The ?triumphant entry into Jerusalem

Most Bible publications add headings to the gospel passages that interpret them as a triumphal entry.

The Hebrew of Zech 9 says:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
triumphant and victorious is he,
humble and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matt 21 has
This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5 ‘Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’

This is an expansion on Mark 12 which has
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Which does not come across as a triumphal entry to me

Luke 19 has
the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’

John 12 has
12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
‘Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!’
14Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 ‘Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!’

Perhaps the gospels reflect the LXX which has for Zech 9
9Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; proclaim it aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a Saviour; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal.
10And he shall destroy the chariots out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow of war shall be utterly destroyed; and there shall be abundance and peace out of the nations; and he shall rule over the waters as far as the sea, and the rivers to the ends of the earth.

If this is the case then the "triumphant and glorious is he" would not be in the Gospel writers sources. Our translators use the Hebrew Bible for the OT, and I suspect that their summary headings for the gospel passages reflect a misleading theology of a triumphant Christianity of the earlier times of Bible translation.

I hope others can provide more information on this.
Tagged:

Comments

  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    The headings were not in the original texts. They're something the publishers inserted.
  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    I always try to get those reading in church NOT to read any headings, because sometimes they are misleading and anyway, we should listen with fresh ears.
  • Interesting. This Sunday I'm preaching on the Prodigal Son and in my preamble I'm saying that the use of this title immediately skews the listener into thinking (a) that the story is principally about the son and (b) that the son is a Bad Person. So I'm going to suggest alternative titles.

    By the way, as a child I always thought of the Entry into Jerusalem as "triumphal" rather than "triumphant". It's a small difference but it not only IMO reduces the scale of the event but also sets it up better as an intentional contrast to the pomp-and-circumstance entry with Herod was wont to make around that time of year (see Crossan & Borg on this).
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited March 26
    I'm a little confused here. In the OP, which lines in the quoted passages are the headings? Is if the first line of each quote? At least one of those openers, Matt 21, looks like it's part of the original text.

    EDIT: Oh, sorry. I think the headings are not included? Just the text, which supposedly contradicts the idea of a triumpant entry?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I suppose the first passage also talks about Jesus being triumphant and victorious, as well as humble and riding on a donkey. My interpretation of that is that the riding on a donkey is a humble act - not the normal kind of triumphant entry from a king. The triumph I see as Jesus having the power over sin, the death and resurrection that is to come - but of course that is also very different from what people were likely expecting as victorious and triumphant. But the humble riding on a donkey, entering from a side entrance rather than the main entrance, all that, to me, is showing an alternative form of triumph, not reliant on pomp and pride and worldly ideas of success. A triumph over sin, which is to come. I see the riding on a donkey as more foreshadowing of the triumph to come. But equally the crowds were welcoming Jesus, throwing their cloaks for the donkey to walk on, waving their palm leaves and shouting, so there sounds like there was hope of triumph among these crowds.
  • fineline wrote: »
    I suppose the first passage also talks about Jesus being triumphant and victorious, as well as humble and riding on a donkey.

    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    I am not sure to whom Zechariah (the first passage) is referring to but it is not clear that it is Jesus, though the gospel writers have seen Jesus fulfilling a modified version of this (or perhaps the already modified LXX translation) which excludes the "triumphant and victorious" aspect. The Gospel writers are known to re-assign a personage of the prophets, viz the young woman who conceives becomes a virgin in Matthew.
  • I mentioned Borg & Crossan above. This sermon gives the gist of their argument, which I find compelling: https://tinyurl.com/y5ag2844
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    fineline wrote: »
    I suppose the first passage also talks about Jesus being triumphant and victorious, as well as humble and riding on a donkey.

    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    I am not sure to whom Zechariah (the first passage) is referring to but it is not clear that it is Jesus, though the gospel writers have seen Jesus fulfilling a modified version of this (or perhaps the already modified LXX translation) which excludes the "triumphant and victorious" aspect. The Gospel writers are known to re-assign a personage of the prophets, viz the young woman who conceives becomes a virgin in Matthew.

    Ah, so it's more that you are challenging the idea that the Zechariah passage refers to Jesus, and also challenging the fact that many Bible editors assume it does and so refer to it in their Gospel headings. I suppose you can say the same for any OT passage that is interpreted to be about Jesus. We can't prove it is - it's just how it has been interpreted by theologians.

  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    The word translated ‘triumphant’ in the quotation from Zechariah above is (in the most easily accessible English translations to hand) only translated that way by the NRSV. In all the other versions it is translated ‘righteous’, which is the normal way I’d expect the Hebrew word at that point (צַדִּיק) to be translated. (There doesn’t seem to be a text-critical question here, and I can’t see why the NRSV has gone for ‘triumphant’.)

    Pondering the wider question I wonder if in the extra-Biblical descriptions the word ‘triumphal’ is normally used (rather than ‘triumphant’) because the entry is like a (Roman) ‘triumph’ rather than it being a moment of actual triumph.
  • That last bit is certainly my take on the passage.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

    This is not the Hebrew. This is an English translation from the Hebrew. And that's not merely a picked nit -- translations by their nature include in them an act of interpretation. One might also point out it is far from certain that whoever wrote the gospels was translating from the Hebrew. On which point, consider:
    I am not sure to whom Zechariah (the first passage) is referring to but it is not clear that it is Jesus, though the gospel writers have seen Jesus fulfilling a modified version of this (or perhaps the already modified LXX translation) which excludes the "triumphant and victorious" aspect. The Gospel writers are known to re-assign a personage of the prophets, viz the young woman who conceives becomes a virgin in Matthew.

    She is a virgin in Matthew because she is a virgin in the LXX. Matthew didn't invent this particular reading of the Hebrew. It precedes him by a couple hundred years.
  • MPaulMPaul Shipmate
    fineline wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    I suppose the first passage also talks about Jesus being triumphant and victorious, as well as humble and riding on a donkey.

    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    I am not sure to whom Zechariah (the first passage) is referring to but it is not clear that it is Jesus, though the gospel writers have seen Jesus fulfilling a modified version of this (or perhaps the already modified LXX translation) which excludes the "triumphant and victorious" aspect. The Gospel writers are known to re-assign a personage of the prophets, viz the young woman who conceives becomes a virgin in Matthew.

    Ah, so it's more that you are challenging the idea that the Zechariah passage refers to Jesus, and also challenging the fact that many Bible editors assume it does and so refer to it in their Gospel headings. I suppose you can say the same for any OT passage that is interpreted to be about Jesus. We can't prove it is - it's just how it has been interpreted by theologians.

    The authority of the interpretation must rest with the apostles. IOW, the internal testimony of the NT demands that this IS Jesus fulfilling prophecy as stated in Matt 21:4,5. If you care to accept it, of course as Christians do.

  • balaambalaam Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Looking at the Zechariah with new eyes and ignoring the link to Jesus is difficult, we have heard the passage of Jesus' entry too many times.

    If you asked the question of what kind of person would ride into a city on a donkey, and a second question about how many people had in the time between Zechariah and Jesus ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey, you get ordinary people, thousands of them. The point of the Zechariah passage is to say this is the kind of King you should have, an ordinary bloke.

    Kings ride in on horses or pulled by chariots in a victory procession: at least normally.

    Other interpretations are possible, but it is good to think through what is meant by the Zechariah passage before we bring Jesus into the story. It may give you a different perspective.
  • {coughs} Actually, Jewish royalty rode mules (see the various stories for King David's sons). But I'm sure they didn't ride untrained colts.
  • fineline wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    I suppose the first passage also talks about Jesus being triumphant and victorious, as well as humble and riding on a donkey.

    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    I am not sure to whom Zechariah (the first passage) is referring to but it is not clear that it is Jesus, though the gospel writers have seen Jesus fulfilling a modified version of this (or perhaps the already modified LXX translation) which excludes the "triumphant and victorious" aspect. The Gospel writers are known to re-assign a personage of the prophets, viz the young woman who conceives becomes a virgin in Matthew.

    Ah, so it's more that you are challenging the idea that the Zechariah passage refers to Jesus, and also challenging the fact that many Bible editors assume it does and so refer to it in their Gospel headings. I suppose you can say the same for any OT passage that is interpreted to be about Jesus. We can't prove it is - it's just how it has been interpreted by theologians.
    I would put it this way. The Jews were looking for the fulfillment of the Torah and the Prophets and the Gospel writers saw this fulfillment in Jesus. The Gospel writers often/mostly used the LXX for quoting and it does not have the triumphant and victorious phrase. If they were using the Hebrew text they would be purposely excluding the phrase. It seems likely to me that the headings for our Bibles came from a period which viewed Jesus as leading a triumphant and victorious Christianity combined with the view that our Old Testament should be translated from the Hebrew texts (presumably a)because they are the oldest and b) because Jesus' Aramaic speech was close to Hebrew and c) Jesus and his contemporary disciples would have used Hebrew scrolls in their synagogues).

    So our headings reflect this accident of history rather than being a good summary of the section.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    edited March 27
    Even the Hebrew does not have ‘triumphant’. It has ‘righteous’ and ‘victorious’. (And FWIW there’s room for flexibility around how the word ‘victorious’ should be translated.)
  • mousethief wrote: »
    The first passage is from the prophet Zechariah and a larger extract in the Hebrew is
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
    Lo, your king comes to you;
    triumphant and victorious is he,
    humble and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
    He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
    and the warhorse from Jerusalem;
    and the battle-bow shall be cut off,
    and he shall command peace to the nations;
    his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

    This is not the Hebrew. This is an English translation from the Hebrew. And that's not merely a picked nit -- translations by their nature include in them an act of interpretation. One might also point out it is far from certain that whoever wrote the gospels was translating from the Hebrew.
    I think it is likely that the gospel writers weaved together stories that had already been translated/interpreted into Greek for their Greek-speaking audiences and used quotes from the LXX translation interpretation. Our English translators interpret the Greek LXX text differently from the Hebrew text.
  • AndrasAndras Shipmate
    Interesting. This Sunday I'm preaching on the Prodigal Son and in my preamble I'm saying that the use of this title immediately skews the listener into thinking (a) that the story is principally about the son and (b) that the son is a Bad Person. So I'm going to suggest alternative titles.

    In Welsh the parable is called Y Mab Colledig - ‘The Lost Son’ - which makes a lot of sense.
  • I mentioned Borg & Crossan above. This sermon gives the gist of their argument, which I find compelling: https://tinyurl.com/y5ag2844

    Thanks for this. It provides an understanding of the world within the text that casts a different light on the matter.

    Perhaps the heading should be "Jesus's Comedic Parody of the Entrance of a Roman Conquering Emporer"
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Here’s the Hebrew:
    גִּילִי מְאֹד בַּת־צִיֹּון הָרִיעִי בַּת יְרוּשָׁלִַם הִנֵּה מַלְכֵּךְ יָבֹוא לָךְ צַדִּיק וְנֹושָׁע הוּא עָנִי וְרֹכֵב עַל־חֲמֹור וְעַל־עַיִר בֶּן־אֲתֹנֹֽות׃

    And here’s the Septuagint:
    χαῗρε σφόδρα θύγατερ Σιων κήρυσσε θύγατερ Ιερουσαλημ ἰδοὺ ὁ βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι δίκαιος καὶ σῴζων αὐτός πραῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὑποζύγιον καὶ πῶλον νέον

    and the English (NRSV):
    Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

    The words in bold in the Hebrew are translated by the words in bold in the Greek and English. Other English translations (rightly in my view) use ‘righteous’ rather than triumphant. I don’t know why the NRSV went for ‘triumphant’.

    The Hebrew word נֹושָׁע is the masculine singular participle of the Niphal of the verb root meaning ‘to save’. It attributes נֹושָׁע to the coming king. That attribute can legitimately be translated into English either as ‘victory’, or as ‘salvation’. My suspicion is that the LXX translators went for σῴζων (which does mean salvation) because of the underlying verbal root of נֹושָׁע. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with either option. I think in Hebrew the connotations of ‘victory’ and of ‘salvation’ are closer together than in English, and, of course, we need to remember that ‘salvation’ need/should not be read as a primarily theological word.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    {coughs} Actually, Jewish royalty rode mules (see the various stories for King David's sons).
    Thanks. I thought I remembered that was the case.

  • Interesting. This Sunday I'm preaching on the Prodigal Son and in my preamble I'm saying that the use of this title immediately skews the listener into thinking (a) that the story is principally about the son and (b) that the son is a Bad Person. So I'm going to suggest alternative titles.

    My ministers know that I call this The Parable of The Disgruntled Brother. One of them has called it The Parable of The Forgiving Father.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Interesting. This Sunday I'm preaching on the Prodigal Son and in my preamble I'm saying that the use of this title immediately skews the listener into thinking (a) that the story is principally about the son and (b) that the son is a Bad Person. So I'm going to suggest alternative titles.

    By the way, as a child I always thought of the Entry into Jerusalem as "triumphal" rather than "triumphant". It's a small difference but it not only IMO reduces the scale of the event but also sets it up better as an intentional contrast to the pomp-and-circumstance entry with Herod was wont to make around that time of year (see Crossan & Borg on this).

    BT The word prodigal actually means wasteful. Look at the story. While we easily see how the youngest son wasted everything, the father too was extremely wasteful in his reaction to the son coming back--he threw a big party. So big that the older son was very jealous.

    So, instead of calling it the story of the prodigal son, call it for what it really is, the story of the prodigal father.

    Myself, I am looking at Psalm 32 for my sermon.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    Those who want to discuss the Prodigal Son should start a new thread for it so that this one can continue its focus on the entry to Jerusalem. Having two unrelated conversations going on at once can get confusing. Thanks.
    Mamacita, Keryg Host
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited April 6
    I mentioned Borg & Crossan above. This sermon gives the gist of their argument, which I find compelling: https://tinyurl.com/y5ag2844

    Thanks for this. It provides an understanding of the world within the text that casts a different light on the matter.

    Perhaps the heading should be "Jesus's Comedic Parody of the Entrance of a Roman Conquering Emporer"

    Little story--don't want to reignite old wars, but--when George Washington was named commander of the US continental army he went through New York City on his way the Boston. That same day the British governor of the province of New York was returning from England. The city people had a parade for Washington while the governor sat in the New York Harbor. A few hours later the loyalists had a parade for the governor--Sir William Tryon--after Washington passed through. Tyron sethed over that for the rest of the conflict.

    A similar situation was portrayed in the movie Patton. In the movie, Montgomery and Patton were racing each other to take Messina in southern Italy. When Messina finally fell, Montgomery made a triumphant entry into Messina. He had thought he won. But when he reached the city square he met Patton and his tanks. Patton had arrived first.

    Now I know the Battle for Messina was more complicated than that, but we Americans love to tell our stories

    What really happened in the battle for Messina.
  • Coming a bit late to this, but listening to Mrs Eutychus preach today led to an interesting take on this whole episode.

    Aside from any prophetic significance, the "triumphal entry" was a brilliant way of Jesus getting into Jerusalem unscathed, as it guaranteed that he would be surrounded by a crowd - a bit like the thriller movies where somebody escapes being killed by hiding in a demonstration.

    I'd previously seen the "borrowing" of a donkey as rather mysterious or miraculous, but in fact Jesus could perfectly well have set it up with the phrase "the master needs it" as an agreed countersign. The instructions were given to only two of his disciples, thus keeping Judas, already looking for an opportunity to hand over Jesus, out of the loop.

    Similarly, this makes perfect sense of the arrangement for the Last Supper, with the man carrying a copy of yesterday's newspaper a jar of water on his head, and again the use of a password - only two disciples sent (the rest come with Jesus later), they stay on site until the others arrive, no address is given: the venue is kept secret even to the disciples until the very last minute.

    OK, we've both watched too many episodes series of Homeland. But it works rather nicely.
  • Yes, I had also thought of this "secret sign" or "codeword" possibilities, and I agree that they work rather well. Hadn't thought of them as a ploy to keep Judas out of the picture, though. However there was apparently a protocol about borrowing donkeys, especially if they were tied up in the street (= public space) rather than in a courtyard (= private space). But I simply cannot believe that Jesus nicked it - or even planned to borrow it without asking. Re. the Last Supper - that sounds a bit like organising those illegal 1980s raves around the M25 (of which I have no first- or even second-hand experience!)
  • It certainly got our congregation's attention!
  • One thing that rather spifflicates the case for Jesus having prearranged it is the fact that the colt is said to have never been ridden before. Surely a normal owner would have pointed out at the time of arranging that choosing the unbroken animal was simply daft--and discouraged it?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    spifflicates?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    I came across this idea a long time ago, and it seems to me to make good sense. The gospels indicate that as a group Jesus and the disciples had contacts in Jerusalem. The instructions to the disciples about the donkey makes good sense in the context of a prior arrangement having been made. And I can easily see Jesus overriding objections about the donkey not having previously been ridden. And the man carrying the water jar might well have been a ‘yesterday’s paper’ type of identification.
  • "You are the man carrying a water jar and I claim my five shekels" sort of thing.

    As an interesting point, would men normally have carried water jars in ancient Palestine, or would it have been regarded (as in Africa today) as "women's work"? If they didn't, then it would have been a rather good secret sign - people might have said, "What's that bloke doing that for?" but they wouldn't have known the reason.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited April 16
    That was indeed one of Mrs Eutychus' points.

    She also made the application that we can sometimes be called by God to do some rather simple or even potentially embarassing things that might have an impact well beyond what we know. In contrast to the squabbling disciples at the Passover meal, the anonymous man was content to serve without any particular gain and potentially at the expense of some mockery from his fellows.

    (One can then go on to speculate further that the water in the jar ended up being used by Jesus to wash the disciples' feet...)
  • Nothing to do with Palm Sunday, but this article has just turned up on the BBC website about Senegalese men being asked to act "out of role" by carrying their babies on their backs: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-47922717
Sign In or Register to comment.