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Its origins in religious drama
M. A. Katritzky

M. A. Katritzky studies the evolving changes to the ‘merchant scene’ in European (Romanish, Latin, German) plays. This scene specifically relates to the Holy Women’s Visitatio Sepulchri, developed from Gospel accounts of the Marys’ visit to the tomb of Christ. Katritzky considers this scene in juxtaposition to significant manuscript and stone images, thereby underlining how it intersects with evolving traditions of the biblical stage as it absorbs and reflects varied historical, political, religious, and transnational influences.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
The role of Noah’s wife in the Chester play of Noah’s Flood
Lawrence Besserman

This chapter focuses on the role of Noah’s wife as a radical, impious questioning of both patriarchal and divine authority in the Chester play of Noah’s Flood. Lawrence Besserman argues that in the performative foregrounding of this character, through her refusal to board the Ark, can be seen as coinciding with the emergence of outspoken female critics (e.g. Margery Kempe, Joan White, anonymous female Lollard ‘preachers’) of a male-dominated Church hierarchy.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Elisabeth Dutton

Elisabeth Dutton focuses on how Reformation Protestant writers asserted the historicity of scriptural events. She asks a crucial question: How do the Protestant playwrights manage to create any form of ‘scene’ by which their audiences might be able to situate themselves in these events? Dutton argues that to encourage these audiences, these playwrights – specifically John Bale, John Foxe, and Nicholas Grimald – used the accessible, physical reality of props to thereby overcome the challenges of presenting a Protestant history.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
John Heywood’s The Pardoner and the Friar
Greg Walker

Greg Walker discusses John Heywood’s The Pardoner and the Friar, focusing on a confrontation between a seemingly evangelical friar and a corrupt pardoner. He argues that Heywood’s innovative dramatisation of a specific incident from the early English Reformation is a means of powerfully embodying the jarring nature of contemporary religious controversy. Walker also argues that beyond the linguistic and physical disorientation, the interlude pursues a deliberate affective strategy, cueing audience responses to shift several times through the evolving drama to powerful creative effect.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Biblical plays between Czech drama and English comedy in early modern Central Europe
Pavel Drábek

Pavel Drábek discusses High Baroque dramaturgy as surviving in seventeenth-century scripts, arguing for a biblical teleology of the style. Among the plays he discusses are variants of the Esther play (English–German comedy and Czech puppet play), their variants in the Alcestis and Hercules myth (in Baroque opera, German plays and puppet plays), and in the popular Genevieve (or Jenovéfa) plays – all of which comprise multiple layers of early modern dramaturgies and performance practices within a biblical axiology.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
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A Looking Glasse for London and the Book of Jonah
Hannibal Hamlin

Hannibal Hamlin focuses on one significant play, A Looking Glasse for London, by Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene. Called the most popular biblical play of the Elizabethan stage, it is rich in spectacle and scandal – designed to succeed in the popular theatre. Yet Hamlin proposes that in both moralising and stagecraft it looks back to the mystery plays of the earlier fifteenth century. It thus offers a unique Elizabethan example of staging God himself, though done in such a peculiar way as to avoid censure.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
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The Book of Esther in early modern biblical drama
Chanita Goodblatt

In her chapter, Chanita Goodblatt discusses English, German and Yiddish dramatisations of the Book of Esther. She focuses specifically on the performative dimensions of the Fool, enacted through two different dramaturgical strategies: in comic interludes; or inserted directly into the narrative. Goodblatt discusses the Fool as an exemplar of the Bakhtinian carnivalesque, enacted through parodic language and embodying (in the material and corporeal aspects of its performance) his ultimate authority as incisive commentator on monarchy, family, and religious tradition.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Jonathan Stavsky

Jonathan Stavsky analyses the representation of Jewish–Christian relations in the N-Town ‘Trial of Mary and Joseph’. He situates this play within a wide intertextual context, including the apocryphal source and its Middle English retelling. Considered in this way, Stavsky proposes that the play offers a nuanced vision of Christianity’s roots, as it translates salvation history to fifteenth-century East Anglia in order to forge a just community capable of resisting scandalmongers.

in Enacting the Bible in medieval and early modern drama
Episcopal authority and the reconciliation of excommunicants in England and Francia c.900–c.1150
Sarah Hamilton

This chapter records specific services for the reconciliation of excommunicants in Francia in the early tenth, and in England only from the early eleventh century. Investigation of the textual history of these services is intended to help fill this lacuna in the historiography and to illuminate further episcopal ideology in this period. The locus of the English rite is also different from that of the Frankish rite; the repentant excommunicants, with their intercessores, meet the bishop at the gates of the cemetery and not at the doors of the church, as in the Frankish rite. The textual history of the reconciliation rites reveals a living tradition: bishops invested time and parchment in improving a liturgy which symbolized their supreme authority, as the representative of St Peter, who had the power to bind and to loose.

in Frankland
Deborah Youngs

This chapter considers those in their teens and twenties whom society recognised as physically young and still in a developmental stage. It focuses on the image of and attitudes towards youths and the opportunities open to them. The growing strength of the youth's body was matched by an increasing sharpness in the mind. Youth has had an association with social disorder, and the young in late medieval society were no exception. Beyond theory, medieval society at large acknowledged the existence of young people who were going through a period of formation and transformation before full adulthood. This might be because they were still pursuing education and employment training, had not yet received their inheritance, or had not yet married and taken responsibility for their own lives and those of others. The chapter highlights the type of training and life experiences gained by adolescents as they gradually assumed their adult roles.

in The life–cycle in Western Europe, c.1300-c.1500