Elucidating the Nexus between the Gospels, Exegesis, and the Visitatio sepulchri in the German-Speaking Lands
In the German-speaking lands, the Easter Sunday liturgy and the Gospels of the Resurrection inspired two distinct traditions of the Visitatio sepulchri (The Visit of the Sepulcher). In this fully sung rite, commonly referred to as a liturgical drama, clerics or monastics reenacted the Marys’ visit to Christ’s abandoned tomb at Easter Sunday Matins. This article demonstrates how the differences among the four evangelists’ Resurrection accounts posed hermeneutic challenges for medieval Christians and affected the development of the Visitatio sepulchri in the German-speaking lands. I argue that the creators of type-one German Visitationes skillfully compiled preexisting liturgical chants with texts that quoted Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts to create Resurrection narratives that complemented the Resurrection account read at Easter Sunday Matins. By contrast, type-two Visitationes employed mostly newly composed chants with texts that drew together details, wording, and events from the four Resurrection accounts into one unified narrative. Type-two Visitationes began circulating in the twelfth century, the period when Hugh of St. Victor was imploring exegetes and students to scrutinize the historical details of scripture. This renewed interest in the literal, rather than the allegorical meaning of scripture, made the differences among the Gospels all the more apparent. I propose that the creator of the type-two Visitatio sepulchri adopted techniques from Gospel Harmonies, pedagogical works that drew together the four Gospels into one narrative, to prove that the four accounts agreed.
"Elucidating the Nexus between the Gospels, Exegesis, and the Visitatio sepulchri in the German-Speaking Lands,"
ROMARD: Vol. 59, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/romard/vol59/iss1/3