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Theater and the Sacred in the Middle Ages

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Andrzej Dąbrówka

The book presents a theory of relationships between the forms of devotion
and early drama genres. The historical background is the circumstances of the Church becoming independent of the Empire. A theological and philosophical aspect of the transformation of piety at the time was the specification of the ontological status of the sacred (spiritualization) and "shifting it to Heaven" (transcendentalization). In opposition to a theory of Western civilization as a process of increasing individual self-control, the author argues for the need to take into account purely religious conditions (the idea of recapitulation). This allows the author to develop a holistic aesthetics for the religiously inspired creativity in the period spanning the 11th-15th centuries and to propose a new typology of medieval drama.

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7. The Sources of the Spiritualization Process

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We have found that the concept of the sacred belongs to the imponderables222 that people see in places that others indicate to them. Let us not go further into doctrinal considerations, but instead limit ourselves to the global distinction of the possible carriers of the sacred into symbols that have a material motivation and completely arbitrary language signs (chapter 8).

1. THE SPIRITUAL EXISTENCE OF HOLY SACRED. How to briefly present the history of the holy sacred (first degree on the Becker scale)? First, in the holy history, it is “everywhere.” According to Amalric of Bène, posthumously condemned together with his followers at the council in Paris in 1210, “God is in everything, everything identifies with him and God, being in everything, works in everything” (Kuksewicz 1986: 196). This theological view was picked up and developed by the Parisian group of students who claimed, among other things, that the Holy Spirit incarnated in every human being, “so that every man may be considered a part of the deity” (Kuksewicz 1986: 179). They understood the sacred substantially: since it has been given to man, it lives with him and changes his nature; spiritual communication that requires constant communication is a different matter.

After Lateran IV, the sacred was limited to seven sacraments – what the Protestant churches reduce even more – which in some respects return to the Old Testament formula.223 The most radical is the ideology of Wycliff and the ←117 | 118→Lollards,224 who...

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