Barry Newman's Blog

May 16, 2012

A Table of the Lord (part XIII)

Concluding Thoughts

As Thiselton commented, we are particularly prone to writing back into those texts that we associate with the sacraments, our current practices and beliefs.  Worse, I believe, is writing back into certain texts, sacramental notions of any sort which are not there in the first place.

One might want to argue that “a table of the Lord” is a reference to something like a Holy Communion Table, albeit in primitive form. However, the lack of the definite article in the phrase, though not definitive in itself, the surrounding context which has to do with not eating or drinking idolatrously, the word for table being readily understood as a prime reference to a meal, and the immediate context being a reference to toasting or drinking in honour of the Lord, rather than “drinking from a communion cup”, suggest otherwise.

One might want to see the reference to “table” being not to a physical object but a reference to a meal, albeit a meal that was somehow meant to reflect the Last Passover Meal or similar. But Paul makes no such explicit connection. Additionally, neither the context for chapters 8 to 10, nor the order in which “table” and “cup” appear in 10: 21, nor the lack of definite articles in this verse, support such a notion.

Verse 21 is forbidding the drinking and eating in such a way that allows the gods to be seen to have significance when only the Lord and eating and drinking under his auspices are to be so recognised. The Lord is the only Lord.  There are no others.

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