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4 The Bible and the Towneley Plays of Isaac and Iacob 

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Chapter Summary

Of all the individual plays in the collections and cycles of mystery plays in England, there are none that follow the biblical narrative as closely as those of the consecutive Towneley plays of Isaac and Iacob. With the exception of A newe mery and wittie Comedie or Enterlude, newely imprinted, treating vpon the Historie of Jacob and Esau (1568), the early seventeenth-century fragment of the pageant of Jacob in The Stonyhurst Pageants (c. 1610–25) and a fragment of uncertain provenance from the end of the twelfth century that deal with the Isaac and Jacob stories, the Towneley plays of Isaac and Iacob are unique among English mystery plays. This article pursues the question: Why do the Towneley plays of Isaac and Iacob follow the biblical narrative so closely?



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