Passages of Exegesis

3. Call of the First Disciples: Mt 4.18-22; Mk 1.16-20; Lk 5.1-11

1. Healing of the Paralytic: Mt 9.1-8; Mk 2.1-12; Lk 5.17-26

5. Plucking Corn on the Sabbath: Mt 12.1-8; Mk 2.23-28; Lk 6.1-5

2. Healing of Gadarene Demoniac: Mt 8.28-34; Mk 5.1-20; Lk 8.26-39

4. Walking on the Water: Mt 14.23-33; Mk 6.45-52; Jn 6.15-21

5. Agony in Garden: Mt 26.36-46; Mk 14.32-42; Lk 22.40-46; Jn 12.27

6. Death of John the Baptist: Mt 14.3-12; Mk 6.17-29

Healing of the Paralytic

Mt 9.1-8 // Mk 2.1-12 // Lk 5.17-26


1. Situation

This is the first of a group of stories representing Jesus in confrontation with the Jewish authorities for the first time. It may also be seen as an extended presentation of Jesus' attitude to the Law.

There is perhaps a chiasmus leading up to 3.6:

Healing with apothegm - legei tw| paralutikw| - hard hearts

Food controversy, ending with proverb

Bridegroom - allusion already to passion

Food controversy, ending with proverb

Healing with apothegm -legei tw| paralutikw - hard hearts

Both in the centre and in the final verse the reference to the passion shows the inevitable end of the confrontations, an impression which already at this stage casts a shadow over the gospel story.

2. Form Critical Analysis

The story is a typical Markan sandwich, the healing-story enveloping the remission of sin, as... If the story of remission of sins is removed, there remains a classic schema of healing. Additional evidence that Mark added the forgiveness-element is visible in the repetition of legei tw| paralutikw and in the abrupt appearance and disappearance of the scribes (Lk cleans it up by introducing them in the introduction).

The insertion, of course, says nothing about the historicity of the forgiveness-episode. A couple of indications towards historicity are the counter-question by Jesus(for putting a counter-question to provoke reflection seems to have been one of his techniques) and the son of man saying.

3. Theological

The claim to forgive sins is a claim to equality with God, for only God can forgive sins; the scribes were right to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. Whether a Jew would be convinced of this power by a miracle is doubtful, but there is insufficient reason to hold that the claim to forgive sins situates the story in the post-Easter church, which claimed the power to forgive sins.

The expression 'son of man' occurs in the NT only on Jesus' lips and seems to have been remembered as a characteristic locution of his. Despite Fitzmyer's objections to the dating of Vermes' material it does seem likely that Jesus used the phrase as a reticent circumlocution. Parallel usages in Jewish literature show that the seemingly general meaning of 'human being' was used with reference to the speaker as a particular member of humanity. Here the saying merely suggests tactfully that there is something outside the accepted framework of his opponents. In Mark Jesus uses it of his authoritative activity here and of his lordship of the Sabbath, but more generally of his passion and resurrection. In certain passages, probably Mark's own composition (e.g. 13.27 and 14.62), it is used with a definite Danielic allusion which is unlikely to be Jesus' own, but is an extension of Jesus' own usage.


1. Situation

This is the first of the second half of Mt's collection of miracle-stories, brought together from various parts of Mk. Mt is a systematiser and likes collections. Perhaps he puts this story first in the group because of the forgiveness of sins, in which he has a special interest (16.19; 18.18; 26.28) He is careful to correct Mk by showing that it is the son of man on earth, not sins on earth. He also underlines this element in his conclusion, generalising that the ecousia is given to anqrwpoij in the plural.

2. Source Theory

A number of minor agreements with Luke reinforce for this passage the barrenness of the Two-Source Theory: kai idou, epi klinhj, auton eipen, omission of tw| paralutikw|, klinh, /klinidion, aphlqen eij ton oikon (Lk usually prefers upostrefw) foboj/fobou, corrected order of 'son of man on earth to forgive sins'.

Mt prefers klinh to Mk's coarse word krabaton also at 9.6. Lk uses klinh the first time in imitation of Mt, but slips back later to klinidion, which is less stately and more suitable (klinh is appropriate to a proper bed, not a palliass/stretcher, carried around). He characteristically corrects Mk's historic present several times, and avoids Mk's parataxis e.g. at his v. 7 (which also avoids his kai euquj). He introduces a couple of his kai idou and tote. Mt also typically makes the story more solemn and formal by omitting much of Mk's lively description.


Luke draws attention to the miracle by vastly increasing the audience. The inclusion of Pharisees was until recently thought to be historically clumsy, but recent researches into the strength of Galilean Judaism suggests that there was a strong legal tradition there too. Whether they would have come from Jerusalem is another matter. Similarly at the end he characteristically increases the wonder and paradox and insists on the glory given to God. The cured man springs up paraxrhma (a Lukan word) in the sight of all. Lk also underlines that the dunamij kuriou was there too - who is this kurioj? Jesus?

On the material side it is amusing that he changes the box-shaped house with a flat roof into a hellenistic-style house with tiles to be removed. For many other changes he is clearly dependent on both Mt and Mk; this is a good pericope for Goulder.

The Healing of the Demoniac at GerasaMt 8.28-34 // Mk 5.1-20 // Lk 8.26-39


1. Situation

This exorcism-story is part in Mark of the gradual discovery of the quality of Jesus. Its appearance immediately after the quasi-divine story of the conquest of the sea, in which Jesus shows divine control of the sea, has suggested a link with the story of the Red Sea: a crossing of the sea followed by destruction of the enemies. This may be too fanciful to prove.

Certainly in Mark Jesus' conquest of unclean spirits is an important feature, beginning with his conquest of Satan in the desert. They recognise his true nature as son of God, a title with which Mark brackets his gospel (in the title of the gospel if these words are not excised, but at least in the declaration at the baptism, and in the recognition of the centurion on the cross). This is Mark's own theology, for the disciples still seem to be unaware of the cry of the evil spirit, and are no nearer to understanding who Jesus is.

2. Form critical analysis

The classic schema of an exorcism-story includes the following features: meeting - protest from the spirit and attempt to put up a fight by naming the exorcist - ejection by the exorcist - exit of the spirit - testimony of witnesses. These are all included here. It makes a coherent piece without the tailpiece of the self-destructive swine.

It is possible to make out that there is a double story. Has Mark combined two versions, or is this merely the result of his inherent dualistic mentality?

hlqon (pl) ecelqontoj autou

upenthsen (close up) apo makroqen

mnhma mnhmeion

10-13 suddenly jumps into the plural

14 townsfolk come 15 townsfolk come

14 herdsmen tell story 16 herdsmen tell story

The pigs make a considerable difficulty: Gerasa is some 30 km from the Lake (another indication that Mk did not know Palestine), which may be the reason why Mt hopefully transfers the incident to Gadara, whose territory stretches pretty near the Lake. Origen transferred it plausibly to El Kursi, just on the eastern shore of the Lake, near En Gev, with a suitable cliff just above the Byzantine basilica. They are better regarded as a folkloric addition, to show the power of the unclean spirits, for the unclean swine fit well the eerie atmosphere of tombs, the abyss (Lk - or sea), self-destruction and gentile territory.

3. Mark's story

It is a brilliantly told Markan story, with his typical picturesque detail, focussing on the pathetic madman, as elsewhere he focusses on Jesus' head on the cushion, the daughter of Jairus walking around, the gory head of the Baptist. After the gripping description of the man the excitement fades with the mention of night, and some peace descends, as though his pathetic cries were heard at a distance during the night. Finally, to balance the pathetic opening, we see the cured man preening himself complacently among his admirers.

Markan linguistic features abound, such as the explanation tacked on as an afterthought with gar (8), dualism (the superfluous kai oudeij iscuen auton damasai in 4, the double mention of entry into the pigs in 12, the double mention of sea in 13). The number of occurrences of the ubiquitous Markan kai is little short of that of the pigs.

4. The 'Messianic Secret'

Had the theory of the messianic secret not been exploded into fragments by Heikki Raisanen, the lack of a silence-command would have been striking. (Wrede feebly says the mention of his house in 19 is tantamount to a secrecy-command). But some explanation of the mission of the tamed man is still required. Perhaps the explanation is local: there was no other opportunity for the inhabitants of the Decapolis to hear the message (note the gentile-sounding mode of address, uie tou qeou tou uyistou in 7). If only Gadara were in Mk as well as Mt, one might connect it with the flight of Christians to Gadara (Pella) during the siege of Jerusalem.


Matthew makes the story more dignified by removing the picturesque details; it is now merely irksome to pass along the path. The graphic and onomatopoeic epnigonto turns into a colourless apeqanon. He also doubles the number of possessed, as he does of the cured blind men and the angels of the resurrection. The spirits become more polite: '...if you are going to cast us out' in 31. He obviously finds the number of pigs, at 2,000, a bit too much for his stomach, and cuts it out.

Mt omits most of the final material, ending with an almost imperial upanthsij by the whole city. The sending of the messenger would be a distraction from this striking tribute to Jesus.


Luke makes few changes, apart from his more sophisticated vocabulary. His initial parenthesis about Galilee wins him no marks for geography either. He makes one neat little change to improve the story: he makes sure that the demoniac begins by not wearing a imation, in order that it should be a corresponding change when at the end he is found to be imatismenon.

Perhaps most striking is the conclusion: as usual he underlines the effect of the miracle. In 37 he increases the audience vastly, and fills them with great fear. In the final verse he seems to equate Jesus with o qeoj, an important indication of his higher Christology, for osa epoihsen soi o qeoj stands in parallel to osa epoihsen aut% o Ihsouj.

The Call of the First Disciples

Mt 4.18-22 // Mk 1.16-20 // Lk 5.1-11


There are sufficient Markan stylistic traits to show that Mk is the original here: principally the afterthought-explanation added by gar in 16 and the redundant Simwnoj (autou would have done) There are also a couple of kai euquj and the repeated opening of kai + nominative participle + verb. It is important that Mk shows Jesus forming his group of disciples right from the start, immediately after the announcement of his proclamation. Pace Vermes, this could show the importance to Jesus of founding a community.

Mt Follows Mk in the position, but Lk takes a different path. Not appreciating that in Mk this is one more sign of Jesus' astounding authority, he perhaps thinks it psychologically implausible that they should follow Jesus so absolutely without previous preparation; he therefore ensures that some preaching and miracles have taken place before the disciples are called. They have some basis on which to decide to follow!

Jn, of course, gives a wholly different account, which will be important later.


Two pairs of disciples are called. Each account follows the schema of the call of Elisha by Elijah (1 K 19.19):

1. The prophet sees the disciple, son of x

2. The disciple was working at his trade

3. The prophet calls him

4. The disciple leaves his trade and follows.

Jesus is the prophet calling his disciples whom he will empower to succeed him. This story is certainly comme une galette de la mer, polished and lacking any superfluities. Even so it is clear that the stress is on the authority of Jesus and on the absolute demands of following him; there is no looking back or hesitation as they leave their family and livelihood.

Historically it is interesting that the call of the second pair is closer to the Elijah story: the kai autouj en tw| ploiw| corresponds to the Elijah-story's 'and he was working', and the mention of leaving family is also present in the Elijah-account.

Finally, 'went after him' corresponds more exactly to the Elijah-account than 'followed him' in the story of the first pair. Since there is a wholly different account of the call of Simon and Andrew in Jn, we may deduce that the original account concerned the sons of Zebedee, and that Mk (or his source) has doubled it, inserting the call of Simon first to mark his position as leader of the group of disciples.


Matthew sees little need to change the account. He adjusts a couple of kai euquj to euqewj de . Otherwise he improves only the mention of Zebedee, so that we see him first with his sons before they leave him; in Mark we did not know that he was there till his sons leave him. Matthew also improves the parallel between the two accounts by ending each with ekolouqhsan autw|, an expression he stresses for the disciples' adherence to Jesus. Perhaps the mention of their leaving the boat is intended to stress their abnegation of everything to follow Jesus.


The Lukan narrative is basically quite different; it concerns primarily Simon Peter and his apostolate. This makes the initial context of Jesus' teaching quite suitable.

The last two verses which give names to Simon's faceless partners (7) are awkwardly tacked on by omoiwj de; it is really a bit late to tell us that the sons of Zebedee were his partners when we have already known about his partners for some time. Similarly the final verse is tacked on to assimilate the story to the Mk/Mt story and turn it from being an apostolate-story into a vocation account.

The relationship of this story to Jn 21 is clear: there is the night-long unsuccessful toil, the word of Jesus leading to the almost-breaking net, and finally the authorisation of Peter. Simon's humble confession here fits Jn 21 much better, after his triple denial at the time of the passion. Perhaps also the suggestions of the divine (mh fobou, kurie) fit better a resurrection setting, though they do not demand it. Goulder jumps the gun in seeing this as the humble reaction to vocation as in Isaiah 6, for no vocation had as yet occurred; Simon's confession is provoked only by wonder at the miracle.

Two typical Lukan touches are the insistence that Peter must confess his sins before he is called to be a disciple (as Zacchaeus repents, and as is stressed in the mass conversions of Acts. When they accept the call they leave panta, a total renunciation often stressed by Lk (14.33): Levi at his call leaves all (5.28), and the very rich young ruler is advised to sell everything he has (18.23).

The Walking on the Water

Mk 6.45-52//Mt 14.23-33//Jn 6.15-21

In Mk this pericope occurs as part of the instruction of the disciples on their own, leading up to the Confession of Peter at Caesarea Philippi which is the watershed between the two halves of the gospel. It is instinct with the Markan theme of the failure of the disciples to understand, a theme which clashes strangely with their amazement.

All the signs of Markan composition are there:

- the repeated euquj or even kai euquj (45, 50),

- the afterthought-explanation with gar (48, 50, 52), the first having the especially typical opening verb 'to be',

- Markan double-expressions 'to the other side/to Bethsaida (45), spoke with them/said to them (50), have courage/do not fear (50), they did not understand/their hearts were hardened (52),

- kai + opening participle + verb (46, 48, nearly 49).

Naturalistic explanations are thoroughly misplaced, and fail to appreciate the meaning of the story. It has been suggested (Morna Hooker, following Otto Betz) that Moses exodus typology is intended, the crossing of the sea following the miraculous feeding in the desert; but in this case there is something clumsy in the Moses-figure being separated from his followers. The basic meaning of the event comes from the Old Testament allusions, Ps 107.23-30 and Job 9.8: only God controls the sea, often thought of in Israel as an evil and frightening power, held back by divine power from engulfing the world once more; he himself walks on the sea. The theophanic impression is strengthened by the encouragement not to fear (50b), typical of the response to a theophany, and possibly (in Jn it would be certain) by the egw eimi. The amazement of the disciples, described in 51b by no less than three superlatives, is striking. This makes the thoroughly Markan 52 somewhat surprising; yet he stresses their lack of understanding. [Here affix stamp on Disciples in Mk]

Mt makes some minor adjustments, though he does not file the story down as much as he does many of the healing miracles. He cuts out Mk's 48c, perhaps because it suggests the unworthy thought that Jesus changed his mind, and Mk's 50a because he dislikes such afterthought-explanations.

Mt's most important change, however, is the introduction of Peter's walking on the water. Typically for Mt, Peter starts well and then comes a cropper (as at Caesarea Philippi and at the trial-scene), but at least his enthusiastic leadership comes to view, and his trust in Jesus merits the controlled compliment of oligopiste. As in Mark the disciples may stand for the community who have difficulty in accepting the full message of Jesus, especially with its implications of persecution, perhaps in Mt Peter stands for the community, enthusiastic but still too hesitant and repeatedly failing. [Here use credit-card on Mt and the community] The final confession, however, leaves little to be desired: it is at least as full as that of the centurion in Mk, and the repeated kurie and proskunhsij are hints of the reaction proper to the divine. [Here play your card on Mt's Christology, and especially uioj qeou]

Lk omits the incident altogether, taking it, perhaps, to be a doublet of the calming of the storm. He regularly avoids what he takes to be doublets, e.g. the second multiplication of loaves.

Jn tells the story, with a significant and unusual coincidence of order, also after the multiplication of loaves. There is one of the closest similarities between Jn and the synoptic tradition:

- the order of pericopes

- Jesus going off eij to oroj

- evening had come

- trouble with the anemoj (but Jn's account hints at storm)

- distance given in stades (Jn and Mt)

- they saw Jesus peripatounta epi thj qalasshj

- fear and egw eimi, mh fobeisqe

- Jesus goes on board and all is well.

Almost the only element which Jn adds is his characteristic theme of darkness (skotia) without the presence of Jesus. This is one of the very few stories which Jn does not elaborate with a discourse to bring out a symbolic lesson, thus providing additional evidence of the fidelity of both Jn and the synoptic evanglists to an underlying oral tradition of the incident.

[Here play tape on Johannine Christology and egw eimi]

Plucking Corn on the Sabbath

Mt 12.1-8; Mk 2.23-28; Lk 6.1-5

Position In Mk this controversy is one of a group 2.1-3.6, representing the confrontation between Jesus and the legalists in Galilee, which ends already with their decision to do away with him. Thus already, from then on, from the reader;s point of view, the shadow of the cross hangs over the gospel. This series of five controversies forms a chiasmus [detail], centred on the saying about the removal of the bridegroom, again an emphasis on the Passion.

Mk An initial problem is that Mt makes better sense than Mk, which might suggest that Mt is more primitive than Mk, thus making nonsense of accepted solutions to the synoptic problem. In Mt they are hungry as they walk through the fields, and so pluck ears of corn. In Mk the offence seems to be the barbaric one of making a path through the fields by plucking ears of corn. Casey (NTS 34 [1988]) has solved this problem and others by a proposed retro-version into Aramaic and the easy misreading of daleth for resh; in reality they were passing along a road between fields. The retro-version also makes easier the misunderstanding of Abiathar: 'in the time of Abiathar {who in fact later became} the high priest', not necessarily, as the Greek suggests, 'in the high priesthood of Abiathar'.

A Sitz im Leben in Jesus' ministry in Galilee becomes thoroughly acceptable: the disciples were making use of the provision of Lv 19.9 that the poor might pluck the corn left on the edge of the field. The point of controversy is whether this plucking constitutes work prohibited on the Sabbath. Jesus cites David's hunger as precedent for transgressing ritual laws. He then, in Mk 27, using a typical Markan adding-phrase, kai elegen autoij, makes the much wider claim of subordination of the Sabbath, concluding with a reiteration of it in terms of the 'son of man'. In this the passage is typical of Jesus' radicalism with regard to the Law, but it does not go beyond the limits of acceptable controversy. As Sanders frequently insists, even the wider claim would have made Jesus no worse than annoying to certain schools of interpretation; it would not have given sufficient grounds for killing him.

It has been objected that Pharisees would be unlikely to be found in Galilee. However the work of Israeli scholars is beginning to suggest that Jerusalem contempt for Galilean observance is the unjustified expression of jealousy and rivalry, and that there was a strong school of observance based in Galilee throughout the first century. The presence of Pharisees would thus make perfect sense.

The usage of the phrase 'son of man' is exactly that attested in Vermes' evidence of other charismatic Galilean rabbis, notably the saying of R. Honi comparing God's care for the son of man with his care for the sparrows; it may be a remark about the speaker's own situation, but this fact is cloaked under the generality of the sense of the expression, 'man'. The three uses of 'son of man' in Mk which have definite Danielic overtones are all historically suspect (8.38; 13.26; 14.62), which leaves the way open to the claim that in Jesus' mouth the expression has no more than this general periphrastic sense.

Mt makes a series of improvements to Mk. Quite apart from making the situation clearer (as described above), he also introduces a legally more parallel precedent, which is at least to do with sabbath observance.

- He clarifies the expression about the shewbread: Mk 26 could be understood to mean that some shewbread was generally edible, whereas Mt's change to o ouk econ removes that possibility.

- Mt 6, typically of the rabbinic author, emphasises that the argument intended is a minore ad maius.

- Mt 7 introduces further scriptural justification for Jesus' action, putting it on the level of a prophetic action, and sharply scolding Jesus' opponents. Nevertheless, Mk's 27 is removed, no doubt because it is too extreme for a community where the sabbath seems still to have been observed.

Lk can be understood only as following Mt. There are too many minor agreements against Mk to allow independence: eipan and eipen in 2 and 3 might be regarded as coincidences, but Mt and Lk also share the mention of eating (1), the more correct order 'what is not allowed on the Sabbath' (rather than Mk's 'on the Sabbath what is not allowed'), the omission of Abiathar, toij met'autou, monoij/ monouj (4), the omission of Mk 27 (though it must be admitted that the institution of the Sabbath is of little interest to Lk) and of kai in the final verse.

Jesus' Prayer in the Garden

The account of Jesus' Prayer before his Passion is a particularly rich example of how the several synoptic evangelists have adapted the tradition they received in order to express their own theology. There are also interesting links to the Fourth Gospel which most probably reflect an oral tradition about the prayer of Jesus at the pre-Gospel stage. As a working hypothesis in the discussion of this pericope it will be assumed that Mark is the first of the synoptic gospels, that Matthew knew and used Mark, and that Luke used both Mark and Matthew.

1. Mark's Account (14.32-42)

A long series of scholars has suggested that Mark is here combining two accounts. For instance Kuhn gives one source as 14.32, 35, 40, 41, the other as 14.33-34, 36-38. More probable is the view that Mark is spinning out a minimum of material to convey his own message according to his own manner. It is shot through with elements of Mark's own style. As throughout the Passion Narrative, a principal stress is to make sense of the stunning events by showing that what happens fulfills the scripture. A little hint of this is the allusion to Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac in 'going a little further' (14.35, as Gn 22.5). But especially marked is the reminiscence in Jesus' words of the laments of the persecuted just man in the Psalms (Ps 41.6 in Mark 14.34, etc). The accent is on two factors, the obedience of Jesus to his Father's will and - by contrast - the failure of the disciples. Thus, with typical Markan duplication, the prayer of Jesus is given first indirectly (v. 35), then directly (v. 36).

Probably for the prayer itself Mark is using or imitating already the formulae of early Christian prayer, with the Aramaic Abba immediately followed by its Greek translation (o pater). This double formula of a particular Aramaic word, regarded almost as a talisman, occurs elsewhere (1 Cor 16.22; Rv 1.7). Jesus' consciousness that God was his Father was treasured by the early community; stemming from Jesus himself, this usage was largely expanded, especially in John. However, the use of Abba to God is not, as Jeremias contended, unique to Jesus, indicating the affectionate relationship of childhood; children called their father Abi rather than Abba, and Abba does occur occasionally in Jewish prayers.

As elsewhere, Mark emphasises the intensity of Jesus' prayer by the triple repetition beloved of popular story-telling. But, as in Peter's triple denial, he has barely enough material to trick out the full triad: the prayer is given fully the first time; for the second time the prayer is merely 'the same word', and on the third occasion it is only the return of Jesus rather than his prayer which is mentioned.

Thus the chief emphasis is on the failure of the disciples to take their share in their Master's final trial. Throughout the gospel they have repeatedly failed to grasp the message of suffering; now they are thrice found asleep while their Master prays, and their definite desertion at the arrest will be confirmed by Peter's triple denial at the moment when Jesus thrice faces his accusers. The bitterness of this occasion is underlined by the special involvement of precisely those three disciples who had been favoured with special revelation at the Transfiguration (the link is stressed: again in their abahsed confusion they 'knew not what to answer'). James and John had also stoutly protested that they could share Jesus' cup (Mk 10.39).

2. Matthew's Account (26.36-46)

In Matthew's account, besides many little charactgeristic verbal changes of style, three changes of emphasis are visible. Firstly, he tones down the lurid colours in which Mark paints Jesus' agony of mind: for Mark's almost stunned word for Jesus' distress, Matthew has the more seemly 'grieved'. Instead of Mark's uncontrollable 'falling (repeatedly, if the imperfect is taken seriously, as though Jesus were simply stumbling) to the ground' the biblical attitude of reverent prayer is indicated by 'fell face to the ground in prayer' (26.39). This is in accord with Matthew's generally more dignified, and even hieratic, presentation of Jesus.

Secondly Matthew fills out the second prayer of Jesus. After the Jewish manner of respect for the Lord, both prayers are impersonal: 'let this cup pass from me', instead of Mark's direct request, 'remove this cup from me'. Matthew gives content ot the prayer by using the Lord's Prayer, which he has given in the Sermon on the Mount, 'Your will be done' (26.42; 6.10). It may be presumed that, since Jesus is the model for his disciples, he will pray the same phrases as he taught them to pray. The intimacy of both first and second prayers is stressed by the affectionate address, 'My father' (26.39, 42); this perhaps indicates both similarity and distinction between Jesus and his disciples, who are instructed to pray with the plural 'Our father' (6.9). At the same time, a certain hesitancy is shown - perhaps the hesitancy of respect - by the repeated 'if it is possible' (26.39), 'if it is not possible' (26.42), instead of Mark's confident 'for you all things are possible' (14.36). After this elaboration of the second prayer, Matthew can transfer to the third prayer Mark's minimal account of the second, 'saying the same words' (Mark 14.39; Matt 26.44).

Matthew's third concern is to underline the solidarity which should exist between Jesus and his disciples. As always, he tones down their failure, by omitting Mark's critical 'they did not know what to say to him' (Mark 14.40). He also takes the spotlight off Peter by removing Jesus' intimate and disappointed question to him, 'Simon, are you asleep?' (Mark 14.37), and by putting into the plural the criticism, 'Could you not stay awake with me one hour?' (Matt 26.40). This now concerns not only Peter but all the disciples. Twice he adds 'with me' to 'stay awake' (26.38, 40); they should share in his passion, just as in Matthew Jesus' community will benefit from his permanent presence (1.23; 18.20; 28.18-20) and will share in his ministry of forgiveness (9.8; 18.18).

3. Luke's Account (22.40-46)

Luke's version of the scene on the Mount of Olives (there is no mention of 'Gethsemane'; he often omits odd-sounding place-names, and has little interest in the topography of Jerusalem) is drasticly shortened and unified. There is only one prayer and one return to the disciples. It is bracketed at beginning and end by the command, 'Pray that you may not come into temptation' (22.40. 46), exemplifying once more the Lukan theme of prayer, and more especially of the disciple praying after the model of the Master. In their persecutions and martyrdom, as in their working of miracles, the Acts of the Apostles will show the disciples mirroring exactly and continuing the life of Jesus into the era of the Church. In the Passion Narrative too this carefully-painted imitation comes to view in such details as Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross 'behind Jesus' (23.26). All stress has been taken off the failure of the disciples, both by eradication of the triple repetition and by a couple of subtle changes in 22.45: instead of 'sleeping' they are now (despite NRSV) 'lying down from grief', that is, their sympathy with Jesus is so intense that they could not stay on their feet. Nevertheless, when he firmly 'stands erect' after his prayer he comes to them and tells them too to join him in this posture (22.45, 46).

The most notable difference in Luke is the account of Jesus himself. Quite definitely, though not yet so emphatically as in John, Jesus is in control of his Passion and Death: he is arrested only when he has exercised his healing ministry (22.51) and given the arresting party his consent, 'This is your hour' (22.53), and dies only when he has commended his spirit into his Father's hands (23.46). So now, Jesus does not collapse onto the ground, but 'knelt down', as Christians later do in prayer (Ac 7.60; 9.40; 20.36; 21.5). There is no sign of distress: his single prayer is calm and resigned, with the same resignation shown later by Christians (Ac 21.14). But there is nothing lacking to the intensity of his prayer.

The verses 22.43-44 are missing in some MSS, but are widely quoted in the second century. If they are considered part of Luke's gospel they show two features, showing the prearation of Jesus for his Passion. Both have analogies in the Books of Maccabees to which the genre of Luke-Acts is so similar: 1. Jesus is represented as an athlete about to enter a contest, with his adrenalin up, rather than terrified and horror-struck as in Mark. There is no question of sweating blood; it is merely that his sweat flowed like blood. This is the physical condition of those preparing for martyrdom in the Books of Maccabees (2 Mc 3.16; 15.19; 4 Mc 6.6, 11). 2. An angel appears to show that Jesus' prayer is regarded, just as in Mark 1.13 at the earlier testing in the desert, and as two angels came to strengthen Eleazar at his martyrdom (4 Mc 6.18).

After his prayer Jesus stands confidently upright, and comes to tell his followers to do the same in their prayer during temptation.

4. Echoes in John (12.27-29; 18.11)

John has no equivalent scene of the Prayer in the Garden, but there are clear echoes of the same tradition. Just so, he has no scene of the trial before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14.53-64), but an echo of this scene earlier in the Pharisees' decision to kill him in Jn 11.57. John portrays the Passion of Jesus not as the moment of his humiliation but as the hour of his exaltation and glorification. His Jesus is nevertheless fully human, so that his soul is troubled by the approaching trial (12.27a). However, since it is the moment of his glorification and that of his Father (12.28), to which he has looked forward (2.4; 7.30; 8.20) and will look forward (13.1; 16.32), he thrusts aside the thought of praying to be delivered from it.

The image of the cup of suffering seen in the synoptic accounts of the prayer in the garden is also present at his arrest in the garden (18.11). Here is it explicit that Jesus accepts the cup in an atmosphere of triumph, for it comes at the conclusion of the arrest-scene. During this his divinity has shone through by his use of the mysterious divine 'I am he' (18.5, 6, 8) and the awestruck reaction of the arresting-party in falling to the ground. He can be arrested only after he has given this consent.

There are further echoes of the tradition in the Letter to the Hebrews, in the mention that 'Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death' (Hebr 5.7). The echoes of the prayers of the persecuted just man in the psalms are evident here. As already in the wording of the prayer in Mark, Raymond Brown suggests (The Death of the Messiah, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1994, p. 229) that this prayer 'came from an early Christian hymn of praise constructed of a mosaic of psalm-motifs'. Behind it would be the same tradition as that of the prayer in the garden.

Mk 6.17-29 and parallel: Death of John the Baptist

In Mark this is one of the most effectively told stories, tellingly contrasting with the woodenness of Mt's version. Mt leaves out the feminine venom of Herodias as she hostilely waits her chance (v. 19), the vacillation and ambivalence of Herod, as he is attracted by John but cannot bring himself to the bold step which will save him (v. 20, 26), the build-up as the procession of worthies arrives for the party (v. 21), the hurried little secret dialogue between the girl and her mother (v. 23), the oath (v. 23), the girl's glee in making her request (v. 25), the speculator (a Markan Latin loan-word) going off to do the deed and bearing in the head on the dish (Mt's passive is weak). If Mt were all we had, this scene would never have inspired opera and ballet. What is more, in Mt it does not even make sense: we need to be told that Herod had married Herodiadas. The girl dances en t% mes%, but we do not know in the middle of what. We never hear the oath, only that he had sworn it. Who are the faceless sunanakeimenoi for whom Herod acts? Mt only has one superb story-telling touch: the probibasqeisa, which conjures up a reluctant girl, egged on, even pushed forward, by her mother. Two other important Markan touches he retains: the dish (a typical Markan prop, like the cushion in the boat) which has so captured artists' imaginations, and the lovely reposeful conclusion.

Mark's story cleverly draws heavily on Esther, while nevertheless presenting a very different woman, an anti-heroine instead of a heroine: the irrevocable oath, the attractive girl who charms the lascivious king (in Mark's folktale atmosphere one cannot complain that he wrongly gives Herod his father's royal title, but it is a pity that Mt is drawn after him, although he got it right in 14.1; Lk alone correctly calls him tetrarch here), the muted eroticism of the banquet, and the promise to grant the request even though it be half the kingdom.

There is also a clear parallel drawn between the Baptist and Jesus. Kratew in the sense of 'capture' is elsewhere used only of Jesus, and the phrase hdewj autou hkousen recurs of the crowd listening to Jesus in Mk 12.37. Within these clues there is also the description of John as dikaioj kai agioj, used of Jesus in the ancient passage Ac 3.14, and the whole theme of martyrdom. Mt makes different parallels, by the death of the prophet and fear of the crowd (v. 5, cf. 21.26, 46).

Lk of course has a quite different emphasis. He tells of the imprisonment before the baptism, thus ending the era of John the Baptist before the baptism of Jesus, and quite changing the sense of the baptism-scene, in which John apparently has no part. Studious as he is to avoid repetition, he omits the story when it comes to Mk's point, although this leaves John permanently languishing in prison. It is perhaps consonant with his general interest in morality (cf. John's early proclamation) that Lk extends his condemnation of Herod to panta a epoihsen ponhra.