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THEOLOGY AND THE STAGE: THE GOD FIGURE IN CALDERÓN'S A UTOS SA CRAMENTALES DONALD T. DIETZ Texas Tech University In her book, La alegoría en los autos y farsas anteriores a Calderón, Louise Fothergill-Payne observes that Christ appears many times as a dramatispersona in the early Códice de autos viejos but that«es raro que figure como interlocutor en una pieza alegórica.» ' It was not until the autos of Timoneda, Valdivielso, Tirso and Lope that the Christ figure assumed a more significant dramatic role. But even these pre-Calderonian authors, according to Fothergill-Payne, never portrayed Christ as the main protagonist because «la Fe Católica no admite equiparación entre Dios y el Demonio» (p. 78). In other words, by leaving Christ as a relatively minor figure in the auto, the early dramatists avoided the dangerous Manichean heresy whereby the Devil is the antithetical counterpart to God. The Devil has been traditionally one of the most colorful and popular characters in the sacramental plays. He has always played the main antagonist who schemes and plots man's destruction. If the God figure had assumed an equally prominent role as the protagonist, God and the Devil could be taken heretically by the audience as equal rival suitors for man's allegiance/ Sister M. Francis de Sales McGarry was the first to acknowledge Calderón's treatment of the God figure in her book, The Allegorical and Metaphorical Language in the «Autos Sacramentales» of 97 98Bulletin ofthe Comediantes Calderón.3 She notes the appearance of two Divine figures, God the Father and God the Son, in the Calderonian autos. God the Father always functions as the Creator and, as such, is most often portrayed as a venerable old man. This role as father and creator remains constant through most of the autos even though this God figure may assume various names and metaphorical nuances such as Power, Father of the Family, master of the vineyards, author of a play, artist who paints in his own image and likeness. With regard to the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, McGarry indicates that Christ always functions as the Savior even though this God figure also assumes variations within the redemptive concept: Christ is ordinarily represented as a young man, now in the guise of a pilgrim, now as a prince, now as a sower and again as a merchant.' The critic also takes note of Christ's mythological adaptations in the Calderonian autos, as Orpheus, Perseus and other redemptive characters from pagan mythology which was easily adaptable to Christian belief. In this brief cursory analysis from one page in the introduction to her book, the reader gets the impression from McGarry that there is nothing further to discuss and that the God figure, as developed by Calderón in his sacramental theater, basically conforms to the preCalderonian pattern of a secondary character. The object of this paper is to dispel the notion of dramatic simplicity with regard to Calderón's God figure. I will illustrate that Calderón departed drastically from tradition in the artistic development of this dramatic figure and that, through creative allegorization, he portrayed visibly to the Spanish audience some of the most profound and subtle mysteries of Catholic dogma concerning the nature of God Himself and the Trinity. A principal mystery with regard to God's nature in Roman Catholic theology embraces the dogma of the hypostatic union. How can one person, Jesus Christ, have two distinct natures: the nature of God and the nature of man? As the Second Person of the Trinity, he has his origin in God the Father while, at the same time, he was born of the Virgin Mary. The Hebrews rejected the Christ's divinity and the Jewish faith continues to recognize Jesus as an extraordinary human being, a prophet sent by God, but without a share in God's nature.5 The Catholic belief in the hypostatic union and the Jews' incredulity is the theme of Calderón's El diablo mudo written in 1660. Dietz99 Angel Valbuena Prat in his «Nota Preliminar» to his edition of the sacramental plays called...


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pp. 97-105
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