Barry Newman's Blog

June 16, 2010

Christ Centred Communion – Further Thoughts (part XIII)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion — barrynewman @ 8:31 am

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are Doing” and Luke’s Restricted Reference to it concerning the Bread

Luke 22: 20 reads, “And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ” There is no explicit reference to “remembrance”.  However, in answer to the question, “Why does Luke only mention the words of remembrance in connection with the bread but not in association with the wine?”[1] appeal may be made to the word, translated, “likewise”.  It may be argued that “likewise” indicates that what Jesus said earlier in reference to the bread, “Do this in remembrance of me.” applies to the wine as well. This is by no means certain.  The “likewise” may be understood as simply indicating that as Jesus referred to the bread in connection with his death for them, so too he referred to the cup in connection with his death for them.  If this is the case, the question of why there is no reference to “remembrance” in connection with the wine remains unanswered.  Consequently, if a command is entailed with respect to the bread, there is no clear indication that a command is entailed with respect to the cup or the wine.

If “poieite” is understood as “You are doing” I think that extra weight can be given to a different attempt to answer the question of Luke seemingly restricting “remembrance” to the bread.  However one understands, “poieite”, it is not unreasonable to claim that the reference to remembrance being made only in connection with the bread is sufficient for seeing the notion of remembrance attached to the whole meal and not just also the wine.  Bread was an essential feature of the Passover meal, indeed almost any meal, including formal meals, and was probably available at the early stages of the Passover meal.  Perhaps more to the point, in the Passover meals celebrated at the time of Jesus it appears that unleavened bread, over which thanks was given, introduced the main course.  Making a reference to “remembrance” in association with the bread that introduces the main course could be considered to be making a reference to the course as a whole, concluding as it does with thanks said over, what is commonly termed, the third cup.  However, for me, this line of argument is a little stronger if Jesus is understood to be saying, “You are doing this in remembrance of me” rather than “Do this in remembrance of me.”  A wider coverage is given to the notion of remembrance if it is associated with a statement rather than a command. A command, because of its very nature, focuses on that to which it is attached.  If the situation is that Jesus breaks bread and then says, “This is my body which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me” primary attention is directed towards the bread with a “spill over” effect to other aspects of the meal.  Alternatively, if Jesus breaks bread and then says, “This is my body which is given for you.  You are doing this in remembrance of me”, while attention is still primarily directed towards the bread, that an activity is involved, rather than a command, is more likely to create a greater “spill over” effect to other aspects of the meal.


[1] A consideration of 1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25 where reference is made to remembrance in connection with both bread and wine will be given later.

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