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?"
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:
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":
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.
It is new information when you answer to me:
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:
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.
Thank you for sharing that:
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
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
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:
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:
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:
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.
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, because1. 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:
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.