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Author Topic: Orthodox view of the Eucharist vs Jewish view of the Passover  (Read 1235 times) Average Rating: 0
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bogdan
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« on: September 24, 2010, 05:32:52 PM »

The thread about the Protestant vs Orthodox views of the Eucharist got me thinking. I've heard several priests, when combatting "memorialism" say that Protestants (especially Zwinglians and such) have the emphasis wrong in Christ's words "Do this in remembrance of me." Those groups emphasize remembrance to say it's not the true Body and Blood of Christ. Meanwhile we emphasize me to show how the entire meaning of the meal changed.

So my question is, to those who know something about Judaism: how mystical is the understanding of the Passover?

In Orthodoxy, we believe that we are mystically in the Upper Room with Christ and the Disciples, and it's not a mere memorial or recreation of events. Is there a parallel in Judaism? Do Jews believe (or have they believed) they are mystically united with Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt during the Passover meal?

It would be an interesting parallel.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2010, 05:33:17 PM by bogdan » Logged
JLatimer
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2010, 07:03:31 PM »

The thread about the Protestant vs Orthodox views of the Eucharist got me thinking. I've heard several priests, when combatting "memorialism" say that Protestants (especially Zwinglians and such) have the emphasis wrong in Christ's words "Do this in remembrance of me." Those groups emphasize remembrance to say it's not the true Body and Blood of Christ. Meanwhile we emphasize me to show how the entire meaning of the meal changed.

So my question is, to those who know something about Judaism: how mystical is the understanding of the Passover?

In Orthodoxy, we believe that we are mystically in the Upper Room with Christ and the Disciples, and it's not a mere memorial or recreation of events. Is there a parallel in Judaism? Do Jews believe (or have they believed) they are mystically united with Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt during the Passover meal?

It would be an interesting parallel.

I'm pretty sure the answer to your question is yes. I know for a fact Jews believe that all Israel, in every generation, was "present" at Mt Sinai, at least. I'm guessing this has to do with the fact that both Jews and Orthodox Christians have a more or less "corporate" understanding of being and salvation, whereas Protestants see themselves more as atomized individuals, in which case ideas of anamnesis/re-presentation actually don't make much sense.
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2010, 09:41:35 AM »

From what I've learned of the Passover in seminary, I can say the following:

The Passover, in earliest form, was really a "Feast of unleavened bread" that was inherited from the Canaanites when the Israelites first arrived (before they went to Egypt.)  It was essentially a private feast, celebrated by each individual family.  With the Exodus, the Passover took on the connotation of feast commemorating God's deliverance, and, historically speaking, the feast of unleavened bread and the passover became merged.

In its later form, the feast becomes associated with messianic deliverance and took on an eschatological interpretation.  We also see in Ezra 6, when the exiles return to Israel, they are celebrating the Passover. In earlier times, the Passover wasn't that big of a feast (the feast of Tabernacles was the big deal); in later Judaism, however, the Passover's status as a feast became elevated.

In the form of the Passover the Jews have today, I would say that it has less to do with any mystic understanding, and more to do with remembering and recalling what God has done; this refers back to the "anamnesis" concept that JLatimer referred to in his post.  Anamnesis, "calling to remembrance" is not so much a remembrance of what happened in the past, but rather by remembering these acts of God, they are made present to us.  Even more important than what God has "done" in the past is what He is doing now, among us in the Body of Christ.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2010, 09:48:31 AM by SakranMM » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 11:11:17 AM »

Does the Eucharist Correspond to the Passover Meal?

This article ( http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLitJ.jsp ) , which resembles an Orthodox Christian website, suggests that the Eucharist instituted by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper was a "Berekoth" meal instead of the Passover meal. The author points out that the Passover meal had not yet been celebrated, because Christ was sacrificed the day before the Sabbath when the lambs were killed.

(I think that in Catholicism though, they possibly do consider the Last Supper to have happened on the day when the Passover meal was eaten after the sacrifice)

The author points out that like the Berakoth ritual meal, the Last Supper had wine, there was a breaking of bread, and then a washing afterwards, although in the washing part, Jesus washed his disciples' feet.

If the Last  Supper that Jesus told his disciples to do was a berekoth meal, and not a Passover meal with a lamb, then it appears He did not institute the Eucharist as a Passover meal with a lamb, the Lamb being Him?

Or maybe he was combining the Berekoth and the Passover Meal?

Please, would you be able to tell me which of the two is correct?
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2010, 07:52:30 AM »

Does the Eucharist Correspond to the Passover Meal?

This article ( http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLitJ.jsp ) , which resembles an Orthodox Christian website, suggests that the Eucharist instituted by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper was a "Berekoth" meal instead of the Passover meal. The author points out that the Passover meal had not yet been celebrated, because Christ was sacrificed the day before the Sabbath when the lambs were killed.

(I think that in Catholicism though, they possibly do consider the Last Supper to have happened on the day when the Passover meal was eaten after the sacrifice)

The author points out that like the Berakoth ritual meal, the Last Supper had wine, there was a breaking of bread, and then a washing afterwards, although in the washing part, Jesus washed his disciples' feet.

If the Last  Supper that Jesus told his disciples to do was a berekoth meal, and not a Passover meal with a lamb, then it appears He did not institute the Eucharist as a Passover meal with a lamb, the Lamb being Him?

Or maybe he was combining the Berekoth and the Passover Meal?

Please, would you be able to tell me which of the two is correct?

It seems clear that the Gospel writers want to give the Last Supper and the Crucifixion a Passover context/meaning. But it seems likely the meal was not an actual Seder. If there really was a lamb it might've distracted from the Jesus=Lamb idea. But it could've been a Seder I guess.
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2011, 08:35:13 PM »

Bogdan,

It's an interesting topic you raise:
The thread about the Protestant vs Orthodox views of the Eucharist got me thinking. I've heard several priests, when combatting "memorialism" say that Protestants (especially Zwinglians and such) have the emphasis wrong in Christ's words "Do this in remembrance of me." Those groups emphasize remembrance to say it's not the true Body and Blood of Christ. Meanwhile we emphasize me to show how the entire meaning of the meal changed.
In my opinion the phrase "Do this in remembrance of me" means what it says and doesn't prove either the Protestant "symbolic" view or the Orthodox "mystical view of the Eucharist.

The statement simply answers the question:
  • Q: "Why should we have the Eucharist meal?"
    A: "Out of REMEMBRANCE", or "AS A MEMORIAL", or "TO REMEMBER"
It also answers the question:
  • Q: "Whom are we remembering?"
    A: "Me", that is, "Jesus."

However, neither of these two sentences shows answers "WHAT is the Eucharist?," and "WHAT is the Eucharist NOT, with which it could be easily confused?"

Emphasizing remembrance or me does not show what the Eucharist itself is, only one purpose of the celebration: remembering someone.

It could still be reasoned that "We take his symbolic or real body and blood to remember Him."

You ask: "So my question is, to those who know something about Judaism: how mystical is the understanding of the Passover?
"

My knowledge here is simple. The lamb remembers the event when the Israelites slayed lambs, put the blood on their door areas, and a deadly Angel passing over the Israelites' sons without killing them.

I don't clearly remember a more mystical interpretation to this Passover meal in Judaism, although it seems that it may be said in Judaism that the slain lamb was a kind of offering to God.

You are right when you say:
Quote
In Orthodoxy, we believe that we are mystically in the Upper Room with Christ and the Disciples, and it's not a mere memorial or recreation of events... It would be an interesting parallel.
Although I am not sure that Orthodoxy says we are mystically located in the same room as the Apostles, so much as that we are sharing in the same meal, that is, eating the same food.

My understanding is that the answer to both these questions is "No":
Quote
Is there a parallel in Judaism? Do Jews believe (or have they believed) they are mystically united with Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt during the Passover meal?

Regards.



JLatimer,

It is new information when you answer to me:
Quote
I'm pretty sure the answer to your question is yes. I know for a fact Jews believe that all Israel, in every generation, was "present" at Mt Sinai, at least. I'm guessing this has to do with the fact that both Jews and Orthodox Christians have a more or less "corporate" understanding of being and salvation, whereas Protestants see themselves more as atomized individuals, in which case ideas of anamnesis/re-presentation actually don't make much sense.
I don't clearly remember this view of all Israel being present at Mount Sinai, and if it's taken seriously, then it seems to be a mystical view. Since I don't clearly remember it, it seems that this view could be taken more seriously in Orthodox Judaism than in Reform Judaism, which leans toward a more rationalistic interpretation of religious events. This suggests that if such an idea exists in Reform Judaism, it would be foreseeable that they would also interpret this idea about Mt Sinai as symbolic.

One problem with what you're saying is that here you refer to the event at Mount Sinai. However, Bogdan was specifically asking about the Passover. It could be that Mount Sinai, and the giving of the Ten Commandments is more important than Passover for Judaism, and that it lacks such an interpretation regarding the Passover.

This brings up a diverging point: on the other hand in Orthodoxy, we say that we are mystically connected throughout time in the Eucharist, Christ's Passover, but I don't clearly remember such an itnerpretation about the Sermon on the Mount, which played a role somewhat similar to God's Covenant on Mount Sinai.

Judaism does have a more corporate understanding, like you said, about salvation and being than Protestantism, because the former focuses more on the people as a collective entity. On the other hand, Orthodoxy is basically like Protestantism in this sense, in my opinion.

It's true that Orthodoxy focuses alot more on spiritual unity and communion than Protestantism. But this is a question of degree of focus, rather than a distinct and different qualities. Both Protestantism and Orthodoxy measure salvation on the individual, although it's true that Judaism also refers to the individual's judgment. Also Protestantism has communion ideas like we are united with God in heaven. But when it comes to salvation, I think that Orthodoxy and Protestanism both focus on the individual's repentance and baptism and salvation, with less focus on their collective salvation as the Church, although that concept exists in Orthodoxy and Protestantism too.

So I highly doubt that in Protestantism "ideas of anamnesis/re-presentation actually don't make much sense". First, traditional protestantism does view the Communion meal as having a consubstantial, spiritual nature, and in this idea, Orthodox anamnesis does make sense, in the concept of spiritual unity with Christ. Also, even if you accept the Calvinist Protestant idea that the meal is symbolic, it still makes sense that Calvinists eat the symbolic meal for the purpose of remembering Christ's sacrifice.

On the other hand, you are right, the idea of anamnesis, spiritually uniting with Christ in the Eucharist, wouldn't make much sense, if they didn't think that the meal was actually spiritual. This suggests to me that the idea of anamnesis doesn't exist in Calvinist Protestantism.

I agree with you, and it makes sense when you write:
Quote
It seems clear that the Gospel writers want to give the Last Supper and the Crucifixion a Passover context/meaning. But it seems likely the meal was not an actual Seder. If there really was a lamb it might've distracted from the Jesus=Lamb idea. But it could've been a Seder I guess.
The context existed because the event occurred during Passover, and the writers conveyed that context. The writers also believed that such a meaning existed, and they would've wished to convey it. Offhand I can't remember the writers specifying that the Last Supper and Crucifixion had a specifically Passover meaning, except that they would've said that the events happened at Passover. Plus, I doubt that the synoptic gospels specify that the Last Supper was a Passover meal, but I somewhat remember reading that such a view exists in Western Christianity based on a view of the synoptic gospels' depiction of it.

I highly doubt that the Last Supper was a Seder, and partly for the reason you mentioned.

It's a pleasure writing with you.

Peace out, J.



SakranMM:

Thank you for sharing that:
Quote
From what I've learned of the Passover in seminary, I can say the following:
The Passover, in earliest form, was really a "Feast of unleavened bread" that was inherited from the Canaanites when the Israelites first arrived (before they went to Egypt.)  It was essentially a private feast, celebrated by each individual family.  With the Exodus, the Passover took on the connotation of feast commemorating God's deliverance, and, historically speaking, the feast of unleavened bread and the passover became merged.

I somewhat remember that the original Egyptian Passover event happened on what was "The Feast of Unleavened Bread", which would mean that the feast already existed in the Israelite culture. I don't clearly remember that the pre-Egypt Israelites arrived in Canaan before the Canaanites, as opposed to the Israelites from Egypt returning to the place where the Canaanites lived. But the former would make sense, because it was called the Land of Canaan.

You are presenting a new idea to me when you say that the Feast of the Unleavened Bread came from the Canaanites. I believe you, but reserve alittle doubt because it's a new claim, and also a big one, and because the Israelites' religion was theoretically supposed to be from Monotheism, whereas the Canaanites were pagans.

Also, you're right that
Quote
It was essentially a private feast, celebrated by each individual family.  With the Exodus, the Passover took on the connotation of feast commemorating God's deliverance, and, historically speaking, the feast of unleavened bread and the passover became merged.

I also reserve some doubt about your claim about Passover that
Quote
In its later form, the feast becomes associated with messianic deliverance and took on an eschatological interpretation.
, because I don't remember hearing this about Passover before. it sounds like a big claim and a new one for me. One could assert that because Christians take this view of the Passover then the ancient Jews did, but in my opinion this is making an assumption that isn't necessarily true, that most Jews must have understood the OT Passover the way that Christians do when they see it as a prefigurement of its role in Christianity.

I assume it's true that "We also see in Ezra 6, when the exiles return to Israel, they are celebrating the Passover." But still, the fact that they were celebrating it doesn't mean that they changed to a new understanding of it that was eschatological, since their religion commanded them to celebrate it anyway. It's true that the exiles' return was similar to the Israelites' Exodus, and that Cyrus was seen as a Messiah figure. But still, that doesn't mean that they connected the events so that they now saw the Passover itself as Messianic.

It's hard to say if:
Quote
In earlier times, the Passover wasn't that big of a feast (the feast of Tabernacles was the big deal); in later Judaism, however, the Passover's status as a feast became elevated.
. In both times, the Passover was a required holiday, so seems that it would be hard to say whether it somehow became elevated.

It's possible to say, for example, that in the West Christmas is more elevated than Easter, and that the opposite is true in Orthodoxy. But making such a view of social emphasis over 2000 years ago seems doubtful. Here, you have asserted new, big claims without much additional support, so I have some doubt about it. On the other hand, what you are saying makes sense.

When you write:
Quote
In the form of the Passover the Jews have today, I would say that it has less to do with any mystic understanding, and more to do with remembering and recalling what God has done
,
you present two understandings of the Passover:
(A) a mystical understanding, and
(B) an understanding of "remembering."

You conclude that Judaism has more of (B) remembering than (A)mystical understanding in its Passover meal.

Then you say confusingly:
Quote
this refers back to the "anamnesis" concept that JLatimer referred to in his post.  Anamnesis, "calling to remembrance" is not so much a remembrance of what happened in the past, but rather by remembering these acts of God, they are made present to us.  Even more important than what God has "done" in the past is what He is doing now, among us in the Body of Christ.
By "this refers back to the anamnesis concept", I assume you mean that (B) rememberance is related to the anamnesis concept.

Here you say that Anamnesis means
(i) remembering that makes God's acts present to us,
LESS THAN (ii)remembering that just thinks about God's acts in the past.

This is confusing, because
1. The Simple, Plain Meaning of (B)"remembering" is:
(ii) thinking about the past.

In the simple, plain meaning of (B)remembering, remembrance can (i) make acts present in the sense that we are thinking about them in the present and the acts are in our minds in the present.

2. A (A) Mystical Understanding of (B) Remembrance could be that:
(i) in the case of remembering the Eucharist, the rememberance actually does make God's act really present in some spiritual or mystical sense.

Now, the Orthodox belief gives me the impression of 2. A mystical understanding of what occurs during the commemoration of the Eucharist beyond just 1. thinking about the Eucharist presently in our minds.

So I assume that what you are saying that in Judaism, Passover is only thinking about a past event, whereas in Orthodoxy, the Eucharist, or Paschal meal has a mystical meaning that makes the past event of the original Christian Paschal meal spiritually present.

This idea about the Orthodox view of the Eucharist is what you appear to say in your conclusion:

Quote
Even more important than what God has "done" in the past is what He is doing now, among us in the Body of Christ.


Health and Happiness to you, thoughtful one.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 08:37:54 PM by rakovsky » Logged
Benjamin the Red
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 01:45:16 PM »

Pesach Haggadah (Jewish Liturgy of the Passover Seder)

Question (From the youngest child): Why is tonight different from all other nights?

Answers (From the head of the household):

On all other nights we may eat either leavened bread or matzah; tonight, only matzah,that we may recall the unleavened bread our ancestors baked in haste when they leftslavery.

On all other nights we need not taste bitterness; tonight, we eat bitter herbs, that we may recall the suffering of slavery.

On all other nights we needn’t dip our food in condiments even once; tonight we dip twice, in saltwater to remember our tears when we were enslaved, and in haroset to remember the mortar and the bricks which we made.

On all other nights we eat sitting up; tonight, we recline, to remind ourselves to savor our liberation.

In addition to the Four Questions, tonight we ask ourselves a fifth:

We are commanded to celebrate as if each one of us were personally liberated from Egypt. In the next year, how do you hope to bring yourself closer to your place of freedom?


I thought citing this might be interesting. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 10:47:36 PM »

Dear Benjamin the Red,

I agree with you that citing this can be interesting , when you write:
Pesach Haggadah (Jewish Liturgy of the Passover Seder)

Question (From the youngest child): Why is tonight different from all other nights?

Answers (From the head of the household):

On all other nights we may eat either leavened bread or matzah; tonight, only matzah,that we may recall the unleavened bread our ancestors baked in haste when they leftslavery.

On all other nights we need not taste bitterness; tonight, we eat bitter herbs, that we may recall the suffering of slavery.

On all other nights we needn’t dip our food in condiments even once; tonight we dip twice, in saltwater to remember our tears when we were enslaved, and in haroset to remember the mortar and the bricks which we made.

On all other nights we eat sitting up; tonight, we recline, to remind ourselves to savor our liberation.

In addition to the Four Questions, tonight we ask ourselves a fifth:

We are commanded to celebrate as if each one of us were personally liberated from Egypt. In the next year, how do you hope to bring yourself closer to your place of freedom?


I thought citing this might be interesting. Smiley
Good job finding this. It's interesting here because it goes to Bogdan's initial question of:
Quote
In Orthodoxy, we believe that we are mystically in the Upper Room with Christ and the Disciples, and it's not a mere memorial or recreation of events. Is there a parallel in Judaism? Do Jews believe (or have they believed) they are mystically united with Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt during the Passover meal?
That is, like Bogdan's question, the Pesach Haggadah mentions a parallel idea of religious Jews at their passover acting in some relationship to the events of the first Passover. And this is a parallel in a broad sense to the Orthodox idea of Orthodox in the Eucharist acting in a relationship of mystical unity with the first Communion meal, the Last Supper, in the Upper Room.

However, the citation you gave doesn't completely answer this question. That is, yes there is a parallel, but it isn't clear how exact this parallel is. It isn't clear from the citation whether at the Passover they actually consider themselves mysteically united with Moses and the Hebrews in Egypt, or merely re-enacting those people's Passover. That's because the citation at most only says today religious Jews celebrate the Passover "as if" they were personally liberated from Egypt, not that they actually or mystically are personally liberated from Egypt.


In your initial citing of the Pesach Haggadah, you draw attention to certain parts of your cite by highlighting them in bold. You first put in bold: Pesach Haggadah (Jewish Liturgy of the Passover Seder)

And your choice of the Pesach Haggadah is important, because it shows that the beliefs you are citing are common and important to religious Jews regardless of their school, like Orthodox, Conservative, or Reformist Judaism.

Next, you put in bold: Why is tonight different from all other nights?
The liturgy's response to the question is four ways in which the participants act similar to the ancient Hebrews' experience during the first Passover, and that each act the participants take is in "remembrance" of the ancient Hebrews' experience at the first Passover. For example, the fourth action says:

On all other nights we eat sitting up; tonight, we recline, to remind ourselves to savor our liberation.

Thus, the question about how the Passover celebration is different from other nights doesn't show how closely the Orthodox Christian idea of Christians at Communion being present at the first Communion meal parallels the religious Jewish idea of the Passover's celebrants' relationship to the first Passover. That's because simply acting similar to and in remembrance of an event doesn't mean the subject is mystically present at the event remembered.

Next, you put in bold the liturgy's words: "We are commanded to celebrate as if each one of us were personally liberated from Egypt."

Similarly, this doesn't show how closely the Orthodox Christian idea of Christians at Communion being present at the first Communion meal parallels the religious Jewish idea of the Passover's celebrants' relationship to the first Passover. That's because celebrating an event as if you personally received the direct, historic benefit of that event doesn't necessarily mean you are mystically present at that event.

It corresponds to the idea of being mystically present at the event, because those present at the event were really liberated from Egypt. So someone mystically present at the event would act as if they were liberated from Egypt.

However, I think it also corresponds to merely recreating the event in an acting and remembrance sense, since I think an actor who recreates an event in a memorial sense also celebrates as if he or she was personally liberated from Egypt. For example, I think a good actor on stage can act "as if" he or she personally experienced the same things as his or her character, even if he or she really didn't.

Kind Regards.
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