Augustine vs. Archisynagogus: Competing Modes of Christian Instruction in the Benediktbeuern Ludus de nativitate

Christopher A. Lee


This article situates the Archisynagogus episode of the Benediktbeuern Ludus de nativitate within the tradition of medieval Christian-Jewish debate literature. This genre typically presents doctrinal instruction through the confrontation of two perspectives and the ultimate refutation of Jewish arguments, yet, in the Christmas Play, the medium of debate is itself rejected along with all rational approaches to understanding Christian mystery. As part of its anti-scholastic focus, the play instead promotes an Augustinian concept of inspired learning where belief and visual res (looking on in faith) are the proper approaches to enlightenment rather than logical arguments. In this, the Ludus ultimately privileges the viewing of religious drama as the ideal means of attaining Christian truth.

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