roadway. But then the constant coming and going of travellers destroyed it, the birds pecked and ate it, so that none of what fell on the roadway survived to be of use to the owner. Then some of it fell where there were many thorn bushes. There was soil there and so it came up, sprouted and took hold. But weeds grew there in abundance and prevented its growth. The forest’s cover had overwhelmed it from the start and it could not grow to be fruitful since the thorn-bushes had crowded it out.” (2398 – 2412)
Christ’s companions sat there, the word wise warriors were silent. They were deep in thought about the words with which God’s Son told them such a wise spell. Then one of the earls knelt before Him and asked the gracious with great reverence, “Thou hast power, holy Chieftain,” he said, “in heaven and on earth, above and below. Thou art the All-Ruler of human spirits and we are Thy followers, devoted to Thee in our hearts. Good Lord, if it be Thy will, let us hear the meaning of Thy words here, so that we can teach them to the Christian folk. We know that true meaning follows from Thy words and we have a great need in this land to understand Thy words and works, since it all comes from such wisdom!” (2413 – 2430)
The Explanation Of The Story
Then the best of men replied to him with this answer. “I did not intend in any way”, He said, “to keep my deeds concealed, neither the words nor the works. Ye shall know it all, my followers, for the Ruler of this world has granted to ye that in thy hearts, ye are to know the secret mystery, the runes of heaven. Other people are to be taught the commands of God in stories.” (2431 – 2439)
“I will certainly tell ye here and now what I meant, so that ye understand my teaching better throughout this land. The seed of which I spoke is the Word itself, the holy teaching of the Heaven-King, as one should spread it over the middle realm, all across this world. People are different in their attitude of mind. Some have feelings so hard-hearted and mean-spirited that such a person can never act according to thy words or would want to carry out my teachings. So, all my teaching is lost there. God’s message and your human words are lost on the evil man, just as I was saying to ye before. The wheat on top of the stone died. For when it sprouted, it found no place to take root. It is all lost; the speech of noble men and the message of God, everything that has been taught in words to the evil man. What is worse, to the displeasure of God and to the delight of the evil ones, the man has chosen to journey amongst the enemy towards the embrace of fire. From that moment onwards, the thoughts of his breast will add heat to the flames!” (2439 – 2461)
“Never teach my law any the less because of this. If there are many earls like that one on this earth, there is also the other human being, the man who is young and intelligent, good-hearted, wise in his words and who understands thy spells. He thinks about them in his heart and he listens there very intently and then steps closer. In his heart he accepts God’s bidding, he learns it and does it. His faith being so good, he reflects on how he could convert the other man, the wicked one, into feeling pure loyalty to the King of Heaven.” (2462 – 2473)
God’s command, the loving faith, then spreads out widely in this man’s heart, just as the wheat does as it sprouts in the ground where it has good soil and where fate favours it with good weather, rain and sun. This is what God’s teaching does day and night in the good person. As the devil walks far away from him, the evil little creatures, God’s protective care comes powerfully nearer and nearer, night and day, until the teaching brings about two things in the man. The teaching that comes out of his mouth becomes a blessing to the sons of men and he himself becomes God’s. And so by his attitude of mind, he has exchanged this earthly moment for a part of the kingdom of heaven, the greatest possession. He is travelling to the realm of God’s power, free of bad deeds.” (2474 – 2489)
“Loyalty is such a good thing for every man. No treasure-hoard of gold can be compared to such faith! Keep on being kind and generous teachers of mankind!” (2489 – 2492)
“Warriors are so different in their attitudes of mind. Some resist violently, they have ill-will and a wavering heart. They are full of deceit and wicked deeds. Then, one of them begins to think as he is standing there amongst the people, listening carefully to God’s teaching, that he would willingly like to follow it from now on. God’s teaching immediately attaches itself to his mind, until the moment when once again wealth and someone else’s treasure come into his hands. The evil little creatures lead him off as he gets caught up in his desire for possessions. His belief burns out. It did him little good to have ever had it in his heart, if he was not willing to hold on to it.” (2492 – 2505)
“That is like the grain that began to sprout alongside the road, growing in the soil. It was killed by people coming and going, exactly what the serious sin in that man’s mind does to God’s teaching if one does not nurture it. Otherwise, sin will throw the man down to the bottom of the infernal regions, to hot Hel, where he will be of no further service to the King of Heaven, but the enemies will punish him mercilessly.” (2506 – 2513)
“Keep teaching always with words in this land! I know the hearts of these people, their different natures and attitudes, the different ways…. Some people’s whole mind and concern is on how they can hold onto their hoard rather than how they can accomplish the will of the King of Heaven. Because of this, God’s holy will cannot grow there, even though it may attach itself and send out roots. Wealth crowds it out. It is the same as the weeds and the thorn-bushes that entangle the wheat and prevent it from growing. That is what wealth does to a human being. It puts his heart in chains so that the man cannot think and pay attention to the thing he needs most; how he can work it out during the time he is in this world that he will possess the kingdom of heaven for eternity thereafter, thanks to his Lord, with wealth so endless that no man in this world could ever comprehend it.” (2513 – 2530)
“No thane here can think so clearly in his mind, nor can the heart of man grasp or really know, what good things the ruling God has prepared, everything that stands ready for each human being who loves Him here. For each person who takes such care of his soul that he will be able to sail to God’s light.” (2530 – 2537)
The story of the wheat and the weeds
And so he taught them in words. There was a great crowd of people standing around God’s Son. They listened to Him as He told them stories about the way things are in this world. He told them about a nobleman who sowed pure wheat in his field with his hands; he was hoping to get a beautiful crop, a fair harvest. Then his enemy went out with an evil heart and sowed rye-grass, the worst of all weeds, all over it. They both grew, the wheat and the weeds. Then, his fields-men came back to the house and told their lord, thanes speaking to their sovereign, in straight-forward words, “How is this? Thou sowest nothing but wheat, good lord, and wheat alone, on thy field, but now each earl can see nothing more than weeds growing there! How could this have happened?” (2538 – 2552)
Then the noble man replied directly to the earls, the lord to his vassals. He said that he could well understand it. An enemy had sowed the field after him with vicious weeds, “So that I would not enjoy the bounty of the harvest and not have a successful crop.” Then the lord’s friends spoke to him, his followers replied and said that they were willing to go into the field in full strength and remove the weeds from there, pulling them up with their hands. Their lord spoke again to them, “I do not want you to weed it,” he said, “because you cannot avoid or prevent yourselves, though you do not intend it, from trampling down a great deal of the sprouting wheat under your feet as you walk. From this moment on, let both of them continue to grow until harvest comes and the grain is ripe in the field, ready in the soil. Then we will all go to it, pulling the weeds up with our hands. We will separate out the pure wheat, gather it together and put it in my hall. We will keep it there so that no one can do anything to it. Then we will take the weeds, tie them in bundles and throw them onto the bitter fire, and let the hot flames of the ever-hungry fire haul them away.” (2553 – 2574)
Many earls stood there, the thanes were silent, wondering what the famous, mighty Christ could mean, wondering what the most powerful Son wanted to signify with these images. They therefore asked the good Chieftain to unlock the holy teaching for them so that from now on the people would be able to understand it. Their Lord spoke to them again, the famous, mighty Christ. “That is the Son of Man,” He said, “I Myself am the one who is sowing and these holy human beings who hear Me well and do My will are the pure wheat grains. This world is the field, mankind’s wide farmland. Satan himself is the one who sows such wicked teaching afterwards. He has ruined so many of these people that they do evil, they behave according to his will. Even so, they are to continue to grow here, those humans who are damned, just as the good do, until the forces of Muspel45, the End of the World, come upon mankind. At that time every single field in this kingdom will be ripe and the sons of men will follow their decreed fate.”46 (2574 – 2594)
“Then the earth will crumble, that will be the largest of all harvests! And the bright-shining Chieftain above will come with His angel forces and all the people who ever saw this light will come together and they will at that time receive their reward, a bad one or a good one. God’s angels, the holy guardians of heaven, will then go and separate out the clean men and gather them together, and put them into the infinitely beautiful, high light of heaven. And the others, they will put down in the bottom of Hel’s realm, throwing the evil doers to the surging fire. There they shall suffer great pain, bound by bitter flames. The others will see the riches of the heavenly kingdom where they will shine like bright suns! This is the reward men receive for their good deeds.” (2594 – 2607)
“Whosoever has wisdom and a thoughtful heart, any earl who can hear with his ears, let him care, in his deepest thoughts within him, about how he will answer to God the Powerful on that famous day for all the words and works which he did in this world. That is the most terrifying of all things, the most frightening to the sons of men, that they will have to speak with their Lord, men with their good Chieftain. At that moment every single human being would gladly be free of wrong-doing, of all grim crimes. Every one of the human race should worry about this beforehand, before he gives up this light, if he wishes to have eternal honour, the high heavenly kingdom and the gracious kindness of God.” 2607 – 2620)
45 Muspell is the primal land of fire, realm of the fire Giants who will start the Ragnarok. At the end of the Ragnarok, Middengeard will be destroyed by fire and the natural elements will rule again signalling the birth of a new age.
46 the fate of the ‘Regangiscapu’ or ruling ones is a reference to the Ragnarok which can be translated as the fate of the Ruling ones.
The grim-hearted Jews of Galilee try to throw Christ off a cliff
I have heard it told that the Chieftain’s Son, Himself, the best of all sons, described in stories how everything in the world-kingdom of men was similar to the heaven-kingdom. He said that often little things can become lighter, raised up very high as in the kingdom of heaven. It is always greater than anyone in this world believes it can be. There is also work that is like the kingdom of heaven. When a man throws his net into the ocean, fishing in the sea, he catches both good and bad fish. He tows them up onto the beach, landing the catch and only then sorts them out, picking the good ones and putting them on the sand, and letting the others go back to the bottom, back to the wide waves. This is what God the Ruler will do with the sons of man on the renowned day. He will bring all the earth-people together. He will pick out the pure for the kingdom of heaven and let the damned go to the bottom of the fire of Hel. There is no warrior-hero amongst men who knows the equal of the pain which earth-people receive there in the inferno. There is no equivalent reward that a man can find to the riches and happiness which the Ruler distributes, which God Himself grants to every human being who behaved himself here in such a way as to be able to make the journey to the heaven-kingdom, to the long-lasting light.” (2621 – 2646)
So, he taught them wisely. People came from all over Galilee to see God’s Son. They did so out of wonder over where such words could be coming to Him from, spoken so wisely, so that He could always soothsay God’s spell and say it with such power. “He belongs to the kin from here,” they said, “by family relationship. His mother is here with us, a woman from these people. All of us here know Him, we know His kin and His clan. He grew up here amongst these people. Where could this wisdom of His have come from and such greater power than other people here have?” (2647 – 2657)
Those people did not approve of Him. They said foolish things to Him, they looked down on Him, the holy One. They did not want to listen to His message. Nor did He want to teach them in stories, brilliant signs, because of their unbelief. He knew their doubting minds, their bad-will. He knew that there were no other people amongst the Jews as grimly hostile and hard-hearted as the ones from Galilee. Holy Christ was born there, the Son of God, but despite that they did not want to devoutly receive His message. Instead those people, the warriors, began to plot amongst themselves how they could inflict the greatest pain on the powerful Christ. They called their fighting-men together, their warriors. They wanted to accuse Him of sins and evil intentions. His word was of no use to them, nor His brilliant spells and so they began to discuss amongst themselves how they could throw such a mighty man off a cliff, over a mountain wall. They wanted to take the life of the Son of God. (2658 – 2676)
He came out happily together with the people. He had no fear in His mind. He knew that not the slightest harm or injury could be done to Him in His Godliness by human beings, by the Jewish people, before His time had come.47 Together with the people, He climbed up the rocky hill until he came to the place where they intended to throw Him down over the wall, to fell him to the earth, so that He would lose His life-spirit and his aging would come to an end. (2676 – 2685)
But there, up on the mountain, the hearts of those earls, the bitter thoughts of the Jews were softened, so that not one of them had such a grim, hostile spirit or evil will. None of them could recognise the Ruler’s Son. Not one of them knew Him, or could tell which of the people there was Him. He could stand amongst their warriors and walk through the centre of their crowd, moving through their people.48 He gave Himself this peace, the Protector, against the crowd, and set off from there going, through the midst of the folk of fiends. He went where he wanted to, the Ruler’s Son, the strongest of kings, to a wilderness. He had the power to choose where in the land He would most like to be, where in this world He would like to stay. (2685 – 2698)
47 The author has added a reason why Christ was not afraid, this being that nothing can happen before Wyrd (fate) decrees it.
48 Christ is depicted as a Germanic Wizard, able to use magic to make himself unrecognisable.
John the Baptist is beheaded
John, God’s servant, was at that time travelling on another road with his followers. He taught the people long-lasting counsel, telling them to do good and to abandon evil, treachery and murder. Many good people were fond of him. (2698 – 2703)
He went to see the king of the Jews, the commander of the army, at his house. The king had been named Herod after his parents and was a bad tempered man. He was living with the woman who had been his brother’s bride and possession until his brother went to another place, exchanging worlds. Then the king took the woman to be his queen. She had had children born to her by his brother. (2703 – 2709)
John the Good then began to speak out against the bride. He said that it was against the will of God the Ruler to do this, to take one’s brother’s bride to bed and treat her as a wife. “If you are willing to listen to me and believe my teaching, then you should no longer keep her as your own and should abandon her in your heart!” Never have that kind of love for someone, do not bring such serious sins upon yourself!” (2709 – 2717)
At these words, the woman began to worry. She was afraid that John would move the king with his speeches and wise words to abandon her. She began secretly to plot many harmful things in runes49 against John and told her fighting-men, her earls, to arrest the innocent man and to lock him up in prison in irons, chained hand and foot. They were afraid to take away his life-spirit because of the people, all of whom were friendly to him, knowing that he was so good and dear to God. The people considered him a soothsayer – as well they might! (2717 – 2727)
Then, in the course of the year, the time came, as tallied by wise men of the people, when the Jewish king had been born, had come into the light. It was the custom of the people that this birthday should be celebrated by every earl together with the Jewish people. A huge crowd of men were assembled there in the guest-hall. The army leaders were there in the house where their lord was on his royal throne. Many Jews came to the guest-hall, they were in a merry mood with joy in their hearts. They saw their ring-giver there in his happiness!50 (2728 – 2739)
Clear wine was being carried to the drinking hall in pitchers; the servants who were pouring were hurrying back and forth with golden goblets. There was a loud, merry noise in the hall, the warrior-heroes were drinking! This made the land’s herdsman, the happy king, wonder what more he could do for the people’s enjoyment. He then ordered his brother’s child, a high spirited young girl, to come out to where he was sitting on his bench, tipsy from the wine, and he spoke to the woman. He greeted her in front of the men, and asked her insistently if she would begin some entertainment for the guests, something fair there in the drinking hall. “Let these people see how thou hast learned to bring many people on the benches to a state of bliss! If thou grantest my request and do what I ask in front of these warriors, I will truthfully promise thee here, in the open in front of these people, and I will keep my word, that I will give thee, here in front of my ring-receiving friends, whatever thou askest of me! Even if thou askest for half of this realm, my kingdom, I will still do it and in such a way that not a single fighting-man will be able to change it with his words. It will be done.” (2739 – 2759)
That so inclined the maid’s spirit and mind toward her lord that, within the house, she began an entertainment in the guest-hall of the type customary among the people of that country. The maiden played vigorously throughout the house. Many hearts were filled with pleasure! When the girl had earned the thanks of the king and of all of the earls, the good men who were in the house, she wanted to have her reward, right there in front of the crowd. She went to talk to her mother and asked her full of curiosity what she should ask of the guardian of the stronghold. Her mother advised the girl in accordance with her own desires and told her that she should ask for nothing else in front of the men, but that she be given John’s head, there inside the hall, separated from its body. (2760 – 2776)
It was painful to all the people, painful to their hearts, as it was to the king, when they heard the maiden saying this. He could not make what he had said into a lie, he could not bend his words. Therefore, he told his men-at-arms to leave the guest-hall and take the life of the man of God. It was not long before they brought the head of this great man to the hall, and there gave it to the young girl, the maiden, in front of the crowd. She took it out to her mother. (2776 – 2784)
That was the last day of the wisest of all men who had ever come to this world, of whom any queen has borne, any woman amongst earls. Making the way, alone, for the one born of the virgin, the maiden who never knew a man-warrior in her lifetime, but by the ruling God from the meadows of heaven by the Holy Spirit. No one, not a single man, was ever to equal him, neither before nor after. (2785 – 2793)
Earls hurried around John, his many followers, blessed warrior-companions, and they buried him, his precious body, in sand. They knew that he had to go on a blissful journey to the light of God, with his Lord, in the heavenly home above. (2793 – 2799)
49 There is a sense here that she was plotting evil magic.
50 The king is portrayed in the Germanic tradition of a ring giver.
Feeding The Five Thousand
Then the warriors, John’s followers, left that place, sadness in their hearts, holiness in their life-spirits. Their lord’s death was their greatest sorrow. They set off to find the Ruler’s Son, the powerful Christ, in the wild country, to let Him know of the good man’s departure and how the Jew’s king had cut off the head of the greatest of human beings by the edge of the sword. The Chieftain’s Son did not want to say anything hurtful, He knew that John’s soul was being kept in holy protection against the haters, and in peace against his enemies. (2799 – 2810)
The fame of the best of teachers spread over the countryside in the wilderness. People gathered; clansmen journeyed to Him. There was great desire amongst them to know about His wise words. In the same way, He too, the Chieftain’s Son, had a great desire to lead a gathering of warriors like that to God’s light, to bring them to happiness. (2810 – 2817)
All day long, the Ruler taught many people from far and wide until, in the evening, the sun sank to its resting place. Then his twelve warriors went to God’s Child and told their good Lord of the hardship in which the earls lived thereabout, saying that the people living in this barren land needed his help. “They cannot begin to do anything here because these heroes are oppressed by hunger. Now, good Lord, let them go to find places to stay. There are many well populated fortresses nearby. There the people will find food for sale in the villages.” Then the ruling Christ, the people’s Chieftain spoke in reply and said that it was not necessary “that they leave My dear teachings because of lack of food. Give these people enough to eat so that ye have them willing to stay here”. (2817 – 2831)
Philip, a venerable man, had his answer ready. He said there were so many people there in the crowd that “even if we had food here ready to give them, the greatest amount of food that we could buy with the sum of two hundred silver pieces, it would still be doubtful whether everyone would get something, so little would there be for all these people!” The Protector of the Country then spoke; the Chieftain of human beings asked them with great interest what they had there by way of meat and food. Then Andrew spoke, answering in his words, in front of the earls, and said to the All-Ruler Himself that in their warrior-company they only had “five loaves of barley bread for our travels and two fishes. What can that do for this many?” (2831 – 2846)
The mighty Christ spoke to him, the good Son of God, and ordered that the crowd be divided up and separated and that the multitude of earls should sit down on the ground, the enormous throng, on the green grass. Then the best of those born spoke to His followers and told them to go and bring out the bread and the fish. The people waited quietly; the enormous company of warriors sat. At the same time the Chieftain of mankind, the holy King of heaven, hallowed the food by His own power, broke it with His hands, gave it out to His followers, and told them to bring it to the people and divide it amongst them. They obeyed their Chieftain’s order and each one of them gladly carried his gift, the holy help, to the crowd. It grew between their hands51, there was food for every single person! The great crowd came alive with joy, the people who had come together there from far and wide had happily eaten their fill! (2846 – 2863)
Then Christ the Ruler told His followers to go and make sure that none of the leftovers were lost. He ordered them to collect them once the crowd of mankind had eaten their fill. There was so much food, the bread of life, left over that they collected twelve full baskets. That was a great sign, a great act of God’s power, since the number of people gathered there, not counting women and children, was five thousand! (2863 – 2872)
All those people understood in their hearts that they had a mighty Lord. They praised the Heaven-King. They said that never would a wiser wizard52 ever come to this light who would have more power with God here in the middle world or a more sincere mind. Everyone was saying that he was worthy of all the wealth, that He should possess the kingdom of the earth, the broad earth’s world-throne! “After all, he has such wisdom, such great power with God”. (2872 – 2882)
The men all thought it would be good to lift Him to the highest ruling position, to choose Him to be king. That was something not at all worthy of Christ, since he had wrought the kingdom of this world, earth and heaven up above, into being by His own power. And He had afterwards saved the earth and its population, though some people, evil enemies, did not believe this, so that everything is already under His rule. The power of the kingdoms and of the empire, the assembly of all mankind! Because of this, the holy Chieftain did not want to be raised to any lordship by the speech of human beings nor to the name of King of the World. Neither did he want to struggle in words with those people and so he moved on to where he wanted to go, up into the mountains. The Son of God fled the over-heated, proud talk, and told His followers to sail across a sea, telling them where they were to go to meet Him. (2882 – 2898)
51 This is portrayed as an act of magic.
52 the portrayal of these events as magic is strengthened by Jesus being referred to as a wizard.
The Mighty Child of God Walks On Water
The people then left for places all over the country, the great crowd dispersed, since their Lord, the most powerful person, the Ruler, had decided to go up into the mountains. (2899 – 2902)
There on the sea shore, Christ’s warriors, the twelve whom He Himself had chosen, gathered in loyalty. They had no doubt whether they would sail over the sea in God’s service. They let the high-horned ship53 cut through the swift current, the bright waves and the clear water. The light of day departed, the sun went to its rest. Night wrapped the seafarers in fog. The earls bravely kept sailing on over the waters. The fourth hour of the night had come, Christ the Helper was guarding the wave-riders and the wind began to blow powerfully. A great storm arose, the waves of the sea roared against the bow stem! The men fought to steer the boat into the wind, their hearts full of panic, their filled with worry. The sea-farers began to think that they would never make land because of the violent weather. (2902 – 2919)
Then they saw the Ruler Christ Himself walking on the sea, walking on foot. He did not sink into the seawater because His own power was holding Him up. The men became fearful in their hearts and minds, they were afraid that the great enemy might be doing this to deceive them. Then their Chieftain spoke to them, the holy King of heaven, and told them that He was their great and powerful Lord. “Now you should be steadfast and courageous, do not be fearful, be brave! I am the Child of God, His own Son, and I will defend you against this sea and protect you from the ocean waves.” (2919 – 2931)
Then in reply, one of the men called over-board to Him. It was that very worthy man, Peter the good. He did not want to suffer pain, to feel the water’s power. “If Thou art the Ruler,” he said, “as I think Thee be, good Lord, then tell me to walk to Thee across this seaway, dry across deep water, if Thou art my Chieftain, Protector of people.” (2931 – 2937)
Then mighty Christ told him to come over to Him. Peter was ready immediately; he stepped down from the bow stem and strode off, walking toward his Lord. The water held the man up by the power of God until in his mind he began to feel the fear of deep water as he watched the waves being driven by the wind. The waves wound around him, the high seas surrounded him. Just at that moment he began to doubt. The water underneath him became soft and he sank inside a wave, he sank into the streaming sea! Very soon after that, he quickly called out, asking earnestly that Christ rescue him, since he, His thane, was in distress and danger. (2937 – 2950)
The Chieftain of people caught him with His outstretched arms and asked him immediately why he doubted. “Listen – thou canst be confident and know for a fact that the power of the water in the sea, the strong sea-stream, was not able to prevent you from walking as long as thou hadst faith in Me firmly in your heart! Now I am going to help thee, rescue thee from this peril.” Then the holy, All-mighty One took him by the hand and all at once clear water became solid under his feet, and they went together on foot, both of them, walking, until they climbed on board the boat from the sea. And then by the bow stem, the Best of those who have ever been born sat down. At that moment, the broad waters and waves became calm and the sailors arrived at the shore. Together they made land, coming through the water’s onslaught. They thanked the Ruler, they praised their Chieftain in words and in deeds. They fell at His feet and spoke many words of wisdom. They said that they knew very well that He was Himself the Son of the Chieftain and that He had authority over the middle world and that he was able to help every human being’s life-spirit, just as he had done for them out on the sea against the onslaught of the water. (2950 – 2973)
53 The imagery is again that of a Saxon ship sailing in the North Sea.
Christ heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman
Christ the Ruler then set out away from the sea, the Son of the Chieftain, the only Child of God. People from all the tribes came to Him, they came to meet Him. From far away, they had heard of His good works and that he said so much in wise words. He had a great desire to help these people so that they would always serve God gladly and that many of the clans of mankind would be under obedience to heaven’s King. (2973 – 2982)
Then he crossed over the Judean border and headed for the fortress city of Sidon. He had His warrior-companions with Him, loyal followers. There a woman of another folk approached Him. She was of noble birth, of the Canaanite clan. She asked the mighty Chieftain, the Holy One, that He give her His help. She said that she was worried about her daughter as evil beheld her. She had been seized by a sickness. “Evil creatures have confused her, her death is at hand, the evil ones have taken away her mind. Now I beg Thee, my Lord Ruler, Son of David, that Thou freest her from this sickness, mercifully ward off the evil wights from such a poor girl.” (2982 – 2993)
Christ the Ruler did not answer her straight away. She went after Him, following Him determinedly, until she came to His feet and spoke to Him weeping. Christ’s followers asked their Lord to be kind and generous in His attitude toward the woman. The Chieftain’s Son had His answer ready and spoke to His warrior-companions. “I am to take care of Israel’s blood clansmen first, so that they will lift their hearts to their Lord.54 They need help! These people are lost, they have abandoned the Ruler’s word; the warriors have doubts; people are driven by evil thoughts; nor do the earls of Israel want to listen to their Chieftain; warrior-heroes do not believe in their Lord, even though it is from here that help is to come for all the peoples!” (2993 – 3008)
But the woman was persistent and kept asking Christ the Ruler to be kind and generous towards her so that she would be able to continue to enjoy her child and to have her well again. Then the Lord spoke to her, the Great and Powerful. “No man has the right, no human being has the right, in order to do a good deed to take the bread away from his children, depriving them against their will, and let them suffer the horrible pangs of hunger in order to feed his dogs with it.” “That is true, Ruler,” she said, “what Thou art saying is true. But listen , often inside the hall, underneath their lords’ tables, puppies go around well-fed from the scraps that fall down from their lords’ board.”(3008 – 3022)
At that, God’s Child of Peace heard what the woman wanted and spoke to her. “Behold woman, that thou hast such a good will! Great is thy faith in the strength of God, the Chieftain of peoples. Everything will be done concerning your daughter’s life just as thou asked of Me.” (3022 – 3027)
The girl was healed at once just as the Holy One promised in words of unshakable truth. The woman rejoiced that she would be able to continue to enjoy having her child. Christ the Healer had helped her, He had freed the girl from the power of fiends, warded off the harm-doers. (3028 – 3033)
The Ruler continued His journey, the best of those born, coming to another fortress city, one very densely settled by the Jewish clan, southern people.55 I have heard it told, that he spoke there to His warriors, the followers whom He in His greatness had picked out, men who gladly stayed with Him because of His wise speech. “I shall ask all of ye, my followers, with words. What does this great population of Jewish people say about what manner of man I am?” His friends happily answered Him, His followers. “The Jewish people, the earls, are not of one mind. Some say that Thou art Elijah, the wise soothsayer who was here long ago, a good man amongst these people. Some say that Thou art John, our Chieftain’s dear messenger, who once immersed people in water. Every one of them says in their words that Thou art one of those noble men, the soothsayers, who have always taught these people here in words, and that thou hast come again to this light to instruct this people”. (3033 – 3051)
Then the Ruling Christ spoke again. “Who do ye say I am, my followers, good men of the people?” Simon Peter, not shy, answered immediately, one man speaking for all. He was a man of great courage and careful thought. His commander was very fond of him. (3051 – 3056)
54 This is an extremely important passage because it starts from the premise that Christ only came to save the people of Israel and not of all the peoples of the world. He is challenged in his declaration that he came only for the people of Israel and He helps the non Israelite woman as a result. It is in this passage that Christ’s mission is shown as being to all people, but importantly this does not mean that everyone must be the same. He does not require the woman to become an Israelite.
55 The Jews are identified as being a different people to Jesus and his followers. This is both a reference to the Jewish homeland of Judea which lies to the south of Galilee, but also an association of the Jews with those southern Europeans who had harshly imposed Christianity on the northern Saxons. Conversely, the author is identifying Jesus and His followers as ‘northern people’ and associating them with his Saxon audience.
Peter is given the keys to heaven
“Thou art the true Son of the Ruler, the living God, who created this light, Christ, the Eternal King. All of us, Thy followers, want to say that Thou art God Himself, the greatest of healers.” His Lord answered him, “Thou art blessed, Simon Son of Jonah. Thou mayest not understand this yet, holding it in thy heart. Nor could any tongue of man have told thee this in words. No, the Ruler Himself, Father of all the sons of men, did this for thee, so that thou speakest boldly and deeply with thy Lord. Thou wilst receive a precious reward for this. Thou hast clear faith in thy Lord! Thy strength of faith is like rock, thou art as solid as hard stone. The sons of men will call thee Saint Peter and I shall build my great hall on top of this rock, the holy house of God. There, His family will happily gather. (3057 – 3071)
“Hel’s gates will not withstand thy great strength. I give thee the heaven-kingdom’s key’s, so that, after Me, thou wilst rule the Christian people. The souls of all men will come to thee. Thou hast great power. Whoever of the noble-born thou wilst bind here on earth will have two things done to him. Heaven will be locked to him and Hel will be open, the burning fire. Whoever thou wilst unbind, taking the manacles off his hands, for him heaven stands unlocked. Eternal life in the greatest of worlds on God’s green meadow. (3071 – 3082)
“It is with this gift that I will reward thee for thy faith, but I do not want thee yet to tell these people, the great crowd, that I am mighty Christ, God’s own Son. The Jewish earls are yet to bind me, though innocent, and torture me in Jerusalem by inflicting astonishing pain with the weapon’s edges; with the spear-point to see to it that I age no more, with its sharp edges to take away my life.56 From death, I will rise up to this light by our Chieftain’s power on the third day.” (3082 – 3092)
At this, the best of thanes, Simon Peter, became very worried, his mind was disturbed. He spoke to his Lord in secret Runes. “Never will God, the powerful Ruler, want Thee to ever suffer such great pain from these people. Nor is there any need of it, holy Chieftain.” Then his Lord, the great, powerful Christ, answered him. He was deeply fond of Peter. “Lo! Now it is thee, best of thanes, who art against my will! Thou knowest the human ways of these peoples. Thou knowest the power of God which I am to carry out. I tell thee in true words, that here stand many of my warrior-companions who will not die, depart from here, before they see heaven’s light, God’s kingdom.” (3092 – 3107)
Then, soon after this, He picked from amongst His followers, Simon Peter, James, and John, the two men who were brothers. With these warrior-companions He set off up a mountain, the happy Child of God and the three thanes. The Chieftain of peoples, the Ruler of this world, wanted to show them many wonders and signs so that they would trust better that He was the Chieftain’s Son, the holy King of heaven. They climbed along the mountain face over rock and slope until the warriors came to the place near the clouds which Christ the Ruler, King most powerful, had chosen. The place where he wanted, by His own power, to show His followers His divinity – a bright-shining vision! (3107 – 3122)
56 This description of the passion would have been particularly poignant to the Saxon warriors listening to the Gospel. It describes a method of torture common in the Germanic world at this time, in which a captured warrior Chieftain would be executed by having his ribs cut open with a weapon’s edge and killed with a spear of lance. In this way, prisoners were ‘dedicated’ to Woden as the spear was considered to be sacred to him.
On the mountaintop the Son of God gives off bright light and changes His appearance
As He knelt there in prayer, His appearance and clothes changed. His cheeks became shining light, blazing like the bright sun. The Son of God was shining! His body shone, radiating brilliant light from the Ruler’s Son.57 His clothes became as white as snow to look at. Then, after this, a wonderful thing was seen there. Elijah and Moses came there to Christ to exchange words with the Mighty One! There was a glorious conversation, good words amongst men, as God’s Son willed to talk there with the famous men. It became so blissful up on the mountain, the bright light was shining, there was a magnificent garden there and the green meadow, it was like Paradise!58 (3122 – 3136)
Peter, the sturdy-minded hero then spoke, addressed his Lord and said to God’s Son, “This is a good place to live, Christ All-Ruler. If Thou shouldst will it that a house be built for Thee up here on the mountain, it should be grand, and another for Moses, and a third for Elijah. This is the home of joy, the most beautiful thing anyone could have!” (3136 – 3143)
Just as he spoke these words, the air parted in two. Light shone from the clouds, a glittering flash of light that bathed the good men in brilliant, shining beauty. Then from the cloud came the holy voice of God; and the voice said to the heroes that this was His Son, the One whom He loved most of all the living. “I love Him very much in My heart. Ye should listen to Him, follow Him gladly!” (3143 – 3151)
Christ’s followers could withstand the brightness of the cloud no longer, or the Word of God, His mighty power. They fell forward. They did not think their life-spirits would live much longer. Then the Land’s Guardian went over to them, the best of all healers, and touched them with His hands and told them not to be afraid of Him. “None of these wonderful and amazing things ye have seen here will hurt ye.” Then the men came back to their senses, their courage was restored, confidence in their hearts. They saw God’s Child standing there alone. That other light of heaven, though, was hidden. (3151 – 3163)
Then the holy Christ decided to go back down the mountain. After this, He ordered His followers not to talk amongst the Jewish people about what they had seen “until I myself rise up gloriously from death, arise from My rest. After that, ye can go and tell of it, recount the story throughout the middle world to many peoples, all over this wide world!” (3163 – 3170)
57 This description of Jesus as ‘shining light, blazing light the bright sun’ would have reminded the author’s heathen and newly converted audience of Balder, who shone with the radiance of the sun.
58 The author presents a view of paradise which combines the biblical Garden of Eden with the Germanic green meadows, known in Old English as Neorxnawang.
Christ pays the king’s head tax to an arrogant thane
Christ the Ruler then strode back to the Galilee to visit His relatives, the home of His clan. There He spoke of things in bright signs. The Child of God did not conceal from His happy warrior-companions the sorrowful tale, but rather told all His good followers openly how the Jewish people would subject Him to terrible torture. This made the wise men greatly concerned, their minds became troubled, sorrow wound around their hearts. They heard their Lord, the Ruler’s Son, telling in words what He would willingly suffer at the hands of those people. (3170 – 3183)
Then the ruling Christ, the man from Galilee, set out for the Jewish fortress of Capharnaum. There, they found a king’s thane, arrogant amongst the people. He said that he was the noble Caesar’s official representative. He addressed Simon Peter and said that he had been sent to collect from all men the head-tax, which everyone had to pay as tribute to the imperial court.59 “No man has hesitated even slightly to pay this tax immediately, with their choicest jewels, except for your master alone, who has refused! My lord, the noble Emperor Caesar, will not be pleased when he hears of this!” (3183 – 3195)
At this, Simon Peter went off to tell his Lord. Ruling Christ already knew what was on His mind, not a single word can be hidden from Him! He knows everyone’s thoughts. He then ordered His famous thane, Simon Peter, to cast a fish-hook into the sea. “The very first fish that thee catcheth,” he said, “haul it out of the water and open its mouth. From between its jaws thou shalt be able to remove golden coins. With these, thou shalt pay the man who has come looking for us my, taxes and thine, to his satisfaction.” (3195 – 3207)
He did not have to say another word or give any further orders. The good fisherman, Simon Peter, cast his hook into the waves of the sea and, using both hands, hauled up a fish out of the water. He opened up its mouth and from between the jaws took out golden coins. He did everything just as the Son of God had instructed him. (3207 – 3215)
So it was shown there, through the Ruler’s great power, how every man should willingly pay the debts and taxes due to his worldly lord, and do so gladly! No one should hold back anything from him or think poorly of him in his heart. Rather everyone should be kind and generous in his attitude to his lord and serve him humbly. In doing this, a man can carry out the will of God and also have respect of his worldly lord.60 (3215 – 3223)
59 The Gospel account of the ‘temple tax’ is changed to an Imperial tax paid to the Roman Emperor which is something the Saxon audience would have better understood.
60 This feature of respecting both Godliness and worldliness was to become an ideal in Medieval Germanic Christianity, reflecting the desire to live in an ideal Christendom.
The young man with the great treasure-hoard
This is what the holy Christ taught His good followers. “If any man doeth anything sinful against ye, then take that warrior aside, and quietly advise him, put him right with words. If this is not sufficient for him to take note of what ye are saying, then take some other good man with ye and point out his grim works to him, scolding him with wise words. If after this he still doeth not regret his sinful deeds, then tell other people, many other people, about his wrong-doing. He will then more easily begin to regret what he did, to rue it in his mind, when he hears about it from wise warriors, many heroes who censure him in words for his evil deed. If, however, he still refuses to repent and ignores all these people, then let the man go, treat him like as ignorant 61, let him be repulsive to ye in thy mind. Leave it to God, the lordly King of Heaven, as the father of all the sons of men, that He might grant him help.” (3223 – 3241)
Then Peter, best of all thanes, asked his Commander, “How often, beloved Chieftain, should I forgive people who have done something evil to me? Should I forgive him seven times for such sinful acts before I take revenge against their evil?” The Land’s Guardian then answered him; God’s Son speaking to the good thane. “I did not say anything about seven, as thou sayest in words from thy mouth. But I will add more onto it. Seven times seventy seven thou art to forgive someone’s wicked sins! I want to teach thee this in words of solid truth. After all, I gave thee the great power to be the highest of my family of so many people. Therefore thou art to be kind and generous to people, be gracious to them!”62 (3241 – 3256)
Then a young man who was there came up to the Teacher and asked Jesus Christ: “Good Master,” he said, “what do I need to do to gain the heaven-kingdom?” The young man had received great wealth and possessions and owned many a jewel-hoard, yet he had a kind and generous heart in his breast. God’s Child spoke to him. “What sayest thou of ‘good’? Not a single person is that, except the One who created the All; the world and its joy! If thou wilst travel to the light of God, thou must obey the holy teaching, what is commanded in the old law. Thou must not murder, make false oaths, take to the adulterous bed, give lying testimony, cause conflict or steel. Do not be too stubborn-minded, do not hate or be hostile, do not commit armed robbery, avoid all envy. Be good to thy parents; thine father and mother and be loving to thine friends, gracious to those near thee. Then thou wilst enjoy the heavenly kingdom! If thou wilst possess it, follow God’s teachings.” (3256 – 3277)
The young man then answered, “I have done all of this thou teachest in wise words,” he said, “and I have left none of it out from my childhood.” At that moment Christ began to look at him with His eyes. “There is still one thing missing of thy good works. If thou hast the desire of serving thy Lord all the way, thou shouldst take thy treasure-hoard and thine wealthy possessions and sell all of it, all of thine precious jewels and order it to be divided amongst the poor. After that thou wilst will have a hoard in heaven! Then come, bring thyself to Me; follow My footsteps and thou shalt have everlasting peace and joy.” (3277 – 3289)
The words of Christ made this young man deeply sorrowful. There was pain in his mind and uneasiness in his heart. He had attained many jewels and possessions. He turned away and went from there. There was no lightness in his heart; a heaviness in his breast. (3290 – 3295)
Christ the All-Ruler looked after him and at that moment said to his followers that it was not easy for a man of wealth to come to God’s realm. “It is easier to get a camel, even though it is immeasurably large, to pass through the eye of a needle, even though that is extremely narrow, than it is the soul of the wealthy man to get to heaven, a person whose mind and a person whose will are completely turned to world-treasure, and who does not think about the power of God.” (3295 – 3204)
61 The word used in the poem is ‘heathen’ which refers to people dwelling in the heath or the back woods. It was used by the urban Christian elite to refer to country folk who were not fully Christianised and were seen as backward and uncivilised.
62 This reflects the Germanic concept of a king having power over his people, but in return being expected to be kind and generous to them.
The rich man and the beggar
Simon Peter, the highly respected man, answered Him and asked the beloved Lord, “What will we receive as reward,” he said, “as good repayment? To be Thy followers, we abandoned property and inheritance, our farms and families and chose Thee to be Lord and followed in Thy footsteps. What benefit will this bring us, what lasting reward?” The Lord of People said to him, “When I come to sit,” he said, “in great power, on that glorious day when I shalt judge all the earth’s people, thou shalt be sitting with thy Chieftain, and thou shalt rule over the trials. Thou shalt determine the judgements for all the noble folk of Israel in accordance with their deeds. That is how thou shalt be honoured! Let me tell thee this in truth, whoever so acts in this world that he leaves his beloved family seat because of love for me, he will receive a repayment here of ten times tenfold if he does it with loyalty, with a clear mind.63 And beyond that, he will also have heaven’s light, eternal life lying open to him.” (3305 – 3325)
After this, the best of all children began to speak in stories. He said that once, a long time ago, there was a rich man amongst the people. “He had gathered together a great deal of wealth and buried treasure and was always wearing gold and good clothes with beautiful jewels. He had many possessions on his estate. He sat down for a feast every day. He had a wonderful life sitting there in bliss on his benches! Now there was also a beggar there with a crippled body. He was called Lazarus. Every day he lay there, outside the front door, where he knew the rich man was inside with his guests enjoying a feast, seated in his hall. The poor man always waited outside, begging. He was never allowed to come in, he was never able to persuade anyone to bring out to him some of the bread that fell down from the table from under their feet. It never did him any good to be there, nothing good ever came to him from the important man whose house it was, except that the man’s dogs went to him and licked his body wounds as he lay there hungry. Not a bit of help ever came to him from the important rich man. (3325 – 3347)
Then, I have heard it told, the ruling powers64 forcefully told the poor man of his end day, by a very severe sickness, that he was to give up the joys of men. God’s angels received his life-spirit and led him away so that they could place the poor man’s soul on Abraham’s lap. There, from now on, he would always be happy. (3347 – 3354)
Then the powers of fate came also to the rich man, his fate-hour, when he left this light behind. Evil wights dragged his soul down to black Hel. They pushed it into the inferno with glee and buried him in their grim home. From there he could look up and see where Abraham was, living in joy, and where Lazarus sat blissfully on his lap, receiving his shining reward for all his poverty. The rich man, lying hot in Hel, called up to Abraham from down there. “Father Abraham”, he said, “I desperately need you to be kind and generous to me, gracious in this fire. Send Lazarus to me so he can bring me some cold water in this inferno. I am burning alive, hot in this Hel! I need your help now so that he might quench my thirst with his little finger. My tongue has received its sure reward, a terrible punishment for its evil advice, its evil speeches. I am now receiving my dues for all of it!” (3354 – 3374)
Then the ancestral father Abraham answered him. “Consider in thy heart,” he said, “what wealth thou had in the world. All the joy, all the happiness which was given to thee. Thou spent all thy joy on earth! Lazarus suffered pain in that light, he endured evil and suffering in the world. Therefore, he shall now possess wealth and live in luxury; whilst thou shalt suffer the flames, the burning fire. No messenger for you can be sent from here to Hel. The Holy God has made it firmly so with His outstretched arms. No thane may travel there through the darkness which is so thick between us.” (3375 – 3386)
Then the earl spoke again to Abraham from hot Hel and asked for help. He asked that Abraham send Lazarus to the world of men, “So that he can tell my brothers there how I am burning and suffering pain here. There are five of them among the people of our tribe. I am afraid that they may also sin and be sent here to me for punishment in this greedy fire!” (3387 – 3395)
Old-Father65 Abraham spoke back to him and said that they always had people of God in the land. Moses’ commandments and the words of the many prophets. “If they listen to them, they will never have to go into Hel, journey to that inferno, if they do what is commanded by those who read the books for human instruction. If they are unwilling to do this, they would also not listen to a man who rose right up from death. For as long as they are in the world let them choose for themselves in their hearts which of the two seems sweeter to attain, so that afterwards they will have evil or good in return.” (3395 – 3408)
63 Christ is speaking as a Saxon King, demanding total loyalty, as in a ‘clear mind’ in return for great gifts.
64 The ruling powers or fates are an allusion to the old religion and the power of fate to determine the end of a man’s life. This is one of a number of instances where the author of the poem juxtaposes the powers of fate from the old religion with Christ.
65 ‘Old-Father’ or ‘All-Father’ was a term given to Woden (Odin).
The story of the workers who came late to the vineyard
The best person ever to have been born then taught the people in clear words; the mighty Chieftain spoke to mankind with many bright stories. He said that a good man began in the morning to gather men. “He was the head of a household and promised the men a very generous reward as wages. He said that he would give each one of them a silver coin. Many men assembled in his vineyard and he assigned them work early in the morning. Some also arrived later in the morning, some came to work at noon, some came at none, which is the ninth hour of the long summer day. Some came even later at the eleventh hour. Then evening arrived and the sun went to rest. (3409 – 3423)
“Then the Chieftain of earls commanded his officers that each of the men should be paid his wages for the hard work. He instructed them first to pay the people who had arrived last for work and, in his words, ordered that the men who had arrived first, willing to work, should be given all their money at the end. These men were quite convinced that more pay would be given to them because of their hard work. But everyone was given the same. (3423 – 3434)
“This made those men who had arrived first angry and hostile. “We came here in the morning,” they said, “and have endured a great deal today, hard work in intense heat, the sun’s burning rays. Now thou art giving us no more money than thou givest to the others who were only here for a short while working for thee.” The head of the house had his answer ready. He said that he had never promised them any more pay than that for their work. “Listen,” he said, “I have the right to give ye all equal pay in return for the value of thy work.” (3434 – 3444)
Christ the Ruler, however, meant something more when He spoke to these people in stories about the vineyard and how the earls came to work there at different times. This is how the sons of men go from this world to the great light, to God’s meadow. Some begin early in their childhood to get themselves ready, they have the spirit of the chosen – good will! They avoid the affairs of the world and do not pursue its delights. Their bodies cannot lure them into immorality. They learn wisdom, God’s law and resist the grim will of the evil ones. They continue to behave this way whilst they are in this world, alive in this light, until the evening of their lifetimes comes to them. Then they set off on the road that leads upwards, where all their hard work will be rewarded, paid back with good in God’s kingdom. This is what is meant by the earls who started working hard in the vineyard early in the morning and who stayed at it until evening. (3444 – 3464)
Then some came at mid-morning. They were late and had wasted the morning hours of the workday. Many fools do this, frivolous people. In their youth they enjoy chasing after many things. They learn disrespectful, evil speech and many dirty words, until their childhood has passed away. After their youth, God’s favour happily admonishes them in their hearts and they turn for the better in words and works, and lead their lives in this manner until their years come to an end. They will be rewarded in God’s kingdom for all their good works. (3464 – 3475)
Some men abandon their wickedness, their grim sins, in midlife. They turn to happier things and by God’s power begin to do good works. They correct their malicious language and feel regret in their minds for their bitter actions. Help comes to them from God so that they can keep their faith as long as their lives last. With that faith they depart and receive their pay, the good reward from God. There is no better gift! (3476 – 3483)
Some begin still later, when they have become more aged, when their lifetimes are almost over. Then their evil deeds begin to be hateful to them in this world as God’s teachings talk to them in their hearts. They become kinder and more generous. They live the rest of their lives in goodness and receive repayment, the high kingdom of heaven, when they depart from here. They receive the same wages as the ones who came to work in the vineyard at none, at the ninth hour of the day. (3484 – 3492)
Some get to be so old that they will not repent their sins, but add to them with every possible evil until their evening comes near and their lifetimes and pleasures are spent. Then they begin to dread the punishment, their sins make them anxious. They think of the grim things they did for as long as they enjoyed youth. Nor are they able at this time to make up with other good deeds for the evil things they did so cruelly and so they beat their breasts every day with both hands and weep bitter tears. They cry out to the holy Chieftain, the mighty one, to be kind and generous to them. Nor does He let their mood of despair last for long, so merciful is He who rules everything. He does not want a single earth-man denied his love! The Ruler Himself gives them the holy kingdom of heaven and they receive His help ever after. (3493 – 3504)
All of mankind are to receive honour there, even though they do not come at the same time. The powerful Chieftain wants to reward all people, every single person, who embrace faith here. A single heaven-kingdom is what He gives to all people, to all human beings, as their reward. (3505 – 3509)
This is what the Mighty Christ meant, the best person born, when He spoke in those stories of how workmen came at different times to the vineyard and yet each one received full wages from his Lord. So also shall the sons of men receive the same wages from God, the loveliest of rewards, even though some of them came late! (3509 – 3515)
Christ foretells His torture and death and cures a blind men outside Fort Jericho
He then commanded His twelve good followers, those who were the most loyal men on earth to Him, to come closer and He told them one more time what hardships lay before Him. “There can be no doubt about it”. He said that they should journey to Jerusalem, to the Jewish people. “There everything will come to pass. It will happen amongst that people, just as wise men foretold about Me long ago. There, amongst that powerful tribe, warriors will sell me to their leaders. My hands will be tied. My outstretched arms will be put in irons. I will have to endure very much there. I will have to listen to many words of scorn and insult, mockery and threat. They will torture Me terribly with the weapon’s edge and they will take My life. I will rise up from death and come back to this light by the Chieftain’s power, on the third day. (3516 – 3533)
“I did not come to these people so that the sons of men would have hard labour because of Me, that they should serve Me. I will not ask them for this now, nor beg these people. Instead, I will be a benefit to them. I will humbly do service for them and for all these people I will give My soul. With My life I will free mankind, the many people who have been waiting for so long for My help.” Then He travelled onward, the Chieftain’s Son had a firm mind and a happy heart. He wanted to go to Jerusalem to teach the Jewish folk wisdom. He already knew their ill-will, grim hatred and deep hostility. The crowd moved on towards fort Jericho. God’s Son was there in the midst of the crowd. (3533 – 3548)
Two men were sitting there by the roadside, both were blind. They had great need for their health to be restored, to be healed by Heaven’s ruler, for they had long been without light, they had suffered a long time. The two men heard the crowd coming by and straight-away these men, blinded by fate, asked curiously what great man was the leader of this group. A warrior-hero answered them and said that Jesus Christ from Galilee, the Best of all healers, was the leader and was travelling with His folk. Both of the blind men were filled with joy when they learned that God’s Son was amongst the crowd. They called out loudly with their words to the holy Christ, they begged Him to come and help them. “Chieftain, David’s Son, be kind and generous to us in Thy deeds, save us from this awful affliction, just as Thou doest for so many amongst the human clans! Thou art good to many people. Thou helpeth and healeth!” (3548 – 3566)
Then the crowd of warriors attacked the two with words, saying that they should not yell so loudly at the ruling Christ. The blind men paid no attention to this and instead continued to call out more and more loudly over the crowd. The Healer stood still. The Best person ever born commanded them to be brought to Him, led through the crowd. He spoke to them wisely and kindly in front of the people. “What help dost ye want from Me”, He said. They asked the holy One if He would open their eyes for them to this light so that they would be able to see the comings and goings of people, the radiant sunshine and the bright, beautiful world. (3566 – 3578)
The Ruler did so. He touched them with His hands and gave them His help. The eyes of both blind men were opened by the power of God so that they could see the earth and sky, light and people. They gave praise to God and glory to our Chieftain for being able to enjoy the light of day! They both set off with Him, following in His footsteps. The favour they asked for was granted to them and the fame of the Ruler’s deed was made known widely, to many men. (3578 – 3588)
The meaning of the curing of the blind men
That was a mighty image that was presented there, where the blind men, deprived of the light, were sitting by the roadside, suffering. This is what that image means to the children of men, to all mankind. It tells of how mighty God Himself in the beginning made the first couple, Adam and Eve. He granted them access to the road leading upwards, the kingdom of heaven. But then the hateful one, the enemy with his deceptions and evil deeds, came to them. He tricked them with sin so that they forsook the eternally beautiful light. They were driven into a less desirable place, this middle world. Here, in darkness, they toiled in hard labour. They were sent into exile and they had lost wealth and happiness. They forgot God’s kingdom and were in service to the hateful sons of the enemies, who paid them for their labour with fire in hot Hel. Their minds were blind in this middle world, since they no longer recognised the mighty God, Heaven’s Lord, who shaped them with His hands, wrought them according to His will. This world was then so debased, forced into darkness and hard toil, into death’s deepest dales, that they sat there by the Chieftain’s road, lamenting, begging for God’s help. (3588 – 3612)
However, this help could not come to them until the ruling God, the mighty Chieftain, sent His own Son to this middle world to unlock the light for the sons of men and to open up eternal life to them so that they would be able to recognise the Mighty All-Ruler, God. (3613 – 3618)
I can also tell you, if you are willing to listen and think, so that you may recognise the Healer’s power, how His coming was a help to many here in this middle-earth. And how much He, the Lord Himself, made known through His deeds and why the great fort in Judea, built with strong walls, is called Jericho. It is named after the moon, after the bright light which can never avoid the cycles of its time66, every day waning or waxing. This is what human beings do in this world. The old die, then the young who come after will wax older, until fate67 takes them too. (3619 – 3633)
This is the meaning of what God’s Son said, as he left the fort of Jericho, travelling onwards. He meant that the blindness of human beings could never be healed so that they could see the bright, eternally beautiful light until He Himself took on human nature here in this middle earth, flesh and body. The sons of men became aware of this in this world, those who had been tormented and were sitting in sin, deprived of sight, enduring the darkness. They realised that the Healer had come to help them, Christ, the best of all kings, had come from heaven’s realm! Then they could recognise his footsteps straight away. Those men then called out so much to the Mighty God that the Ruler felt warmth towards them. But then, the very heavy sins which they themselves had committed held them back, blocked their belief. Still, these sins could not bar them from what they wanted and so they called out loudly to the ruling God until He healed them. Then they could see everlasting life; eternal light, open to them. They could journey on to the bright-shining home. (3634 – 3654)
This is what the blind men, who were calling out loudly to the Son of God in Jericho to heal them and grant them light in this life, represent. Then, the great crowd of people who were travelling ahead and behind them held them back with their words. They represent what wicked sins do to men in this middle world. (3654 – 3660)
Listen now to what the blind men did once they were healed and could see the sun’s light! They set off together with their Chieftain. They followed His footsteps and spoke many words of praise for the land’s Warden! This, the sons of men still do all over this wide world, once the ruling Christ has enlightened them with His teachings and granted them eternal life, God’s kingdom, the high heavenly light and His help to reach it. This He gives to good men, to anyone whose deeds show that he would like to follow His way! (3661 – 3670)
66 The inevitable and continuous waning and waxing of the moon cyclic nature of time illustrates the importance of the cyclic nature of time in the pre-Christian tradition. Time and fate are related and the moon has no choice but to go through the cycles of waning and waxing.
67 Again we see the link between fate and time, in this case our life cycles.
Christ enters Jerusalem and foretells its fate
Then Christ the Saviour, the holy One, came close to Jerusalem. Many people of good will gladly came out to meet Him and covered the road to the fortress city with their clothes and plants; bright flowers and tree branches from the beautiful palms. The crowd surrounded Him joyfully and sang songs of praise. They thanked the Ruler that David’s wise Son had Himself come there to the people. Then Christ the Good, the Ruler, looked at Jerusalem. The best of men looked at the fortresses’ wall and at the dwellings of the Jews, the high-horned halls, and at God’s house, the most beautiful of all shrines. (3671 – 3687)
At that moment, His heart welled up in His chest, the Holy Child could not stop Himself from weeping. With sadness, He spoke many words of sorrow. His heart was troubled. “Woe to thee, Jerusalem,” He said, “that thou truly knowest not the workings of Wyrd which will befall thee in the future.68 How thou shalt be surrounded by a powerful army and besieged by cruel-minded men, the enemy forces. Thou wilst never again have peace or protection amongst men. Against thee, they will bring spear points and sword blades, the words of war.69 Thy people will be devoured by the flames of fire. They will destroy these villages and bring these high walls to the ground. No rock will remain standing, no stone on top of another. These settlements around Jerusalem will become a wasteland of the Jewish people, because they do not recognise that their future has come to them. They have doubting hearts and do not know that the Ruler’s power is visiting them.” (3687 – 3705)
The Lord of men then set off with the crowd for the bright-shining fortress.70 As soon as God’s Son went inside Jerusalem with the throng of people, he was walking with His warrior-companions, the greatest of all songs began. Loud voices began singing holy words as many people praised the country’s Warden, the best child ever born. The fort was in uproar, its people became afraid and began asking who it was who was coming there with the people, the mighty crowd. Someone answered them and said that it was Jesus Christ from Galilee, the rescuer from Fort Nazareth, the wise soothsayer, who was coming to help the people. (3706 – 3718)
Then the Jews, who were ever hostile to Him, hateful in their hearts, were pained to see that the people were singing so many songs of praise to Him, glorifying the Chieftain. In a furious mood they went to speak with the ruling Christ. They asked Him to tell His warrior-companions to be silent and not to let the people praise Him so much. “It is loathsome to these people,” they said, “to these citizens.” The Son of God replied, “If ye interfere with them,” He said, “preventing the sons of men from glorifying the Ruler’s power, then the hard rocks and solid boulders will shout it out before the people until His praise is spoken all across this world.” (3719 – 3733)
He then went into the holy shrine, the house of God. There he found many Jews, disrespectful men, gathered together. They had chosen this site as their business place and were buying and selling all manner of things. Money-lenders were sitting inside the shrine. Every day they had their loan-money ready to give. This was completely repulsive to God’s Son. He drove them out of there, away from the shrine. He said that it would be a much better thing for the sons of Israel to come there to pray, “To ask for help in My house, to ask that the victory Chieftain take away their sins rather than to come here to a legal assembly71 of thieves, the perverted people who practice usury, plain injustice! Ye Jews never show any respect for the House of God!” (3733 – 3748)
And so the powerful Chieftain cleansed the shrine, the holy house. There He was a help to many people who had heard of His great power far away and had come travelling over long roads. Many weak and crippled people were healed at the shrine, people whose legs and hands were crippled and who were blind. God’s Son did that for the people who wished it, since everything that concerns these people’s lives and lands is under His authority. (3749 – 3757)
68 The old Germanic concept of Wyrd, the outcome of fate that follows a set of actions. Christ is foreseeing the inevitable doom of Jerusalem brought about by its iniquity.
69 The Old Saxon word used here is ‘orlog’ which is closely related to Wyrd and is implying an inevitable doom through warfare.
70 There is no mention of a donkey which would have left a very different impression on the Saxon audience than that of an allusion to Israelite kingship in the original scriptures.
71 The Old Saxon word used is ‘Thingstedi’ which conjures an image of a traditional Germanic assembly or Parliament defiled by money lender practising usury.
Christ praises the poor woman’s small gift to the sanctuary
He stood there in front of the sanctuary, Christ the Ruler, the beloved Guardian of the country, and assessed the hearts and minds of the people. He saw many people bringing jewels to that glorious house, making donations of silken cloths and precious ornaments. Christ the Chieftain watched all of this wisely. (3758 – 3764)
Then a widow came by, a woman fated to poverty. She went to the altar and put two bronze coins on the offertory plate. She was a simple soul, and a kind heart. The ruling Christ then spoke to His followers and said that she had brought a much greater gift than any other son of mankind. “Whenever people of property bring presents here, many jewel-hoards, they keep more of the wealth they have won at home. This woman did not do that. She gave to this altar all the wealth she had and left nothing at home. Her gift is therefore worth more to the Ruler because she gave it to this house of God with such generosity. For this she will be repaid with the very long-lasting reward – for having such faith!” (3764 – 3779)
I heard it told that Christ the Ruler, Chieftain of mankind, taught wisdom with words every day at the sanctuary. People stood around, great crowds of Jews. They listened to the good and sweet words He spoke. Some of the men in the crowd were very fortunate in that the words started to take root in their hearts. They learned the lessons which the country’s Guardian, the Chieftain’s Son, taught entirely in stories. (3780 – 3787)
To others the Ruler’s message, the teachings of Christ, were abhorrent. Those who were highest in the leadership, the princes of these people, were most opposed to these teachings. They thought up verbal traps for Him. They even brought in an evil man, a thane of king Herod, to help them. He stood there, brooding, amongst the crowd in order to listen to what they were saying and see if he could capture Christ, the sinless one, and put Him in irons. (3788 – 3798)
Then he and his hard-hearted companions, evil enemies, strode up to Christ to speak words with God’s Son. “Well now,” they said, “Thou art a law-speaker.72 Thou teachest people much truth and it is unworthy of Thee to hide anything from any of them. Indeed, Thou speakest always that which is right and Thou leadest a company of men along God’s road through Thy Words. No one amongst the people can find anything to blame Thee. (3798 – 3806)
“And so we ask Thee, Mighty Prince, what right does the emperor of Rome have to tax the people of this clan and to determine every year how much money we are to pay as a head-tax? Say what Thou thinkest of this. Is it right or not? Counsel Thy kinfolk well. We need Thy guidance.” They wanted Him to answer that it was not right, but He understood the deceipt in their hearts. “Why are ye pretending to tell the truth,” He said, “and tempting Me so crudely? It will do ye no good, ye deceivers, to try to trap Me through guile!” (3807 – 3819)
He then commanded them to bring forth coins for examination, “The ones ye must give as tribute.” The Jews took out a silver piece. Many looked and saw how it was minted. In the middle of the front side was the emperor’s image, which they well recognised! The picture of their lord’s head. (3819 – 3825)
The holy Christ then asked them who the image was of. They said that it was the emperor of the world from Rome, “who has authority on earth over this entire realm.” “Then I will tell thee Myself in all truth,” He said, “that ye give him what is his. Give the world-lord his money and give the ruling God what is His, which should be thy soul and spirit!” (3825 – 3833)
The Jews’ intentions were ruined by what He said. The wicked trouble-makers could not win with deceitful word