Biblical and Dantesque Imagery in John Comenius' Labyrinth of the World

Biblical and Dantesque Imagery in John Comenius' Labyrinth of the World

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Biblical and Dantesque Imagery in John Comenius' Labyrinth of the World

       If any common ground can be found among the factions of Christianity, it is the

belief that both Testaments of the Holy Bible serves as a roadmap for achieving

salvation. Seeking to improve on the fractured narrative of the Bible, with its

countless story arcs of Moses, Noah, and Jesus, Christian writers have often

employed the allegorical and parable style of the Bible with the constant of a

single character. Dante's The Divine Comedy serves as one example of ideas from

the Bible presented into one straight story. This pattern set down by Dante is

utilized equally well, albeit turned on its head, by Czech spiritualist John

Comenius in his tome, The Labyrinth of the World.


A pioneering educator for children, Comenius expounds on the role of the Bible

as a tool for education and does the same with his own work. Just as Biblical

stories present life messages to help guide its believers in morality, his own

work achieves the same in a fashion updated for his own time. Recalling Dante's

use of Virgil, Comeius provides the pilgrim a guide at the offset of the

narrative, Ubiquitous. In clever contrast to the Virgil's numerous examples of

enlightening Dante, Comeius's traveler is soon saddled with a bridle over his

mouth and distorting glasses. These obstacles to seeing the true world are not

defeated until the second tract where the pilgrim is saved literally by an act

of deus ex machina. Where Dante's story used the afterlife and specific people

to showcase how one should live their life, Comenius keeps his narrative

Earthbound ...

... middle of paper ...

...ugh a journey-like

narrative with a hero and mentor character. In the case of Comenuis, the premise

of Dante's story is represented in a mocking manner with guides that are all

wrong and deceptive and the hero seeming to know more then his mentors. In this

difference, the essential contrast of the more individualistic faith of the 17th

century versus the more group-oriented theology of earlier Christianity is seen

explicit. Its searing indictment of many levels of authority in society,

especially the clergy draws Comenius close to the likes Miester Eckhart and

others who saw faith as a matter between the individual and God, without the

middlemen of a church.


Works Cited


Comenuis, Jan, Laybrinth of the World. NY: Paulist Press, 1998.

Holy Bible, King James Version






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