Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Last Supper as Passover seder?

PERHAPS NOT: Was Jesus’s Last Supper a Passover seder? (Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Excerpt:
[Professor Jonathan] Klawans notes that there are those who can cite no less than 14 parallels between the account described in Mark and the modern-day Passover seder. These include the bread and wine, the hymn or blessings that were recited, and the reclining diners. Jews at their seders discuss the symbolism of the Passover meal; Jesus at his Last Supper discussed the symbolism of the wine (“This is the blood of my covenant”) and the bread (“Take, eat; this is my body”).

Nonetheless, scholars Klawans, [Rabbi Raymond] Apple, and [Professor Michael J.] Cook all do not believe that Jesus’s Last Supper was the Passover seder, for several reasons.

For starters, the parallels that can be drawn seem to be those that are too general, rather than decisive. It would not be uncanny for Jesus to eat a meal with his disciples in Jerusalem. During that meal, they would have reclined, broken bread, drank wine, and possibly even sang a hymn.

“Such behavior may have been characteristic of the Passover meal, but it is equally characteristic of practically any Jewish meal [at the time],” says Klawans.

Some key Passover elements are missing from the Last Supper: the Passover lamb, references to matzah (unleavened bread), the bitter herbs, charoset, the four cups of wine, the recitation of the four questions, and the narrative retelling of the Passover story.