In my last post I pointed out that the famous passage of the so-called “bloody sweat” in Luke 22:43-44 is thought by some scholars not to have been original to the Gospel of Luke. I count myself in that number. One of my very first scholarly articles was devoted to the question; I wrote it when I was a first-year graduate student – or rather, I co-wrote it, with a friend of mine who was in the PhD program at Princeton Seminary with me, a fellow named Mark Plunkett.
Mark had done a study of the passage of Jesus’ prayer before his arrest and had realized something about the structure of the passage, which made me, in turn, realize, that if he was right, then the two verses about the bloody sweat could not have been original to the passage. I’ll say more about that in my next post. At the time, one of the reasons I thought that was so significant is that it confirmed what was already clear to me otherwise: these verses convey a theological understanding of Jesus going to his death that is completely unlike what you find in the rest of Luke. (Our article was published in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, in 1983, and was called “The Angel and the Agony: The Textual Problem of Luke 22:43-44”).
As a brief bit of background: Luke had several sources for his accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, most notably the Gospel of Mark. Mark was the first Gospel written, and both Matthew and Luke had a copy of it. Since that’s the case, it is possible to see how Luke has handled the one source of his that we still have, Mark – that is, to see if he has added anything to Mark’s account, taken anything away, or changed anything. That approach to Luke is called “redaction criticism” (because a “redactor” is an editor; and you are looking to see how Luke has “edited” his source, Mark).
Scholars for a long time have realized that Luke goes out of his way to<
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