Thursday, March 13, 2008

An interesting Palm Sunday twist

"And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me. "And if anyone says something to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them." Now this took place that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" And the disciples went and did just as Jesus had directed them, and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat." - Matthew 21:1-7

Some people have taken Matthew to task for mentioning two animals, while the other Gospel writers only include the colt. He's often accused of failing to understand the Hebrew poetic parallelism in Zechariah 9:9, and padding out his narrative to try and fulfill it perfectly.

As best as I can figure, there really were 2 donkeys, and the mother was brought along to help calm the young, unbroken-for-riding donkey. AND, in light of the other 3 accounts, it seems that it was the colt that Jesus rode . . .

Which brings us to the "twist" mentioned in the title.

I was watching Pier Passolini's classic film "The Gospel According To St Matthew" the other day. Specifically, I was viewing the "Triumphal Entry" scene. True to the text, Jesus sends his disciples to get the colt and its mom, and then Jesus mounts the mother and rides her into Jerusalem, while one of the disciples leads the young donkey along behind Jesus!

Never noticed that before. I suppose it was pragmatic--the colt was really a bit too small to be ridden by the actor portraying Jesus.

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