Analysis Of The St. John Passion By Bach

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The argument Michael Marissen makes is comprehensive and logical in showing that the St. John Passion by Bach is not wholly anti-Semitic. I agree that historically and culturally, according to the Biblical texts, not only are the Jews responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion but all of humanity is to blame. The St. John Passion by J. S. Bach will, of course, appear to be anti-Semitic if taken out of the context of a Christian worldview.
According to various passages in the gospel of John, the Jews are held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion. They are the ones who yelled out “crucify him, crucify him.” In John 18: 12-14, Jesus was taken to Annas, a Roman, and he could find no fault with Jesus. So, the Jews insisted Jesus be taken before the Roman
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John Passion, combines poetry and Biblical texts and the choruses almost exclusively utilize verbatim Biblical texts. Many musical features potentially point to anti-Jewish sentiments in Bach’s work. The parallel grouped series of arias musically integrates hostility towards Jews representing their stubbornness. However, this does not signify universal hatred towards the Jews but rather a specific moment in history (Marissen 30). The use of fugue themes may exemplify obstinance, not only for the Jews but also Romans and Christians as in aria no. 24 to demonstrate the stubbornness of all humans (Marissen 31). The chiastic musical structure of repetitions in arias 23d and 21d, “crucify,” and 25b and 21b, “king of the Jews,” show that the theme of the cross comprises both the form and musical content of the St. John Passion (Marissen 33). The Phrygian mode and increased dissonances of chorale no. 37 heighten the Christian’s guilt sentiments rather than that of the Jews (Marissen 34). Use of the first person “I” throughout the libretto show all human beings are fundamentally sinful and all humans are inherently responsible for Jesus’ death. Towards the end of the Passion, Bach chooses an aria/choral no. 32, to portray “redemption of all the world here” through Jesus (Marissen
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