The Gospel of Luke Does Not Endorse Communion

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    Oct 12, 2015 6:11 AM GMT
    Bart Ehrman

    The current sub-thread has all been on one textual variant, a passage in Luke 22:19-20, the account of Jesus at his last supper. If you recall, there are two forms of the text, one much longer than the other. We are asking whether Luke originally wrote the longer version of the text (so that scribes shortened it by taking out a verse and a half) or if he wrote the shorter version (so that scribes lengthened it by adding a verse and a half). Here, to jar your memory, are the two forms of the text. First I give the longer one, with the words in question in bold and underlined. (Verse numbers are indicated):

    17 And he took a cup and gave thanks, and he said: “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you that from now on I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” 19 And taking bread he gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body that is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 Likewise after supper (he took) the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood that is shed for you. 21 But see, the hand of the one who turns me over is with me at the table….”

    That is the form of the text found in most manuscripts. But in one old Greek manuscript and some Latin manuscripts, the words in question are missing, leading to the following text.

    17 And he took a cup and gave thanks, and he said: “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you that from now on I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” 19 And taking bread he gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body. 21 But see, the hand of the one who turns me over is with me at the table….”

    What all of the preceding posts have been arguing, at the end of the day, is that this shorter form of the text was what Luke originally wrote.
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    Oct 12, 2015 6:12 AM GMT
    Bart Ehrman


    Whichever direction the change was made (scribes omitting the text or scribes adding the text), it does not appear to have been a pure accident, a slip of the pen. Someone appears to have changed the text intentionally.
    In that light, it is very hard indeed to see why a scribe would have omitted the words (it would not, for example, have been in order to make the text more like the parallel passages in Matthew, Mark, or 1 Corinthians, since the shorter text does not make the passage conform to the others)
    But it is easy to see why a scribe would have inserted the words, since now the text sounds more like these other passages and – an important point – now Jesus explicitly states that the bread and the cup represent his broken body and the blood that he would shed for others.
    And so, on the one hand, the longer text is more like what scribes would probably have been comfortable with.
    And on the other hand – this has been the point of my most recent points – that view that Jesus death was “for others” is precisely a view not found otherwise in Luke’s Gospel or the book of Acts. Luke has in fact eliminated that kind of language from the passages he inherited from his predecessor Mark. Luke otherwise (in his Gospel or in Acts) does not present a doctrine of atonement as a way of understanding Jesus’ death. But this passage does.

    And so, to conclude: the shorter passage would NOT be one that scribes would be likely to have created but IS one that Luke would have been likely to write; conversely, the longer passage would be LIKELY to have been created by scribes but would have been UNLIKELY to have been written by Luke.

    My conclusion: the shorter form of the text is what Luke wrote.

    My secondary conclusion: the longer form of the text is what scribes created.

    And so the final Big Question: what, at the end of the day, actually motivated scribes to modify the text? In my next post I will point out why I consider the alteration to be an orthodox corruption of Scripture.
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    Oct 12, 2015 6:13 AM GMT
    Steefen

    Well, if we go with the chronology: Corinthians written first, Mark written second, Matthew written third, Luke writes, I’m going to write a more historical gospel, writes fourth, then John is written fifth, then, you’re saying Luke corrected Paul, then the author/s of Mark and Matthew to set the record straight. We know that John has the body and blood BUT he doesn’t put it at the last supper–Jesus teaches this to the disciples before the Last Supper and some of them abandon him because the teaching was too hard.

    Why was it important for John to move the passage forward, before the Last Supper? Orthodoxy needed Jesus ministry to spend some time with this teaching. It is not believable. We can have Jesus teaching this in the privacy of the Last Supper right before getting arrested. This gives the disciples the opportunity not to go public with altering Jewish practices of sacrifices at the Temple of Jerusalem. They would have been run out of town like Paul if not killed, if the crowd had their way.

    John was written after the destruction of the Temple. No more sacrifices at the Temple, who cares if Jesus is now the sacrifice. After Temple sacrifices stopped and shortly thereafter when the Temple came down, the Christology of Jesus Christ’s body and blood on a universal altar as opposed to a specific physical altar, now destroyed can be proclaimed without fear of reprisals.

    What is striking about where you say Luke leaves off is that Jesus says the bread is his body but he doesn’t go as far as saying consume my blood of the new covenant, which of course falls into the territory that I teach: drink communion, the blood, and run headlong into Leviticus 17: 10: “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people.” Luke did not want to go that far.
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    Oct 12, 2015 4:50 PM GMT
    When Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me...". That seems pretty much endorsed and signed and approved. Jesus was symbolizing the event that would take place on Calvary (The breaking of the bread, his body ripped apart in agonizing pain; the drinking of the wine, his blood to be shed). When he would be crucified, to shed his atoning blood for the sin of all mankind. The celebration of Communion is just that, a remembrance of what Jesus did for mankind, the torture he endured. We also then remember, that he rose again as is written, to be seated at the right hand of God the father. To one day return to redeem those who have remained truthful and trustworthy to the end. Many Churches celebrate Communion once a month, some every Sunday. You can celebrate Communion, when ever you feel free to celebrate it. Even if it is once a year.