“The Messiah, the donkey and the colt”, by Jacques Nieuviarts

The Messiah, the donkey and the colt and The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

by Jacques Nieuviarts

Bayard, 276 p., 18,90 €

By celebrating the Sunday of the Word instituted by Pope Francis a few days ago, the Church celebrated the Gospel as closeness to God, opening up to “ treasure of his word so that we can be in the world heralds of this inexhaustible wealth » (Motu Proprio they opened).

Biblical scholar Jacques Nieuviarts, well known to readers of Bayard publications, carries the same ambition with this book, which popularizes the material of a thesis published in 1999 in the collection Lectio divina au Cerf. There he studies the episode of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as related by the evangelist Matthew, with the concern of showing the evocative power of these 17 verses. In doing so, he shares tools that are suitable for any biblical reading.

« What does it mean to read a text from the Bible? He asks, recalling the request, in the Acts of the Apostles, of the Ethiopian eunuch to the apostle Philip for a guide to help him understand what he is reading, before receiving baptism. ” Maybe the act of reading takes it that far, notes the Assumptionist religious, to a form of rebirth, a baptism, a meeting, which leads us to pursue a completely different path ».

Supporting comparative tables, the attentive teacher does not omit to point out any detail and invites abundant convolutions, sometimes at the risk of losing his reader. He first proposes to read the 17 verses of Matthew calmly, to compare them with the versions of the other three evangelists, to distinguish the temporalities, omissions or additions of each, before in a second part to locate the achievements of the writings of the Prophets and the Psalms. .

A scene with eschatological scope

Jacques Nieuviarts in his last chapter takes a very nice look at the virtuosity and daring of Matthieu, which make it possible to impress all its importance on the event related: ” It is a bundle of Scriptures that is summoned, calling to recognize in the coming of Jesus that of the Lord awaited for the end or the blossoming of time, during a Sukkôt festival of large, eschatological dimensions, celebrating kingship. of God ».

“After Jesus”, the encyclopedia which goes back to the origins of the Christian fact

What about the colt and the donkey in all of this? ” Say unto the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy king cometh unto thee, gentle, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the colt of a beast of burden. », Writes Matthew, the only evangelist to present Jesus on two mounts at the same time. Strangeness or error, this doubling could come from a misinterpretation of Zechariah (9,9). Jacques Nieuviarts also recalls the iconographic fruitfulness that the scene will have aroused (Giotto, Fra Angelico, Van Dyck, Flandrin, Le Brun, etc.), and its royal and messianic expressiveness. Strong image of a king of humility whose portrait Matthew had given in the Beatitudes.


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