Article of the Week

The Use of Gethsemane by Church Leaders, 1859–2018

The Use of Gethsemane by Church Leaders, 1859–2018

This is an introduction for the full article, The Use of Gethsemane by Church Leaders, 1859–2018, linked below from our new journal: 58:4. Please note that the print versions are in the mail and will be arriving shortly.

Many commentators have noted that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a distinctive focus on Gethsemane as the place of Jesus's Atonement. The authors of this study examined general conference talks from 1851 to 2018 to investigate how the name Gethsemane was used by the speakers. They discovered ten common themes and also noticed that the usage of these themes changed over time. Consequently, they were able to divide this usage into three phases. During phase 1 (1850s–1930s), teachings about Gethsemane were rare and ambiguous. During phase 2 (1940s–1970s), Gethsemane was commonly identified as the key location of the Atonement. During phase 3 (1980s–2010s), leaders tended to present Gethsemane and Calvary as joint locations of the Atonement.