The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1986  Monday, 15 November 1999.

From:           Brother Anthony <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday 13 Nov 1999 09:44:30 +0900
Subject: 10.1966 Re: Apochrypha
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1966 Re: Apochrypha

The main text of direct interest as a source for much medieval
literature including the Mystery Plays and Piers Plowman is the Gospel
of Nicodemus http://wesley.nnc.edu/noncanon/gospels/gosnic.htm which is
not Gnostic but more like a religious romance, as many other such texts
were (the texts relating the death of Mary, for example).  This Gospel
(also known as the Acts of Pilate) is the source for the narratives and
iconography of the incident known as 'the Harrowing of Hell' which is
barely suggested in the New Testament. Here the soul of Jesus goes down
(after his death on the cross) to the Limbo of the Fathers (often
wrongly called 'Hell'), smashes the doors, and sets free Adam, Eve and
all the rest who had been in the power of Satan since the Fall. Satan is
understandably furious. In the Orthodox churches, this scene is the main
icon of the Resurrection, the rising Christ is standing on broken doors,
the ground littered with broken padlocks.

Great fun.
Brother Anthony (An Sonjae)
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea

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