Despite his borrowing from other sources, perhaps in large quantities, the Beowulf poet nonetheless manages to add his own specialized view of his characters' world. First and foremost, Beowulf's author is a Christian, and he makes the Christian world extremely visible. He alludes to Cain and the Flood; he shows the Christian God's influence upon the pagan world of the Danes. Yet he is obviously aware of his culture's pagan past and attempts to describe it in great detail through rituals, such as the elaborate Germanic sea-burials and the grand feasts in the mead-halls, and the ever-present belief in fate. Thus Beowulf's poet tries to recreate the past of his people for his people, almost with a nostalgic feeling for the bygone pagan days.
Beowulf was written in England, but is set in Scandinavia; its dating has attracted considerable scholarly attention. The poem has been dated to between the 8th and the early 11th centuries, with some recent scholarship offering what has been called "a cohesive and compelling case for Beowulf's early composition."   However, opinion differs as to whether the composition of the poem is nearly contemporary with its transcription, whether it was first written in the 8th century, or if a proto-version of the poem was perhaps composed at an even earlier time (possibly as one of the Bear's Son Tales ) and orally transmitted for many years, then transcribed in its present form at a later date. Albert Lord felt strongly that the manuscript represents the transcription of a performance, though likely taken at more than one sitting.  J. R. R. Tolkien believed that the poem retains too genuine a memory of Anglo-Saxon paganism to have been composed more than a few generations after the completion of the Christianisation of England around AD 700  , and Tolkien's conviction that the poem dates to the 8th century has been defended by Tom Shippey , Leonard Neidorf, Rafael J. Pascual, and . Fulk, among others.