Barry Newman's Blog

July 9, 2010

Christ Centred Communion – Further Thoughts (part XXIII)

Filed under: Christ Centred Communion — barrynewman @ 11:21 pm

Understanding “Poieite” as “You are doing” and the word, “this” – 1 Corinthians 11: 24, 25 and Luke 22: 19

The words, “touto” (“this” as object) and “poieite” appear alongside of each other in the same clause three times in the New Testament –  Luke 22: 19 and 1 Corinthians 11: 24 and 25 – the texts relevant to the discussion. If “poieite” is to be understood as a command, being in the imperative mood, then one might expect the order in which these words occur to be, “poieite” followed by “touto” – the emphasis being on the command.  The words, “poieite touto” occurring together are found once in the New Testament in that order, in Mark 11: 3, within the question, “Why are you doing this (untying the colt)?” If there is a particular emphasis here, though that is questionable,  it could be on “the doing”, though in this case the verb is clearly in the indicative mood.  However in Luke 22: 19 and 1 Corinthians 11: 24 and 25 the word order is reversed – “touto” is followed by “poieite”.  This might indicate that the emphasis is to be placed upon what the “this” signified with “poieite” being understood to be in the indicative mood, that is, not a command.  Of course it is possible to argue that in these passages there is some emphasis on the “this” and at the same time maintain that they are concerned with a command involving “remembrance of me”.   If this position is adopted it would add weight to the claim that it is the Passover meal, celebrated once a year, that is involved and not some abstraction from that meal, held more regularly.

An examination was made of all known instances dated between the 6th century BC and a little beyond the 2nd century AD, where in the same clause “poieite” or “poieis” ( “you do” -singular) immediately precedes “touto” or “tauta” (“this” plural as object) and vice versa.  The three New Testament texts under discussion and any instance where these texts were quoted by an external source were excluded from the analysis. A distinction was made between an instance occurring in the New Testament and an instance occurring in sources external to the New Testament. All instances were examined in terms of whether the phrase appeared to be in the indicative or the imperative mood.  In determining this, reliance was placed in almost all cases upon translations made by others. However the context in almost all instances made it clear whether the imperative or indicative mood was involved. The results of the analysis appear in Table 1 below.

  Do “This” (“poieite” or “poieis” preceding “touto” or “tauta”) “This” Do (“touto” or “tauta” preceding “poieite” or “poieis”)
Indicative Mood Imperative Mood Indicative Mood Imperative Mood
New Testament 1 6
Outside of the New Testament 2 3 29 1

                                                                                              Table 1

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