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The Christ poems of the Exeter Book, Exeter Library Manuscript 3501, are three religious poems depicting three different episodes of Christ's time on earth. The Christian ideals regarding behavior expressed in the poems echo cultural ideals, so that Christ appears as a heroic king and judge, generous to his supporters, and severe with oath-breakers who disobey his law. Similarly, Christ's disciples are described as loyal thegns, ready to do their lord's bidding. Cultural analyses of the Christ poems have traditionally concentrated on the images and motifs incorporated within them. There has been little study with regard to the audience of the Christ poems, much less on how that audience may have consumed the texts. This dissertation argues 1) that the Christ poems reference Anglo-Saxon legal tradition, as expressed in law codes or legal documents such as wills and contracts; 2) that the poems contain religious and secular models of ideal behavior, as well as examples of behavior to be avoided; 3) that the introduction of secular legal elements into the poems expand the potential audience of the poems; and 4) that the combination of secular law and church ethics, the one open to interpretation, the other believed to be immutable, creates a tension within each poem that opens the texts to being consumed in ways counter to how the compilers intended. Michel de Certeau's theories on reading as productive consumption are used to explore the ways in which the Anglo-Saxon audience may have responded to this tension with regard to their social relationships. This study provides a new analysis of some of the complications of the relationship between ruler and ruled in Anglo-Saxon England as reflected in these texts from the Exeter Book.