Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 12:06:16 -0500
Subject: earliest eucharist

Dear Mark,

The last few days I've tried to look up some background material
dealing with the Eucharist in I Cor 11. Is it really the earliest
version of Christian Eucharist we have, as you have stated? Or
perhaps this passage is a later insertion? If so, then the case for
the non-Apocalyptic earliest Eucharist, i.e. a meal of benediction
quite in accordance with the Jewish tradition such as to be found
in the Didache, is made much stronger. Well, now I've found
plenty of material to support the view for the lateness of 1 Cor 11.

Here's a very interesting publication: PEUT-ON RECONSTITUER
LE TEXTE PRIMITIF DE LA C`ENE? by J. M. Van Cangh, on pp. 623-637 in 

    TITLE: The Corinthian correspondence / edited by R.          
PUBLISHED: Leuven : Leuven University Press : Uitgeverij Peeters,
   PAGING: xxvii, 791 p. ; 25 cm.                                
   SERIES: Bibliotheca Ephemeridum theologicarum Lovaniensium. ; 
    NOTES: English, French, and German.                          
           "...the papers of the forty-third session of the      
               Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense (August 8-10,      
               1994)"--p. vii.                                 
           Includes bibliographical references and indexes.      

What is Van Cangh saying in this article? He is basing his work in
part on the research of S. Dockx, LE RE'CIT DU REPAS PASCAL:
MARC 14, 17-26, in Biblica 46 (1965) 445-453, who demonstrated
conclusively that there were two quite different communion cups in
our earliest narratives of the Last Supper.

     ...une coupe eschatologique qui faisait partie du re'cit pascal
     (ou festif) primitif (Mc 14,25; Lc 22,18) et une coupe
     eucharistique, qui a e'te' ajoute'e sous l'influence de la
     liturgie, avec les paroles interpre'tatives sur le vin ("Ceci est
     mon sang" Mc 14,24...) (p. 623)

So Dockx along with Van Cangh believes that the earliest
Eucharist recitation that we have can be found in Mk 14:17-25,
and that both Lk 22:14-18 and 1 Cor 11:22-26, which are closely
related anyway, are later than Mk.

Actually Van Cangh (after Dockx) considers only a small part of
Mark 14:17-26 as early. This consists of Mk 17, 18a, 23, 24a, and
25. The rest are additions to the earliest Mk. Here are the earliest

     When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. And as they
     reclined at table ... Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and
     gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them...
     Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
     until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

He considers it quite impossible (p. 625) that Mk 14:24b, 

     This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for

should have followed naturally after Mk 14:23 that ends in "and
they all drank from it". Indeed, these Eucharistic words should
have logically _preceded_ the drinking of the Eucharistic cup  --
and they could have hardly followed upon the drinking in the
original version.

Van Cangh remarks that such words about drinking blood could
not have been a part of the earliest Jewish-Christian celebration,
since drinking of blood is one of the most un-Jewish things to do --
the concept is highly offensive to the believing Jews.
Therefore, these words were most likely added at a much later
stage when the Hellenistic elements were being added to the
original Jewish-Christian rituals in a later more un-Jewish
Hellenistic context.

The text-critical research that places Mk 14 prior to 1 Cor 11 is
actually not new at all, but is based quite solidly on the work of
such scholars as Jeremias, Benoit, and R. Pesch.

     La tradition eucharistique repre'sente'e par Mc 14,22-25
     (suivie par celle de Mt, 26,26-28) est ante'rieure `a celle
     repre'sente'e par 1 Co 11,23-26 et Lc 22,20-22. Cela a e'te'
     montre' maintes fois de mani`ere convaincante par des
     exe'g`etes travaillant de mani`ere inde'pendente les uns des
     autres. (p. 629)

I translate the above roughly as follows,

     The Eucharistic tradition represented by Mk 14:22-25
     (followed by Mt 26:26-28) is earlier than 1 Cor 11:23-26 and
     Lk 22:20-22. This has been shown rather convincingly on
     numerous occasions by several exegetes working
     independently of each other.

Next in the article, Van Cangh adduces 7 brief arguments for why
this is so. And he gives numerous citations for the more detailed
arguments, including in his own previous publications on the

So here we go, Mark. What about all this? Perhaps now your
opinion about the priority of 1 Cor 11 may change?

In relation to your special area of interest, the Q research, the
above authors I've consulted lend little support to your view that Lk
based his passages on Mk and Mt. In fact, they generally incline to
the view that 1 Cor/Lk Eucharistic tradition, while based partly on
Mk, is generally a separate and rather unrelated tradition. Van
Cangh argues that it most likely follows after the 
Hellenistic-Christian tradition that he opposes to the earlier more 
Jewish-Christian oriented tradition contained in Mk. Also, Van Cangh
claims to explain the noted conundrum of why there seem to be
two communion cups in Lk (Lk 22:17 and Lk 22:20). This
explanation deals with the idea, mentioned in the beginning
already, that there were generally two cups contained in early
traditions, one eschatological (being the earlier one, and based on
the invocations of the wholly traditional Jewish meal of
thanksgiving), and one Eucharistic (added later).

And, of course, let us not forget the original context of this
discussion. This whole discussion started when Steve suggested
that your determined questioning of modern Q research, even if
_assumed_ as valid, really will not change all that much the way
we understand early Christianity. Indeed, all the _generally
supposed_ text of Q is in the Canon in any case. Any way you will
choose to reshuffle it, it is still there, so all the ideas contained 
in it are there anyway. So your great work, even if accepted by a
substantial number of researchers, which is hardly the case today,
will really not amount to any major revisions of our understanding
of tradition.

It seems that, so far, your almost singlehanded current attempts to prove
the whole academic exegetical world wrong have found only one strong
adherent, our colourful correspondent in Sweden who currently seems to
derive a special pleasure from attacking violently all modern liberal
interpretations a Christian history. Oh well, it's a start, I suppose... 

Best regards,


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