Barry Newman's Blog

July 14, 2011

The Cup of the Lord (part 3)

Filed under: Eucharist,Holy Communion,Lord's Supper,The cup of the Lord — barrynewman @ 11:18 pm

The Cup of the Lord? (Part 3)

The following should now be noted:

(i)  For all forty five (45) instances, the general context is that of giving a toast.

(ii) The Greek text of 1 Corinthians 10: 21a is:  “ou dunasthe poterion kuriou pinein kai poterion daimonion.”

(iii) Both “Lord” and “demons” (a reference to the deities) are in the genitive case.

(iv) As far as is known, there is no such thing as “the cup of demons”. There was this cup or that cup used in honour of this or that deity.  However presumably for reasons of consistency, translators of the Corinthian text, inserting the definite article before “cup of the Lord” also place it before, “cup of demons”.  The use of “the” in “the cup of demons” could be taken to mean “any cup of the demons” but it could also be misleading indicating that it was common to have a single cup used for demons (deities) considered collectively.

(v) Given that the verb pinein (to drink) accompanies “Lord” which noun is not in the dative case, the text itself is not referring to a cup that has been “poured out to”, “dedicated to” or “rendered to” the Lord.  This is not to say however, that there could be no special reference being made to the Lord by way of using a cup.

(vi) It could be argued that “a cup of the Lord” is a reference to a cup marked for designated use, that is, one especially set aside for him.  However there is nothing in the text which would clearly indicate that.  For instance if a lettered cup were in mind then the presence of the Greek word, “grammatikon” in “grammatikon poterion” would have made that clear.  Again, the presence of “organon” in “organon Kuriou” would have indicated that it was designated for the Lord.  The use of a definite article would have implied the same.

(vii) The Greek word poterion is generic for a cup of any description.  Paul makes no reference to any special cup.

(viii) The use of the verb, to drink (pinein) in the Corinthian text indicates that the actual act of using a cup in order to drink from it is in mind.

(ix) The two words, poterion kuriou, with “Lord” occurring in the genitive, together with the verb “to drink”, appear to be a reference to the common custom of toasting.

(x) The general context for 1 Corinthians 10: 1 to 10: 33 concerns meals – what the Corinthians should and should not eat at their meals.

(xi) Multiple toasts occurred at many Graeco-Roman meals. The gentiles at Corinth, now that they had become believers, had to change how they drank at their meals.

Conclusion: It would appear that a reasonable translation for 1 Corinthians 10: 21a would be along the lines of: “You cannot drink a cup to the Lord and to demons”. That is, Paul is exclaiming, “You cannot, you must not, toast or honour the Lord and at the same time, toast or honour any of the deities at your meals.  You may only toast the Lord!”  No longer should they toast, “Zeus, Saviour”.  Their toast will be to “The Lord, the only Saviour”.

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