Barry Newman's Blog

October 3, 2009

Christ Centred Communion (part X)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion,Christian Community Meals — barrynewman @ 8:23 am

Corinthian Christians and their participation in Meals: 1 Corinthians 8 -10   (continued)

In verses 10: 19 – 20 the notion of participation is mentioned again.  Verse 19 relates to the idea that those who eat sacrificial food are somehow in partnership with what the sacrifice is all about and in verse 20 Paul exclaims that he does not want the Corinthians to be in partnership with demons. 1 Corinthians 10: 21, contrary to almost all translations, literally reads, “You cannot drink a cup of the Lord and a cup of demons. You cannot partake of a table of the Lord and a table of demons”.  For Paul “demons” are the spirits associated with idols.  Presumably translators add the definite article, “the,” four times in this text because they believe that a reference is being made to a Christian ceremony or more explicitly a rite and out of consistency they find themselves also having to refer to “the cup of demons” and “the table of demons”.  This is in spite of the fact that there was no definitive, single cup of demons or table of demons! However if Paul is still writing about having ordinary meals, and in the verses following it is obvious that he still has meals in mind, then he can be understood to be saying, something like, “You cannot participate in a meal in which both the one and only Lord and any of the spirits of the idolatrous world are invoked.  It would be an absolute betrayal of the Lord who saved you.”  (Paul probably chooses to use the second person plural, “you”, because he himself does not wish to be associated in any way, even hypothetically, with idolatrous behaviour.) Verses 16 and 17 may refer to Christian Community meals with verse 21 referring to more private Christian meals or Christian meals of any sort.  The reference to “a table” was a common way of referring to “a meal”.

There does not appear to be a reference to a Christian ceremony, let alone a rite, reflective of the Last Passover Meal in Chapter 10: 16 – 17, 19 – 20 of 1 Corinthians.

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