Barry Newman's Blog

November 19, 2012

The Sacraments (part XXIII)

Filed under: The Sacraments — barrynewman @ 9:56 pm

“Do this” or “You are doing this” – “in remembrance of me” – a final word 

Returning to the matter of “the Lord’s Supper” one of the matters to which little attention has been given is that in Luke, the words of remembrance appear only with respect of the bread and in 1 Corinthians, in reciting what Paul received from the Lord, the word, “whenever” only appears with respect to the cup and drinking.  We also need to remember in the New Testament, the words “do” (poieo) and “this” (houtos) when used to describe what Jesus said at the Last Passover Meal, even given their contex,t lack a degree of specificity.  For instance it is not being recorded that Jesus said, “Eat this” and “Drink this” or even “You are eating this” and “You are drinking this” “in remembrance of me”.  What the “this” and the “do” refer to is at least a little imprecise.

Although it may well be that in the original text Luke might not have made any mention of words of remembrance, if we assume he did, why did he choose not to make such a reference in association with the cup as well as the bread?  Given that the breaking of bread occurred at the beginning of the main course, did Luke see the words “do this in remembrance of me”, while seemingly connected in some way directly to the bread, as also indirectly in some way embracing the main course of the meal as a whole (and by inference, participation in the entire meal)?  Similarly, given that the drinking from the cup in question, arguably concluded the main course of the meal, did Paul in his quoting the words of Jesus see the word, “whenever”, connected in some way directly with the drinking from the cup, as also indirectly in some way embracing that course as a whole (and by inference participation in the entire meal)?  Perhaps the answer is, “Yes”, though to argue such might appear a little strained.

However, if what Jesus said was, “You are doing this” the proposal seems a little more natural.  Luke is recording that at the beginning of the main course, Jesus is saying that they are doing this, participating in this main course in remembrance of him – the bread introducing the main course, having just been broken and distributed or in the process of being distributed.  In Luke, the impression being given would be that they were to see that Passover meal as a remembrance event of his death but not necessarily previous Passover meals.  On the other hand, Paul’s reference to Jesus saying “you are doing this whenever” in connection with the drinking of the wine, which concluded the main course, could be understood as a reference to Passover meals in general being remembrance events of the death of Jesus.  That Paul also refers to Jesus saying “you are doing this in remembrance of me” in connection with the bread that began the main course, is in line with what Luke may have recorded but would stress that in particular, it was that last Passover meal that was in memory of his death.

Understanding, “touto poieite” as “you are doing this” may seem to better account for the slight “oddities” in the accounts of both Luke and Paul and while direct references were being made to both bread and wine, the indirect reference was to the main course of the meal and by inference to the entire meal.

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