[*] Many thanks to Ray Tripp for many helpful suggestions, comments, corrections & discussion. Thanks also to Zacharius Thundy & Hans Köberl for discussion & corrections. All remaining errors are mine alone.

Karl Schneider, Sophia Lectures (1986), and Paul Beekman Taylor, 'Swords and Words' (1998/1984), both anticipate several aspects of the comparison of the passages in Beo. concerning the hilt of the Mere-Sword with Eddic analogues as discussed herein. However, both Schneider and Taylor only point out the Norse analogues. This leaves the analysis open to the criticism that there is much evidence that both the Norse and Old English texts exhibit Christian influence; so that, in effect, one could argue that the Norse creation myths are but retellings based on the Christian interpretation of Genesis. Herein I show that we find very close analogues in the Hindu-Indian accounts of creation found in the hymns of the RgVeda (originating 1200B.C. or earlier), which also connect Creation, the slaying of Giants and Divine Floods. So, whether or not there is Christian influence on the Norse Eddic accounts, there is a clear ancient Indo-European mythos of Creation, monster-killing, Divine Flood, which is ultimately the basis for Norse accounts--and which is the clearest analogue to the account in Beowulf.

[1] Blackburn ('The Christian Coloring in the Beowulf', Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 12 (1897)) expresses this point with some eloquence, worth quoting at length:
 'In all the Christian allusions of the poem...there is one peculiarity that should not be overlooked. In no one of them do we find any reference to Christ, to the cross, to the virgin or the saints, to any doctrine of the church in regard to the trinity, the atonement, etc. or to the scriptures, to prophecy, or to the miracles. They might all have been written by Moses or David as easily as by an English monk. In fact, if it were not for the use of certain names and titles that have been appropriated by the church and thus given a technical meaning, it would not be difficult to find parallel expressions in Plato or Marcus Aurelius. This astonishing list of omissions seems to be without explanation if we assume that the poem first took its present shape at the hands of a Christian writer' (pg. 12 [reprint in An Anthology of Beowulf Criticism ]).
[2] Friedrich Klaeber, Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg. (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1950), l.
[3] Dorothy Whitelock, The Audience of 'Beowulf'. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951), 21.
[4] See R.W. Chambers, Beowulf: an introduction to the study of the poem with a discussion of the stories of Offa and Finn (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni. Press, 1932 [2nd ed.]) pg. 125f. for a similar argument, e.g. 'If passages had to be rewritten at all, it was just as easy to rewrite them in a tone emphatically Christian as in a tone mildly so' (pg. 125).
[5] Friedrich Klaeber, 'Die christlichen Elemente im Beowulf'. (Anglia 35: 111-36, 249-70, 453-82; 36: 169-99, 1911-1912. [reprinted in English translation by Paul Battles as The Christian Elements in Beowulf. Kalamazoo: The Medieval Institute/Richard Rawlinson Center for Anglo-Saxon Studies, Western Michigan University (=Old English Newsletter Subsidia 29), 2000]); J.R.R. Tolkien, 'Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics' (Proceedings of the British Academy 22, 1936), 245-98.
[6] See, for instance, Whitelock, ibid. 7.
Another possibility which suggests itself is that the poem may be distinguishing between Danish and 'Geatish' practices in its criticism of the Danish 'heathen' practices, ll. 175-88.  The line 180b metod hie ne cuþon 'they did not know the Creator' plausibly refers only to the Danes and not to all persons in the poem, since it is only the Danes which have been introduced at this point and no further reference to ignorance of 'God' is made after this point -- and never with reference to Beowulf or the Geats.
 Further, we may be witnessing some sort of disgust of a poet expounding 'heroic' values at an overly 'degraded' (Freyr?) cult.  Saxo reports on the reaction of the (Óðinn-ic or Þórr-ic) warrior Starcatherus (Starkaðr) at the rites practiced at Uppsala: '...he lived at leisure for seven years' space with the sons of Frø. At last he left them and betook himself to Hacon, the tyrant of Denmark, because when stationed at Uppsala, at the time of the sacrifices, he was disgusted by the effeminate gestures and the clapping of the mimes on the stage, and by the unmanly clatter of the bells. Hence it is clear how far he kept his soul from lasciviousness, not even enduring to look upon it' [6.5.10].
[7] For drihten god (181b) remains ambiguous.
For a similar observation, see John Halverson, 'Beowulf and the Pitfalls of Piety' (University of Toronto Quarterly 35, 1966), 274.
[8] 'they did not know Lord God'.
[9] As noted by Edward B. Irving, Jr. 'The nature of Christianity in Beowulf' (Anglo-Saxon England 13, 1984), 16. See also William Whallon's 'The Idea of God in Beowulf' (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 80, 1965), 19-20.
[10] Further developed by Nicholas Howe, Migration and Mythmaking in Anglo-Saxon England. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1989; and Thomas Hill, 'The Christian Language and Theme of Beowulf '. in Companion to Old English Poetry. Henk Aertsen & Rolf H. Bremmer, Jr., eds. Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit Press (1994), 63-77.
[11] 'in days of yore'
[12] 'men cannot know whither such hellish whisperers [demons] slink in their haunts'
[13] 'the creator ruled all, for the race of man, as he still does now'
[14] Cf. Klaeber, 'Die christlichen Elemente', pg. 69: 'A poet displaying such familiarity with the teachings and spirit of Christianity could not have been a transitional Christian. It is not improbable that he was a member of the clergy; only this could explain the aggressively moralizing tone. In any case, he had received a monastic education and was a devoted follower of the Christian religion; indeed, it had become second nature for him to see all things in a Christian light'.
Klaeber's statement that 'The virtues of benevolence, moderation, self-control, consideration for others, and selflessness stand in sharp relief against the backdrop of the old Scandinavian setting' (pp. 56-7), I cannot agree with. And Klaeber himself admits (in 'Aeneis und Beowulf' Archiv 126) that noble bearing and humane feelings flourished already among pagan Anglo-Saxons.

E.G. Stanley, in the midst of an analysis which differs greatly from the one I advance herein, makes a similar observation regarding the references to God of the characters of Beowulf: 'The speeches in the poem, especially those of Hrothgar and Beowulf, contain many references to God, expressive of their speakers' piety. Most of them expressions of gratitude for favours and benefits received, but a few of them are of a general nature. Taken together they do not amount to evidence that the speakers adhered to any particular system of faith and worship...The references to God in the speeches of Hrothgar and Beowulf are a clear indication that the poet wished to present them as men who had piety among their noble attributes; he has attached piety to heroes who are wise and virtuous, and has at the same time detached that piety from any specific, organized body of religious doctrine' ('Hæthenra Hyht' in Studies in Old English, Uni. of Oregon, 1963: pp. 138-9).
[15] And a conclusion also reached by Richard North in his Heathen Gods in Old English Literature: '[T]he Angles, in particular, offered no resistance to Christianity and indeed failed to perceive the difference between this new religion and their own. In other words, the scholarly axiom that Christianity involved a clash of cultures or ideologies in seventh-century England may have been conceived on the basis of the history of the Scandinavian conversion in the tenth and eleventh centuries', Richard North, Heathen Gods in Old English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni. Press, 1997), p.305.
[16] Of particular relevance are:
I Enoch VII.2-6: 'And they [the daughters of men] became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousands ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood.'
I Enoch CVI.14-15: 'And behold they [angels] commit sin and transgress the law, and have united themselves with women and commit sin with them, and have married some of them, and have begot children by them. And they shall produce on the earth giants not according to the spirit, but according to the flesh, and there shall be a great punishment on the earth, and the earth shall be cleansed from all impurity.'
See further Emerson, 'Legends of Cain, especially in Old and Middle English'. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 21 (1906); Kaske, 'Beowulf and the Book of Enoch'. Speculum 46 (1971); Mellinkoff, 'Cain's monstrous progeny in Beowulf: part I, Noachic tradition'. Anglo-Saxon England 8 (1979); L. Jung, Fallen Angels, 1926.

Compare also with Gen. A (ll.1265b-9): 'hwonne frea wolde / on wærlogan wite settan / and on deað slean dædum scyldige / gigantmæcgas, gode unleofe, / micle mansceaðan, metode laðe' [in Krapp, Junius MS.].
[17] The survival of 'Bergelmir' in Snorre may be an adaptation of the biblical 'Og', e.g. : 'For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man' (Deuteronomy III.11).
 See Mellinkoff (1981) for more discussion of the legends surrounding Og, and the survival of post-diluvian giants.
[18] dásapatnírahigopá atishthanniruddhá ápah panineva gávah,
   apám bilamapihitam yadásída vrtram jaghanvãã apa tadvavára.
     RgVeda I.32.11
'Guarded by the dragon, stood the wives of Dasas, the waters stayed like kine guarded by a miser, but by striking Vrtra, Indra set open the cave that had confined them'
[19] ahanvrtram vrtrataram vyamsamindro vajrena mahatá vadhena,
RgVeda I.32.5ab
'Indra, with his great weapon vajra ['thunder' cudgel] slew the shoulderless Vritra, worst of Vritras.'
[20] indrasya nu víryana pra vocam yáni cakára prathamáni vajrí,
  ahannahimanvapastatarda pra vakshaná abhinatparvatánám.
      RgVeda I.32.1
[21] atishthantínámaniveshánánám káshthánám madhye nihitam sharíram,
    vrtrasya ninyam vi carantyápo dírgham tama áshayadindrashatruh.
       RgVeda I.32.10
[22]Beo. ll.3131b-3133: 'the dragon too they shoved, / the wyrm over the cliff-wall, they let the waves take, / the flood enfold, that keeper of baubles'. Thanks to Ray Tripp for bringing this parallel to my attention.
[23] nadam na bhinnam amuyaa shayaanam mano ruhaanaa ati yantyaapah,
yaashcid vrtro mahinaa paryatisthat taasaam ahih patsutahshiir babhuuva.
RgVeda I.32.8

'(The dragon) lying in that way like a broken reed; the waters, having a mind to rise up, flow over (the dragon's corpse). Which waters Vritra (the dragon) had obstructed with his might, those waters he has been laid at the foot of.'

The Indic dragon hoards water rather than the gold of the Germanic dragon -- but note in both cases that the substance hoarded is a precious one, deprivation of which is dangerous to the community, see also n.24 below.
[24] For more on Vrtra, see Lahiri, Vedic Vrtra (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984); an interesting summary of one aspect of the myth occurs on pg. 72: 'In the [RgVeda], Vrtra is evil; Vrtra imprisons the waters and Indra, after killing Vrtra, lets loose the waters and creates the world. In the later Vedas though Vrtra continues to be an evil. still everything valuable, like Agni and Soma ['fire' and 'ambrosia/divine nectar', respectively-BMS], comes out of Vrtra when he is killed by Indra'. On the Indra-Vrtra battle as a story of Creation, see particularly Lahiri, ch. III.
For more on Vrtra in a wider Indo-European context, see Calvert Watkins, How to Kill a Dragon: aspects of Indo-European poetics. Oxford Uni. Press, 1995; esp. pp. 297-323, and, Joseph Fontenrose, Python. Berkeley, 1959.
[25] 'Ór Ymis holdi
vas jörð um sköpoð,
en ór beinom biörg,
himinn ór hausi
ins hrímkalda iötuns,
en ór sveita siór.'
 (Vafþrúðnismál 21)
See also Völuspá 3-4 :
'Ar var alda
þat er Ymir byggði,
vara sandr né sær,
né svalar unnir;
iörð fannz æva
né upphiminn;
gap var ginnunga,
en gras hvergi.
Áðr Burs synir
biöðom um ypðo,
þeir er miðgarð
mæran skópo:
sól skein sunnan
á salar steina;
þá var grund gróin
grœnum lauki'.
 ("In earliest times did Ymir live: was nor sea nor land nor salty waves, neither earth was there nor upper heaven, but a gaping nothing, and green things nowhere. Was the land then lifted aloft by Bur's sons [Óthin, Vili & Vé] who made Mithgarth, the matchless earth; shone from the south the sun on dry land, on the ground then grew the greensward soft")
[26] yadindráhanprathamajámahínámánmáyinámamináh prota máyáh,
    átsúryam janayandyámushásam tádítrá shatrum na kilá vivitse.
      RgVeda I.32.4
                '…þæt wæs wundra sum,

þæt hit eal gemealt  ise gelicost
ðonne forstes bend        Fæder onlæteð
onwindeð wæl-rapas       se geweald hafað
sæla ond mæla;                      þæt is soð metod'. (Beo. 1607b-11)
('that was a great wonder, that it all melted, most like ice when the bonds of frost the Father loosens, unwinds water-ropes, He who has control of times and seasons; that is the true Creator')

Taylor makes the insightful observation that 'the blood of Grendel, like the blood of Ymir, destroys, for it melts the sword blade just as God's sun melts the winter ice personified in the body of the Frost-giant. There is a homeopathic relationship between Beowulf and the giant sword: both release bonds of restraint and effect a re-ordering of unnatural disorder' ('Swords and Words', pg.132).
[28] S. Viswanathan, 'On the Melting of the Sword: wæl-rápas and the engraving on the sword-hilt in Beowulf' (Philological Quarterly 58, 1979), 360-3.
[29] Cp. '[T]he passages in Beowulf concerning the giants and their war with God, together with the two mentions of Cain (as the ancestor of the giants in general and Grendel in particular)...are directly connected with Scripture, yet they cannot be dissociated from the creatures of northern myth, the ever-watchful foes of the gods (and men). The undoubtedly scriptural Cain is connected with eotenas and ylfe, which are the jötnar and álfar of Norse. But this is not due to mere confusion--it is rather an indication of the precise point at which an imagination, pondering old and new, is kindled. At this point new Scripture and old tradition touched and ignited' (J.R.R. Tolkien, 'Beowulf : the monsters and the critics' Proceedings of the British Academy 22 (1936), reprinted in Interpretations of Beowulf: a critical anthology. R.D. Fulk, ed. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991: pg. 30).
[30] Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation (L.C. Jane, trans. London: Dent, 1927), I.30.
[31] James C. Russell (summarising Baetke (1962)) says '...while kings and nobles may have been attracted to Christianity for political or cultural reasons, for many of their subjects the reception of baptism was not the result of a conscious decision to reject their Germanic religiosity, but rather the result of a misunderstanding of the extent to which Christianity represented a radical break with their traditional thinking, feelings, and ethical behavior. Since Christianity was not initially presented to the Germanic peoples as requiring a radical break with their traditional ethos and world-view, it is not surprising that, for them, baptsim did not imply such a transformation' (The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: a sociohistorical approach to religious transformation. New York: Oxford Uni. Press, 1994), pg. 202.
[32] The use of the word hæðen 'heathen' seems likely also to have been learned from Christian missionaries. However its use in Beowulf is consistent with a meaning of 'proscribed magic', and may have supplemented (and eventually replaced) words such as siden (ðis is se halga drænce wið ælfsidene 'this is the holy drink against elf-siden' in the Lacnunga , entry 29; in Stephen Pollington, Leechcraft: early English charms, plantlore, and healing. (Hockwold-cum-Wilton [Norfolk]: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2000), pg. 192-3), which seems to be cognate with Old Norse seiðr (see North, Heathen Gods, pp. 48-56).
[33]Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation (L.C. Jane, trans. London: Dent, 1927), IV.24.
[34] William of Malmesbury, The Deeds of the Bishops of England (Gesta Pontificum Anglorum) (David Preest, ed., trans. Woodbridge (Suffolk): Boydell & Brewer, 2002), pg. ??-??.
[35] Likewise, the alternation between ylda bearnum 'sons of men' and eorðan beornum 'sons of the Earth' in the different versions of Cædmon's Hymn suggest that the Church may have substituted the metrically equivalent but more acceptable ylda bearnum for an original, less doctrinally-sound eorðan bearnum. 
For more on the possible pre-Christian origins of Cædmon's Hymn, see Morland (1992), 'Cædmon and the Germanic Tradition'. [in De Gustibus: essays for Alain Renoir. John Miles Foley, ed. with J. Chris Womack and Whitney A. Womack, asst. eds. New York: Garland, 324-58].
[36] Such as the baptismal spoons engraved 'Saulos' and 'Paulos'. Though whether these objects have 'Christian' significance in the burial, or are simply 'treasure', is hard to say.
[37] W.P. Ker, Epic and Romance (Edinburgh & London: William Blackwood, 1904) says of the casket: 'Weland the smith (whom Alfred introduced into his Boethius) is here put side by side with the Adoration of the Magi; on another side are Romulus and Remus; on another, Titus at Jerusalem; on the lid of the casket is the defence of a house by one who is shooting arrows at his assailants; his name is written over him and his name is Ægli --Egil the master-bowman as Weland is the master-smith, of the Northern mythology. Round the two companion pictures, Weland on the left and the Three Kings on the right, side by side, there go wandering runes, with some old English verses about the "whale", or walrus, from which the ivory for these engravings was obtained. The artist plainly had no more suspicion than the author of Lycidas that there was anything incorrect or unnatural in his combinations' (pp. 48-9).
[38] '[Augustine or an assistant baptised Rædwald] in vain; for when he came back home he was led astray by his wife and certain perverted teachers, and thus depraved from the earnestness of his faith, he was in a plight worse than before; for as in the custom of the ancient Samaritans, he was seen to serve both Christ and the gods whom he had once served, and in the same temple had both an altar for the holy sacrifice of Christ and a little altar for the sacrifice of victims to demons' …sed frustra; nam rediens domum ab uxore sua et quibusdam peruersis doctoribus seductus est, atque a sinceritate fidei deprauatus habuit posteriora peiora prioribus, ita ut Samaritanorum et Christo seruire uideretur et diis, quibus antea seruiebat, atque in eodem fano et altare haberet ad sacrificium Christi et arulam ad uictimas daemonium. Bede, Ecclesiastic History, II.15.
Russell, ibid., remarks that it is likely that 'the initial response...among the Germanic peoples [was to view] Christ as a powerful new god to be incorporated into their pantheon' (pg. 179).
[39] Ursula Dronke's view of the origin of the Norse Voluspá might provide a good parallel case: 'Voluspá arises from Christian impact on Norse pagan beliefs: without Christianity as an intellectual pace-setter, there would have been no Voluspá such as we have it. But the poem, though it was designed under Christian intellectual influence, was designed for pagan, not for Christian ends. Voluspá would originate--I suggest--in the recognition that much of Christian doctrine had its counterpart in Norse: the poet...might be sustained by the conviction that there was no need for a Norseman to adopt Christianity in order to have a religion just as good'   ('Pagan Beliefs and Christian Impact: the contribution of Eddic studies' in Viking Revaluations: Viking Society Centenary Symposium. A. Faulkes & R. Perkins, eds. London: Viking Society for Northern Research: 121-7. [reprinted in Myth and Fiction in Early Norse Lands. Variorum, 1996.]), pg. 122.