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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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is a village of Upper Bavaria, in the valley of the Ammer, 46 miles S.W. of Munich, containing a population of about 1100, chiefly engaged in carving on wood. The place is celebrated for the decennial performance on twelve consecutive Sundays in the summer season of a play representing the passion and death of Christ, in which three hundred and fifty actors are employed, besides eighty members of the orchestra and chorus, all selected from the villagers, some of whom exhibit.great dramatic power and genius. The performances generally last from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. A considerable portion of the space allotted to the theater is uncovered. There is room for from 5000 to 6000 spectators, but the attendance is generally much larger, including visitors from foreign countries. The performance in 1870 was interrupted by the Franco-German war, but was resumed in 1871. It is the only important passion or miracle play which continues to be performed. It originated in a vow taken by the population in 1634 to perform it every ten years in the event of their escaping from the plague which then prevailed. In the summer of 1875 they inaugurated another drama called the "School of the Cross." It is a series of scenes taken from Old-Testament history, in the original, as many as seventeen scenes being given. The good people of Ammergau will discover, however, that the performing of the passion play once in ten years in fulfillment of a religious vow, and carrying on a dramatic performance continually in response to the popular interest, will soon prove to be two very different things. The consecration of the simple- minded but talented actors gave a charm to the old performance which will soon be lost in the more worldly and unattractive attempt for pecuniary success. (See MYSTERIES).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Ober-Ammergau'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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