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The Biblical Way
The play The Biblical Way is one of Schönberg’s most extensive literary works; moreover, as an exclusively spoken drama without musical background, it is unique among his œuvre. This three-act drama took form between 1926 and July 1927, but was conceived as early as 1922 /23. Aside from Schönberg’s early writings on Jewish issues, the text of the drama is his fi rst comprehensive exposition on the politics and faith of Judaism and on the emergence of the Jewish folk as a nationhood. The Biblical Way – whether directly or indirectly – reveals a constant indebtedness to the Old Testament, drawing upon the history of Israel, the exodus from Egypt, and the covenant between God and his chosen people, although the drama itself is not set in Biblical times. The primary objective of the play – the found-ing of the Jewish nation – takes as its point  of departure God’s solemn pledge of the Promised Land. The aim of the Neo-Palestinian movement is to lay the foundation for the annexation of lands in Palestine and to fulfi ll the commitment to the “belief in a single, ever-lasting, invisible and unfathomable God” (Acts I and III). Schönberg compares the establishment of a Jewish nation in Amongäa to the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert. The play draws upon elements of the Old Testament not only in its fundamental concept but also in the details of its action: Aruns is just able to succeed in organizing the exodus of his people from the Diaspora – just as Moses once led his people from the land of Egypt –, but dies (end of Act III), as did Moses, before his people can enter the Promised Land. Instead of Aruns, Joseph Guido carries forward the Neo-Palestinian project, just as Joshua succeeds Moses to lead Israel to Canaan. The invariables in The Biblical Way are the promise, the exodus and the annexation of lands. The concept of being the chosen one, here in the embodiment of Aruns, reappears as the central issue in Moses and Aron. Schönberg construes Aruns’ failure as evidence of the fact that a modern state cannot be ruled by laws handed down to Moses in a revelation. The theological debate between Asseino, the orthodox, and Aruns, the modern thinker, anticipates the conflict between the two protagonists in Moses and Aron.

Act I, Scene 1
Audience’s right and left. A spacious oblong waiting hall in an administration building; on both sides, doors leading to various offices; in the middle, on the left, a door leads to Aruns’s room; opposite it, on the right, a door behind which a descending flight of stairs is to be imagined. In the back of the stage, to the right, a base of stairs to an upper floor. The background represents a large window, offering a panoramic view of an alpine landscape and a major sports stadium. The décor, free of any ornamentation, appears to be of good materials. Similarly, all its furniture: cabinets, tables, chairs, etc., which are distributed on the stage for the use of waiting visitors.

Act I, Scene 2
A stadium for festivals and sports events on a mountain in the Alps. A section of the amphitheater-like bleachers is seen on the stage, stretching out in a straight line which, stage left, comes quite close to the proscenium, while it extends obliquely stage right toward the back of the stage. The main part of these bleachers is to be imagined extending deep into the backstage. Stage left, near the proscenium, a small section of the headquarters building juts out (the preceding scenes were performed on its second floor); from its large balcony, used for public addresses, one has a view of the entire sports stadium. In front of the building, space is left as an acting area; here, and along the proscenium, various sitting arrangements: tables, chairs, benches, etc. Bleachers are so arranged that the section visible to the audience presents the celebration’s seated guests. The sports stadium itself should appear to be lower than the stage. Behind the bleachers, an alpine landscape: mountains, forests, meadows, glaciers.  The vacant area of the stadium, facing the spectators, is to be imagined as the entrance to the field; space is needed here for the parade.

Act II
Immigration Center in New Palestine.The stage set is divided so that to the right of the spectators, there is what appears to be a spacious work and reception hall; the walls visible on stage are made entirely of glass panels, allowing a clear view of the landscape in the background; the side of the hall which faces the audience, on the right, is open and so situated that from the hall down a few stairs one has access to an area large enough for actors to perform. The main entrance to the hall is located in the oblique wall to the left, near the center of the stage; access to the hall is possible from the right, from the right wing (where the headquarters building is supposed to be – the hall being its veranda), and also from the door located in the rear glass wall. A water well is visible near the oblique wall at the left, close to center stage but slightly in front of it. The remainder of the stage suggests a tropical landscape, with temporary barracks – made of wood panels and corrugated sheets of metal – some for housing immigrants, others for administration and working quarters, etc. In the hall: chairs, desks, telephone, telegraph, etc. In front of the stairs: tables and benches, leaving enough unob structed acting space; on the left of the stage, close to the hall, some more seating facilities.

The stage set is similar to that of Act II, but turned in such a manner that only a small part of the glass-panelled hall remains visible on the stage. The steps lead ing to the hall, which previously were almost parallel to the proscenium, have been turned upwards and to the right by some 70°, so that they now appear almost perpendicular to it. Thus the acting area has become more spacious; some other props are now visible to the left, and somewhat behind them, the props which in the previous Act were on the left.