The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Agony of Gethsemane

After the passover meal, however inconceivable it was for first century Jews (Exodus 12:22,25 prohibits leaving one's house on passover eve), the synoptic gospels make Jesus and his disciples go to a place call Gethsemane. We will give the account of this incident, as narrated by Mark, in full:

Mark 14:32-42 (Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46)
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch." Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not I will, but what you will." Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak." Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They do not know what to say to him. Returning the third time he said to them. "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Here is an episode that sounds more like a play or a fictional account than a factual one. For one thing, note that Jesus actually walked some distance away from Peter, James and John before he started praying and that when he came back he found them sleeping! Now, it is only natural to ask; if Jesus was some distance away from his disciples and they were asleep, who heard Jesus' prayers to his Father? In other words, where did Mark get his source from? Note also that Jesus was immediately arrested after the episode, so he definitely could not have conveyed it to his disciples. Also the fact that Jesus prayed and went back to his disciple three times makes the incident sound very artificial. The answer forces itself on us: the account of the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane is fictional. The whole episode was very probably invented by the pious imagination of the post-apostolic tradition. [1]

There is also an addition to the episode, given in Luke, that only serves to confirm the conclusion above:

Luke 22:43-44
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Note that no one except Jesus was around to witness this event (remember that Pater, James and John were asleep). Where does Luke gets the information from? This passage is obviously a fictional addition to a fictional account. [2]

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1.Guignebert, Jesus: p411,457
Nineham, Saint Mark: p389
2.Guignebert, Jesus: p458

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