The Aesthetics of Antichrist
From Christian Drama to Christopher Marlowe
Publication Year: 2007
In Dr. Faustus, Christopher Marlowe wrote a profoundly religious drama despite the theater's newfound secularism and his own reputation for anti-Christian irreverence. The Aesthetics of Antichrist explores this apparent paradox by suggesting that, long before Marlowe, Christian drama and ritual performance had reveled in staging the collapse of Christianity into its historical opponents-paganism, Judaism, worldliness, heresy. By embracing this tradition, Marlowe's work would at once demonstrate the theatricality inhering in Christian worship and, unexpectedly, resacralize the commercial theater.
The Antichrist myth in particular tells of an impostor turned prophet: performing Christ's life, he reduces the godhead to a special effect yet in so doing foretells the real second coming. Medieval audiences, as well as Marlowe's, could evidently enjoy the constant confusion between true Christianity and its empty look-alikes for that very reason: mimetic degradation anticipated some final, as yet deferred revelation. Mere theater was a necessary prelude to redemption. The versions of the myth we find in Marlowe and earlier drama actually approximate, John Parker argues, a premodern theory of the redemptive effect of dramatic representation itself. Crossing the divide between medieval and Renaissance theater while drawing heavily on New Testament scholarship, Patristics, and research into the apocrypha, The Aesthetics of Antichrist proposes a wholesale rereading of pre-Shakespearean drama.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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...drama was dying, or already dead. Almost completely destroyed were the plays that had staged the miraculous lives of saints or explained the Catholic sacraments as a certain avenue to posthumous benefi ts. For cen-turies before, daylong cycles honoring the Feast of Corpus Christi had brought to northern England the history of the world from creation to ...
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I am fi rstly grateful to Beatrice Kitzinger, whose research assistance has been indispensable to this book’s completion. Other friends and col-leagues who took the time to comment on my work have also been a great aid: Ilana Blumberg, Sophie Gee, Erik Gray, John Heon, and Mike Magee all lent a hand at various stages. Sarah Beckwith, Jim Engell, Stephen ...
Note on Texts and Translations
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...to the original a published translation whenever possible, though I have not always been faithful to its wording. The dual citation makes in places for some bulky parentheticals but is intended for ease of reference across a range of potentially unfamiliar texts. “Ibid.” in a parenthetical citation refers to the previous in-text citation (ignoring intervening references to ...
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introductionAfter Strange Gods
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Antichrist appears by name fi rst in the Johannine epistles and not again for about a hundred years.1 By then a lot had happened. To fl esh out the fi gure certain passages in scripture, originally unrelated, had to be connected. Extrapolation ran rampant. The lawless “man of sin” or “son of perdition” predicted to arrive before the innocent son of God could ...
chapter 1Lying LikenessesTypology and the Medieval Miracula
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For a long time the religious imagination does not at all want to be-lieve in the identity of the god and an image: the image is supposed to let the numen of the deity appear—in some mysterious, not fully comprehensible way—as active here, as locally bound. The oldest im-age of divinity is supposed to reveal and at the same time conceal the ...
chapter 2Blood MoneyAntichristian Economics and theDrama of the Sacraments
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...by cash payment. The way we might redeem an old heirloom from hock, money back then could purchase human life. It freed prisoners of war, for example, or convicts. In the case of temple slaves, you had to pay the gods—or, what comes down to the same, the temple priests. Redemption Christianity introduces just a couple of novelties into this usage. First, ...
chapter 3Vicarious CriminalChrist as Representative
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Legend has it the group of writings now loosely called the Septua-gint fi rst came into being when Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285–46 BCE) resolved to place in his library at Alexandria every text then in existence.1 The story of his resolution became especially popular among later Chris-tians for explaining how they had inherited a Greek Old Testament that ...
chapter 4The Curious Sovereignty of ArtMarlowe’s Sacred Counterfeits
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He affi rmeth . . . That if there be any god or any good Religion, then it is in the papistes because the service of god is performed with more ceremonies, as Elevation of the mass, organs, singing men, Shaven Two future adversaries and scholars of Antichrist overlapped at Cambridge, probably unknown to each other, in the 1580s. One attended ...
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2007