Article Title

Of "Stages" and "Types" in Visitatione Sepulchri (Part I)


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

In 18 87, Carl Lange proposed the means for ordering the repertory of the medieval Visitatio Sepulchri that remains the foundation for nearly all discussions of the subject.1 Based in part upon Gustav Milchsack's four-part division of the repertory,2 Lange's categorization of the Visitatio Sepulchri was as striking in its simplicity as it was to be pervasive in its influence. Using dramatic complexity as his guide, Lange separated the surviving texts of this Easter rite into three groups or "stages" (Stufen). The texts of the first stage depicted the encounter between the Marys and the angel(s) at the empty tomb of Christ, the texts of the second stage added the race to the tomb by the apostles Peter and John, while the texts of the third stage (the most complex within the hierarchy) included the appearance to Mary Magdalene of the risen Christ as well. The structure of the classification fit the available evidence admirably, and in the course of time the framework provided by Lange's classification became so firmly entrenched in the scholarly understanding that later attempts to destroy the edifice could only manage to gut portions of its interior.3

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