An Article Conceived on this Blog is Born!

An Article Conceived on this Blog is Born! April 7, 2017

About a year ago, I floated an idea in a blog post, something that had struck me in teaching my class on the historical Jesus. Anthony Le Donne noticed it and encouraged me to explore the topic further and consider developing it into an article. I did so, and submitted it to the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. It has now appeared in print, and you can read it online if you have a subscription. Otherwise, you can read it on my university repository and

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  • John MacDonald

    The formatting of the article on is all messed up.

    • It looks fine to me – might the issue be something to do with the browser and/or the device that you are using?

      • John MacDonald

        It’s okay. I checked it out on your university page. Good article. I especially enjoyed the discussion on hermeneutics!

        A few thoughts:

        (1) In the article, Dr. McGrath writes: “Thus, both in the broader corpus of Pauline writings, and in the immediate context in Philippians, we find evidence for Paul’s awareness of the Gethsemane story, both at the thematic level and on the level of specific vocabulary.”

        – If Paul was aware of the incident in Gethsemane, this would be a good argument against mythicism

        (2) In the article, Dr. McGrath writes “One rather simple possibility, however, remains extremely plausible, namely that Jesus believed it was necessary for him to embrace rejection, and to leave it to God to deliver him and install him as anointed one, because that was what was entailed in following his own teachings.”

        – This would match up with Jesus’ words from the cross, when God doesn’t come to Jesus’ rescue as expected,: “My God My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

        (3) In the article, Dr. McGrath writes “On the other hand, this conclusion in turn contributes to the impression that an aspect of the gist of the portrait of Jesus as a whole in the Gospels – that he understood himself to be destined to suffer before becoming king, and that his disciples had trouble grasping this at the time – is likely to be correct.”

        – It could mean Jesus thought that in order for the powers of Satan and sin to be overcome, Jesus needed to suffer (as per Genesis 3:15, “He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” )

        • John MacDonald

          And if Mark read Paul, Paul could be Mark’s source for the Gethsemane story.

        • John MacDonald

          Above I wrote:

          It could mean Jesus thought that in order for the powers of Satan and sin to be overcome, Jesus needed to suffer (as per Genesis 3:15, “He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”)

          I wonder if Mark 1:12-13 is a hint by the author that Jesus’ disciples thought Jesus’ mission was to become king of the Jews, while Jesus secretly knew his mission was to defeat Satan, for which he needed to suffer?

  • Paul E.

    Very interesting, thank you for posting this! Fascinating connections among the various sources. Just a quick note: on page 22 about two-thirds of the way down, I think there is a minor typo, i.e. it reads “periscopes” where I think you mean “pericopes.”

    As to Jesus’ anticipation of his suffering and death, this ties into another thread on the ear-cutting incident. In Mark, Jesus seems to have had a very specific idea of who the betrayer was and when the betrayal would occur. That would seem to indicate that Jesus may have been receiving inside information from a follower within the chief priestly hierarchy.

    • I am only allowed to share the pre-proof version, and thankfully that typo got caught and fixed before the published version! 🙂

      • Paul E.


  • Anthony Le Donne

    proud midwife of a fine piece!

    • John MacDonald

      I wonder if Dr. McGrath’s interpretation that Jesus expected to suffer, but ultimately believed he would be enthroned as Messiah by the intervention of God, is what Jesus meant when he cried from the Cross: “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” – The cry seems to suggest Jesus expected God to intervene before Jesus died, but God never showed up and Jesus was terrified and didn’t understand why God didn’t come to intervene. (I can’t remember if it is bad form to end a sentence with an infinitive? lol)