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Triumphalism in the Gospels

  • W. A. Visser 'T Hooft (a1)

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While the words ‘triumph’, ‘triumphal’ and ‘triumphant’ are words with a long history, the expression ‘triumphalism’ is a modern invention. It seems to have started its career when first Bishop de Smedt of Belgium and later other speakers used it in their speeches in the early sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Through the innumerable articles and books about the Council it became widely known and became a current expression in the terminology of writers on religious themes. The speed and extent of its success showed that it pointed to the existence of an acute problem in the life of the churches. This problem was clearly stated in a contribution to the council's debate on the nature of the Church by Bishop Laszlo of Eisenstadt.

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page 495 note 1 Horace in Ep. 1.17: ‘Captos ostendere civibus hostes attingit solium Jovis et caelestia tenlat’ (‘to present to your fellow citizens the enemies you have captured is mounting up to the throne of Jupiter and reaching for the sky’).

page 495 note 2 ‘Triumphus’ is a Latin version of the Greek ‘thriambos’, one of the names of Dionysos.

page 496 note 3 The triumphal arch which still exists in Gerasa is probably of a later date. But its existence shows that the Decapolis cities followed the custom of setting up triumphal arches.

page 496 note 4 Calvin speaks of the ‘ridiculous’ impression which it makes.

page 497 note 5 It may be that the form of the announcement of the passion has been influenced by the later developments, but to dismiss all announcements of the passion simply as vaticinia ex eventu is to re-write the text instead of explaining it.

page 498 note 6 In Peake's Commentary (p. 744), Professor J. W. Bowman interprets the messianic procession on the road to Jerusalem as emblematic prophecy. Prof. G. B. Caird in his commentary on the gospel of Luke (Penguin, p. 216): ‘Jesus intended a demonstration.’ Prof. Joachim Jeremias mentions the choice of the ass among the parabolic actions of Jesus (Die Gleichnisse Jesu, p. 161).

page 499 note 7 Matthew's reference to two animals (Mt. 21.3 and 21.7) would seem to be a product of his literalism.

page 504 note 8 The whole Church suffered grief and loss by the death of Dr W. A. Visser't Hoofl in July 1985.

Triumphalism in the Gospels

  • W. A. Visser 'T Hooft (a1)

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