I have some difficulty with parts of this article, especially the "Background" section. First is the claim that the Last Supper was a Passover meal. While this seems to be the acount given by the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John is quite clear that it is not a Passover meal, as Jesus is on the Cross while the lambs are being slain for the Passover meal. Moreover, even the Synoptic accounts say that the bread was leavened (artos), as opposed to the unleavened bread required for Passover. Second, I would eliminate the idea that the Passover meal was transformed by Christ -- not only because I don't think it was a Passover meal, but also because the Jewish people still celebrate the Passover meal. Third, the anaphoras of the first several centuries do not emply Passover language, and therefore to link Eucharist so closely to Passover is to imply that Christians didn't understand the Eucharist for the first several centuries. -- Fr Lev
- Hi Fr.Lev -
- I think this would be a good discussion to have in more depth, if other folks want to chime in. I'm not convinced that whether the Jewish people still celebrate it or not has any bearing on the question. I think the connection throughout is really clear -- there is a very strong typological association of Passover and the flight from Egypt, with the Passion of Christ and the redemption of the Church (through blood and water). It is very explicit that this is what the Eucharist is about, too. No doubt, more historical nuance would certainly be appropriate.
- Regarding early sources, have you read Melito of Sardis's On Pascha? There is a very clear association there. — FrJohn (talk)
Fr Lev, Just putting this out:
- "Where will You have us prepare for You to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, 'The Teacher says. My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." And the disciples did as Jesus, had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening. He sat at table with the twelve disciples.... Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.... And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:17-20; 26-28, 30).
Now I guess that this does not say that this was the Passover meal, done the proper way, on the proper day, but since Jesus himself was to become the "New Passover " on the proper day, slain at the proper time, this may have been a "make do" type of Old Passover meal.Andrew
Re Melitos of Sardis, I know he is late second century but I referred explicitly to the anaphoras themselves, i.e., how the Church actually prayed, and not an individual's comments upon them.
Re St Matthew's Gospel, I already acknowledged that the Synoptics present it as a Passover meal, while at the same time indicating the use of leavened bread. I think, as many scholars do, that St John's chronology is the accurate one.
The Jews still celebrate the Passover meal, as commanded in Torah. Christians do not celebrate the Passover meal; we celebrate the Eucharist. They aren't the same thing, nor did our Lord transform the Passover meal into the Eucharist. While Passover was certainly "in the air" at the time of our Lord's Passion, the Eucharist isn't modeled on Passover. To state the obvious, the Christian analogue of Passover is Pascha, which, after all, is Greek for "Passover." -- Fr Lev
- Just to add my two cents' worth: Everything Fr. Lev is saying here is what I've been taught recently at seminary. While the Synoptics do give the Last Supper as a Passover seder, John's Gospel (which the Church privileges over the others) has it happen before the Passover.
- John's account makes more liturgical sense, as well, because in his telling, the Pharisees take care of their business with Christ before the year's biggest liturgical celebration ("because that Sabbath was a high day"). (They would have been ritually unclean had they done it during the feast.) Christ dies right when the Passover lambs are being slaughtered in preparation for the feast, thus signifying that He is the new Passover lamb. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 17:18, January 26, 2006 (CST)
It is a happy coincidence that in Greek pascha (Passover) is related to paschw (to suffer). I think you guys are missing the major connection here between Passover/Pascha and the Eucharist. The whole thing is a re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ. In Western Liturgy (Western rite?) - the priest says "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast." The anaphoras of the East are no different in this emphasis. The historical problem of the two chronologies is solved if the Gospels are read typologically. Eucharist IS Pascha IS Passover. — FrJohn (talk)
- Perhaps there is a misunderstanding here. I think the point is that the Eucharist (and the Last Supper which began it) is not a seder, because Pascha replaces Passover. Thus, to say that the Eucharist is not a Passover meal is simply to say that it is not merely a perpetuation of the Jewish feast. The Passover and its seder have been fulfilled and transformed into Pascha and the Eucharist. The Christian practice is not simply a disguised Jewish one. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 05:42, January 27, 2006 (CST)
- Hmm... I think the picture is more complex than this. I'm appealing to Melito here, and the early Christian "love feasts." Not only that, but I should remind everyone that the phrase, perhaps inserted in '72 (I don't know), "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast" comes from 1 Cor. 5. I honestly don't see how someone could deny that as a Eucharistic reference, especially as 1 Cor 10 looms right around the corner. I wouldn't say "disguised", or even necessarily "replaces" but I do like "fulfills". I'm not sure what is at stake in this point for you both? I'm probably oversensitive, but I can't help but feel a certain anti-semitism here - by which I mean, not that you don't like Jews, but that you are too quickly discounting the truly Jewish character of the early Church and its liturgical life. — FrJohn (talk)
- P.S. With regard to the comment above, "I know he is late second century but I referred explicitly to the anaphoras themselves, i.e., how the Church actually prayed, and not an individual's comments upon them' - it should be recognized that Melito wasn't just proferring his own opinions, but was in fact regarding larger - "Quatrodeciman" - Christian practice.
- P.P.S. To Dcn. Andrew - I don't think the Church privileges The Gospel of John over the others because it discounts the historicity of the other Gospels - I'm suprised you'd say that! I don't think it's a statement endorsing one chronology as much as an understanding that The Gospel of John has a "loftier" theological character in that it deals first and foremost with Christ's divinity. For this reason, John the Evangelist is sometimes represented as an Eagle. The Church was careful to hold the accounts of the four gospels -- with their variations intact -- in order to present the fullness of the message, and not to artificially synthesize it in any way.
- Well, I'd be surprised if I said that, as well! :) My reference to the "privileging" of John's Gospel is simply that our Holy Week is laid out the way it is. That is, its commemorations are based on John's chronology and not on that of the Synoptics. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 12:05, January 28, 2006 (CST)
I am not trying to drive a wedge between Pascha and the Eucharist. They are not unrelated. However, I would stand by my claim that the article is misleading on this point. The Last Supper was unlikely to have been a Passover meal. The eucharistic texts of the early Church make it clear that they did not derive from seder texts and that Passover imagery wasn't used. Thus to claim, as this article does, that the Eucharist is simly the seder "transformed" and that the themes of the seder are therefore the themes of the Eucharist is misleading, at best. By idnetifying a minor theme as a major, even exclusive one, it distorts the actual history and practice of the Church's Eucharist. I think there is more to be found in the Jewish Day of Atonement than in the Passover for understanding our Lord's death and resurrection, as well as the mystery of the Eucharist. My point here is related to the one I made regarding the symbolism of the Little Entrance, and what Fr John had to say on that discussion page about NPOV. BTW, I don't believe that the use of the "Christ our Passover" at the fraction of the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer represents ancient pratice; it certainly isn't known from the first several centuries that I am talking about. -- Fr Lev