Entry into Jerusalem, from T'oros Roslin Gospels by T'oros Ṙoslin

T'oros Ṙoslin

Entry into Jerusalem, from T'oros Roslin Gospels, 1262, Manuscript illumination, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; March 1935, given to The Walters Art Gallery by Mrs. Henry Walters, W.539, fol. 174r, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

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Image and Prophecy

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Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

This miniature of the Entry into Jerusalem comes from a Gospel book painted and copied in 1262 at Hromkla, seat of the Armenian Catholicos from 1151 to 1292 CE. It was produced by the workshop of T'oros Roslin, one of the most accomplished Armenian illuminators of the thirteenth century. Instead of grouping images from the life of Christ at the beginning of the manuscript, as was customary in earlier Armenian manuscripts, T'oros Roslin, like other Cilician artists, distributes the miniatures across the manuscript, placing them close to the relevant Gospel passages. The scene shown here was aptly placed next to the section of the Gospel of Mark that describes the Entry into Jerusalem (11:1–10).

This solution, which allows for a closer connection between text and image, shows that Armenian artists used miniatures for interpretative purposes. T'oros Roslin’s awareness of the potential of religious art as an exegetical tool led him to include a bearded figure with a scroll, to the right on top of the city of Jerusalem. The inscription on the scroll—‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!’—is the first part of a verse from Zechariah (9:9), the second part of which is quoted in Matthew (21:5) and John (12:15). It prophesies that the king of Jerusalem will approach the city mounted on a ‘colt’. Since the prophecy is not quoted in Mark, it is likely that T'oros Roslin added this detail to remind the reader of the Christian claim (supported by Matthew and John) that the Entry into Jerusalem was a messianic act in fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9.

Just like the Evangelists, then, T'oros Roslin uses the Old Testament Scripture to interpret the New.

 

References

Der Nersessian, Sirarpie. 1973. Armenian Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery), pp. 10–30

 


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