Religion in 16th Century England (Dr Faustus Context)

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  • Religion in 16th Century England
    • Sin and salvation
      • Sin= the state of being separated from God
      • Christians believe that people are born into a world which has lost intimate contact with God and as a result particular sins are committed
        • Greed
        • violence
        • Selfishness
      • it is believed that people are born estranged from God due to the fall of mankind.
      • as punishment for disobeying God's orders not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden and sent to live in a world of suffering and misery, detached from God
      • According to Christian beliefs. sins must be forgiven so the relationship with God can be saved.
        • People are unable to do this alone, so God has the power to forgive sins and restore humankind through the life and death of Jesus
      • through Jesus, people are offered salvation.
        • If they refuse to accept salvation, they are forever deprived of God and must accept damnation, condemning themselves to an eternity in Hell.
    • Rome, Reformation and Politics
      • the Reformation refers to a series of religious disruptions that occurred in sixteenth century Europe, the dispute over religious authority resulting in far reaching implications
        • From the early 16th century, Protestantism and Catholicism had struggled for supremacy in England
      • The protestant church of England broke with Rome in 1533
        • It based many beliefs on the teachings of Martin Luther, a German monk who denounced the sales of indulgences and corruption of the church
        • In 1517, Luther nailed his Ninety Five Thesis to a door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, attacking the corruption of the church, the supremacy of the pope and other Catholic doctrines
      • Those who followed a reformed version  of Christian belief dressed plainly, believed in the value of hard work and commercial enterprise, led a disciplined life valued education interest in gov, respected conscience,
        • these attitudes were gleaned from an interpretation of the bible that saw salvation as the unmerited gift of God
        • salvation could not be earned, but once received, people should live up to the immeasurable gift they had received by living as the General confession of the church of England says godly, righteous and sober lives
    • Lucifer and Mephistopheles
      • Lucifer= the prince of devils and the lord of hell
        • His name means 'angle of light' and he was dearly loved by god before his fall
        • He fell from grace due to aspiring pride and insolence- he desired the power of God
      • Christians believe that Lucifer is the serpent who deceived Adam and Eve, therefore leading to the fall of humankind
      • Mephistopheles  is lucifer's agent, another fallen angel
    • Hell
      • was a topic of interest to European Imaginations
        • Dante, in the fourteenth century wrote The Divine Comedy, an epic poem exploring the nature of all sins and the punishments appropriate to each
      • The popular picture of medieval hell depicted it below earth, a place where fires perpetually burn, devils with pitchforks goad those there and the pain is incessant
      • Medieval churches visualised the popular image of hell through paintings of the Last Judgement. Traditionally, Christ both saviour and judge, sits on a rainbow,
        • To his left the terrible jaws of Hell-mouth yawn wide to receive the condemned. within and below, devils are often depicted in postures of sexual aggression, ready and eager to violate the newly damned.
    • The Creation of The World
      • Christians believe that God created the world
        • Christianity claims that we can understand that God must exist by using our minds
      • To say that God made the world is to say that nothing else could, that nothing else provides a reason why there is something instead of nothing
      • St Paul states that the invisible things of him (God) are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made
        • Marlowe's audience would have believed that we do not need a special revelation from God to know that God is
    • England under Elizabeth I
      • Elizabeth I banned Catholicism at the time of writing Dr Faustus.
        • Catholicism retained strength amongst some wealthy families and survived in the country
      • in books, pamphlets and speeches the pope was described as the antichrist and the Catholic church was known as the whore of Babylon
        • 157--Pope Pius called Catholics to overthrow Elizabeth and in 1587 Mary Queen of Scots executed
        • Uneducated people were shown on the Elizabethan stage as retaining many old Catholic traditions and oaths, allowing playwrights to imitate their language and mock Catholicism
      • Catholic forms of worship (latin mass) were publicly feared
      • laws and taxes were established to attempt to re-educate public
      • War with Catholic spain and the accompanying fear of invasion intensified hostility towards Catholicism and recusant priests who were caught could be tortured to death
        • Another fear was that it would bring back the religious executions of Queen Mary's reign


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