Early Christian Discourses on Jesus Prayer at Gethsemane: Courageous, Committed, Cowardly? (Novum Testamentum, Supplements)
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From early on, Christians passed down the account of Jesus s agony at the prospect of his own death and his prayer that the cup should pass from him (Gethsemane). Yet, this is a troublesome aspect of Christian tradition. Jesus was committed to his death, but as it approached, he prayed for his escape, even as he submitted himself to God s will. Ancient critics mocked Jesus and his followers for the events at Gethsemane. The hero failed to meet the cultural standards for noble death and masculinity. As such, this story calls for further reflection and interpretation. The present book unfolds discourses from the earliest centuries of Christianity to determine what strategies were developed to come to terms with Gethsemane."
(βοήθει μοι)! For you are my refuge’.” Such prayers, however, are the exception in this literature, not the rule.67 There is not much space left for fear leading to a prayer to escape. In the prayer just rendered, the help called for is transformed into martyrdom itself. According to the Mart. Montanus and Lucius 6, the object of all their prayers were the very chains (o optata vobis omnibus catena!), which is a more representative picture here. Some passages even militate against a prayer to
aspect of Celsus’ critique. Origen argues that the incident in Gethsemane is composed of two main dicta, the cup saying and Jesus’ obedience to his Father, that constitute his human and divine natures, respectively. Origen accuses Celsus of looking exclusively at the first and deliberately ignoring the second, thus demonstrating that the Gethsemane scene was intimately connected with Christology. The incarnation, Jesus becoming human, was to benefit humanity and is thus truly altruistic.
Jesus—righteous Sufferer And Example 99 Mark renders the wording of Jesus’s prayer only once, so the first part of the structure is also the most complete. The other two instances are more or less repetitive but the threefold structure is still important. The repeated prayer indicates intensity,2 and the threefold prayer conveys that Jesus submitted to his Father’s will only after praying deeply for a way out. The structure thus portrays a Jesus at struggle or conflict, with a will that differs
both counters and confirms scripture, then Gethsemane ceases to be such an inexplicable anomaly in Mark’s presentation.”68 Sweat’s starting point in reading the relevant story is God’s omnipotence, which is noted in verse 36. In that light the prayer is “a request for God, who can do the impossible, to work creatively through situations without apparent alternatives.”69 I am sympathetic with much of Sweat’s exegesis, but her Gethsemane interpretation is less than totally convincing. Making God’s
Figuratively, this verb portrays the disciples in John 14:1, where it is used synonymously with δειλάτω, certainly the most common term for being fearful or acting cowardly.21 On three occasions, it is used about Jesus’ emotional disturbance: John 11:33; 12:27, and 13:21.22 Stephen Voorwinde has investigated these passages in detail and finds that they refer to being troubled or terrified by fear.23 Voorwinde has shown persuasively that Jesus in this gospel is emotionally analogous to how Yahweh