One of the most fundamental plot details of the narrative of the gospels is that Jesus held a final ritual meal with his disciples in the night hours before he was betrayed, tried and crucified. That final meal was the beginning of the eucharist rite that is celebrated in most churches in some form ever since.
But not all early Christian communities seemed to have believed this origin-story about this ritual. It seems to me that there is some reason to think that some Christians actually thought Jesus instituted this last supper after his resurrection. It was not a memorial of his death, or of his body, but a thanksgiving meal and recollection that he had come (if only for a short time) in the flesh.
The subversive point to this exploration is, of course, how to explain the types of divergences such as these in the extant early Christian evidence. Are they best explained by the historical Jesus/gospel narrative or some other model?
Now I cannot argue to the death that the evidence decisively proves this, but I do find the wording of Justin Martyr curious enough to think it likely. (I always am prepared for someone one day to tap me on the shoulder and explain to me that I am being misled by a particular English translation.) Not everyone will agree, I know, and I confess I am rarely rock-solid confident myself in my views about Justin Martyr’s writings. So consider this as an exploratory “discussion post”.
(Oh, and since it seems James McGrath does, after all, keep in touch with my posts, allow me to say, “Hello, Jim! Do please note that this is only an exploratory post of free-flowing ideas. It is not an argument for mythicism! — yes, I know it has the potential to be added to a “mythicist’s” arsenal, but it is equally capable of fitting in to mainstream historicist ideas if there is enough good-will. So even you can join in and ask for clarifications etc so you don’t have to fear misrepresenting anyone, and no-one will mind. Okay? Cheers!”)
First, some cultural background
Gregory J. Riley in Resurrection Reconsidered writes some interesting things about relevant ancient customs at the tombs of the dearly departed:
One of the more intriguing aspects of ancient custom, and most revealing concerning the substantial existence of the dead, was the cultus at the tomb. The dead required, in the first place, proper burial and lamentation, to prevent the disembodied pscyche (φυχη) from returning from the underworld to punish those who thus wronged it. This is visible as early as Homer . . .
Piety prescribed that the surviving members of a family care for their dead at the grave site. Relations brought offerings of meat, fish, bread, cakes, wine, oil, water, flowers, et alia, to the tomb and shared them with the deceased, usually on the anniversary of death. . . .
Meals for the dead were occasions for family members to express solidarity not only with the departed, but also with each other. In the words of Cumont, “No religious ceremony was more universally performed in the most diverse regions of the Empire than this cult of the grave. At every hour of every day families met in some tomb to celebrate their anniversary by eating the funeral meal.” Tombs were frequently supplied with dining furniture, and especially an offering table. The table was often fitted with depressions and carvings in the shape of saucers and containers for food and liquids. The covering slab of the grave itself was often this table, overlaying the remains of the deceased just below. Holes or tubes through the stone or earth into the grave conveyed the offered food to the dead family member. Concerning the social dimension of the meal for the dead as it continued in the early Church, Snyder writes:
The celebration was very social. It strengthened family relationships, either blood or primary, by including extended generations. The service itself included anointing of the stone of mensa, antiphonal singing, dancing, the agape or refrigerium meal with all the prayers and acclamations attending that.
The dead participant in the meal apparently enjoyed the experience. . . . The singing, eating, drinking, dancing and requests to the dead made this occasion an experience of family “life” with one of its honoured members. (pp. 44-47)
A small step to the post-Easter events
Comparison of these customs with the resurrection narratives of the New Testament is quite instructive. Offerings of food for and meals with the dead were common and important to the culture at large. The body of the deceased was cremated or buried, yet offerings were poured into the graves in both cases . . . . [T]hese dead without bodies were able to eat, drink and talk with the living. It seems but a small step to the post-Easter events. (p. 47)
Riley is addressing the scenes of Jesus eating with his disciples after his resurrection. It is me who is taking his words and suggesting they may have relevance for another idea.
So what we have here is a culture for whom sharing a meal with the dead is important, and Gospels (Luke and John) that also speak of Jesus having a meal with his disciples after his death and resurrection.
Gospel resurrections followed by meals
The Gospel of Mark relates a story of Jesus raising a twelve year old girl from the dead. All onlookers (the world) are convinced she is dead, but Jesus, who is the Son of God and imbued with another spirit can describe her state as one of sleep. What the world understands as dead Jesus views as sleep. So for Jesus raising the dead is no more difficult than awaking one out of sleep. And after he raises her up he orders that she be given something to eat.
Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Then there is John the Baptist’s death that in so many ways is signalled by Mark as a prefiguring of Jesus’ own death. This, too, is followed by a miraculous meal shared with one perceived to be John the Baptist resurrected. This is the feeding of the 5,000.
14 King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” . . . .
16 But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!” . . . .
29 . . . . John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
Given the extent of Mark’s metaphorical or parabolic suggestiveness throughout his Gospel, these narratives suggest to me the linking of a ritualistic meal to a post-resurrection appearance. (I am not insisting that this is THE right way to read these passages. As I said, this is an exploratory post.)
Justin Martyr’s inferences
Now we come to the mid-second century and see what Justin Martyr tells us about “church practice” according to his experience and awareness.
Our canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are generally said to have been composed between around 70 and 100 c.e. That is, they were written some time during and after the period of the fall of Jerusalem, from about forty years after the presumed death of Jesus. Some scholars prefer to date them much earlier. Bruno Bauer once argued that the gospels should be dated well into the second century. It is said that J. B. Lightfoot has soundly trashed those arguments, but I would like to see both argument and rebuttal side by side before I am convinced.
While I am not prepared to argue that Justin Martyr, a “Church Father” writing around the 140s, definitely did not know the canonical gospels, I do find exploring what he appears to have known and not known a fascinating exercise.
In a recent post I pointed to his assertion that the disciples fulfilled prophecy by fleeing when the shepherd was struck, or when Jesus was crucified. The point of that observation was to encourage reflection on what this means for the canonical narrative that has the disciples betray and desert Jesus in Gethsemane as he is being arrested and tried several times and catapulted on his way to the cross.
Here are two places where Justin refers to the eucharist being established in the church. (Before I copy and paste that, however, do note that other remarks by Justin on the eucharist, such as how it was a thanksgiving memorial for Jesus having once come in the flesh [not quite what we read in the canonical gospels], as he explains in Trypho [do a word-search of the page]). So here ’tis:
Dialogue with Trypo, ch. 51
But if John came first calling on men to repent, and Christ, while[John] still sat by the river Jordan, having come, put an end to his prophesying and baptizing, and preached also Himself, saying that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and that He must suffer many things from the Scribes and Pharisees, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again, and would appear again in Jerusalem, and would again eat and drink with His disciples; and foretold that in the interval between His[first and second] advent, as I previously said, priests and false prophets would arise in His name, which things do actually appear; . . . . .
Is not the sequence there of interest?
- preaches the kingdom of heaven being at hand
- that he must suffer many things
- that he must be crucified
- that he will rise again on the third day
- that he would appear again in Jerusalem
- that he would again eat and drink with his disciples
It is very difficult, I think, to try to squeeze that last point into a promise of what he would do some time in the future when the kingdom came at Jesus’ second advent. Justin is informing us what Jesus both prophesied and what he did do in fulfilment of those prophecies.
There is nothing like this last detail in our canonical gospels.
Here is the second passage from Justin’s First Apology, chs. 65-67. It will be easier to follow if I quote the last line first here:
and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
Justin seems to me to be telling us that Jesus taught his disciples a whole lot of things after his resurrection. In our canonical gospels we read that Jesus did teach them that he had just fulfilled a whole lot of scriptures. But Justin has listed a lot of very different things in the curriculum Jesus passed on after his resurrection. He begins with the practice of baptism.
(This section includes a section referencing the Memoirs of the Apostles which are called Gospels. Yet this application of the word “Gospels” to written narratives is unique in Justin, and it is not unreasonable to see this word as a scribal gloss. For Justin the gospel is the message, not a written narrative. A few scholars have also questioned whether the isolated passages in Justin’s writings speaking of the Memoirs of the Apostles are also later scribal insertions. I don’t know if I could argue that myself, however. But it is worth noting that in the following section there is an disjointed series of repetitions suggesting that something odd has happened to the original text. I personally tend to think that Justin did indeed speak of Memoirs of the Apostles, but that the confusion and incoherence of thought that is associated with his mentions indicates another later hand attempting to make hay with his remarks.)
But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled,
in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.
Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.
There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.
And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to genoito [so be it].
And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.
And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.
For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.
For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things.
And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.
Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.
For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
Is Justin here saying that Jesus instituted the church worship rituals and other Christian practices that were exercised each Sunday on the day of his resurrection?
If not, why not?
Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)
- Varieties of Atheism #2 - 2023-05-21 02:18:55 GMT+0000
- Varieties of Atheism - 2023-05-20 07:10:56 GMT+0000
- The Troubled “Quiet” before the Jewish Diaspora’s Revolt against Rome: 116-117 C.E. - 2023-05-10 07:58:29 GMT+0000
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!
19 thoughts on “Was the Last Supper/Eucharist “originally given” by Jesus AFTER his resurrection?”
I accept that the Dead Sea Scrolls group were “proto-Ebionites” led by the Teacher of Righteous James, so I believe the “model” for the Eucharist is in what Vermes calls the Messianic Rule (1QSa = 1Q28a): “[T]hey shall gather for the common [tab]le, to eat and [to drink] new wine … let no man extend his hand over the firstfruits of bread and wine before the Priest … Thereafter the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, [and] all the congregation of the Commmunity [shall utter a] blessing …”
This is to take place at a meeting with the Council of the Community, who consist of twelve men and three priests, which of course I feel is the source for the twelve man apostle scheme and the three pillars refered to by Paul in Galatians.
The Gospel of the Hebrews comes to mind, too, when thinking of the Eucharist, in which, according to Jerome (ill. men 2) Jesus gives bread to James after the Resurrection.
I’m in a rush so I will check in later to possibly add some more thoughts about this.
Thank you for the greeting and the disclaimer!
(I hope you saw my recent word of thanks to you for having reminded me about the wording of Justin Martyr’s references to the disciples scattering/fleeing after the crucifixion. It connects up with some things I have been thinking and writing about in relation to the ending of the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Peter.
I used to write quite a bit about the Gospel of Peter in relation to the Gospel of Mark, too. (Links at my older Classical Ending and constructed tables to show matches between the Gospel of Peter and the respective canonical gospels and Justin Martyr’s writings (in need of corrections and updating now).
The main difference between your article and what I was thinking at that time is that you are looking at the a pre-Gospel-of-Mark narrative while I was looking at a pre-Gospel-of-Peter narrative.
I should have been more clear that while I agree with these ideas, Eisenman brought them to my attention, but I think they pertain to your question.
Another idea of his that I like is that Paul possibly makes a word play on the “New Covenant in the Land of Damascus” in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first syllable in Damascus (DMShK) is the Hebrew word for blood (“dam” DM) and the last shares a root with “shakah” (to give to drink -Strong’s 8248). The Scrolls also have an idea of the “cup (chos) of God’s wrath (cha’as).” Damascus in Greek is Damakos, making for a possible interlanguage word play meaning “blood cup.” That the DSS group, like James and Judaism in general, forbid the consumption of blood, this type of word play would have antagonized them, like the Spouter of Lies who built “a Worthless City upon blood and erect[ed] an Assembly upon Lying, for the sake of his Glory, tiring out Many with a Worthless Service and instructing them in works of Lying” (1QpHab 10:10, Eisenman).
Some interesting points, John. Thanks. I would love to have a closer look at the role of Damascus in early Christianity — both as a literary figure and in the “real world”.
Even our canonical story can be interpreted as knowing of Damascus as the geographical (symbolic??) place of origin of Pauline Christianity.
I have to confess I have only read portions of Eisenman’s book on James the Lord’s Brother.
The analogy between the celebration of the Eucharist and a family eating a funeral meal at the tomb of a relative is truly amazing. As a digression, I came to think about the famous Abercius epitaph (c. 200 CE), said to be the earliest Christian inscription ever found. The sepulchral inscription declares that, everywhere on his way to Rome, Abercius received as food “the Fish (Ichthys) of exceeding great size and pure whom the spotless virgin caught from the spring,” as well as wine mixed with water, together with bread. (The “good” wine hints at a pun on “Chrestos.”) Thus, if the traditional interpretations are correct, we here have an early Christian tombstone with a Eucharistic message. Interestingly, the name “Paul” is mentioned in the inscription. Could this be a hidden reference to 1 Cor 11:23-26?
I think you just need to look at the big picture Neil and let MOTIVATIONS be your guide:
1) Paul writes the original Eucharist story and explicitly states a source of Revelation.
2) Justin Martyr is mid second century and represents Christianity’s conversion from Revelation based to supposed historical based.
3) JM (Justin Martyr, JM, coincidence?) never mentions Paul because Paul was known to be based on Revelation (allah Marcion).
4) Christianity has the established institution of Eucahrist at the time but has to exorcise the source of Paul.
5) The New source becomes the supposed historical disciples. HJ told them (as opposed to MJ telling Paul).
JM’s related point here is that Jesus told the DISCIPLES. The point is not WHEN he told the Disciples but WHO told the Disciples. Understand dear Reader?
Okay, no points on this one, Next.
I think you’re very right about the point being “who” told the disciples within the context of alternative “traditions” that such teachings from Jesus came by (heavenly/spiritual) revelation.
We have a raft of gospels that portray the spirit Jesus (over a period of some days after his resurrection) giving divine and secret instructions to his disciples. (I’m less inclined than you are to see a single trajectory from Paul to the gospels, if I understand you correctly.)
Justin would appear to be (re)locating that revelation to a context that is tied to an earthly narrative setting of that Jesus.
One might thus look on the canonical gospels as expressions of a further development towards grounding that Jesus (and his revelations to his disciples/the church) into his earthly and physical person and career.
By moving the eucharist and other teachings to a pre-resurrection setting the “proto-orthodox” are grounding their genealogy of origins into literal history, thus setting themselves apart from all others who could only claim competing spiritual visions to this or that favoured apostle as their foundation.
The gospels, particularly the synoptic ones, and especially Matthew and Luke, and most especially Luke, can be seen as catholicizing works aimed at bringing a range of apostolic authorities into one common foundation.
(Mark may have been trying to solve the problem by reminding everyone that the apostles were all figurative anyway, and the point was for believers to learn their lessons from a parable. His moving the eucharist into a pre-resurrection setting was part of his parable that had him place all of Jesus’ secret teachings in that setting. He was writing a lesson much like the stories of the Exodus or Judges or 1 Samuel to 2 Kings — a parable for the “new Israel”.)
Paul proved a bit more difficult, but Acts took care of him in this agenda.
The only problem is that I can’t (at least not yet) prove any of this. 🙁
James O’Donnell’s book Augustine: A New Biography points out this practice in several passages. In the index, see “Donatism: religious practices of”.
Augustine’s Christian mother in northern Africa enjoyed these festivities, which were called laetitiae, which were described as picnics in cemeteries. Augustine himself managed to avoid them as a youth.
When Augustine went to Italy in about the year 385, his mother accompanied him. The practice was much less common in Italy, but it did exist, but Bishop Ambrose was trying to suppress it. When Augustine’s mother went to a cemetery with a picnic basket, she was turned away. As a foreign guest in Italy, she refrained from the practice during the rest of her stay. Augustine perceived henceforth that the suppression of the practice was a mark of Roman culture’s advance over African culture.
Soon after Augustine eventually became bishop of Hippo in Africa, he himself suppressed the practice in his own congregation. The occassion for the suppression was the annual laetitiae for a Bishop Leontius, who had been martyred in Hippo many years earlier. Every year the congregation had a big picnic in its local cemetery to celebrate the martyrdom, and the feast had come to include the consumption of much wine. Augustine preached a series of sermons that focused his condemnation on the wine-drinking part of the picnics and that argued that memories of Christ’s death should call for solemnity, not happy drinking.
The laetitiae remained a major difference between the Donatist form of Christianity that was native to northern Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity that Augustine strove to import and develop. Using the political and police powers of the Roman government during several decades, Augustine eventually succeeded in defeating Donatism and its peculiar practices, including the laetitiae.
Because of their continuing resentment about the suppression of their native practices, however, the north African Christians acquiesced easily when the Vandals defeated the Romans in north Africa at the end of Augustine’s life.
O’Donnell’s book includes an endnote, #265, which refers to another book that describes the still continuing practice of cemetery meals in Greek Orthodox cemeteries in Macedonian villages in the 1930s.
Ha! Then the gospel forms a neat circle if 16:8 takes us back to the beginning — with all the meals, baptism, discussions with the disciples, coming after Jesus death, once the cycle has begun…
Yeah, I think a lot of the practices of early Christians were instituted according to the authority of post-resurrection visions of Jesus. The ‘last supper’ tradition could well have begun in such a resurrection vision, later transferred to his lifetime. Yet, instructions need not be exclusively either post- or pre-resurrection. Justin may have held both to an institution of the eucharist by the pre-resurrection Jesus, and also to further instructions which he believed were issued post-resurrection – it’s hard to finally decide which applies here. I’m reminded of the Epistle of the Apostles, where Jesus’ post-resurrection instructions are greatly expanded – compared to, say, those in Luke.
But it’s also clear that Justin knows both of traditions about Jesus as a teacher during the latter’s lifetime as well as traditions about post-resurrection teachings. For the former, the ‘render unto Caesar’ tradition requires the context of mundane opponents, and therefore a teaching during Jesus’ lifetime (First Apology, 17).
Also, Justin is aware of a similar tradition to that in Luke 24.27 (if not Luke itself), where Jesus explicates all the ‘prophecies’ about himself on the day of his resurrection. In the First Apology (50), Justin refers to the fleeing of the disciples, their denial of him, and (the post-resurrection) Jesus teaching them “to read the prophecies in which all these things were foretold as coming to pass”.
One of the little reasons I am undecided on Justin’s knowledge of our gospels is his twice being explicit that the disciples fled “after Jesus was crucified”. I am relying on a translation that says:
Does the original Greek leave room for doubt that Justin sets the fleeing after Jesus is crucified? Having them flee after the crucifixion makes most sense of the Zechariah prophecy: the sheep are scatted after the shepherd is struck. But such a chronological shift is hard to imagine if one knows the story of the Gethsemane betrayal and arrest.
Justin’s Greek does clearly say “after his [Jesus’] crucifixion” (“Meta gar to staurothenai auton…”). But my assessment of Justin is that he knew Mark, Matthew, and Luke, and yet sometimes used them less than literally. This conclusion requires detailed work, of course, and other conclusions have been reached. If however, dependence is a little loose, it makes it difficult to affirm a variation in traditions.
Otherwise, the passage in Trypho 53 seems to draw from traditions quite consistent with Luke and Matthew, I think: “…Moreover, the prophet Zechariah foretold that this same Christ would be smitten, and His disciples scattered: which also took place. For after His crucifixion, the disciples that accompanied Him were dispersed, until He rose from the dead, and persuaded them that so it had been prophesied concerning Him, that He would suffer; and being thus persuaded, they went into all the world, and taught these truths….”
Thanks for confirming the Greek for me.
I’m not sure how to interpret the option that Justin used the synoptics “less than literally”. I would welcome a reference (preferably to an online journal article) where this particular detail is discussed by someone who as done the “detailed work”. (The bulk of what I have read has been about the gospel-like sayings of Jesus in Justin, with only few exceptions such as Jesus changing the names of disciples.)
Many of the references in Justin might generally be said to be “consistent with certain traditions”, but there are many instances where it is the detail that takes us to a dead end, and possibly forces us to look in another direction. At the same time I’m by no means brave enough to say he did not know the synoptics, so I would welcome pointers to discussions of Justin’s knowledge of narrative as opposed to sayings data.
The connexion between the eucharist and the last supper is one large red herring. It only exists to provide the pre-existant eucharist with a new etiological myth conforming with Catholic dogm.
Already Jean Magne explained in Logique des Sacrements the reasons for the ancient hoax.
First Step: The traditional practice of the eucharist disagrees with the tales of the last supper (in the canonical gospels and I Cor) in that the latter describe distinct actions of grace for the bread and the vine, while the echarist, as confirmed by comparing the Roman canon missæ with descriptions from various non-Latin rites, only formally acknowledges the presence of the cup and performs one action of grace covering both of them.
Second Step: A synopsis of Lk 22 and Mk 14 reveals that “Luke’s” story is not derived from canonical “Mark”. The solution dawns by bracketting out the insitutional words on both cup and bread from Mk 14 and leaving but the eschatological words concerning the cup; which means that the bread did not feature at all. Using this prior source, a redactor leading towards the known “Luke” added a corresponding eschatological word concerning the roast lamb.
Third step: The institution of the eucharistic bread, absent from the last supper, must derive from stories relating the multiplication and fraction of bread. A synopsis of Mk 6 and Mk 8 reveals that many topics of the eucharist celebrations are featured in those tales. I Cor 11:23, an interpolation, is the original attempt to force the cup into the eucharist and make both of them instituted by Jesus-Christ upon the same opportunity.
Fourth Step: Upon eliminating the glosses of the feeding miracle of MK 8, a primitive narrative of the event appears with hardly any specific scriptural allusions; and the minimalist account still contains most of the elements of the eucharist of the churches. The glosses are mostly identified as attempts to make “Jesus” fulfil scripture, permit gentiles as second-class believers among the Jewish christians, make him appear as a second Moses, as the eschatological Messiah, or the King of Israel. The seven breads of the minimal account symbolize the gospel as the perfect word of God. This is supported by the sermon on bread of life in John 6; the diatribes against the leaven of the Pharisees in Mt 16; the Didache which equates the bread with knowledge (gnosis) and life made known by Jesus on behalf of The Father; and the excursion to Emmaus of Luke 24, where two disciples recognize the proper meaning of the Christ after Jesus breaks bread for them.
Fifth Step: In Emmaus, the disciples assume naïvely that the crucifiction of Jesus means an end to all hopes. Only the dialogue with icognito Jesus and the sharing of food opens their eyes and makes them realize their misunderstanding and the true nature of the Christ, just as those of Adam and Eve do upon the sharing of the illegal fruit. Adam and Eve had theretofore been nude but not ashamed of it because their eyes had not yet been opened. The bread thus induces the knowledge (gnosis) as did the illegal fruit. Jesus is thus related to the serpent, and the understanding of his nature to the realization of nudity.
Sixth Step: The story of Emmaus agrees in many important points with the mythologies of sects described by the Fathers of the Church and assorted texts of NHL, specifically the writing on the cosmic origins of Codex II:5, which establishes the anthropological model of body, soul, and intellect (nous). In this model, the nous is dysfunctional until opened by the instruction by the serpent. This leads to the problem of the acquisition of the nous, which leads (in five further steps unrelated to the institution of the eucharist) to the original meaning and historization of the baptismal rite.
Even if the latter steps could be flaky, the basic discrepance between eucharist and last supper remains, as does the affinity between eucharist practice and the feeding miracles.
I may have missed it, but has anyone here considered the Last Supper in light of the activities of Roman burial associations?
Consider the evidence from the marble plaque found in Lanuvium inscribed with by-laws from the Collegium of Diana and Antinous http://philipharland.com/greco-roman-associations/310-regulations-of-the-worshippers-of-diana-and-antinous/
Members not only presided over funeral rites and provided for the burial of deceased members in good standing, but met for memorial dinners six times during the year. The dinners consisted of wine, fish, and bread; warm water was provided, presumably for either a ritual purification or basic hygiene (perhaps a combination of the two?). Twice a year, in August on the dies natalis (“birthday” or anniversary) of dedication of the the temple of Diana in Rome and in November on the birthday of Antinous, members of the association participated in a communal bath.
This behavior sounds so familiar that I want to read István Czachesz’s “Cognitive Science and the New Testament: A New Approach to Early Christian Research”.
I think I have seen some comparisons of that sort. I will try to track them down and perhaps blog about them. Thanks for raising the topic.