Barry Newman's Blog

June 24, 2010

Christ Cented Communion – Further Thoughts (part XVII)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion — barrynewman @ 11:08 pm

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are doing” as suited to Paul’s treatment of the  Corinthians’ meal as though it were the Last Passover meal – 1 Corinthians 11: 26

Traditionally, 11: 26 is regarded as the principal verse (along with v. 21, for protestants, where translations generally refer to “the Lord’s Supper”) to which appeal is made in arguing that a Eucharistic type celebration formed part of or was attached to the Corinthians’ meal.  Once it is assumed that v. 26 contains a reference to a rite or custom of some kind, what immediately follows that verse is also understood as a reference to that rite or custom.  

However in “Christ Centred Communion” it was argued that v. 26 is actually a transitional text between Paul’s reference to the Last Passover meal and his reference to the Corinthians’ meal.  In v. 26 Paul may be alluding to what Jesus said at the Passover meal at the same time as offering a comment on their meal.  The reference to “this bread” and “the cup” could be reminiscent of the Last Passover meal, and meant to be so, because Paul wants to put the Corinthians’ meal up against the Last Passover meal and so shock them into taking serious stock of what they are doing.  However references to “this bread” and “the cup” can also be considered as references, by way of summary, to their meal.

A formal meal in the Graeco- Roman world consisted of two main components – the meal itself and the wine drinking session that followed.  “Bread” could represent the first component of such a meal.  Bread was part of the staple diet and many varieties might be available at a formal meal[1] of which it could constitute a significant part[2]

[1] See Smith, D.E., From Symposium to Eucharist – the Banquet in the Early Christian World, Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN, 2003, p. 3.

[2] Athenaeus refers to Arcesilaus who having some people to dinner and being informed by a slave that the bread had run out, “burst into laughter, clapped his hands, and said, ‘What a party we are having, my friends – we forgot to buy enough bread! Run slave!’ ” in Athenaeus, x, 420 c, in Athenaeus, The Learned Banqueters,  IV, LOEB Classical Library, (trans. Olson, S.D.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008, pp. 472,473.


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