Jesus’ Royal Entry into Jerusalem -- By: Brent Kinman

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 15:2 (NA 2005)
Article: Jesus’ Royal Entry into Jerusalem
Author: Brent Kinman


Jesus’ Royal Entry into Jerusalem

Brent Kinman

Heritage Church, Castle Rock, Colorado

IBR Jesus Project Paper 4. Critical examination of Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem yields the conclusion that Jesus orchestrated for himself a provocative, royal entry to the city. The entry thus represents a significant shift in his self-presentation to Israel and sheds light on his trial before Pilate and his crucifixion. Nevertheless, despite its dramatic tone, it was modest in size and easily overlooked by the Roman authorities at Passover.

Key Words: triumphal entry, Jesus in Jerusalem, Jesus and politics

The image is familiar: enthused crowds escort Jesus into Jerusalem and hail him as the one who comes “in the name of the Lord” as he rides a donkey’s colt, the very picture of humility. The crowds’ enthusiasm turns out to be ironic, for these same people will demand Jesus’ death a few days later. This image could be culled from any one of several movies that depict the last days of Jesus—but is it the image of the gospel records; and, more critically, is it a fair depiction of the historical Jesus?

Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem is noteworthy in several ways: it is one of a handful of narratives to appear in each of the four Gospels (Matt 21:1ff.; Mark 11:1ff.; Luke 19:28ff.; John 12:12ff.); in each it signals the beginning of Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem; it was potentially his most self-consciously messianic act; and finally, it was an act open to great misunderstanding by the witnesses and early readers of the Gospels. These points would seem to make it an ideal candidate for careful scrutiny by members of the Jesus Seminar (hereafter JS), and by historical Jesus scholars more generally, yet the scrutiny that the Entry seems to warrant has rarely materialized. The Entry is excluded without comment from the JS’s recent book that catalogs the acts of Jesus that the JS regards authentic.1 This omission cannot be taken to suggest there is a consensus of critical opinion on the subject: many critical

scholars regard as authentic the Entry described in the Gospels—including at least one prominent member of the Seminar itself!2

It is nevertheless important to ask and understand why so many critical scholars doubt the authenticity of an event that seems, on the face of it, to be so well attested. The objections ge...

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