But listen to this. One creationist, Bill Cooper, who claims to have originated the claim, explains why we should accept Beowulf as a literal record of the past. This is very important:
Virtually every edition of the Beowulf epic and virtually every commentary on the poem, will take pains to assure the reader that what he is reading is NOT an historically accurate account of events or personages. Beowulf is described as a moral tale composed several centuries after the times of which it treats, a good yarn, and so on and so forth. What it does not do is embody real history. However the best test for historicity that can be applied to any document from the past, be it chronicle, epic poem or prose narrative, is the test of its genealogies and personal names. Are the men and women mentioned in the work characters who are known to us from other contemporary sources? Can the genealogies be verified? If they can, then we are dealing with an account that we can rely on as history. If their information is demonstrably wrong or fictitious, and if it is seen to contradict other accepted historical sources, then clearly the rest of the matter can be dismissed as mere fiction. Thus, and in the light of the persistent modernist assertion that Beowulf is merely fiction, we shall examine the complex genealogies that are embodied within the poem in the sure knowledge no compiler of fairy-stories ever went to such enormous lengths to add circumstantial verisimilitude to his tale as we find in the Beowulf.
Of course, this isn’t the case. Shakespeare concocted the plot of Macbeth from Holinshed’s Chronicles, which featured several separate stories that the Bard wove together. The outlines of Macbeth’s reign derive from the king’s history, but the witches come from a completely separate story. In that tale, the wife of a fellow named Donwald pressures him to kill King Duff after the king kills Donwald’s family in retribution for consorting with witches. These witches, however, did not predict the future but rather were accused of using spells to sicken the king.
If Shakespeare could weave together historical facts, legends, and outright fiction, there is no particular reason for assuming that the poet of Beowulf could not have done so as well. The existence of a fact or a series of facts is no indication that everything in the story is therefore factual. But creationists must support the position that genealogies are a reliable guide to history, because if this were not so, then biblical genealogies would be called into question, and with them any reason for believing the earth was created on October 23, 4004 BCE.