This article traces the dynamic of tragic recognition and conversion through one of the most explicit attempts to consider the central narrative of the Gospels in a tragic mode, Hugo Grotius’s 1608 Christus Patiens (translated into English by George Sandys in 1640). Converting the Passion narrative into neoclassical drama, Christus Patiens raises troubling dramaturgical, ethical, and theological questions about the nature of Christian tragedy and its relation to atonement and conversion. The article traces the complex ways that this play elicits judgments of guilt and innocence from (and within) its audience and how these judgments connect to the desire to witness and be moved by the spectacle of tragic suffering. These questions are considered within the broader perspective of Reformation theologies of recognition and repentance.

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