Jesus’ Death as the Death of the People of God: Communion and Passion

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by Neil Godfrey

continuing the series of

Eucharist: Body and Blood of the People

We read about Jesus, on the eve of his death, as the eucharist or Last Supper meal, or as the ideal end-time sacrifice, that is, the sacrifice that effects not only forgiveness of sins but the communion of God and his people. The Passover feast has been reinterpreted but the changes have all come from other ideas found within the Jewish interpretations of Scriptures at the time.

In the view of Grappe and Marx (authors of Sacrifices scandaleux? quoted in the previous post) Jesus returns to the original (pre-Flood) ingredients of sacrifice, bread and wine, to function as both the sacrifice of reparation for sin and the sacrifice of the communion of God and his people (see the previous post for these two sacrifices explained). Further, these same ingredients represent the feast of the eschatological Kingdom of God. “Bread and cup become the place of the encounter with the one who gives his life” in the inauguration of God’s kingdom where both forgiveness and communion are freely offered.

In the old blood sacrifice, different parts of the animal were separated out and divided among the respective participants: offerer, priest, God. With the grain offering, on the other hand, God and priests share the same food that has been prepared the same way for both of them. So the ideal that was meant for the beginning of creation is projected to the end time. (Grappe and Marx, pp. 139-40)

We have seen this ideal from the beginning being re-instituted at the end-time in the Community Rule scroll from Qumran.

And when they shall gather for the common table, to eat and to drink new wine, when the common table shall be set for eating and the new wine poured for drinking, let no man extend his hand over the firstfruits of bread and wine before the Priest; for it is he who shall bless the firstfruits of bread and wine, and shall be the first to extend his hand over the bread. Thereafter, the Messiah of Israel shall extend his hand over the bread, and all the congregation of the Community shall utter a blessing, each man in the order of his dignity.

It is according to this statute that they shall proceed at every meal at which at least ten men are gathered together

(1QSa 2:11-22 — Vermes, Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English)

Variations on the Passover liturgy and meal

What we see in the gospels is not an interpretation of a historical Jesus, an interpretation that makes him a worthy sacrifice replacement for Passover. No, what we see is the reverse: the rituals and traditions relating to Passover have led to the creation of the figure of Jesus. The bread of the Passover meal and the sacrifice itself are together personified in the figure of Jesus. Here it is important to bring to our attention a custom associated with Passover that is not apparent from reading the gospels.

From Jewish Boston

A Passover custom that appears to have had roots among some Jewish circles back into the Second Temple period and following is the breaking of a piece of bread and setting it aside, having wrapped it in white cloth to remain unseen, hidden, and to be eaten as the last thing of the meal. This piece of bread, the final item tasted, is called the aphikoman. This piece is said in rabbinic literature to represent Isaac, the son whom Abraham was willing to sacrifice. (For a description of this ceremony in French see the online article by R. Guyon beginning from Comment Jésus peut-il s’identifier à une matsah? – quoted by NC)

Now the word aphikoman/afikoman means “dessert”, or literally “he who is to come”, the dessert being delayed until the end of the meal. But of course “he who will come” has other connotations.

NC cites several scholarly works in this discussion and I have delayed posting this outline until I was able to track down some of them, in particular, essays by Eisler and Daube. Eisler’s article caused quite a storm when it appeared, as one can see from a section of Israel Jacob Yuval’s Two Nations in Your Womb:

Robert Eisler

In 1925—1926, Eisler published a rwo-part article named “Das letzte Abendmahl” in the journal Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kundeder âlteren Kirche, in volumes 24—25, presenting an approach that comparcd the afikoman of the Jewish ceremony with the Host of the Christian one. Eisler was a great scholar of the New Testament, but he knew less about Judaism, and his article suffered from some errors. Yet this fact still does not confute his essential argument, and his article was an important contribution to uncovering the messianic significance of the afikoman and the potential for research latent in an understanding of the parallel developments of Passover and Easter.

This approach became a thorn in the flesh of both Jewish and Christian scholars. Immediately after the first part of Eisler’s paper was published, the journal’s editor, Hans Lietzmann, wanted to rescind his agreement to publish the second part. Eisler refused to give in and insisted that Lietzmann honor his commitment to publish the complete article. He even hired an attorney and threatened a lawsuit. Lietzmann was forced to come around, and Eisler’s attorney even forbade him to append an editor’s note stating that the article was published against his will and under legal duress. Instead, at the beginning of volume 25 (1926), Lietzmann published his own critique of Eisler’s theory, along with a sharp article by Marmorstein. Eisler demanded the right to reply in volume 26 (1927), but Lietzmann refused. Eisler then suggested that Lietzmann publish his reply in a journal outside Germany, on condition that Lietzmann report its contents in the “From Foreign Journals” section, but Lietzmann refused to do even that. Eisler remained isolated, attacked on all sides, and unable to reply to his critics.

David Daube

Forty years later, in 1966, Daube delivered a lecture on the afikoman at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, vindicating Eisler’s interpretation of the afikoman, with certain necessary corrections and adding his own new findings. Daube told his audience of the bitter fate of his predecessor and expressed doubts whether the time had come for such comparative studies between Christianity and Judaism. To illustrate his concerns, he pointed out the fact that in the Goldschmidt edition of the Passover Haggadah there was no mention of the New Testament, even though it contains valuable information on the ancient version of Passover customs. Since Daube was not sure that the time was ripe, he refrained from disseminating his lecture widely and was satisfied with its publication in a pamphlet available only through personal request to the secretariat of the Committee for Christian-Jewish Understanding in London. Unlike Eisler, Daube was not muzzled, but his interpretation remained on the periphery of scholarship and has not yet been accorded the scholarly recognition it deserves.

(pp 90-91)

Ah, the gentle ethereal world of scholarly exchanges.

Having read Yuval’s account I had to track down the articles by Eisler (both of them), Lietzmann, Marmorstein and Daube. You can access them through the links I supplied in the bibliography at the end of this post. In short, to quote the conclusion of Yuval,

If we trace the history of the afikoman and that of the Host in parallel, we discover a very ancient similarity. In I Corinthians 11:26, Paul addresses the following injunction to the disciples: ‘For as often as you eat this bread (…) you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’. The consumption of the consecrated bread and wine during the Eucharistic meal is indeed an evocation of the crucifixion and the Parousia. This is also the precise meaning of the afikoman – a term that does not derive etymologically from the Greek epikomon but from aphikomenos, i.e. ”He who is to come”, as Robert Eisler (1925) and David Daube (1956) have glossed. Eating the afikoman therefore means anticipating the coming of the Messiah, according to the well-known rule: that “in Nissan comes deliverance and in Nissan comes salvation”.

(translated from p. 322 of the French edition of Yuval’s book in Hebrew, Deux peuples en ton sein, — quoted by NC, p. 380-381)

Contrary to Yuval’s conclusion elsewhere, Eisler and Daube insist that it is the gospel of Matthew that has been influenced by the Jewish custom.

There is an article in French by René Guyon describing the Passover customs and relating them to their reinterpretation in the gospels: http://www.garriguesetsentiers.org/article-12116051.html. Scroll down to the heading “Rite of Jesus”: a web translator is always an option, too. Included here are suggestions that Jesus is understood to have fulfilled the meanings of the several cups drunk at the Passover meal, with the fifth cup, normally not touched because it is poured out for Elijah, being drunk by Jesus. The suggestion is that by drinking the fifth cup at the end of the meal Jesus is declaring that he has fulfilled what Elijah came to proclaim: his own advent. (Perhaps, but I would have thought an evangelist would have dropped in a hint that it was explicitly the final or fifth cup that Jesus drank.)

Personification makes sense of it all

Another parallel lies in the four questions involving Jesus upon his entry into Jerusalem to suffer crucifixion: they coincide with the Passover Haggadah that goes back to the time of the creation of the New Testament, according to David Daube. For Daube, when we read the Gospel of Mark

We are here in touch with an author . . . who still spent Passover eve with his family or friends reciting the Haggadah.

That Haggadah is derived from the four occasions in the Pentateuch when God commands that children be taught the significance of the Exodus from Egypt. The differences in the wording of those four occasions led exegetes to interpret them as alluding to four different types of sons. The earliest gospel, Mark, “followed the Midrash of the four sons” in the way he composed the exchanges with Jesus. I have set out the highlights of the comparisons with rabbinic tradition that appears to go back to very early times:

Pharisees ask Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? A question re Law first son: the wise son asks about the laws
Sadducees ask Which of the seven brother-husbands will have the wife in the resurrection? A question designed to ridicule a belief held by Jesus second son: the wicked son asks the scoffing question
A scribe asks What is the greatest commandment? A question about fundamental principles of life third son: the son of plain piety asks the simple and fundamental question about life principles
Jesus asks How can the Messiah be the Son of David per Psalm 110? A question relating to conflict in Scripture fourth son: the son who does not know how to ask so that the father must take the initiative in opening instruction
From stickofjosepph.org. See also Ohr Somayach

There is much more detail than that table suggests and anyone interested can follow up the two references (book and article) to Daube in the bibliography at the end of this post. Daube further explains the differences in Matthew’s and Luke’s versions as evidence that the later evangelists failed to understand Mark’s reliance on the Passover Haggadah.

NC adds an alternative explanation to Daube’s thesis, one proposed by René Guyon and that appears to me to be based on the Gospel of John so is more an addition than an alternative:

  1. The wise son: Jesus, who questions the meaning of the present event and supplies the answer
  2. The wicked son: Judas Iscariot
  3. The simple or innocent son: Peter who asks Jesus where he is going (John 13:36-37) and why he cannot follow him straightaway. (According to Daube the evidence points to the earliest liturgy containing a “plain and pious” son that was later mutated into a foolish or silly son.)
  4. The son who does not know how to ask the question: the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one Peter had to prompt to ask Jesus who would betray him.

Narrative constructed entirely from the verses of Jewish Scripture

If we accept such origins for these episodes and characters in the gospels what we are witnessing is the transformation of Jewish teachings into personifications and living narratives pointing to a “fulfillment” of those teachings. The main character becomes “the body” of his people. The bread and the cup of the Passover are made to point to this identification. So the Passion of Jesus in the narrative can be woven entirely out of phrases from those Jewish Scriptures that concern the people of Israel, the “son of God”. And we know that the Passion narrative is indeed constructed entirely from phrases from the Old Testament. See, for further evidence in addition to what we have posted in this serious previously, 160 Scriptural Quotations and Allusions in Mark 11-16. The texts that have been used to create the Passion narrative originally applied to the Jewish people: their suffering in Egypt, their exodus, the lamentations of the prophets over them.

The background to the scene of the death of the Prophet is found in Jeremiah 26. See Jeremiah 26:8-16.

See also Nehemiah 9:26 for the killing of the prophets and Zechariah 9:9 for the humiliation of the messiah. That the righteous are destined to suffer, see Wisdom 2:10-20. That the righteous suffer was a common theme in the Hellenistic world and later Christian theologians and commentators came to increasingly see Jesus in the terms Plato used to describe the fate of the wise and good in The Republic. And of course we are all familiar with Psalm 22. The two thieves, the divided tunic, the nailed hands and feet, the spear through the side, the gall and vinegar, the thirst, the last words — all are taken from Isaiah, from Psalms 69 and 22. Recall Isaiah 53:10-11.

The sociologist Max Weber understood the beginnings of this way of writing (my bolded highlighting):

Max Weber
Max Weber

The theme is developed in the much discussed songs of the “Servant of God” (‘eved Yahwe). The peculiar conception of this figure obviously vacillates . . . between a single figure and a personification of the people of Israel or, rather, of its pious core. Besides all sorts of unacceptable personalities the figure has been interpreted as that of King Joiakim who as a youth was abducted to Babylon, pardoned after long years of imprisonment, and invited to the royal table; the Book of Kings concludes with his liberation from captivity. But, unless one wishes to relate the various songs to distinctly different representations qualifying as Servants of God, neither this nor any other assumption is truly compelling, and also the question whether an individual person or collective personification cannot be consistently answered.The author would seem to have linked fates and woes, well known to his public as a matter of course, above all, the “pierced” ankles of the prisoners, with features of an eschatological figure of unknown derivation. Obviously it is deliberate art form when he moves to and fro between the personal representative of fateful suffering and the suffering collectivity in such a manner that occasionally it is hard to tell even in a single instance which possible meaning was guiding the artist. Israel is the Servant of Yahwe, it is said (49:3) and even before (48:20) it is said, that Yahwe redeemed his servant Jacob. However, immediately after the first passage ( 49:5, 6) the Servant of Yahwe is called upon to convert Jacob, to restore the tribes of Israel. For Yahwe had given him the tongue of a disciple to speak in time to the weary (50:4) and further (53: 11) (to be sure, in an uncertain reading) his knowledge is viewed as the source of hope. This was the customary way of speaking of prophets or Torah teachers, hence one may be inclined to see in the Servant of God a personification of prophecy.

(Weber, 371-372)

Further, Israel itself is saved through this suffering, through this death leading to rebirth, and even becomes the agent of the salvation of the world:

[The] problem [of Deutero-Isaiah] is . . . the theodicy of Israel’s suffering in the universal perspective of a wise and divine world government. Granting such questions, what constitutes for him the meaning of his glorification of sufferance, of ugliness, and of being despised? Of course, it is not an accident but design that the prophet makes the eschatological person repeatedly shift from a personification of Israel into one of prophecy and vice versa, and that Israel consequently appears now as the champion, now as the object of salvation. The meaning of it all is plainly the glorification of the situation of the pariah people and its tarrying endurance. Thereby the Servant of God and the people whose archetype he is, become the deliverers of the world. Thus, should the Servant of God even have been conceived as a personal savior, then he qualified only by voluntarily taking upon himself the pariah situation of the Exile people and by suffering without resistance and complaint misery, ugliness, and martyrdom. All the elements of the utopian evangelical sermon “resist no evil with force” are here at hand.

(Weber, 375-376)

See again the many scriptural building blocks of the Passion narrative that NC set out earlier and that we posted at Gospels Cut from Jewish Scriptures, #7 (conclusion). The new Isaac carrying the wood of his sacrifice, the new David climbing the Mount of Olives, the Suffering Righteous One found in Isaiah, Zechariah and the Psalms, etc.

Collective death preceding Jesus’ death in the Gospels

John Kloppenborg

Ironically NC finds a significant indicator in support of her thesis in the thought of Q specialist John S. Kloppenborg in an article of his that was included in a French collection. Kloppenborg is discussing “the problem” that there is no Passion Narrative in the Q document — a hypothetical document that has long been widely believed to be a source used by Matthew and Luke. Kloppenborg argues that the lack of narrative about the suffering and death of Jesus is replaced by reflections on the suffering and death of the followers of Jesus. So even if we accept the authenticity of the Q document, we can see in it the concept of the suffering of Jesus being equated with the suffering of the community.

I will quote from the article version of the same chapter (again my bolding except for the Jesus’ Death header). Note also the footnote #103 where Kloppenborg draws attention to all the elements of the Passion narrative being found in “the wisdom tale” and recall recent posts where we covered the same theme in NC’s thesis: that Jesus is also found to be personified Wisdom.

Jesus’ Death: There is no passion narrative in Q and no sayings that appear to reflect on Jesus’ death in particular, yet it would be absurd to suppose that those who framed Q were unaware of Jesus’ death. As I have argued elsewhere, the narrative elements that make up the Markan passion narrative are also present in Q, although they refer not to Jesus’ death in particular, but more generally to the fates of the prophets and the Q group.l03 The key elements of trial, condemnation, assistance (by the Spirit), ordeal, vindication, acclamation, and punishment (of the opponents) are all embedded in the fabric of Q, but they are not emplotted as a single narrative.l04 More importantly, the subject of these narrative functions is not Jesus himself, as in the Markan passion narrative, but the larger set of persons comprising the prophets, John, Jesus, and Jesus’ followers. That is, for Q the “passion narrative” has not yet become privatized as Jesus’ passion.

103 John S. Kloppenborg, “‘Easter Faith’ and the Sayings Gospel Q,” Semeia 49 (1990) 71-99. The narrative functions of provocation, conspiracy, trial and condemnation, ordeal, prayer, protest, assistance, vindication, exaltation and acclamation (of the righteous) and punishment (of the persecutors) are key elements of the “wisdom tale” analyzed by George W. E. Nickelsburg, Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism (HTS 26; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972) 48-92.

104 I am indebted to Nickelsburg’s seminal discussion of these narrative functions in the Markan passion narrative. See George W. E. Nickelsburg, “The Genre and Function of the Marcan Passion Narrative,” HTR 73 (1980) 153-84.

(Kloppenborg, 331)

The alternative explanation to Kloppenborg’s is that Q understood Jesus’ death differently from the way today’s “orthodox readings” interpret it. Q can be seen as drawing the idea of Jesus’ death from the stories of the deaths of the prophets and the sufferings of God’s people. Would it be simpler to see Jesus’ death as the literary figure of the death of the people?

In conclusion, then, should we say that Jesus dies as God’s people or as God’s presence? NC’s answer: Both. For NC we must keep in mind the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 since that event signified the end of the old era of the “People of God”. (Recently I have been looking at readings of the sources that may indicate that sacrifices did not come to an end in 70 and that the truly final break with the old, the loss of all hope of restoration of rebuilt Temple came in the 130s with the Bar Kochba revolt and the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem. But I’m happy in the meantime to work with the year 70.)



Charbonnel, Nanine. Jésus-Christ, Sublime Figure de Papier. Paris: Berg International, 2017.

Daube, David. “Four Types of Question.” The Journal of Theological Studies 2, no. 1 (1951): 45–48. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23955932 and https://sci-hub.se/10.1093/jts/ii.1.45

Daube, David. The New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism. Reprint edition. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011. https://archive.org/search.php?query=The%20New%20Testament%20and%20Rabbinic%20Judaism%20daube. (pp. 158-169.)

Eisler, Robert. “Das Letzte Abendmahl. 1925.” Zeitschrift Für Die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Und Die Kunde Der Älteren Kirche 24, no. 1 (1925): 161–92. https://doi.org/10.1515/zntw.1925.24.1.161.

———. “Das Letzte Abendmahl. 1926.” Zeitschrift Für Die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Und Die Kunde Der Älteren Kirche 25, no. 1 (1926): 5–37. https://doi.org/10.1515/zntw.1926.25.1.5.

Guyon, René. “Une coupe, des coupes… Une Pâque, des Pâques… 4.” Garrigues Et Sentiers, 2007. http://www.garriguesetsentiers.org/article-12116051.html.

Kloppenborg, John S. “The Sayings Gospel Q and the Quest of the Historical Jesus.” The Harvard Theological Review 89, no. 4 (1996): 307–44.

Lietzmann, Hans. “Jüdische Passahsitten Und Der Ι͂ἀϕιϰόμενος.” Zeitschrift Für Die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Und Die Kunde Der Älteren Kirche 25, no. 1 (1926): 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1515/zntw.1926.25.1.1.

Marmorstein, A. “Miscellen.” Zeitschrift Für Die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Und Die Kunde Der Älteren Kirche 25, no. 2 (1926). https://doi.org/10.1515/zntw.1926.25.2.249.

Weber, Max. Ancient Judaism. Translated by Hans H. Gerth and Don Martindale. London: Free Press, 1967.

Yuval, Yiśrā’ēl Yaʻaqov. “Rome or Jerusalem: The Foundations of Jewish-Christian Hostility: . . . Development of the Stories; Parallels Between the Jewish Haggadah and the Christian ‘Haggadahs’; the ‘Midrash’ of the Haggadah; Conclusions; a Note on the Research.” In Two Nations in Your Womb: Perceptions of Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 62–91. Berkeley, Calif London: University of California Press, 2006.


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11 thoughts on “Jesus’ Death as the Death of the People of God: Communion and Passion”

  1. That is, for Q the “passion narrative” has not yet become privatized as Jesus’ passion.

    Isn’t Kloppenborg talking as a mythicist here? It is sufficient to replace “privatized” with “euhemerized” and we have exactly the mythicist paradigm.

    Something of similar to Kloppenborg was said by Roger Parvus:

    If he went up to Jerusalem with some fellow believers in an imminent Kingdom of God—perhaps a group of John the Baptist’s followers—he was not the leader of the group.

    Interestingly, Parvus assumes that only a particular vision of Jesus as “resurrected” placed him on a status above the other members of the group. Differently from Parvus, Kloppenborg apparently wants us to believe that only one vision was not sufficient “to privatize” the Passion of the Q group as Jesus’ passion. More visions were apparently necessary, for the members of Q community, to persuade them that Jesus’ sufferings were special and needed a new narrative.

    A better explanation: the hallucinations decreased and a story was necessary to supply their progressive lack.

    1. I think this is taking Kloppenborg’s words too far and certainly beyond anything he meant to say. For K, Q is talking about the sufferings of the community while the later gospels shift their focus to Jesus as the representative of that community, but certainly not as a substitute for it.

      But yes, in another sense, K’s point can be interpreted in favour of NC’s argument that Jesus was a personification of the community.

  2. The matter is complicated (not vitiated – parallel developments are possible) by the strand of scholarship that argues that there was no passover seder in the Second Temple period. Rather, it was devised by the tannaim from elements of the Torah as part of a response to the end of temple sacrifices.
    This idea is set out in Baruch Bokser’s concise ‘The Origins of the Seder’ (1984, available at archive.org), and has been taken up by such as Jonathan Klawans and Shaye J.D. Cohen.
    David Daube assumed not only a C1 seder, but that the full haggadah was original. Yet Mishnah Pesahim 10 only sketches the outlines of what is recognisably a seder. As for the afiqoman, the text states : “we do not conclude the passover with the afiqoman.” Daube got round this by translating as not eating after the afiqoman, which he understood to mean the hidden piece of matzoh. Yet the Palestinian Talmud understands the obscure word as meaning ‘entertainments’ (i.e. ‘επίκωμος), which fits the usual reading, and Cohen is confident that there is no literary attestation of the messianic meaning of afiqoman, the practice of hiding the matzoh until the end, before C13 Italy.
    However (!) Cohen is honest/playful enough to allow that the medieval practice could be ‘ancient’, if not C1. In an online lecture (Culture and Belief 23, lecture 18) he notes that in Melito of Sardis’ Peri Pascha (c.180), Christ is twice (#66,86) referred to as ‘ο ‘αφικόμενος, ‘he who has come/is coming’, which, given the context, just might refer to seder wording [or, indeed, be a source for it…]

    1. Thanks for these references. Can you supply online links for the Klawans and Cohen material?

      Yes, it’s a complex study facing me/us — I am not overflowing with confidence about every point made but it is necessary for me to relay it all as NC has presented it. This is the first step. Next, follow up the leads, review the publications going back many decades, be willing to give new questions a fresh look and who knows where it will all end.

  3. We might be interested in this commentary on the Haggadah’s history from the Jewish Book Council site ( https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/pb-daily/a-brief-history-of-the-haggadah).

    It would seem reasonable to think that discussion around a family gathering in Jerusalem following the paschal sacrifice having been made would be a reasonable proposition and that creation of a formal structure, a Seder, would follow later in the first/second century.

    It would also seem reasonable that a Haggadah would only be required as a support to a Seder.

  4. Re seder/haggadah, for bibliography and exposition, most helpful is a survey article by Joshua Kulp, ‘Origins of the Seder : Currents in Biblical Research’ (2005), available via his academia.edu page. Especially pertinent to this post is its contextualising the views of Israel Jacob Yuval.
    Kulp is unequivocal in stating the general acceptance of the Bokser hypothesis : “nearly all scholars agree that there was no seder or haggadah while the Temple still stood.”
    Lest one raise an eyebrow at the spectre of academic consensus, he gives a fair, non-hostile delineation of the issues with outlier positions; whether the claim that a pre-70 haggadah can be reconstructed (Tabory), or that the seder was a response to Christian ritual (Yuval). The reader is at least given clarity over the questions which need addressing when forming a judgement.
    More generally, it is refreshing to see even ‘conservative’ scholars of rabbinica quite relaxed with the idea that core texts could be ‘invented’ and developed…

    1. After elimination of all obvious interpolations, it turns out that the cena was supposed to occur the day before preparation day. Jesus is ointed by the strange woman in advance for his imminent entombment, than takes a cup said to be his last one before the kingdom come, and the whole band leaves for Gethsemane.

      Only this way, Jesus can die at the same time as the paschal lambs do, making him the ultimate paschal sacrifice. Mk 15:42 still alludes, as a case of editorial fattigue, to the originally implied time line.

      If this interpolation occurred far after the war described by FJ, or if the interpolator is only an imposter Jew with little to no knowledge of Jewish customs, there is no problem caused by the fact that the seder was only introduced after the fall of Zion.

      Likewise, bread only appears in interpolated passages of the cena, marked by repetitions; and the equation of blood and wine is equally interpolated.

  5. Neil – you have done us a great service by expanding what NC actually quotes from Israel Jacob Yuval to include his discussions of Eisler and Daube. The first Daube reference you quote in your bibliography is to an article about the “Four Questions”; the second is to Daube’s book (you omit to mention that NC directs us to pages 158-169) which does not appear to pick up the afikoman discussion, only the Four Questions again. Your Daube sci-hub.do link appears to be defunct.
    Have your researches managed to track down the full text of the St Paul’s lecture given by Daube in St Paul’s on the afikoman to which Yuval refers?

    1. Thank you, Geoff. I only included in the bibliography the works that I myself had read and used and Yuval’s book is not easily accessible to me, unfortunately. I recall spending some time looking for Daube’s lecture but drew a blank. It may be locatable through a library’s services for a fee. Have updated the sci hub link, thanks.

    2. After searching for the French title by Yuval back in August I have now just seen/been reminded that the same work is in English. I hope to have access to a copy in a few weeks and will see if there is more help there for the Daube lecture.

  6. mBuckley3 has done well to draw our attention to Kulp’s carefully judged article at https://www.academia.edu/3209144/Origins_of_the_Seder_Currents_in_Biblical_Research
    and to Bokser’s equally thorough book at
    Both of these are a helpful balance to NC’s artistic flights of fancy, based on less scholarly data such as René Guyon’s article on a Christian faith resources web site:-

    Guyon says that the liturgy he follows comes from a “little book called Hagadah shel pessach, Récit de Pessach”. He doesn’t explain where this comes from:-
    As mBuckley3 has already cautioned, Kulp warns that Yuval, a key source for NC’s case, should be used with care. (Kulp warns that Yuval’s focus on Jewish-Christian polemics means that “Instead of Sandmel’s famed ‘parallelomania’ we encounter ‘polemicamania’.”

    The Kulp work draws attention to the work of a number of scholars (such as Boyarin, Segal and Bokser) who conclude that the seder did not exist until after the destruction of the temple. He therefore concludes that the Last Supper could not have been a seder. What he does not consider (because that’s not within the scope of his article) is that if the Last Supper was a seder then it would have been envisioned after 70 CE. (I am reminded of a recent post concerning Nazareth!)
    The Kulp article makes it clear that the reconstruction of the seder liturgy in early rabbinic times is a matter of conjecture. NC’s argument is therefore based on an unacknowledged circularity assuming that the seder at the time of Jesus’ creation had a certain format and meaning; how do we know that the seder existed in that shape at that time? Because we can see it in the gospels. How do we interpret the creation of the gospels? By using the seder. Here, as in many other places where NC references much later sources, it seems that she is arguing on an implied basis of consistency. If an idea or practice existed at one point of time, it is not inconceivable that it occurred at some earlier time. If there is a sufficient number of these probabilities, enough of them must be true to support the overall thesis.
    Whilst NC’s proposal that the Jesus figure was created out of elements of the seder (amongst other things) is not ruled out by her uneven scholarship, more work is needed. (No doubt this will appear on the Godfrey blog in due course.) One could say that NC is suffering from metaphoromania, the tonic for which could well be the same as for parallelomania.

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