Christ on a Donkey
Christ on a Donkey
Palm Sunday, Triumphal Entries, and Blasphemous Pageants
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15.6 x 23.4 cm
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Table of Contents
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Introduction: From Pomp to Donkeys Part One: Pomp I. Triumphal Entries: From Charlemagne to Oliver Cromwell 1. Charlemagne’s Birthday Pomp 2. Kings Dead or Alive 3. Warrior Popes 4. Mud, Plague, and the Lord Protector II. Palm Sunday Processions: From Egeria to Peter the Great 5. Palms of Victory 6. Exalted and Eccentric Images 7. Crusaders, Patriarchs, and Emperors 8. The Horse with Donkey’s Ears Part Two: Parodies / James Nayler and Jesus of Nazareth 9. James Nayler’s Royal Progress 10. Jesus on a Jackass Part Three: Donkeys I. A Scarcity of Donkeys: From Udine to El Alto 11. Under Muslim Rule 12. White Horses and Imagined Donkeys 13. Live Donkeys at Last II. Wooden Christs on Wooden Donkeys: From Augsburg to Chiquitos 14. An Image of the Lord Seated on an Ass 15. The Lord God Belongs to the Butchers 16. The Persecution of the Palmesel 17. Baroque Splendor and Catholic Enlightenment 18. The Donkey that Walked on Water 19. Survivals and Revivals Conclusion: Christ Dismembered and the Bombing of Lübeck

Reviews and Features

"Max Harris’ extremely well-researched book confronts the general understanding of Christ on a donkey ‘as a sign that he came neither as a warrior nor as one drawn to the trappings of power, but in peace and humility’ (p. 2) with the various ways in which the image was used in medieval and early modern theatrical tradition. His findings are stunning."
- Cora Dietl, European Medieval Drama 22 (2018)

"Once Harris gets the bit between his teeth in terms of his research target, he does not let go. He pursues his investigation with integrity and skill. His scholarly pursuit is achieved through a blend of acute observation, detailed analysis and first-rate field work."
- Dr. Philip Butterworth, University of Leeds

Max Harris

Christ on a Donkey

Palm Sunday, Triumphal Entries, and Blasphemous Pageants

At once scholarly and entertaining, Christ on a Donkey is a study of Palm Sunday processions and related royal entries as both spectacular instances of processional theater and highly charged interpretations of the biblical narrative to which they claim allegiance. Harris’s narrative ranges from ancient Jerusalem to modern-day Bolivia, from imperial white horses to wheeled wooden images of Christ on a donkey, from veneration to iconoclasm, and from Christ to Ivan the Terrible. A curious theme emerges: those embodied representations of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem that were labeled blasphemous, idolatrous, or superstitious by those in power were arguably most faithful to the biblical narrative of Palm Sunday, while those staged with the purpose of exalting those in power and celebrating military triumph were arguably blasphemous pageants.

Max Harris

Max Harris is the author of five previous books, including Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011) which won the Otto Grundler prize. He has served as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council and has taught at Yale University and the University of Virginia.