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It is considered as a literary source

It is a composite book consisting of 2 main sections -> the Old Testament and the
Originally written in Greek, it
contains the Gospels, biography
of Jesus Christ and story of
spreading of Christianity.

Written originally in Hebrew. It is

a collection of poems, plays,
proverbs, prophecy, philosophy,
history, theology. A collection of
writings of the Jewish people.

There are certain odd books whose origins are obscure. These are generally
known as the Apocrypha

(West. Europe)
16 th Cent.

National Protestan

Claimed that Word of

God is preserved
within the Church

Divided into 2

Catholic Church

Claimed that Word of

God is in the Bible

Medieval Europe knew the Bible in Latin -> part of this Bible in Latin had
been translated into Old English / 14th Cent -> New Testament was translated into
Middle English

The Church wasnt happy with this translations: they were accepted by monks or
nuns whose Latin was poor or non-existent, but considered dangerous when made
available to the common people.

Before the Reformation, translations were

made against the wishes of the Church

There was a risk that the

reader might interpret
texts of the Bible in his
own way as opposed to
the way of the Church


John Wyclif (1324 84) was a clergyman who found many abuses in the Church
and wanted to reform them. He also wanted every man to have Access to the
Bible. He made the first complete translation. He inspired his followers to translate
both Testaments in about 1380.
John Purvey revised Wyclifs translation and made its English more natural and
flowing like the spoken English of the time.

1408 -> any man attempting to translate the bible without permission from a Bishop
was to be deprived of full membership of the Church

William Tyndale had to violate an ecclesiastical ban in order to start his

translation. He asked permission of the Bishop of London, but this permission was
not granted so he had no alternative but to do his work in other country where a
ban on translation did not existed

He translated the New Testament from the Greek and then he brought out
the first Modern English version of the New Testament
His translation of the Old Testament was not completed -> Miles
Coverdale rushed in with his own version. When he was printing his Bible in
Paris many of the sheets were confiscated and burnt so he had to escape to
Tyndale was captured by the Papal authorities and condemned to death
1604 -> King James I of England -> appointed 47 men to produce an
English version of the Bible which should be oficial and final version.
1611 -> Authorised version was printed (the version everybody means when
using the term The Bible)


English Drama has its origin in the CHRISTIAN CHURCH. It had returned to its
origins (Christian church) when a play by Eliot was produced in Canterbury
Cathedral in 1935. The Christian Church has never been friendly towards the
drama as in the times of the Roman Empire, the plays were presented to a
perverted public and were marked by outrage and horror. The Church
condemned such a prostitution of art. When Drama came back to Europe, it
came back in the service of the Church.
The Mass of the Catholic Church has movement, colour, development and
climax. The Church is concerned with conveying to its members the theme of
Christs sacrifice through dramatic means, and they can be used for conveying
the common people the important teachings of the Church.
9th Century -> genuinely dramatic dialogue inserted into the Mass for Easter
Sunday where the Resurrection of Christ is celebrated through a dialogue
between the Angels at Christs tomb and the three Maries who have come to
look at his body. Other dramatic presentations were Good Friday and Christmas
-> Christs birth, the star appearing to the shepherds, the song of the Angels
announcing the birth, etc. Theres a 13th century manuscript in France which
contains dramatic scenes of these and its language is Latin.
It was the Normans who introduced SACRED DRAMA into England. Plays
about the Gospel characters and the miracles of the Saints became more
elaborated, they had to be moved out of the Church building, into the
churchyard and then into the town, where the process of SECULARISATION
The plays became divorced from
the services of the Church, the
Church became unhappy and forbid
clerical participation in them

Control and
participation by the
non-religious (man in
the street as opposed
to the priest in the

A priest could act Christs resurrection in the Church but outside the Church
it was different as it tended to be a kind of entertainment more than a religious
teaching. Robert Manning uses the word *miracles to describe these plays
To talk about
religious plays of
the Middle Ages

To talk about the plays that

cameo ut of the Churches into
the towns and dealt with the
miracles of Christ and his

*There are 3 kinds of plays -> Miracle plays, Mystery plays and Morality.
1264 -> Pope Urban -> instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi -> that day was
chosen by the trade-guilts of the towns of England for the presentation of a cycle of
plays based on incidents from the Bible.

These trade-guilds were organisations of skilled man for social purposes. This
presentation of plays on the Feast of Corpus Christi became one of the most
important of their social activities. Each guide would chose an episode from the
Bible. Each guild had its own decorated cart, called pageant which was dragged
through the town. The plays were presented in strict chronological order starting
with the Fall of Lucifer, ending with the Day of Jugdement.

All these plays were anonymous. They have a certain act in lang and construction
and also have humour.
2 powerful characters are Herod and Pontius Pilate
Is a special myth to the dramatists
of this age: he is descended from
Jupiter, he is a kind of false god.

Last days of 14 th century -> a new kind of religious or semireligious

play appears -> MORALITY
It wasnt a guild
play and it didnt
take as its subjects
a story from the

It tried to teach a
moral lesson
through allegory by
presenting abstract
ideas as though
they were real

Morality plays: Piers Plowman, *Everyman, Mind, Will, Understanding, Mankind,

*The Castle of Perseverance

*Everyman -> It tells the appearance of Death to Everyman and he informs

Everyman that he must commence the long journey to the next world. Everyman
calls on certain friends to accompany him buy they will not go. Only Knowledge
and Good Deeds are ready to travel with him. Everyman learns that the pleasures,
friends and faculties of this world are not important when you are dead.
*The Castle of Perseverance -> was performed by a group of players who travelled
from town to town setting up their scenes as a modern circus sets up its tents and
cages, and performing for money.

15 th century -> its difficult to distinguish between Morality plays and

A short play
performed in
the middle of
sth else,
perhaps a

tradition -> great
lords in their
castles watching
kind of refined
morality plays

Plebeian or lower
class tradition ->
common people
watching in the
streets or innyards a
rather cruder kind of
morality play

-The difference between them is the place and occasion of performance.