CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

I just finished and added to the Christian Cadre site a new article related to Paul's knowledge of the historical Jesus: Paul's Knowledge of the Garden of Gethsemane Narrative.

From the conclusion:

The evidence that Paul and Mark's narrative of the Garden of Gethsemane are referring to the same event is strong. Both authors are referring to an older, preexisting tradition. The distinctiveness of the phrase, "Abba Father" is so unique that its usage by Paul and Mark is almost certainly not a coincidence. That Paul's reference to the phrase has Jesus’ own crying out to God in mind as its origin is reinforced by the context in which he employs the phrase. The very ability to cry out "Abba Father" is a sign of becoming an adoptive Son of God as Jesus was the Son of God. Not only that, but it is the very Spirit of Jesus that enables us to cry out to God on such a familiar level. The earthly location of Jesus' use of "Abba Father" is attested by Galatians' describing the event just after stating "God sent his Son, Born under the Law, Born of a Woman." Romans associates the scene with Jesus' time of suffering before his resurrection, which certainly fits the Garden of Gethsemane scene.

A number of consequences follow from the strong likelihood that Paul is referring to Jesus’ prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane which is narrated in the Gospel of Mark. First, it provides additional evidence for the authenticity of the Garden of Gethsemane tradition and, with it, the idea that Jesus prayed using a unique form of address stressing his special status with God. Second, it provides yet another detail from the life of Jesus to which Paul refers, further damaging the notion that Paul had no interest in the life of Jesus. Third, the nature of the reference is instructive in that though Paul refers to the life of Jesus he does not do so by repeating the entire narrative. This lends support to the view that Paul’s purported “silence” about the life of Jesus is due to the fact that “he takes knowledge of Jesus’ teaching for granted. . . . Paul did not need to quote from it often because he and his readers have been taught it and know it well.” Wenham, op. cit., page 5. Because Paul had already passed on the narrative of the Garden of Gethsemane to the church in Galatia, he could make a point using the episode and the call to God as “Abba Father” without repeating the entire story. Perhaps more significant is that Paul can assume the Christians in Rome – where he had not founded a church – were just as familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane narrative. If that is true with this story from Jesus’ life, it is most likely true of other “echoes” of Jesus’ life and teachings that can be found throughout Paul’s letters.

Check it out and let me know what you think.


I am aware of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Which of these is the 'Spirit of Jesus'?

What does that phrase mean to Christians? Is it a synonym for 'God the Holy Spirit'?

When Paul cried out 'Abba, Father' Jesus was not physically present. Did a fleshly, resurrected Jesus have a spirit which could leave his body to influence Paul?

Jesus spoke Aramaic. Mark 14:36 has 'Abba, Pater' What is the Aramaic for 'Abba, Pater'?, Or is it more reasonable to believe that Jesus said 'Abba, Pater'.

Were the disciples asleep when Jesus said 'Abba, Pater'?

I'll get to the "Spirit of Jesus" question as time permits, but do you have any thoughts on whether Paul was referring to an early tradition of the Garden of Gethsemane narrative?

As for "Abba Pater/Father," we have been through that before. Opinions differ whether Mark, and Paul, were supplying a Greek translation of Abba or whether the Father was a translation of a more formal address.

So Jesus never said the words 'Abba, Pater'?

Why would Mark and Paul have to translate something that Christians knew and used already?


As I have responded twice now, he either did or he did not.

Why use Abba and then its translation, if that is what is going on? Because of the importance of the term to Jesus and to the Christians. It represented the special relationship Jesus had with God and which he made possible for his followers. As I have demonstated, it was a rather unique way of addressing God. Such linguistic holdovers are hardly uncommon even today. American church services are full of "Hallelujahs" and "amens."

As for why Mark and Paul needed to translate it if their audiences knew it already, you are begging the question. The phrase had to be translated in the first instance before they could know it and use it. Thus, the translation was part of the tradition. In any event, I doubt Mark assumed that only Christians would read or hear his Gospel.

If you have some larger point Carr, why not spit it out so we can get down to it? So far you've not cast any doubt on Paul's knowledge of the Garden of Gethsemane narrative.

Layman, you aren't playing the game right. Don't you know that if he asks a theological question for which different schools of thought give different answers, you're supposed to pretend he's shown the whole thing isn't historical? You're not supposed to say "different schools having different interpretations does not affect the historicity".


I admit that sometimes I have a hard time understanding Carr's point. Maybe that is because he does not really exist.


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