The essence of this article is an attempt to interpret of St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion by J. S. Bach as a single theological concept, consisting of two parts. This concept can be considered as sui generis counterpart to the Eastern Christian idea of divinization (theosis); M. Luther laid its foundations, but it was finally developed in the Passions by Bach, who relied on the traditions of Lutheran piety presented primarily in church hymns. The hypothesis of the article is that Bach did not accidentally use the various stanzas of J. Heermann’s Passion hymn Herzliebster Jesu in both works; to set forth his own version of the theory of atonement, he combines, following Heermann, two theological motives ‒ Jesus as Messiah and as embodiment of Divine Love. The complex relationship of these motives is reflected in the musical symbolism of the two masterpieces and in the features of their libretti. At the same time, the point of view widespread in Western musicology is challenged, according to which St. John Passion and St. Matthew Passion express two opposite, mutually exclusive doctrines of atonement, which supposedly coexisted in Lutheranism from the very beginning of its history.
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