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In the history of the Church no subject has been more fruitful of controversy than the Lord's Supper. There never has been any unanimity in the understanding of its nature, nor any uniformity in the mode of celebrating it.[1]

The origins of Eucharist, a kind of Christian liturgy[2] cannot be absolutely determined. The word "Eucharist" is derived from Greek εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), a noun denoting the action of "giving thanks" (the meaning of the word).[3] According to some, the word came to mean a thing (a common meal),[4][verification needed] Those who, as indicated above, hold that the agape feast and the Eucharist, though celebrated together, were distinct see the word as applied not to the common meal or agape, but to the ritual giving of thanks over bread and cup, the Eucharist. The others say that the word then came to mean a part of the thing (bread course and often cup course),[citation needed] then bread and often cup course detached from thing,[citation needed] then token servings of bread and often cup,[citation needed] and finally the prayers surrounding the consumption of token amounts of bread and often cup with porous historical boundaries between each period.[citation needed]

There were variations in the celebration of the Eucharist concerning the day (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, or Sunday, or by the time of Cyprian, every day), the time (evening or morning), the order (bread first, or only bread, or cup first), and, according to those who hold that the agape feast and the eucharist were not distinct, components (bread, cheese, milk, honey, oil, salt, water and/or wine[5] and attendance (under a dozen sharing a full meal at first,[citation needed] to crowds of participants and non-participiants[citation needed] consuming token amounts provided by and presided over by church officials after[citation needed] Christianity became the Roman State religion).

Historically, it is a liturgy whose institution has been attributed since the Fourth Century[6][7] in Catholic doctrine to Jesus himself. [8][9][10] "There is no hint of a tradition that the actual content of Jesus' thanksgiving at the Last Suppper was remembered, transmitted, and repeated at the celebration of the Eucharist" [11]

There is no evidence that a narration of the "(alleged) historical event"[12]called the Last Supper was used when celebrating the Eucharist in the earliest Christian centuries. Even now the narrative is not used by those who celebrate the Eucharist using the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, but these do currently attach great importance to that narrative in their Eucharistic theology and within the Qurbana itself speak of offering it as taught "in his (Jesus') life-giving Gospel".[13] And the account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 is interpreted within the controversial[14] Catholic Opus Dei movement as showing that, already in the mid-first century, "St Paul clearly teaches that the Eucharist was instituted by Christ himself (cf. 1 Cor 11:23-25)."[15]

Though "giving thanks" [Heb. berakh] has been a part of religious meal practice from Mosaic times (see Passover Seder, chronologically, the first known to reference Eucharist as bread and cup course detached from meal is Justin Martyr, writing around 150, who is generally credited with the first explicit mention of Eucharist as thing. After the time of the Council of Nicea, Eucharist and the Last Supper started becoming placed in a relation of dependence in many, but not all, Eucharist liturgies, and excerpts from St. Paul's account of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians, as well as portions of the Synoptic Gospels recounting the Last Supper began being quoted as Words of Institution of the liturgies of Paschal sacrifice.

Since 400 C.E.,[16][verification needed] many, if not most, Christian Churches teach that the origin of the Eucharist was in the Last Supper. Taft teaches that "(n)ot until thee 12th Century do the scholastics formulate the thesis that the Words of Instution are the essential 'form of the sacrament' which alone effect the consecration of the bread and wine."[17] The traditional Institution Narrative[clarification needed] has since 1551 been the consecration of the Roman Catholic mass, without which there can be no Mass.[verification needed][18]

Contemporary scholarship examines the questions whether there is historical evidence of a single common paradigm for the various extant Eucharist liturgies (a conclusive no),[citation needed] and if not, whether the Last Supper is a necessary antecedant for the Eucharistic liturgy.[19]

Development of the Eucharist tradition[edit]

The historical record is too sparse in original texts to put a date upon the first use of the term "eucharistia" as referring to the name of an ecclesiatical ritual and not ordinary thanksgiving for a common meal.

Common meals figured significantly in Jesus' ministry. In accordance with Jesus' general message of forgiveness and inclusion, Jesus ate meals with outsiders. According to both Matthew and Luke, critics called him a "glutton and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners." Unlike John the Baptist, Jesus drank wine.

The New Testament recounts three instances of religious table fellowship, which would, in later centuries, be called eucharistic. Paul the Apostle mentioned in one paragraph of his many letters, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, usually dated to A.D. 52–57[20] "When you assemble, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper." This is the only usage of the term "the Lord's Supper" in the Bible.[21] Paul's letters are more likely to have been read at meals than at "business meetings."[22]

Acts 2:42 and 2:46 tell of the very first Christians "continuing steadfastly in the breaking of bread", interpreted by some as a reference to Eucharist, written some twenty years later than the reference in 1 Corinthians. And in Acts 20:7, believers are descrbed as gathered for the breaking of bread. "It is reasonable to conclude therefore that the author of Luke-Acts envisaged a Christian community meal in which the principle ingredient was bread." [23]

Dennis E. Smith says that the earliest Christians worshiped at table in their hosts' dining rooms.[24] and that the earliest Christians shaped the traditions about Jesus to fit that setting.[25] In his study Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status concerning practice at the meals designated in Latin by the word "convivium", equivalent to "deipnon" and/or "symposion" in Greek,[26] Matthew D. Roller states that the number of participants at such meals in private houses, as opposed to other specially designated places, would be at most a dozen.[27]

Dennis E. Smith also says that the symposium after the meal was the time for teaching and conversation, for the singing of hymns, for the contributions of those who prophesied or spoke in tongues.[28]

There was a kind of symposium called the eranos in which[29] participants brought their own food.

For many people at the time, especially the poor, the chief, if not the sole ingredients of the daily meal were bread, salt and water.[30]

The term "Eucharist", which became the usual term for the rite, does not appear under that name in the Bible. "Was the Last Supper a Eucharist in this full sense of the word? Obviously not."[31] Early occurrences are in the Didache, Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Justin Martyr. The first-century Christian Eucharist - it is disputed whether it was considered identical with the agape feast in connection with which it was celebrated - was a communal supper with ritual prayer and blessing.[citation needed] Like Jewish banquets of the time, it followed Hellenic practices.

There is disagreement about the exact relationship between the earliest celebrations of the Eucharist and the common meal or Agape feast. Today, as a hundred years ago, some scholars hold that, though associated, they were distinct rituals.[32][33][34][35][36] Some recent writers, including the above-cited McGowan, say that the Eucharist, beginning in the Early Church was a common meal,[37][38][39][40][41][42][verification needed][43] The Encyclopaedia Britannica sums up the present state of the discussion as follows:

The Church Fathers used agape to designate both a rite (using bread and wine) and a meal of fellowship to which the poor were invited. The historical relationship between the agape, the Lord's Supper, and the Eucharist is still uncertain. Some scholars believe the agape was a form of the Lord's Supper and the Eucharist the sacramental aspect of that celebration. Others interpret agape as a fellowship meal held in imitation of gatherings attended by Jesus and his disciples; the Eucharist is believed to have been joined to this meal later but eventually to have become totally separated from it.[44]

"ὁ θεòς ἀγάπη ἐστίν" God Is Love on a stele in Mount Nebo.

The Eucharistic celebrations of the early Christians were embedded in, or simply took the form of, a meal. These were often called Agape Feasts, although terminology varied in the first few centuries along with other aspects of practice. Recently, scholars have held 'the whole concept of the agape' as dubious, serving as a useful vague category in which to dump any evidence for meals the researcher did not want to treat as eucharistic. It is noted that except perhaps for Tertullian, there is no evidence at all for early Christian communities that practiced both a Euchaist and at the same time an agape.[45]

The epistles of Apostolic Father and traditional second pope Clement of Rome makes no explicit reference to Eucharist. The Didache contains, among its components, the earliest surviving written church order. It is usually dated to the early second century.[46]. A composite of several documents, it includes ritual prayers and a mention of what it calls the εὐχαριστία (Thanksgiving or Eucharist). According to the overwheling consensus among scholars, the section beginning at 10.1 is a reworking of the Birkat hamazon the prayer that ends the Jewish ritual meal. (see The Didache: Its Jewish Sources and Its Place in Early Judaism and Christianity by Hubertus Waltherus Maria van de Sandt, David Flusser pp 311-2)

Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, writing circa 107-110 CE referred to Eucharist three times in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans and once in his Letter to the Philadelphians, though they contain no reference to bread and wine. He refers to eucharist and the agape or love-feast synonymously[47]: "Let that eucharist alone be considered valid which is celebrated in the presence of the bishop, or of him to whom he shall have entrusted it. ... It is not lawful either to baptize, or to hold a love-feast without the consent of the bishop."[48] A Glossary of Eastern Orthodox Terms quoted in Father Symeon Ioannovskij, Orthodox Publishing Society. concludes that for Ignatius as well as Saint Hippolytus of Tome the two terms, "eucharist" and "love-feast" were synonymous.

Letter 96 from Pliny the Younger to Trajan in about 112 suggests that "a common but innocent meal" was celebrated among early Christians. Tertullian too writes of these meals.[49]

Justin Martyr, writing around 150, is generally credited with the first explicit mention of the Eucharist as noun. He gave a detailed description of a baptismal rite, and stated that "eucharistia" was the name that Christians used for the bread and wine (or perhaps water[50]) shared by the participants at the baptism: "And this food is called among us eὐχαριστία" [eucharist] ... "[51] Bradshaw says that he uses the passive participle of eucharistein three times in his First Apology, meaning 'over which thanks has been given,' demonstrating how dominant the concept of thanksgiving as the primary action of the Eucharist still was[52]. Not only are there plentiful examples of eucharaistic meals involving water, there are others where no cup is found at all.[53]

Clement of Alexandria (c.150-211/216) distinguished so-called "Agape" meals of luxurious character from the agape (love) "which the food that comes from Christ shows that we ought to partake of".[54] Accusations of gross indecency were sometimes made against the form that these meals sometimes took.[55]

Augustine of Hippo also objected to the continuance in his native North Africa of the custom of such meals, in which some indulged to the point of drunkenness, and he distinguished them from proper celebration of the Eucharist: "Let us take the body of Christ in communion with those with whom we are forbidden to eat even the bread which sustains our bodies."[56] He reports that even before the time of his stay in Milan, the custom had already been forbidden there.[57]

Canons 27 and 28 of the Council of Laodicea (364) restricted the abuses.[58] The Third Council of Carthage (393) and the Second Council of Orleans (541) reiterated this legislation, which prohibited feasting in churches, and the Trullan Council of 692 decreed that honey and milk were not to be offered on the altar (Canon 57), and that those who held love feasts in churches should be excommunicated (Canon 74).

Paul Bradshaw argues in Eucharistic Origins that it is not until after the first century and much later in some areas that the Eucharist and the Last Supper became placed in a relation of dependence: many Eucharists did not relate to the Paschal mystery and/or the Last Supper.[59]


Liturgies that fully developed by the late 300s in the great Anaphoras of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Canon of the Mass of the Roman Rite, and similar anaphoras in other Churches, generally refer explicitly to what Jesus did at his Last Supper, using words that recall what the earliest sources attribute to him on that occasion. These first-century sources, namely the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the three Synoptic Gospels, do not use identical words in recounting what Jesus said at the Last Supper and, like the Words of Institution in the liturgies, do not claim to repeat word for word what exactly he said. A similar variety of expression is found in their accounts of what Jesus said on other occasions, giving the tenor, but not claiming to repeat the exact words of Jesus, which in any case were presumably spoken in Aramaic, not in the language of these sources, which is Greek. The words of institution used in present-day liturgies are different combinations of words given in Saint Paul's letter and in the Synoptic Gospels and may even include words not given in the first-century sources, such as the Roman Rite's "et aeterni" and (formerly) "mysterium fidei".

The Roman Catholic Church acknowledges the validity of the Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, which is a Eucharistic liturgy in use from time immemorial that does not expressly contain the words of institution.[60]It has been described as "an authentic anaphora of early Christianity, close to the primordial patterns of the Eucharistic prayer".[61] It speaks of "the commemoration of the Body and Blood of your Christ, which we offer to you on the pure and holy altar, as you have taught us in his life-giving Gospel" and of "commemorating this mystery of the passion and death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ".[62]

(Father Robert Taft) showed that Catholic Masses didn't use the so-called words of institution, "This is my body, this is my blood," until after the Council of Nicaea in 325, and that even then the words of institution were not ordered until the Council of Trent issued a decree in 1531 [sic], responding to Luther's challenge over transubstantiation. [63]

Ros Clarke refers to evidence that suggests that "Words of Institution" were not used in the celebration of the Eucharist during the second century. The liturgical use of the narratives, common today, seems not to have been known in the second century and only developed later in the third century.[64]

Passover, Kiddush and Chaburah: Jewish Ritual Meal Practice[edit]

Scholars have associated the form of Jesus' Last Supper and the first-century Eucharist practices with three Second Temple Jewish meal practices: the Passover Seder meal, the kiddush blessing with wine, and the chaburah fellowship.

Passover Seder[edit]

The Synoptic Gospels speak of the Last Supper as a Passover meal. The diners are required to recline in the Greek manner, and the meal had three courses[65] The Passover Seder involves four cups of wine. The emphasis placed on cups of wine at earlier points in the meal is not in accordance with the symposium tradition but is not unknown in Rome by the first century.[66] The resemblance to Graeco-Roman banquets is furthered in the mutual expectation for appropriate discourse.[67]

In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper takes place the day before Passover. Paul the Apostle does not mention Passover in relation to the Last Supper.

Where doubts have been acknowledged about the connection between the Last Supper and Seder, writers have sought other Jewish meal-types as models or precursors.[68]


The Johannine Supper, Ratcliffe has suggested,[69] was the Jewish ordinance known as Qiddush, the details of which involved the leader of the mixed-sex ceremony taking a cup of wine, sanctifying it by reciting a thanksgiving blessing, and passing it around. There was a similar blessing and breaking of bread.[70] Qiddush is the "Jewish benediction and prayer recited over a cup of wine immediately before the meal on the eve of the sabbath or of a festival.[71] After reciting the Ḳiddush the master of the house sips from the cup, and then passes it to his wife and to the others at the table; then all wash their hands, and the master of the house blesses the bread, cuts it, and passes a morsel to each person at the table.[72]

Joachim Jeremias, in about the same time period, disputed the view that the Last Supper was Qiddush [73], because the Kiddush was always associated with the sabbath, and even if there was a Passover Kiddush, it would have taken place immediately before the seder, not the day before. Jeremias argued in favor of a Seder as Last Supper.

Ratcliffe wrote: "Though the Qiddush accounts for the '[Johannine]' Last Supper, it affords no explanation on the origin of the eucharist . . . the Last Supper and the Sabbath-Passover Qiddush was therefore no unusual occurrence. It represented consistent practice since Jesus had first formed the group. It is from this practice, rather than from any direct institution from Jesus, that the eucharist derives its origin. The practice was too firmly established for the group to abandon it, when its Master had been taken away; the primitive apostolic eucharist is no other than the continuation of Jesus's chaburah meal. This is the 'breaking of bread' of Acts ii. 42."[74]


The chaburah (also 'haburah', pl 'chaburoth') is not the name of a rite, rather it was the name of a group of male friends who met at regular intervals (weekly for Dix) for conversation and a formal meal appurtenant to that meeting. [75][76] Nothing is said about them in the Bible but scholars have been able to discover some things about them from other sources. The corporate meeting of a chaburah usually took the form of a supper, held at regular intervals, often on the eve of sabbaths or holy days. Each member of the society contributed towards the provision of this common meal.

The form of the supper was largely the same as the chief meal of the day in every pious Jewish household. Each kind of food was blessed when it was first brought to the table. At the end of the meal came the grace after meals - the Blessing or Benediction as it was called. This long prayer was said by the host or father of the family in the name of all who had eaten the meal. On important occasions, and at a chaburah supper, it was recited over a special cup of wine known quite naturally as "the cup of blessing." At the end of the Thanksgiving prayer this cup was sipped by the leader and then by each of those present. The chaburah supper was concluded by the singing of a psalm, after which the meeting broke up.[77][78]

Jeremias also disputed that the Last Supper was a chaburah meal, interposing the objection that the chaburah was a "duty" meal, held appurtenant to a formal occasion such as a 'bris' or a betrothal.[79]

Banquet and Cult: Two Prongs of Hellenistic Ritual Meal Practice[edit]

Deipnon, libation and symposion[edit]

Analysis of Jesus' meal practice, including the Last Supper, requires familiarity with Greek banquet meal practices, established centuries earlier.

In the 8th century BC, the Judean shepherd/prophet Amos denounced the luxurious social and ceremonial religious practices of Israel's wealthy [80] and referred to these practices (assemblies, feasts, reclining, songs, harp music, ointment, and bowls of wine) negatively.[81][82]

During the Second Temple period, Hellenic practices were adopted by Jews after the conquests of Alexander the Great. By the 2nd century BC, Jesus Ben Sirach writing in the longest biblical wisdom book, Ecclesiasticus,[80] described Jewish feasting, with numerous parallels to Hellenic practice, without disapproval.[83][84].

Gentile and Jewish practice was that the all-male participants reclined at table on their left elbows, and after a benediction given by the host (in the case of a Jewish meal), would have a deipnon (late afternoon or evening meal) of bread with various vegetables, perhaps some fish or even meat if the meal was extravagant.

Among the Greeks, a ritual libation, or sacrificial pouring out of wine, followed, with another benediction or blessing, leading to the 'symposion' (as in Plato's Symposium) or wine-drinking course and entertainment. Thus was established an order of breaking bread and drinking wine. Cups of wine were even passed from diner to diner as a way to pass responsibility for speaking next. "Plutarch spoke in the highest terms of the bonds created by the shared wine bowl. His words are echoed by Paul who spoke of the sharing of bread and wine as the act that created the one body, that is to say, it was a community-creating ritual." [85]

Mystery Cults[edit]

Parallel to the religious duties to god and state, "the Hellenic world also fostered a number of 'underground' religions, which countless thousands of people found intellectually and emotionally satisfying."[86] They were known as the "mysteries," because their adherants took oaths never to reveal their rites to the uninitiated. Several honored young male gods born of a divine father and human mother, ressurected after a heroic death. In some of these secret religions "celebrants shared a communal meal in which they symbolically ate the flesh and drank the blood of their god."[87]

Dionysus cult[edit]

Early Christianity spread through a Hellenized populace. Jewish feast practices had taken on Hellenic forms. Hellenic culture recognized several gods of death and rebirth, such as Osiris. The deity most similar to the Christ of the Eucharist is Dionysus. Dionysus was the god of the vine, and his feasts included wine that was the god himself, sacrificed for those at the feast. Dionysus was the son of Zeus, the king of the divine mountain. Zeus raised Dionysus from the dead and made him immortal.

Dionysus was the most famous dying and resurrected god, son of the King of the gods and a mortal mother.[88] Zeus raised his son from the dead, granting him everlasting divinity. He was "god of 'the vine' - representing wine, the most universally popular beverage in the ancient world." [89] "To quote Euripides statement, he was the libation, 'The god who himself is offered in libation to the other gods.' In this passage the identification of the god with the wine is as absolute as the identification of Christ in Catholic thought with the consecrated wine of the mass, or, to cite an illustration from the far away religious system of the Vedas, the identification of the god Soma with the soma drink. . . Under such circumstances the devotees of Dionysus would be sure of the presence of the very god himself in the consecrated wine made from the sacred grapes."[90]

The modern scholar Barry Powell says that Christian notions of eating and drinking the "flesh" and "blood" of Jesus were influenced by the cult of Dionysus. He says that Dionysus was distinct among Greek gods, as a deity commonly felt within individual followers.[91] Willoughby writes "The wine they drank was for them potent with divine power--it was the god himself, and the very quintessence of divine life was resident in the juice of the grape.. . The drinking of wine in the service of Dionysus was for them a religious sacrament. . . . The devotees of Dionysus had other realistic means of attaining to communion with their god. They had a sacrament of eating as well as a sacrament of drinking. This rite was the "feast of raw flesh." To be an initiate into the mysteries of Dionysus . . . (t)hey Quaff the goat's delicious blood. . . (t)he devotees tore asunder the slain beast and devoured the dripping flesh in order to assimilate the life of the god resident in it. Thus when the Bacchanals by the sacraments of eating and drinking entered into direct communion with their god, they became partakers of his immortality. In assimulating the raw flesh wherein the god was temporarily incarnate and in drinking the juice of the grape, they received into their bodies an undying substance.[92]


The following is said to be a ritual enunciation by Mithras: "He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made one with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation."[93]

"Under the influence of theories of the sacred and of sacrfice from such as Frazer, Durkheim, and Mauss, both Mithraic and Dionysus cult-meals . . . seem now to have been dependent on the abstraction of sacramental theory from medieval and later Christian reflection on Eucharist. Rather than being keys to a generalized theory of the sacred, these earlier theories turn out to be anachronistic."[94]

Pre-Pauline Confluence of Greek and Hebrew Traditions[edit]

By the time the Roman conquest, Jews practiced festive dining in essentially the same form as the Greeks, with a dinner (deipnon) followed by the symposium proper, where guests drank wine and enjoyed entertainment or conversation. There were, to be sure, cultic differences, such as a berachah over the wine cup instead of the Greeks' libation to Dionysus. But eating together was a central activity for Jewish religious groups such as Pharisees and Essenes.

"Thanksgiving" (in Greek, "εὐχαριστία"[eucharistia]) is probably to be regarded as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "ברכה" [berakhah, berakah], the Jewish "blessing" (in Greek, "εὐλογία" [eulogia]) "addressed to God at meals for and over the food and drink. It is in this sense that the term was originally used in connection with the common meal of the early Christian community, at which the 'blessing' or 'thanksgiving' had special reference to Jesus Christ."[95]

One formulation had it that "(t)he eucharistia was the berakhah without the chaburah supper, and the agape is the chaburah meal without the berakhah. [96]

The Last Supper in the New Testament - Institution or Substitution[edit]

Paul had first evangelized the inhabitants of Corinth, in Greece, in 51/52 C.E. Paul's nascent congregation there was made up of pagan, not Jewish, converts.1 Corinthians 12:2 All first generation Christians were necessarily converts, either pagan or Jewish. They had written him regarding numerous matters of concern1 Corinthians 7:1. Criticizing what he had heard of their meetings, at which they had communal meals, one paragraph in Paul's response reminded them about what he asserted he had "received from the Lord" and had "passed on" about Jesus' actions and directives at his Last Supper. The ambiguities some find in that wording has generated reams of books, articles and opinions about the Origins of Eucharist. Most students of eucharistic origins agree that the Last Supper (a one-off event) and eucharist (a periodically repeated rite) are not the same thing.[97] Clearly the religious table fellowship tradition had been going on in the Early Christian Church antedating Paul's conversion, unless the contention is made that Paul invented it. See table below for Paul's paragraph regarding the Last Supper (1 Corinthians NRSV).

The paragraph preceding this (1 Corinthians 11:17-22) gives Paul's complaints against how the Corinthians actually ate and drank "the Lord's Supper", and the two paragraphs that follow it (1 Corinthians 11:27-34) give his appeal to them to eat and drink it worthily, since otherwise they would sin against the body and blood of the Lord.

Ratcliffe, writing in the 1926 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, said: "The eucharist, therefore, for Paul was in some way a re-presentation of the crucifixion, ordained by Christ himself to assure to His followers the enjoyment, until his proximate return, of the blessings which the crucifixion, as a covenant sacrifice, had secured. This interpretation, however, cannot be taken as current outside the Pauline sphere influence. Paul himself fails to cite the general assent of Christians in confirmation of the tradition which he asserts."[98]

In his 1994 book, A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles, Bruce Chilton wrote that Paul "indeed 'received from the Lord' (1 Corinthians 11:23, through Cephas (Galatians 1:18), what he 'handed over' (1Corinthians 11:23) to his hearers. … He reminds his hearers of what he already had taught as authoritative, a teaching 'from the Lord' and presumably [sic] warranted by the earliest 'pillars': in that sense, what he hands on is not his own, but derives from his highest authority, 'the Lord' (11:23)."[99]

Eugene LaVerdiere wrote: "That is how Paul introduced the tradition, presenting himself as a link in the chain of Eucharistic tradition. He received (paralambano) the tradition of Eucharist in the early 40s while in the community at Antioch. He handed it on (paradidomi) to the Corinthians in the year 51 when first proclaiming the gospel to them. Like Paul, the Corinthians also were to become a link in the chain of Eucharistic tradition, handing on to others what Paul handed on to them. Several years later, circa 54, Paul reminded them of this in 1 Corinthians."[100]

James Still represents that most contemporary commentators argue that what Paul "receives from the Lord" is church tradition with the authority of the Lord behind it, rather than a direct revelation from Christ, and quotes as representatives of this view Kilmartin, Jeremias and Marshall. But he himself argues that Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians , "denies that any of his teachings are from other men in authority", "goes to great lengths to distance himself from the Jerusalem Church and its gospel", and "goes on to contrast his gospel from the perverse teachings of those 'who were reputed to be something' (the three 'pillars' of James, Cephas, and John) and to defend himself from their interference". He then mentions as a possibility that "Paul needed to look no further for his soteriology than the pervasive Dionysian cult in the pagan world", but adds: "However, it is not necessary to think that he went outside of Hellenistic Judaism for his gospel."[101]

Jesus' Last Supper is an event so significant to the Early Church that all four Gospels include a version. See table below. "It is important, however, to distinguish the Last Supper as an (alleged) historical event from the narratives of the Last Supper in the New Testament. . . The trend, therefore, in more recent scholarship has been to locate the source of the Eucharist within the context of other meals in Jesus' life and not merely the last Supper. . . scholars today tend to bee more interested in what the variety says about the particular theologies of the Eucharist that were espoused by the individual writers and their communities . . . "[102]

A passage found only in Luke records a command, echoing Paul, that the breaking of the bread be done "in remembrance of [Jesus]", though is does not specify whether it should be performed annually, as per the Passover, or more frequently. A number of commentators conclude that passage, i.e., the second half of 22:19 and all of 22:20 are later interpolations.[103] The Rev. E.C. Radcliffe, the Canon of St. Mary's, Ely, writing in the Encyclopaedia Britannica 13th Edition (1926) Eucharist article, declared: "The textus receptus indeed includes the command, but the passage in which it occurs is an interpolation of the Pauline account; and whatever view be taken of the Lucan text, the command is no part of the original. The evidence, therefore, does not warrant the attribution to Jesus of the words 'This do in memory of Me'." Jeremias says "Do this in remembrance of me " would better be translated "That God may remember me."

Paul and the Synoptic Gospels in parallel columns
1 Corinthians Mark Matthew Luke
In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions. MK 14:16 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating . . .

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25 "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating . . . 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." So they prepared the Passover. 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Chapters 13-17 of the Gospel of John attribute to Jesus a series of teachings and prayers at his Last Supper, but does not mention any meal rituals. On the other hand, John 6, in particular verses such as 6:55-56 ("For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him"), is widely interpreted as an allusion to the Eucharist.[104] Peculiarities in phrasing as compared to the Synoptics are thought to reflect the liturgical tradition of the Johannine community.[105]

Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder? according to Joachim Jeremias[106]
Ten factors substantiating Passover Nine factors in objection to Passover actions that would be in violation of ritual regulations Two further objections
* The Last Supper took place in Jerusalem
  • it extended into the night
  • it was a small gathering
  • they reclined instead of sitting at table
  • a dish preceded the breaking of bread
  • red wine was drunk
  • when Judas went out, the disciples thought he was going to distribute money to the poor, a Passover custom
  • the meal closed with a hymn - the Paschal Hallel
  • the interpretative words spoken over the bread and wine look like an extension of the Passover Haggadah
  • and the fact that, Jesus did not go to Bethany for the night, but stayed within the area of Greater Jerusalem and made His way to Gethsemane -
* the walk to Gethsemane
  • the carrying of arms
  • the night session of the Sanhedrin and the condemnation
  • the rending of the High Priest's garments
  • the participation of the Jews in the Roman trial
  • the coming of Simon of Cyrene from the country
  • the execution itself
  • the purchase of linen
  • the preparation of spices and the burial
* The absence of any reference to the lamb in the accounts of the Supper.
  • The problem of how the annual Passover of the Jews changed into the weekly Eucharist [Holy Communion] of the Christians

Bread and Wine - New Pauline Promulgation or Routine Pagan Practice[edit]

Worldwide practice[edit]

Early in the 20th century, Edward Carpenter advanced the theory that the Christian Eucharist arose from a ubiquitous worldwide practice of sacramental sacrifice or memorial, with wine symbolizing blood.[107]

Problem of the historical Jewish prohibition against blood-drinking[edit]

In a 10,000 word analysis[108] in the Biblical Theology Bulletin of 2002, Michael J. Cahill surveys the state of scholarly literature from some seventy cited sources, dating from the 1950s to the present, on the question of the liklihood of a Jewish Jesus proposing the drinking of blood in the Eucharist. [109]

After examining these various theories that have been put forward, he concluded:

The survey of opinion, old and new, reveals wide disagreement with a fundamental divide between those who can accept that the notion of drinking blood could have a Jewish origin and those who insist that this is a later development to be located in the Hellenistic world. What both sides share is an inability to proffer a rationally convincing argument that can provide a historical explanation for the presence of this particular component of the Eucharistic rite. Those who hold for the literal institution by Jesus have not been able to explain plausibly how the drinking of blood could have arisen in a Jewish setting. In fact, this difficulty has been turned into an argument for authenticity. For example, Jeremiah [sic] quotes Dalman: "Exactly that which seems scandalous will be historical" (170-71). W. D. Davies draws attention to the fact that Dalman also argued that the Pauline version of the institution arose in a gentile environment to eliminate the difficulties presented by the more direct Markan form (246). It would appear to be obvious that the difficulties would have been greater in a Jewish environment. Davies' conclusion is apt: "When such divergent conclusons [sic] have been based upon the same evidence any dogmatism would be foolish" (246). On the other hand, I have earlier argued that previous suggestions supporting the non-Jewish source have been vitiated by vague generalities or by association with inappropriate pagan rituals.

Psychedelic Mushroom theory[edit]

John Allegro and Carl Ruck claimed that Jesus was seen as a vegetation god incarnated, like Dionysus and Osiris, as an entheogenic plant or fungus or both.[110]

Jesus Seminar[edit]

“The purely symbolic meal of modern Christianity, restricted to a bit of bread and a sip of wine or juice, is tacitly presupposed for the early church, an assumption so preposterous that it is never articulated or acknowledged.” [111] This quotation reflects the iconoclastic view of an inter-denominational group of contemporary scholars, led by the Jesus Seminar, "a research team of about 200 New Testament scholars founded in 1985 by the late Robert Funk and John Dominic Crossan under the auspices of the Westar Institute", which has analyzed the historical record of the Eucharist. They reached consensus among themselves that, based on the deeply ingrained Jewish prohibition against drinking blood, and the pervasive history of Greek memorial dining societies, the rite of the last supper "had its origins in a pagan context."[112] They also reached consensus among themselves that the Last Supper, as it is depicted in Mark, was not a historical event. And since Matthew and Luke copy Mark in some sections (though Luke draws on other sources at this point), adding what the Seminar called a mere touch here and there, Luke even adding a second cup, they declared that the accounts of Matthew and Luke also cannot be held to be historical. Other reasons the Seminar thought the tradition ahistorical: the earliest collection of Jesus' teachings, the Q Gospel and the recently rediscovered Gospel of Thomas make no mention of any last supper.

Crossan suggests that there are two traditions "as old as we can trace them" of the eucharist, that of Paul, reflecting the Antioch Church's tradition, and that of the Didache, the first document to give explicit instruction regarding prayers to be said at a celebration that it called the Eucharist.

The cup/bread liturgy of the Didache, from the Jerusalem tradition, does not mention Passover, or Last Supper, or Death of Jesus/blood/body, and the sequence is meal + thanksgiving ritual. For Crossan, it is dispositive that

even late in the first century C.E., at least some (southern?) Syrian Christians could celebrate a Eucharist of bread and wine with absolutely no hint of Passover meal, Last Supper or passion symbolism built into its origins or development. I cannot believe that they knew about those elements and studiously avoided them. I can only presume that they were not there for everyone from the beginning, that is, from solemn formal and final institution by Jesus himself.

[113] The Western Catholic Church itself in 2001 controversially validated an ancient East Syrian Eucharist liturgy without any literal Pauline words of institution, known as the Anaphora or Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari, on the basis that "the words of the institution of the Eucharist are in fact present in the anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in the form of a coherent narration and in a literal way but in a euchological and disseminated manner, that is to say they are integrated in the prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession which follow." The Holy Qurbana of Addai and Mari "was the only anaphora in general and continuous use by that Church of the East from time immemorial until the time of Mar Isaac the Catholicos and his synod of A.D. 410."[114]

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, in the context of correcting the eating habits of the Corinthians serves to reestablish "the Pre-Pauline tradition, ritual of bread/body + meal + ritual of cup/blood." [115] Hellenized Jew Paul references a Greek Lord's Supper which is not a Passover meal, and does not have the participants giving thanks ("Eucharistia"), rather the purpose is to proclaim Jesus' death until he comes again, in the manner of Hellenic societies formed "to hold meals in remembrance of those who had died and to drink a cup in honor of some god."[116]

Both sequences underline the primary importance of the Shared Meal to historical First Century Christian ritual. In the Jerusalem tradition, of James and Peter, the meal is of higher importance than blood and body since the Didache fails to mention them. Both traditions reflect the pitfalls of a shared meal among social unequals, namely freeloading. The Didache says in 12:3-4, if you work, you eat. Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says if you don't work, you don't eat. "Both stipulations must presume a communal share-meal or they make no sense."[117] The administrative difficulties of communal meals, easily glossed over in a small congregation of Jewish peasants, become more intractable as the church succeeds and grows and adds Gentile adherents, foreshadowing the eventual reduction to symbolism over substance.

Five Preliminary stages to "2000 years of eucharistic theology" and "Last Supper iconography", according to Crossan[118]
1. Graeco-Roman formal meal 2. Jesus' practice 3a. Didache 10 3b. Didache 9 4. 1 Corinthians 5. Mark (copied by Matthew & Luke)
deipnon (supper, main meal), then symposion a meal that later and in retrospect was recognized as having been their last one together Give thanks, no reference to Passover, Last Supper, or Death of Jesus Eucharist, no reference to Passover, Last Supper, or Death of Jesus Lord's Supper Passover Meal
Bread course followed by ritual libation followed by wine course Open Commensality - radical social egalitarianism in seating for meal Common Meal followed by Thanks to the Father, no ritual with bread or cup Common meal, ritual with Cup (thanks for the Holy Vine of David) and Bread (thanks for the life and knowledge of Jesus) Bread/body, Thanks, Common Meal, Cup/blood During meal, first Bread/body, then Cup/blood and Thanks
No ritual No mention of the death of Jesus No mention of the death of Jesus Passion Remembrance in both cup and bread No command for repetition and remembrance

Six "Eucharists" in the New Testament[edit]

In this ongoing search for eucharistic origins, the work of Bruce Chilton, a Catholic apologist writing to counter Crossan, suggests that we have been able to "find" in the New Testament six different ways of celebrating what Christians came to call the Eucharist, and to locate each of these in its own specific socio-religio-political setting. If Chilton's exegetical findings are accurate, this would seem to make irrelevant a number of time-honored scholarly approaches. Fundamental to these traditional scholarly approaches was, first, the "literally true" vs. "literary fictions" debate, and, second, the assumption that there was a unified line of development from the established Eucharist of later centuries back close to the time of the historical Jesus. [119]

The Six Eucharists in the New Testament, according to Chilton
Jesus' Table Fellowship The "Last" Supper Petrine Christianity The Circle of James Paul & the Synoptics John
Jesus joined with his followers in meals that were designed to anticipate the coming of God's kingdom. The meals were characterized by a readiness to accept the hospitality and the produce of Israel at large. A willingness to provide for the meals, to join in the fellowship, to forgive and to be forgiven, was seen by Jesus as a sufficient condition for eating in his company and for entry into the kingdom. Jesus' approach to purity qualification was distinctive in its inclusiveness. For Jesus, the primary markers of purity, the primary requirements for table fellowship in the kingdom were: Israel as forgiven and willing to provide of its own produce. Jesus sought to influence or reform purity practices associated with the Temple. In his meals, as he shared wine, he started referring to it as the equivalent of the blood of an animal shed in sacrifice, and in sharing bread, claiming that its value was that of sacrificial flesh. "Here was a sacrifice of sharings which the authorities could not control, and which the nature of Jesus" movement made it impossible for them to ignore. Jesus" meals after his failed occupation of the Temple became a surrogate of sacrifice, the second type of Eucharist." In this stage of Eucharistic development, the berakhah prayer of Judaism seems to have become a principal model of Eucharist. Bread took precedence over wine, and, as Acts 1:12-26, 2:46, and 3:14:37 clearly describe, a double domestication took place. Instead of seeking the hospitality of others, as the itinerant Jesus seemed to do, adherents of the movement, under the leadership of Peter and/or the Twelve, gathered in the homes of colleagues where they "broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people" (Acts 2:46-47). In addition, apparently they also acknowledged the validity of sacrifice in the Temple. In doing this they changed the nature of the meal and the memory of what Jesus had said at that meal. For example, there is no mention of wine, nor does there, in this account of the earliest Christian gatherings, seem to have been any sense of being in tension with the officials of Judaism or its religious practices. The tendency to domestication is here pursued further, for the Eucharist is now seen as a Seder meal, open only to Jews in a state of purity, and to be celebrated only once a year, at Passover, in Jerusalem, as prescribed in Exodus 12:48. The effect of this Jacobean program--a possible antecedent to the later Quartodeciman practice?--"was to integrate Jesus' movement fully within the liturgical institutions of Judaism, to insist upon the Judaic identity of the movement and upon Jerusalem as its governing center," but without actually replacing Israel's Seder. Paul vehemently resisted Jacobean claims. He also emphasized the link between Jesus" death and the Eucharist, and he accepts what Chilton calls the Hellenistic refinement of the Petrine type that presented the Eucharist as a sacrifice for sin. This is also what we find in the Synoptic Gospels which use words to suggest that Jesus' blood is shed in the interests of the communities for which those Gospels were composed: for the "many" (in Damascus?) Matthew 26:28 and (in Rome?) Mark 14:24: on behalf of "you" (in Antioch?) Luke 22:20. Jesus identifies himself in John 6 as the manna, now developed to construe the Eucharist as a mystery in which Jesus, not literally but sacramentally, offers/gives his own personal body and blood in Eucharist. This would probably not be a totally new idea to Hellenistic Christians who followed synoptic practice. But Johannine practice now makes this meaning explicit. It was, as is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel, an unambiguous, clear break with Judaism. For with this development, Eucharist has become a "sacrament" understandable only in Hellenistic terms, and involving "a knowing conflict with the ordinary understanding of what Judaism might and might not include."

Catholic Answer to Historical Objections[edit]

Professor Robert J. Daly, S.J., proposes a synthesis between the orthodox and the skeptic, acknowledging the historical evolution of the Eucharist while not abandoning the faith that informs it. He argues that Jesus did indeed institute the Eucharist, even though it would take generations and centuries of guidance from the Holy Spirit for the Eucharist to reach its current form.[120]


  1. ^ Emerson, Ralph Waldo, The Lord's Supper from Uncollected Prose, September 9, 1832 [1]
  2. ^ a tautology, as 'liturgy' can mean "Eucharist" but also means a form or schedule of worship or prayer.
  3. ^ The corresponding intransitive verb is eucharistein, to give thanks.
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Paul, Eucharisstic Origins, p 48
  5. ^ McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, pp 2-3
  6. ^ "Finally, present expert opinion on the Apostolic Tradition holds that the Institution and Anamnesis/Oblation may have been added later, not earlier than the 4th century. So there is not a single extant pre-Nicean eucharistic prayer that one can prove contained the words of Institution. [emphasis in the original] . . . I know of not one single reputable contemporary scholar on the topic, Catholic or non, who would hold it as certain that the Words of Institution were an integral part of the earliest eucharistic prayers over the gifts." Taft, Robert F. SJ, Mass Without the Consecration? Centro Conferences, 20 March 2003
  7. ^ Some argue that this absence of the narrative means that only in the fourth century Christians began to believe that the Eucharist was instituted by Christ.[citation needed]
  8. ^ "A sacrament and the central act of worship in many Christian churches, which was instituted at the Last Supper" (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
  9. ^ "The rite was instituted by Jesus and is recorded in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and in the letters of Paul. According to the Evangelists' account, Jesus established the practice at the Last Supper" (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
  10. ^ "The Holy Eucharist Instituted by Our Lord" (The Christian Faith: an Introduction to Dogmatic Theology – Anglican source)
  11. ^ (Gelston, Anthony, The Eucharistic prayer of Addai and Mari p 5, quoted in Taft, Robert F. SJ, Mass Without the Consecration? The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East promulgated 26 October 2001, Bulletin of the Centro Pro Unione Rome, No. 63 (Spring 2003)
  12. ^ Bradshaw, Paul F., (Professor of Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, also a priest-vicar of Westmnster Abbey, honorary canon of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission, and chief editor of the international journal Studia Liturgica) Eucharistic Origins, p 1
  13. ^ "That silence (about an alleged excision of the Institution Narrative) would hardly have been possible in the light of the importance the classical East-Syrian liturgical commentators give to the Institution Narrative in their eucharistic theology" (Robert F. Taft, SJ, Mass without the Consecration? The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East Promulgated 26 October 2001, in Bulletin of the Centro Pro Unione, Rome, No. 63 (Spring 2003), pp. 18 and 27)
  14. ^ John Allen (2005). Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. Doubleday Religion. 
  15. ^ The Navarre Bible: The Letters of St. Paul, by Theology Faculty of the University of Navarre, published by Four Courts Press, 2006, ISBN 1594170371, 9781594170379, p. 180.
  16. ^ Taft, Ibid
  17. ^ Taft, supra,
  18. ^ Taft, Robert F. SJ, Mass Without the Consecration? Centro Conferences, 20 March 2003
  19. ^ Bradshaw, Paul, 'Eucharistic Origins (London, SPCK, 2004) ISBN 0-28105-615-3, p. 10.
  20. ^ Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (1996). "The First Letter to the Corinthians". In Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, Roland E. Murphy. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 799. ISBN 0-13-614934-0. .
  21. ^ Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins p44
  22. ^ From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World. By Dennis E. Smith. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
  23. ^ bradshaw p 57
  24. ^ (Smith, Dennis The Greco-Roman Banquet as a Social Institution 2003)
  25. ^ From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World. By Dennis E. Smith. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
  26. ^ While some scholars speak of "convivium" as equivalent to "symposion" – e.g. "the convivium, a Roman equivalent to the symposium with drinking, entertainment and conversation" (Women and Meals in Antiquity), some state the Roman version was equivalent to both.
  27. ^ "The term convivium labels a late afternoon or evening meal taking place in a domestic dining room or garden, hosted by the proprietor of the residence, involving some combination of family members and guests numbering anywhere from a very few up to perhaps a dozen (nine is an ideal but not necessarily standard number), and ordinarily employing a single triclinium, the three-sided arrangement of couches commonly used for dining during the period of this study. ... "civic" dining, which occurred on special occasions such as festivals, was publicly sponsored or paid for by a single donor, and might involve large numbers of people spread over many triclinia in the public spaces of cities and towns; or, alternatively, involved a college of priests or magistrates whose meals might be paid for publicly or by an endowment, and might occur in specially designated spaces." (Matthew B. Roller: Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status, Introduction)
  28. ^ From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World. By Dennis E. Smith. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.
  29. ^ Bradshaw, ibid. p 44
  30. ^ Bradshaw, ibid, p 57
  31. ^ Daly, Robert J., S. J., 'Eucharistic origins: from the new testament to the liturgies of the golden age." Theological Studies March , 2005
  32. ^ "The evidence is obscure, but some of the earliest Christian communities seem to have celebrated a ritual meal of fellowship, within which the eucharistic ritual took place" (The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology, by John Anthony McGuckin, Westminster John Knox Press, 2004 ISBN 0664223966), p. 3)
  33. ^ "R. H. Connolly and F.E. Vokes, following the suggestion made by Drews and Goguel, argued that these prayers (in the Didache) are remnants from the ancient Christian agape and not from the eucharist proper" (The Didache in Modern Research, by Jonathan A. Draper, published by BRILL, 1996, ISBN 9004103759, p. 28)
  34. ^ "In eating the Lord's Supper (the Agape) there was a sad exhibition of greed and bad manners ... Then — immediately after, came the Eucharist, the institution of which S. Paul proceeds to give ... There were the breaking of bread and instructions first ... Then came midnight, and after midnight, as we are expressly informed, ensued the Eucharist, the second breaking of bread" (Our Inheritance: An Account of the Eucharist Service in the First Three Centuries, by S. Baring-Gould, published in 1888, re-published by Kessinger Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0766185931, p. 175-176)
  35. ^ "All through this period (that up to 135 CE) Christians are gathering for a full meal with a separate bread and cup ritual appended to it in some way … The meal itself was generally called the 'Lord's Supper' (kyriakon deipnon) or 'love feast' (Agape) and the bread and cup ritual is called either by the Jewish term 'the breaking of bread' or by the Greek term 'Eucharist' (eucharistia), meaning 'thanksgiving' … This period begins, then, with the Eucharist as a full meal appended in some way to a bread and wine rite. By the end of the period (or about eighty years after the death of Jesus) the meal is being split off." (Foundations of Christian Worship, by Susan J. White, published by Westminster John Knox Press, 2006, ISBN 0664229247, pp. 92-93)
  36. ^ "In the opinion of the great majority of scholars the Agape was a meal at which not only bread and wine but all kinds of viands were used ... At the end of this feast, bread and wine were taken according to the Lord's command, and after thanksgiving to God were eaten and drunk in remembrance of Christ and as a special means of communion with the Lord Himself and through Him with one another. The Agape ... preceded and led up to the Eucharist, and was quite distinct from it" ([ Lambert, J.C., art. Eucharist, in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1995; originally published in 1915 revised in 1929).
  37. ^ "My one point tonight is that the eucharist is a meal." McGowan, Rev'd Dr Andrew, The Meal of Jesus, Seminar delivered July 28, 2004 [2]
  38. ^ "By 'eucharistic meals', therefore, I mean the communal meals of early Christians . . . there were probably some instances, and perhaps many, where the eucharist was a meal (and not merely part of a meal) in the most literal sense of the word." Ascetic Eucharists p 12
  39. ^ "(T)hat appelation [agape] was actually used by Christians in the first two centuries to denote a eucharistic meal." Bradsahw, Paul F., ("the doyen of Anglican liturgists and perhaps the sole English liturgist who is of unquestionable international standing" Seville, Thomas, Article Review 'Ecclesiology 3.2 (2007) 251) Eucharistic Origins, ISBN 0-281-05615-3 p 99
  40. ^ "The starting point of this article is the apparent fact that the New Testament gives witness to a number of different Eucharists, or, more precisely perhaps, different practices of religious table fellowship that can be called Eucharists" . . . Jesus joined with his followers in Galilee and Judea, both disciples and sympathizers, in meals that were designed to anticipate the coming of God's kingdom. The meals were characterized by a readiness to accept the hospitality and the produce of Israel at large. A willingness to provide for the meals, to join in the fellowship, to forgive and to be forgiven, was seen by Jesus as a sufficient condition for eating in his company and for entry into the kingdom. . . . Chilton sees this as the first type in the development of the Eucharist." Daly, Robert J., S. J., 'Eucharistic origins: from the new testament to the liturgies of the golden age." Theological Studies March , 2005
  41. ^ JOHANNES BETZ The Eucharist in the Didache in The Didache in Modern Research, by Jonathan A. Draper, published by BRILL, 1996, ISBN 9004103759, p. 285 (Eucharist and Agape originally formed 'one united body')
  42. ^ The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology, by John Anthony McGuckin (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004 ISBN 0664223966), p. 3. This says: "Some of the earliest Christian communities seem to have celebrated a ritual meal of fellowship, within which the eucharistic ritual took place ... Ignatius of Antioch, and parts of the Didache, show that the agape as a distinct ritual from the Eucharist is still a feature of Syrian Christianity at the beginning of the second century ... By the third century the agape and Eucharist parted company across most of the church" (emphases added).
  43. ^ Foundations of Christian Worship, by Susan J. White, published by Westminster John Knox Press, 2006, ISBN 0664229247, p. 93. "…a full meal with a separate bread and cup ritual appended to it in some way … The meal itself was generally called the 'Lord's Supper' (kyriakon deipnon) or 'love feast' (Agape) and the bread and cup ritual is called either by the Jewish term 'the breaking of bread' or by the Greek term 'Eucharist' (eucharistia), meaning 'thanksgiving' … This period begins, then, with the Eucharist as a full meal appended in some way to a bread and wine rite. By the end of the period (or about eighty years after the death of Jesus) the meal is being split off." (emphases added).
  44. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. Agape
  45. ^ Bradshaw, p 29
  46. ^ Bruce Metzger Metzger, Bruce. The canon of the New Testament. 1997
  47. ^ Bradshaw, p. 30
  48. ^ Smyrnaeans, 8
  49. ^ Apology, 39; De Corona Militis, 3.

    Yet about the modest supper-room of the Christians alone a great ado is made. Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greeks call it agapè, i.e., affection. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of piety is gain, since with the good things of the feast we benefit the needy; not as it is with you, do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their licentious propensities, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment,—but as it is with God himself, a peculiar respect is shown to the lowly. If the object of our feast be good, in the light of that consider its further regulations. As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty. The participants, before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to worship God; they talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual ablution, and the bringing in of lights, each [Or, perhaps—“One is prompted to stand forth and bring to God, as every one can, whether from the Holy Scriptures, or of his own mind”—i.e. according to his taste.] is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing,—a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer it is closed.

  50. ^ McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, p 93
  51. ^ Apology, 66)
  52. ^ Bradshaw p.91
  53. ^ McGowan, p 93
  54. ^ Paedagogus II, 1
  55. ^ "Sed majoris est Agape, quia per hanc adolescentes tui cum sororibus dormiunt, appendices scilicet gulae lascivia et luxuria" (Tertullian, De Jejuniis, 17, quoted in Gibbons: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire).
  56. ^ Letter 22, 1:3
  57. ^ Confessions, 6.2.2
  58. ^ The Council of Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana
  59. ^ Bradshaw, Paul, Eucharistic Origins (London, SPCK, 2004) ISBN 0-28105-615-3, p. 10.
  60. ^ "The Anaphora of Addai and Mari is notable because, from time immemorial, it has been used without a recitation of the Institution Narrative … the words of Eucharistic Institution are indeed present in the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, not in a coherent narrative way and ad litteram, but rather in a dispersed euchological way, that is, integrated in successive prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession." (Guidelines for Admission to the Eucharist between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, section 3. The Anaphora of Addai and Mari).
  61. ^ Joint Communiqué of the First Non-Official Consultation on Dialogue within the Syriac Tradition, Vienna June 1994
  62. ^ A. Gelson, The Eucharistic Prayer of Addai and Mari 121-123, quoted in Bulletin of the Pro Unione Centre in Rome, Spring 2003, p. 27
  63. ^ Rome diary: new thoughts on Eucharist Catholic New Times, May 4, 2003 by Robert Blair Kaiser
  64. ^ "McGowan points to evidence from the Didache and Justin Martyr which suggests that the words of institution were not used in the celebration of the Supper during the second century. Justin Martyr, at least, had access to the words of institution but used them for catechetical rather than liturgical purposes. The words enabled believers to understand the sacrament but were not essential for celebration of the sacrament. If it is the case that the liturgical use of the narratives was not known in the second century and only developed later in the third century, it is surely unlikely that there was an earlier first century liturgical tradition reflected in the NT texts." - Clarke, Ros, The Function of the Words of Institution in the Celebration of the Lord's Supper , The Theologian (2005)
  65. ^ McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, p 53
  66. ^ McGowan, p 54
  67. ^ Ibid
  68. ^ McGowan, p 54
  69. ^ Ratcliffe, E.C., Encyclopaedia Britannica [13th edition] (1926), Eucharist (vol. 8, p. 793)
  70. ^ Ratcliffe, E.C., Encyclopaedia Britannica [13th edition] (1926), Eucharist (vol. 8, p. 793)
  71. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.
  72. ^ Adler, Cyrus & Dembitz, Lewis N., The Jewish Encyclopedia (1911) ḲIDDUSH
  73. ^ Joachim Jeremias, Die Abendmahlsworte Jesu (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960, first ed. 1935): ET: The Eucharistic Words of Jesus [with author's revisions to 1964 ed.] (London: SCM. 1966: repr., Philadelphia: Westminster. 1977)
  74. ^ Ratcliffe, E.C., Encyclopaedia Britannica [13th edition] (1926), Eucharist (vol. 8, p. 793)
  75. ^ Dix, Gregory, The Shape of the Liturgy, p 50
  76. ^ Rev. Dr. Frank Peake, Manual: The Evolution of the Eucharist [3]
  77. ^ Dix, Gregory, The Shape of the Liturgy, p 50
  78. ^ Rev. Dr. Frank Peake, Manual: The Evolution of the Eucharist [4]
  79. ^ Jeremias, Joachim, Die Abendmahlsworte Jesu (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1960, first ed. 1935): ET: The Eucharistic Words of Jesus [with author's revisions to 1964 ed.] (London: SCM. 1966: repr., Philadelphia: Westminster. 1977)
  80. ^ a b Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  81. ^ Eerdmanns Dictionary of the Bible, Meal Article, p 875 (2000) ISBN 0802824005
  82. ^ Amos 6:1-7
  83. ^ Sirach 31:12-32:13
  84. ^ Smith, Dennis Edwin, "From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World" 2003 Fortress Press 352 pages ISBN 0800634896.
  86. ^ Harris, Stephen L. 'Understanding the Bible' Fourth Edition p 286
  87. ^ Harris, Stephen L. 'Understanding the Bible' Fourth Edition p 286
  88. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. (Mayfield Publishing Company 4th ed.).ISBN 1-55934-655-8
  89. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. (Mayfield Publishing Company 4th ed.) p 287.ISBN 1-55934-655-8
  90. ^
  91. ^ Powell, Barry B., Classical Myth Second ed. With new translations of ancient texts by Herbert M. Howe. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998.
  93. ^ Godwin, J (1981). Mystery Religions in the Ancient World. Thames and Hudson. 
  94. ^ McGowan, Ascetic Eucharists, p 13
  95. ^ Ratcliffe, E.C., Encyclopaedia Britannica [1944 (13th) edition], Eucharist (vol. 8, p. 793)
  96. ^ Dix, Gregory, The Shape of the Liturgy, p 99
  97. ^ Meier, John, "The Eucharist and the Last Supper: Did it Happen?" Theology Digest 42 (Winter, 1995) 335-51, at 347.
  98. ^ Ratcliffe, E.C., Encyclopaedia Britannica [13th edition] (1926), Eucharist (vol. 8)
  99. ^ A Feast of Meanings: Eucharistic Theologies from Jesus through Johannine Circles, by Bruce Chilton 1994 ISBN 9004099492 p. 110
  100. ^ The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church By Eugene LaVerdiere, 1996 ISBN 0814661521 p.31
  101. ^ The Institution Narrative of Luke 22:19-20
  102. ^ Bradshaw, p 1
  103. ^ Karris, Robert J. (1996). "The Gospel According to Luke". In Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, Roland E. Murphy. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 715. ISBN 0-13-614934-0. ).
  104. ^ For instance, John 6, The Eucharist, and Protestant Objections; The Institution of the Eucharist in Scripture, etc.
  105. ^ Perkins, Pheme (1996). "The Gospel According to John". In Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmeyer, Roland E. Murphy. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. p. 962. ISBN 0-13-614934-0. 
  106. ^ Eucharistic Sacrifice in the New Testament
  107. ^ "(A)s instances of early Eucharists we may mention the following cases, remembering always that as the blood is regarded as the Life, the drinking or partaking of, or sprinkling with, blood is always an acknowledgment of the common life; and that the juice of the grape being regarded as the blood of the Vine, wine in the later ceremonials quite easily and naturally takes the place of the blood in the early sacrifices. Thus P. Andrada La Crozius, a French missionary, and one of the first Christians who went to Nepaul and Thibet, says in his History of India: "Their Grand Lama celebrates a species of sacrifice with bread and wine, in which, after taking a small quantity himself, he distributes the rest among the Lamas present at this ceremony." "The old Egyptians celebrated the resurrection of Osiris by a sacrament, eating the sacred cake or wafer after it had been consecrated by the priest, and thereby becoming veritable flesh of his flesh." 1 As is well known, the eating of bread or dough sacramentally (sometimes mixed with blood or seed) as an emblem of community of life with the divinity, is an extremely ancient practice or ritual. Dr. Frazer 2 says of the Aztecs, that "twice a year, in May and December, an image of the great god Huitzilopochtli was made of dough, then broken in pieces and solemnly eaten by his worshipers." And Lord Kingsborough in his Mexican Antiquities (vol. vi, p. 220) gives a record of a "most Holy Supper" in which these people ate the flesh of their god. It was a cake made of certain seeds, "and having made it, they blessed it in their manner, and broke it into pieces, which the high priest put into certain very clean vessels, and took a thorn of maguey which resembles a very thick needle, with which he took up with the utmost reverence single morsels, which he put into the mouth of each individual in the manner of a communion." Acosta 3 confirms this and similar accounts. The Peruvians partook of a sacrament consisting of a pudding of coarsely ground maize, of which a portion had been smeared on the idol. The priest sprinkled it with the blood of the victim before distributing it to the people." Priest and people then all took their shares in turn, "with great care that no particle should be allowed to fall to the ground--this being looked upon as a great sin." 4 Moving from Peru to China (instead of 'from China to Peru') we find that "the Chinese pour wine (a very general substitute for blood) on a straw image of Confucius, and then all present drink of it, and taste the sacrificial victim, in order to participate in the grace of Confucius." [Here again the Corn and Wine are blended in one rite.] And of Tartary Father Grueber thus testifies: "This only I do affirm, that the devil so mimics the Catholic Church there, that although no European or Christian has ever been there, still in all essential things they agree so completely with the Roman Church, as even to celebrate the Host with bread and wine: with my own eyes I have seen it." 1 These few instances are sufficient to show the extraordinarily wide diffusion of Totem-sacraments and Eucharistic rites all over the world. Carpenter, Edward 'Pagan & Christian Creeds' (1920)
  108. ^ Drinking blood at a kosher Eucharist? The sound of scholarly silence
  109. ^ For instance, Hyam Maccoby proposes that "Paul, not Jesus, was the originator of the eucharist, and that the eucharist itself is not a Jewish, but an essentially Hellenistic rite, showing principal affinities not with the Jewish qiddush, but with the ritual meal of the mystery religions." John M. G. Barclay "stresses the anomalous nature of Paul. If Paul's status were to be determined on the single issue of the drinking of blood, it would have to be conceded that Paul simply moves off the scale." A. N. Wilson, whose work, Cahill says, synthesizes scholarly trends, distinguishes between the Jewishness of Jesus and Paul: "... the idea that a pious Jew such as Jesus would have spent his last evening on earth asking his disciples to drink a cup of blood, even symbolically, is unthinkable". He sees no problem, however, in proposing "the genius of Paul," "Paul's fertile brain," as the source of the Christian Eucharist incorporating the blood-drinking element. Cahill writes: "It is instructive to recall the context in which the drinking of blood was acceptable. First-century folk who participated in mystery cult rituals were no more tolerant of cannibalism than we are. There is no evidence that, in itself, drinking of blood was not revolting for them, generally speaking. Yet, we find it in religious ritual. The reason is that they were drinking the blood of an animal that had been numinized in some way and had come to be identified with the god. Drinking the blood of a god was acceptable." Otfried Hofius, argues for the authenticity of the passage in 1 Corinthians where Paul speaks of the Eucharist, writing: "A convincing proof that the Apostle has himself encroached on the wording of the tradition delivered to him has not thus far been adduced." David Wenham writes: "Jesus typically uses vivid, almost shocking metaphors (e.g., Matt 18:8, 9/Mark 9:43-48). Furthermore, that the shocking eucharistic words came to be accepted by Jewish Christians (including Matthew) may suggest that they were not quite as unacceptable as Vermes supposes or that they had a strong claim to authenticity, since they would not easily have been accepted if they were not in the Jewish Christian tradition." John Meier, too, insists on Jesus' propensity to use "shocking symbols", in reference to the words of the institution narrative and in his "deliberate flouting of certain social conventions". He gives particular attention to "a subversive aphorism of Jesus," referring to "Let the dead bury their dead."
  110. ^ Allegro, John, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross 1970; The Eucharist Was Visionary Plants
  111. ^ Robert Jewett, “Tenement Churches and Pauline Love Feasts,” Quarterly Review 14 [1994]: 44
  112. ^ Funk, Robert, and the Jesus Seminar, "The Acts of Jesus" Harper Collins, 1998, p. 139
  113. ^ Crossan, John Dominic, "The Historical Jesus" HarperCollins 1992 p 364
  114. ^ The Anaphora of Addai and Mari, A Study of Structure and Historical Background by Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo (2002)
  115. ^ Crossan, John Dominic "The Birth of Christianity, Harper/Collins, 2002, p. 436
  116. ^ Funk, ibid. at 139-140
  117. ^ Crossan, Ibid.
  118. ^ Crossan, John Dominic, The Historical Jesus," pp 360-367
  119. ^ Daly, Robert J., S. J., 'Eucharistic origins: from the new testament to the liturgies of the golden age." Theological Studies March , 2005
  120. ^ "Is this what Christ did at the Last Supper? Was the Last Supper a Eucharist in this full sense of the word? Obviously not. This does not deny that Jesus instituted the Eucharist. What Jesus did at the Last Supper is obviously at least the generative moment of the institution of the Eucharist. But Eucharist in the full sense we have just described? No, that was still to come. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given to the Church, nor had the trinitarian theology yet been developed that is at the heart of the classical Eucharistic Prayers. Thus the Church, the assembly of those who address the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, was not yet constituted at the Last Supper. The Eucharist that Christians now celebrate is what the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of the risen Jesus, and over the course of generations and centuries, learned to do as it celebrated table fellowship with its risen Lord." Daly, Robert J., S. J., 'Eucharistic origins: from the new testament to the liturgies of the golden age." Theological Studies March , 2005