Scripture, Vision, Performance: Visionary Texts and Medieval Religious Drama

  • Niklaus Largier
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


W e are going to show you an image.”—“Wy willen ju eyn bilde W gheven.” This is how one of the late medieval northern German Easter plays introduces the viewer and listener to the performance. The play has been written down, as the manuscript tells us, in the year 1464 in Redentin, but it testifies to a much older tradition of religious drama.1 In a similar way, the guiding voice of the “proclamator” informs the viewer and listener at the beginning of a Passion play from Donaueschingen that the upcoming performance is to be seen as “a series of beautiful devotional images” [gar meng schön andächtig figur] that should be “contemplated” by the viewer.2 With these words, the play presents itself as a “figure,” as an “image” that has not only the function to stage the narrative “story” (geschieht) of the Gospel and to instruct the viewers, but also to produce the effect of a devotional image that should be “contemplated.”3


Spiritual Experience Real Presence Hide Meaning Spiritual Meaning Playful Enactment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Brigitta Schottmann, ed., Das Redentiner Osterspiel (Stuttgart: Philipp Reclam, 1975), p. 22Google Scholar
  2. Eduard Hartl, ed., Donaueschinger Passionsspiel (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966), p. 92. The terms used are sen or betrachten. The Donaueschinger play stresses schowen, betrachten, schwigen three times during the introductory lines spoken by the “proclamator.”Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Cf. Bernard McGinn, ed. Meister Eckhart and the Beguine Mystics: Hadetvijch of Brabant, Mechthild of Magdeburg, and Marguerite Porete (New York: Continuum, 1994)Google Scholar
  4. Amy Hollywood, The Soul as Virgin Wife: Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete, and Meister Eckhart (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Bernard McGinn, “The Four Female Evangelists of the Thirteenth Century: The Invention of Authority,” in Deutsche Mystik im abendländischen Zusammenhang: Neu erschlossene Texte, neue methodische Ansätze, neue theoretische Konzepte, ed. Walter Haug and Wolfram Schneider-Lastin (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2000), pp. 175”94.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Cf. Bruce W Holsinger, Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture: Hildegard of Bingen to Chaucer (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001); and Jeffrey Hamburger’s analysis in this volume of a sermon by Johannes Tauler and its references to visual material.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Hadewijch, The Complete Works, ed. Columba Hart (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 280–82.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Antje Knorr, ed., Villinger Passion: literarhistorische Einordnung und erstmalige Herausgabe des Urtextes und der Überarbeitungen (Göppingen: A. Kümmerle, 1976), p. 28,11.1–10.Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    Cf. Elisabeth Pinto-Mathieu, Marie-Madeleine dans la littérature du Moyen Age (Paris: Beauchesne, 1997)Google Scholar
  10. Susan Haskins, Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kathryn Starkey and Horst Wenzel 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niklaus Largier

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations