The Dream of the Rood

The authors of The Dream of the Rood faced the problem that the clergymen were going to face through the centuries: how not to make the church the province of women and gay men? (Although gay experience does not feature very prominently in OE literature.) Trying to appeal to their warrior flock, they created the young warrior-like Christ, who strips himself and willingly mounts the cross, reinterpreting a tiny wee bit the Gospel version of the Passion. Many centuries later, the Victorian proponents of so-called “muscular Christianity” will be doing a similar thing; Thomas Hughes (known nowadays mostly as the author of Tom Brown’s Schooldays) wrote a whole book titled The Manliness of Christ,

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