The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance against Civilization

The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance against Civilization

The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance against Civilization

The Oberammergau Passion Play: A Lance against Civilization

Synopsis

People of Oberammergau have received highest praise for their fidelity through 350years. But Friedman asks questions that must be addressed: "Can the traditional text be reconciled with the Gospels? Does the play generate harmful, stereotypic images of Jews? Is the Passion truly a hymn of reconciliation' or is it, as Nietzsche said of Wagner's Meistersinger, a lance against civilization'?"

Excerpt

In a celebrated passage Friedrich Nietzsche makes a madman cry that God is dead—and, as he looks at his listeners, proceed that he has come too soon, that this enormous event has not yet entered the human consciousness. One is reminded of this passage as one reads the text of the Oberammergau Passion play, 1934 Nazi version and the expurgated and reformed 1980 version, together with Saul Friedman's critical study of the whole subject in all its ramifications. We say "1934 Nazi version" because, contrary to all the apologetics offered after 1945 to the effect that nazism never really penetrated Oberammergau, the spirit of nazism is unmistakably present in the picture of money- greedy, plotting, bloodthirsty Jews, coupled neatly with the claim that now, anno 1934, Christians are redeemed from them and their machinations. and we are reminded of Nietzsche's passage because the 1980 cleaned-up version, while eliminating overtly offensive expressions and ideas, shows no signs of a fundamental metanoia—a term quite inadequately translated by "repentance"—even after Auschwitz, for two millennia of Christian "teaching of contempt" (Jules Isaac) for Judaism and the Jewish people.

Were Nietzsche alive today he would have no stronger evidence for his claim that God is dead than the Nazi . . .

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