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Author Topic: New wine, new wineskins  (Read 1810 times) Average Rating: 0
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TomS
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« on: March 26, 2005, 04:53:52 PM »

Story Behind
New wine, new wineskins
By Jennifer Woodruff Tait
 
Do this in remembrance of me." Jesus' command to his disciples as they ate their last meal together has undergirded Christian worship and theology for more than two millennia. At the original Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples would have partaken of wine from a common cup and unleavened bread. How did portions of Protestantism arrive at the modern practice of receiving grape juice in individual cups and leavened bread?

The early Western church maintained the custom of wine and unleavened bread. The Eastern church soon began to use leavened bread, seeing the leaven as a symbol of new life in Christ. In the West, the unleavened bread became thinner and more stylized until it assumed the form of a thin wafer. By the high Middle Ages, amid growing concerns about reverence toward the bread and wine as Christ's actual body and blood, the church ceased to offer laity the cup. The Protestant Reformation urged more frequent reception of Communion by the laity "in both kinds" (bread and wine), as well as emphasizing "real" bread. From the 16th until the 19th century, the majority of Protestants communed using wine from a common cup and leavened bread.

Leaders of the 18th-century "evangelical revival" in Britain and America, though concerned about the immoderate use of alcohol, did not see wine, cider, and beer as alcoholic in the same way as distilled spirits (such as gin and brandy). However, in the 19th century, temperance became "teetotalism" or "total abstinence," moving all alcohol (wine included) into the list of forbidden beverages. Many began to question why a beverage considered dangerous to drink was still used on the Communion table.

Believing both in the authority of Scripture and the scientific proof of alcohol's poisonous nature, Protestant theologians and exegetes tried to explain the Bible's positive use of the word wine, not least Jesus' command to his disciples to remember him by consuming it. Led by biblical commentator Frederic Lees, they theorized that several Hebrew and Greek words used to mean wine in the Bible actually referred to grape juice. Jesus had instituted the Eucharist with the unfermented "fruit of the vine," whereas the ferment of intoxication represented "the leaven of the Pharisees," symbolizing corruption and decay.

Motivated by these arguments, Protestant churchgoers and clergy sought a way to make unfermented grape juice. An American Methodist dentist, Thomas Bramwell Welch, and his son Charles were the first to succeed in this on a large scale. Charles Welch was a skilled marketer, and "Welch's grape juice" became a popular beverage among total abstainers and the replacement for fermented wine on most American Protestant Communion tables (except in Lutheran and Episcopal churches).

Meanwhile, science was teaching new theories about the spread of disease through germs, sweeping late 19th-century America with a hygiene movement. The common cup came under fire. Methodist pastor R. W. Ryan, who owned an individual-cup-making company, led an argument for individual cups in the religious press. Debates raged, but by the early 20th century most Protestants adopted individual Communion cups—originally glass, and designed so as not to resemble whiskey shot glasses. Individual cubes of bread also became common.

In the 1960s and 1970s, liturgical reforms resulting from Vatican II spread from Catholic into Protestant churches, questioning both the grape juice and individual cup practices. Many mainline Protestants have returned to the use of a common cup—which may contain either wine or juice—and a single loaf of bread. Conversely, some marketers to evangelical churches have developed disposable individual Communion cups which contain both wafer and grape juice in separate hermetically sealed compartments.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/2005/001/10.13.html
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2005, 05:19:30 PM »

'Whosoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Last Supper used unleavened bread as do the Hebrews and not leavened bread, that is, raised bread, let him be far from us and under the anathema as one who thinks like a Jew and as one who introduces the doctrines of Appolinarios and of the Armenians into our Church, on which account let him be anathematized a second time.' -- Council in Constantinople in 1583

While this particular Synod was probably slightly harsh (though they had good reason), it does make some important points, particularly in this case it demonstrates and establishes that it is the belief of the Orthodox that Christ did not use azymes during the last supper.
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2005, 07:37:36 PM »

The confusion i have, is what day was the last supper?
For wasn't Jesus crucified on the Passover day, the preparation of the Passover when it was to be slain, as He was the Passover lamb, and that day they took all leavened bread from their houses wasn't it?

So was maybe the last supper not a day of unleavened bread or Passover?
Did they eat the Passover early?
Did they not eat the Passover at all?
Did they celebrate a day earlier than the Jews?

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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2005, 08:15:12 PM »

thetruth,

Our new member, pensateomnia, has a piece on this on his blog (see his profile for link). See topic "Judaic and Christian Liturgy". See "FLORILEGIA DANKIS, PART II" 2/3/2004
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2005, 08:17:19 PM »

If I remember correctly, the Orthodox Church holds the timeline as given in John as the correct timeline for the Last Supper; they actually eat the feast the day before the slaughter of the Lamb, which is a day for leavened bread, and then Jesus is Crucified on the day of slaughter, not on the actual Passover night; on Passover he was in Hades ("for that Sabbath was a Holy Day", according to the gospel), delivering those who were bound by death from their bondage.
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2005, 09:24:19 PM »

To the link i could see this maybe true, for for the Jews then the 15th day would be the first day of unleavened bread, which in John was a Holy day for the Jews, but the Mary's rested on the Sabbath, but this wouldn't have been the first day of unleavened bread for them for that would have been on the day Christ was crucified, if i understand right, and they would have eaten unleavened bread with Passover.
But if this day was a weekly Sabbath also then they would have rested on it according to the commandment.
For even if they calenders were a day out in feast days, it doesn't mean their weekly Sabbaths were out.

cleveland, i don't quite understand what your saying.
The day of the slaughter is the Passover night isn't it, the 14th at the going down of the sun they slew the Passover wasn't it?
But i can understand the Passover and the first day of unleavened bread being called one day, for they may have eaten the Passover at the very start of the 15th day, being the end of the 14th in the evening.
Or have i misunderstood?


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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 05:08:29 PM »

I've read somewhere that the Galileans and Judeans at that time reckoned time differently--one group reckoned the day as starting at sunrise, while the other at sun set.  This perhaps explains the synoptics indicating the Last Supper as being a passover meal (the synoptic authors were going by the Galilean reckoning) and John's Gospel indicating that Christ was crucified right before the Passover feast.  I'll have to double check this.
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 07:43:42 PM »

Let me explain better what I meant...

If I remember correctly, the slaughter of the Lamb for the Passover was the liturgical day before the Passover.  The Passover would have occured the next liturgical day at sunset.

The two suggested timelines would be, then:
1. Wed eve-Thursday: Day before Passover, day when Lamb was slaughtered for the Passover (leavened bread at the meal); Thurs eve-Friday: The Passover (with unleavened bread at the meal);
2. Thurs eve- Friday: Day before Passover, day when Lamb was slaughtered for the Passover (leavened bread at the meal); Fri eve-Saturday: The Passover (with unleavened bread at the meal);

According to the Synoptics, the Slaughter day was the night before the Last Supper (when Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the authorities), and the Supper (which happened on the same liturgical day as the Crucifixion) was the Passover day - thus, the meal was the Passover Meal with the unleavened bread. 

According to John, the Passover day was Friday night to Saturday, which means the Last Supper and the Crucifixion happened on the day when the Lamb would be slaughtered - the day before the Passover, when they would have eaten leavened bread with their meal; and the descent into Hell and Holy Saturday would have been on the Passover day.  The rationale used is that, since He knew they would not be together for the Passover Meal, this took on added importance for Him and the disciples.

Let me know if I have erred.
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2005, 09:04:32 PM »

But they ate unleavened bread with the Passover, of which they ate at evening, maybe at sunset, which was the first day of unleavened bread or if not the ending of the day coming to the first day of unleavened bread.
The day they slayed the Passover was a preparation day in the day of it, and of which they would have rid their houses of leavened bread ready for the next day, and they were commanded to eat the Passover with unleavend bread.
As i undertsand it they ate the Passover either at the very end of the day they slew it, or at the very beginning of the first day of unleavened bread, so it makes complete sense that they ate it with unleavened bread, and i think it say so in Scripture, i'll see if i can find it.

Exo 12:6  And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
Exo 12:7  And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
Exo 12:8  And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it.

That's how i seem to understand it, but please correct me if i'm wrong, i'm not certain on the subject.



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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2005, 10:05:59 PM »

I'm very confused now.

Jesus was sacrficed when the Jews slew the Passover wasn't it?
The last supper was at the beginning of this day in the evening?

If John is telling it from how the Jews observed it, what difference does that make to them eating unleavened bread at the last supper, for if they thought it the Passover, they would have eaten it with unleavened bread wouldn't they?

So the last supper would have been eaten with unleavened bread wouldn't it, if this they observed as a Passover meal?



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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2005, 10:25:03 PM »

Here's how my understanding of the Patristic interpretation is:

We follow the timeline of John.  John has the Passover as falling on the Sabbath, which would begin Friday Night.  Jesus was killed on Friday morning, which would be the day of preparation (when the lamb was slaughtered).  Their communal meal was on Thursday night, the beginning of the day of Preparation, when they were to finish or dispose of the leavened bread.  Thus, the meal would have included leavened bread, since this was the last day to eat it before the Passover and the days of unleavened bread.


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{Edit}

I know the Fathers were adamant in their insistance that Jesus would have eaten leaven that night (the night of the last supper).  At first, it was used against the Judaizers within the Church's first two centuries, then later against the Western practice.  While, for some, I can suppose this was out of bias, as for others, I'm sure that there is sound scholarship and theology behind it.  That's why the Eastern Fathers came down hard in the Synods, condemning the use of azymes (without leaven) in the Liturgy.

{/Edit}
« Last Edit: March 28, 2005, 10:27:52 PM by cleveland » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2005, 06:18:21 PM »

Cleveland, Could you help me understand your understanding a bit better please.

You say Jesus was  killed on the preparation morning, could you explain this for me please.

You have the last supper at the very beginning of the  preparation day, which would be at evening as the Jewish day started at sunset?

Do you believe they atually ate the Passover at this time, and could you explain your understanding of this please?





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