THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC IN MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN

German And, Yiddish, Sylvia Lissner, Irwin
2014 unpublished
In my dissertation I investigate the Biblical story of the Sacrifice of Isaac as portrayed by six authors, writing in the German or Yiddish vernacular. These vernacular texts include two medieval German plays, Der Sündenfall by Arnold Immessen, and the Heidelberger Passionsspiel; two plays by the Reformation author, Hans Sachs, Tragedia mit neun Person zu agirn. Die Opferung Isaac. Hat 3 actus and his Tragedia. Der Abraham, Lott sampt der opfferung Isaac, hat 21 person und 7 actus, and Sachs's
more » ... actus, and Sachs's Meistersang, Der ertz-Patriarch Abraham mit der opferung Isaac, ein figur Jesu Christi; the Reformation play Drey liebliche nützliche Historien der dreier Erzveter und Patriarchen Abrahams, Isaacs und Jacobs, aus dem Ersten buch Mosi, in Deudsche reim verfasset durch Joachimum Greff von Zwickaw, zu spielen und zu lessen tröstlich. Wittemberg 1540 by Joachim Greff; and two Yiddish texts of the Early Modern period, Shira fun Yitzkhak and Akêdass Yizhak. In addition to a literary analysis of these works, I examine the Christian texts' use of religious and literary typology, as well as their respective inclusion of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish exegesis in their depiction of the Sacrifice of iii Isaac. My analysis of the German-language texts also addresses two visual works, the Verdun Altar and the Biblia pauperum, to illustrate the depiction of this Biblical theme in visual art. These works chosen evidence the rise of new forms of popular religion, characterized by their choice of vernacular language, new means of addressing religious ideas to the public, new authority figures (authors, not clergy), and the role of print culture. My examination of these literary works demonstrates how sectarian theology informed their writing, including whether-and if so how-these texts offered religious polemics. I argue that, in addition to their didactic and entertaining nature, the Jewish and Protestant works promulgated their own religious values in part by responding to competing religious traditions. By contrast, the pre-Reformation Catholic texts examined do not exhibit such a multiplicity of intent, functioning predominantly as didactic works and offered no such polemic. iv DEDICATION First and foremost, I want to thank Marlene Ciklamini. It is my privilege to have taken my first German course as a Douglass College freshman with Marlene, and to now write my dissertation with her as my primary adviser. Marlene has not only been a scholastic mentor, but a guide through life, for my academic career and my friendship with her have spanned more than four decades. This dissertation is the fulfillment of a passion nurtured by Marlene, who was always there for me, ready to listen, help, encourage, and point the way.
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