Article Title

A Little-Known Fragment of a Dutch Abraham-and-Sarah Play


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Most of the biblical drama in the medieval Dutch vernacular has disappeared in the course of years. There is ample evidence in town and guild records and elsewhere that pageants, processions, dumb-shows, as well as plays of biblical stories, moralities, and saints' lives were common occurrences in central and southern Holland as far south as Belgium and as far north as Zwolle.1 The only major piece of biblical drama in the vernacular which is extant from what is now known as The Netherlands is the Maastricht Paaschspel or Easter play (in fact a nearly complete cycle), but the provenance even of that work has been questioned by Professor H. J. E. Endepols, who argues that the play is written in the dialect of Cologne. If this is true, then Holland is truly poor in extant biblical drama in the vernacular. The Joys of Mary (Blijscap van Maria), of which a portion is extant, was played in Brussels. The Play of the Sacrament (Het Sacrament v.d. Nieuwervaart) and the highly secularized allegorical play of The Wise and Foolish Virgins (Van De Vroede en Dwaze Maagden) are only marginally biblical. The Utrecht Antiphonarium (among others) is in Latin. The only texts that remain are two fragments. One is the :fifteenth-century Antichrist play from Limburg,2 and the other is a segment of what was probably an Abraham and Sarah play from the region of Zutphen. The Abraham and Sarah fragment was noticed by J. Gimberg, who was associated with the Zutphen archive from 1889 to 1929, and published by him in 1903.3

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