Passion at the time of secularization and enlightenment

The Oberammergau Passion Play was approved again in 1811. The decisive factor for this was probably the new version of the text by the Ettal Benedictine and doctor of philosophy Othmar Weis. Weis, born on April 21, 1770 and raised in the Ammer Valley, in Bayersoin, studied in Ettal, Munich and Ingolstadt, where after completing his doctorate in philosophy in 1796 he worked at the grammar school as a teacher of rhetoric and head of the theater. In 1799 he returned to Ettal Abbey, where he remained the only one after its dissolution in the course of secularization in 1803. In 1812 he was called as a pastor to Jesenwang. Until then he taught the village children in Oberau, from 1807 in Ettal. Among his students was Alois Daisenberger, who was later to continue editing the Passion Play text.
Weis edited the text of the Passion Play in the spirit of the Enlightenment. "P. Ottmar took over the new, more appropriate editing of the text. He grasped the thought and held it, with the omission of all the poetic ingredients of the last few centuries, to base the account of the history of suffering itself solely on the holy gospels ... ”[1]
With realism in mind, he transforms the game into a historical drama. He removes all devil scenes, all allegories, everything mythological and legendary and sums up the entire text in New High German prose, taking over Bible texts literally in many places. Realism can be seen in the broad coloring of 'historical reality'. The advancement to the authorities, the advance registrations, the preliminary talks with the servants, the political discussion with Pilate and Herod are described with hurdles. Names are historicized. This tendency towards realism is most evident in the absence of the resurrected appearance. Weis is limited to what is understandable and visible. [2]
But the rhetoric of the text is weak, "the time of the oh's and oh's begins" [3], at which the text suffers until the 20th century.
In terms of form, Weis is based on the 'Passio Nova', he also alternates between New Testament game scenes and Old Testament prefigurations, in addition he composes new lyrics and prologues, which, reminiscent of sermons, explain the connection to the present.
The Oberammergau teacher Rochus Dedler [4] composed the music for the new singing texts, which still accompanies the Passion Play today.
The striving for realism is not an expression of a loss of faith, on the contrary, it manifests itself in the striving for historical evidence of the New Testament. This thinking, which was triggered by Lessing in Germany, lives on in all scientific discourses today, including in theology in the form of the discussion about historical-critical exegesis.
In 1815 Father Weis revised the text again. The lyrics in particular are redesigned, forcing Dedler to recompose almost all of the music. In addition to these innovations, the stage was completely redesigned. [5]. In 1820 the last games were at the cemetery in front of the church, in 1830 they moved to a meadow on the outskirts of the village, where the theater still stands today.
The game stagnated artistically until 1850.

[1] Daisenberger, Joseph Alois: Das Passionsspiel in Oberammergau. In: Deutinger, Dr. Martin v.: Beyträge zur Geschichte, Topographie und Statistik des Erzbistums München und Freysing. S.461.
[2] Vgl.: Weis, Pater Dr. Othmar: Das Große Opfer auf Golgatha oder Geschichte des Leidens und Sterbens Jesu. S.148-250.
[3] Fink, Roman/Horst Schwarzer: Die ewige Passion. Phänomen Oberammergau. S. 40
[4] Vgl. Kap. 6.2
[5] Vgl. Kap. 5.2