Rich Man and Lazarus on the Reformation Stage: A Contribution to the Social History of German Drama

Rich Man and Lazarus on the Reformation Stage: A Contribution to the Social History of German Drama

by Stephen L. Wailes
     
 

"The Rich Man and Lazarus," one of Jesus' best known parables, has been the subject of discussion and interpretation from the Church Fathers to the present day. Ten plays written in German during the sixteenth century dramatize this parable. Despite the fact that the parable and these plays are concerned with wealth and poverty, damnation and salvation - ideas that… See more details below

Overview

"The Rich Man and Lazarus," one of Jesus' best known parables, has been the subject of discussion and interpretation from the Church Fathers to the present day. Ten plays written in German during the sixteenth century dramatize this parable. Despite the fact that the parable and these plays are concerned with wealth and poverty, damnation and salvation - ideas that are at the very center of the social turmoil and theological struggles of the Reformation - the plays are virtually unknown, in part because six of the ten have not been reprinted or edited since they appeared between 1550 and 1579. In this book, the plays are studied within the contexts of Reformation social and religious history. They cannot be adequately understood unless heard as voices in a complex public discourse, because the Reformation knew no doctrine of "art for the sake of art," and the theater, as public spectacle, was preeminent among literary genres in the articulation and influencing of public opinion. Plays were often written to present the views of a particular community, one of which might be defined geographically, doctrinally, politically, or through a combination of such parameters. The ten plays studied in this book deal with wealth and poverty, personal luxury and severe deprivation, gluttony and drunkenness and starvation, phenomena which were obvious throughout German society, but they always treat these problems in terms of the immediate interests of their communities. Thus the early play from Catholic Tyrol, where grievances of the underclasses culminated in the uprising of 1525 led by Michael Gaismair, focuses on the feudal pyramid whose apex is the parable's Rich Man and whose broad base is the peasantry. The play written by Jakob Funckelin in 1551 for the Swiss town of Biel cautiously negotiates the issues, just as Biel cautiously followed its own interests as it tried to get along with powerful neighbors, Protestant Bern and Catholic Basel. The Magdeburg preacher and s

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780945636885
Publisher:
Susquehanna University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Pages:
360

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