ENTRY of JESUS into JERUSALEM iconography

Though this representation took its inspiration from the Gospels Mt 21:6-9; Mk 11:4-11; Lk 19:32-38; Jn 12:14-16, it is actually limited to the final moment of the story the apostles never appear searching for the mule and leading it to the Lord. This scene entered into the repertory of Christian art beginning in the 4th c., together with the image of Christus Rex in contrast to the image of the emperor. Even the iconography is modeled on the Adventus of the emperor in Rome or in some other great city e.g., Rome: the Arch of Constantine, but substituting the chariot of the emperor with a donkey that proceeds from the left toward the right. The representation consists of many elements: Christ on the donkey with a tunic and pallium, making the gesture of speech recently interpreted as the sign of the Ogdoad; a figure in smaller size in a sleeved tunic with or without a girdle, who extends his mantle in front of the donkey e.g., Ws 212,2; 92,2; the crowd that acclaims Christ while waving palm branches e.g., Ws 141,1; 230,6; apostles e.g., Ws 225,1; 92,2; a background of city walls e.g., Ws 230,6. Sometimes there appears between the legs of the donkey a colt scampering along Mt 21:5 e.g., Ws 235,5; Dinkler, fig. 5. Sometimes between the branches of the tree there appears the shape of a figure in smaller size e.g., Ws 235,5; 13. Some consider this figure to be Zacchaeus von Sybel, Becker, Ws, Bovini, who, since he was of a small stature, climbed a sycamore tree in order to be present at Christ’s arrival in Jericho.

This episode, which, in Luke’s narrative Lk 19:1-6, precedes the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, is translated into iconography by the presence of this small figure among the tree branches, and therefore, by a fusion of the two scenes. Others Dinkler hold that it represents the Hebrews ready to cut the tree branches that would be extended as Christ passed by, according to Matthew’s account Mt 21:1-11; thus, there is no contamination between the two scenes. Still others Nicoletti, Bisconti, Cristini hold that the fact of contamination can be concluded only in those cases in which Christ speaks to the figure between the branches, as is probably the case on the sarcophagus of Berja Ws 151,2 or on a tile of the cathedra of Maximian Volbach, n. 140. On the so-called sarcophagi of Bethseda the most ancient of these is the Vat. 125; it can be dated to the last quarter of the 4th c.: Ws 230,6 the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem is always preceded by the call of Zacchaeus, which has independent importance and is portrayed with many details: crowds, wreathes, palms, city gates. Zacchaeus also appears sometimes by himself, portrayed among tree branches, as on a fragment of a sarcophagus of Arles Dinkler, fig. 35 and in an ivory diptych of the Castello Sforzesco of Milan Volbach, n. 111. The scene was unknown in 4th-c. painting. Some think that there is one example in the cemetery of the Vigna Cassia in Syracuse, but the present condition of the painting does not allow us to confirm this. The scene appears in a fresco first half of the 5th c. in a hypogeum in S. Maria in Stelle Verona. The representation of the entrance into Jerusalem reoccurs on ivory objects in Milan, Museo del Duomo diptych, 5th c. Volbach, n. 119; in Ravenna, Museo Arcivescovile cathedra of Maximian, mid- 5th c. Volbach, n. 140; in miniatures of the 6th and 7th c., such as the codex of Rabbula Cecchelli, Rabb. Gosp., pl. 11b, of Rossano Mu±oz, pl. 2, Corpus Christi College, ms. 286 Wormald, pl. 4.

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