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Re: [XTalk] How did Jesus pray?

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  • Sakari H´┐Żkkinen
    ... I have wondered that too. I am quite convinced that he did not pray quietly for these reasons: 1) In the history of Jewish prayer the absolutely dominant
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 6, 2000
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      Bob Schacht wrote:
      > I had an interesting thought today: How did Jesus pray?

      I have wondered that too. I am quite convinced that he did
      not pray quietly for these reasons:
      1) In the history of Jewish prayer the absolutely dominant
      way of praying is speaking, singing or crying loudly. Even
      the sighs to God (e.g. in the Psalms) could be heard.
      Compare this with reading in ancient times: it was always
      loud. The modern private prayer in the sense of thinking
      something in one's innermost is quite far away from the way
      Jesus and other people at that time prayed. Also, I suppose
      that most of the prayers were common and traditional.
      2) Praying was something that was not only heard by others
      but also seen. Praying meant some discernible moves: hands
      lifted up and the look at heaven, or throwing oneself to the
      ground, depending on the sort of a prayer. Bob, you already
      referred to some passages in the NT, where this is obvious:
      Mark 14:32-38 and also Matth. 6:6 (if praying was just
      thinking or mumbling quietly without any moves of the body,
      why should one retreat to a chamber in order that no one
      sees?).
      3) From Jewish and Jewish-Christian sources we get the data
      that the usual way of praying was either standing or
      throwing himself to the ground (himself, because I do not
      know if women prayed like this at all?). The direction of
      the person praying was towards Jerusalem. So the way Moslems
      pray reminds quite a lot the way (some) Jews and Christians
      prayed in the first centuries.

      Of course, what comes to Jesus of Nazareth, we do not know
      if 3 fits him. This way of praying might have been, and most
      probably was, only used by the religious elite, by whom we
      have the written data preserved. I suspect that the common
      poor people had obeyed the regular times of prayer. And we
      do not know how much the Galilean people in Jesus' lifetime
      was influenced by Jerusalem, or do we? This leads to much
      bigger questions, so I'll leave it now.

      You also wrote:
      > Scholars have jumped to conclusions about Mark 14:32-38//
      (Jesus in the
      > Garden at Gethsemane), demanding to know how the disciples
      could have
      > heard what Jesus was praying, perhaps on the basis of the
      text claiming
      > that Jesus returned to find the disciples sleeping, and
      then they jump to
      > conclusions about how Mark "must have" composed the
      prayers himself.
      > Interestingly, however, Jesus talks to Peter as if he were
      already awake
      > (the text does not explicitly say that Jesus woke Peter up
      before talking
      > with him.) I wonder about the Greek here: does "sleeping"
      include that
      > semi-waking state where one is aware of sounds around but
      is half asleep?

      Bob, have you ever had a good and long dinner with your best
      friends where you ate and drank a little bit too much? It
      might have been difficult to be totally awake in the night
      when it finally is almost silent (only someone praying -
      talking or crying alone). Could the *sleeping* of the
      disciples be just the heavy feeling after too much wine?

      With kind regards,

      Sakari

      Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
      University of Helsinki
      Department of Biblical Studies
      sakari.hakkinen@...
      http://www.helsinki.fi/teol/hyel/henkilo/henkilo.html
    • William Arnal
      ... I think this is an over-reaction, Bob. Part of the work of history is negative -- determining which sources are UNreliable is as much a contribution as
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 9, 2000
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        At 01:34 PM 4/9/00 -0700, Robert M Schacht wrote:

        >On Sun, 09 Apr 2000 05:13:00 -0000 "Michael Zarb" <mzarb@...> writes:
        >> ... mz: My primary consideration of the gospels and Acts is as fiction
        >> not as history.
        >
        >Thank you for your candor. Why are you on this list, then? To remind us
        >that our list's stated purpose is futile? At any rate, your assumption
        >greatly simplifies our debate, casting aside any need for tradition
        >criticism, historical criticism, or need for debate about whether any
        >particular saying or deed attributed to Jesus is historical. That leaves
        >us, I think, with literary criticism:

        I think this is an over-reaction, Bob. Part of the work of history is
        negative -- determining which sources are UNreliable is as much a
        contribution as determining what the reliable sources (if there are any)
        might tell us. Indeed, even as fiction, the gospels and Acts may tell us a
        great deal about the period in which they were composed, which in turn may
        be extrapolated backwards in the general direction of Jesus. One need not
        adopt a naive view of the gospels and Acts as primarily accurate, or even as
        vehicles of (accurate) tradition, to see their utility, negative and
        positive, for the historical Jesus quest.
        Moreover, since what we see before us in these texts is so patently
        novelistic, tendentious, and incredible, I would think that the burden of
        proof would reside with anyone attempting to rescue even a morsel of their
        narratives as historical, rather than on those who question it.

        Bill
        __________________________________
        William Arnal wea1@...
        Religion/Classics New York University
      • William E. Arnal
        ... That just about covers it, I think. Bill ________________________________________ William E. Arnal e-mail: wea1@is7.nyu.edu Religious Studies/Classics
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 9, 2000
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          On Sun, 9 Apr 2000, Nathan McGovern wrote:

          > Perhaps I don't know what you mean by incredible--scientifically
          > incredible, geographically incredible, culturally incredible,
          > chronologically incredible?

          That just about covers it, I think.

          Bill
          ________________________________________
          William E. Arnal e-mail: wea1@...
          Religious Studies/Classics Check out my web page, at:
          New York University http://pages.nyu.edu/~wea1/
        • Nathan McGovern
          ... Where you see an over-reaction on Bob s part, I see a fundamental disagreement between you and Bob on what Michael Zarb originally meant by his statement.
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 9, 2000
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            William Arnal wrote:

            >At 01:34 PM 4/9/00 -0700, Robert M Schacht wrote:
            >
            >>On Sun, 09 Apr 2000 05:13:00 -0000 "Michael Zarb" <mzarb@...> writes:
            >>> ... mz: My primary consideration of the gospels and Acts is as fiction
            >>> not as history.
            >>
            >>Thank you for your candor. Why are you on this list, then? To remind us
            >>that our list's stated purpose is futile? At any rate, your assumption
            >>greatly simplifies our debate, casting aside any need for tradition
            >>criticism, historical criticism, or need for debate about whether any
            >>particular saying or deed attributed to Jesus is historical. That leaves
            >>us, I think, with literary criticism:
            >
            >I think this is an over-reaction, Bob. Part of the work of history is
            >negative -- determining which sources are UNreliable is as much a
            >contribution as determining what the reliable sources (if there are any)
            >might tell us. Indeed, even as fiction, the gospels and Acts may tell us a
            >great deal about the period in which they were composed, which in turn may
            >be extrapolated backwards in the general direction of Jesus. One need not
            >adopt a naive view of the gospels and Acts as primarily accurate, or even as
            >vehicles of (accurate) tradition, to see their utility, negative and
            >positive, for the historical Jesus quest.

            Where you see an over-reaction on Bob's part, I see a fundamental
            disagreement between you and Bob on what Michael Zarb originally meant by
            his statement.

            > Moreover, since what we see before us in these texts is so patently
            >novelistic, tendentious, and incredible, I would think that the burden of
            >proof would reside with anyone attempting to rescue even a morsel of their
            >narratives as historical, rather than on those who question it.

            I suppose one could describe them as novelistic, although they're not like
            any novels I've ever read. If one wants to comapare the gospels to novels,
            it seems that they would best (depending on the gospel) be compared to
            episodic novels, at least insofar as the gospels (especially the synoptic
            gospels, and even more especially Mark) are for the most part little
            stories about Jesus that have been loosely strung together in a narrative
            format.

            Obviously the gospels are to a very large extent tendentious and to some
            extent incredible, although I don't see that they're so incredible that it
            would be difficult to rescue "even a morsel" of their narratives as
            historical. If you mean that the exact chronology given by the narrative
            is incredible, then I understand what you're saying, but if you mean that
            the individual episodes are incredible, then, aside from some (though not
            all) of the miracle stories, I don't understand what you're saying.
            Perhaps I don't know what you mean by incredible--scientifically
            incredible, geographically incredible, culturally incredible,
            chronologically incredible?

            Nathan McGovern

            Nathan McGovern
            Franklin and Marshall College
            nm_mcgovern@...
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