OF THE CYCLE
OUR PURPOSE IN THIS CHAPTER is to evaluate the external evidence for the cycle in order to suggest a context for the extant texts of the cycle. i. That context has two aspects. One is the historical context: the tradition of dramatic production of religious drama by the Chester guilds, with such changes and modifications therein as can possibly be established. The other is the dramatic context: the way in which the plays were prepared for production and presented in Chester.
The evidence for these contexts is often selective in character, ambiguous in expression, and sporadic in occurrence; it often reaches us in late, and possibly corrupt, copies. Chronology is often difficult to establish except within very broad limits. In approaching the evidence, we have assumed that the account given in a document is accurate unless other evidence expressly calls it into question and that each document has textual integrity rather than several strata of revision unless there is good reason for believing otherwise. Our conclusions are obviously tentative, and other scholars examining the same evidence may prefer different conclusions. 2.____________________