Anachronism or Contemporary Concepts in The Second Shepherd’

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Anachronism or Contemporary Concepts in The Second Shepherd’s Play. Mystery plays have been a source for the Church to spread its Word and its teachings. What one could consider a Middle Ages type of play is still being performed in these days, at least in some countries such as Mexico. Every Christmas for a couple of weeks, professional actors and also commoners make a representation of the Annunciation and of the Birth of the Lord Jesus; and like in the Middle Ages they use a touch of wit and sense of humour to make them entertaining. These days the reason for this type of performance is mainly entertainment, thou it still spreads the Word and deals with the forces of evil and good. In the Middle Ages these performances were in many ways the only resource the Church had to diffuse these doctrines as the people were mostly illiterate, other reasons were the scarcity of manuscripts and the cost of them as well; but one of the characteristics that has prevailed to these days is the use of contempo Continue...


Epistles are apostolic letters found in the New Testament which were written mainly by the Apostle Paul. rary concepts, thou many people may see them as mere anachronisms. The first anachronism is shown almost immediately after the play has started, the second shepherd is talking about marriage and as he is about to finish his lines as he says: "For, as ever read I' pistle, I have one to my fere, Sharp as a thistle, as rough as a brere, (100-101) This is a mention to reading an epistle. Here the reference is important as the lines which follow these refer to "By Him that died for us all (107) which is a clear reference to the epistle of Ephesians 1:7 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; There are plenty references to the word Christ, this being an anachronism as the word as such was firstly introduced in the New Testament; if this is a play of the Birth of the Baby Jesus it would be impossible that the word Christ had been heard beforehand, still it is used constantly "Christ's cross me speed (118) "Christ's curse, my knave, (147) , but which word could be better related to the Lord than Christ in those times; thus its use. There are references to Saints, and as the word Christ, Saints do not appear before the Birth of Jesus Christ. Even though Mystery Plays could be seen as plays that contain anachronisms and could be seen as errors in the setting of time and place, they were master works as they not only diffused the Word of the Church, but did it in such manner that laity could understand it. And thou most of the anachronisms on the Second Shepherd's Play are religious, they serve a purpose that of making a doctrine entertaining and understandable. Some of the resources the playwrights of the time had to reach the people were symbols and images, and of course concepts used in those times; thus the use of anachronisms which may seem a bit sacrilegious, but were necessary to get the people to relate to the play and to in the end understand the doctrine shown. The Second Shepherd's Play is a good example of the use of this timely imprecision. Saint Nicholas comes some centuries after this event, but is clearly known by children as he is the Saint Patron of children; as for Saint Thomas of Kent he is definitely a contemporary reference to a clergyman people could easily identify. The doctrines which the Church was using were mainly those in the New Testament. What people were used to listening to at Church were writings from the New Testament; therefore, they can relate epistle with clergy. To these days, imprecision in time is vastly used in these performance, we can see the shepherds discussing public transportation and union labour; we see the devil talk about political parties and his influence on them.