May 2019

How a Study of Processional Theatre Grew into a Book about Donkeys, Dissonance, and Blasphemous Pageants

What began for me as a fairly simple history of the processional theatre of Palm Sunday soon ran up against some puzzling questions: Why is there no verifiable record of a live donkey taking part in a Palm Sunday procession before 1424? (A few retrospective “records” are demonstrably false.) Why is Christ’s entry into Jerusalem still widely celebrated on Palm Sunday as a “triumphal” entry when biblical scholars of liberal and conservative persuasion alike agree that it was “nontriumphal,” “atriumphal,” or even “antitriumphal”? If early Church authorities also agreed that Christ’s entry was a deliberate rejection of the pomp of...

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