Sunday, December 13, 2009
Jimmy Dunn on "The Lord's Dinner" - I
I'm still (yes, still!) reading through Beginning from Jerusalem. On the Lord's Supper, Dunn states:
"We should not fail to note that 'the Lord's Supper' was a complete meal, which would begin, we may suppose, in Jewish fashion, with the blessing, breaking and sharing of the bread. Paul's own description is explicit that the sharing of the cup took place 'after the meal', at the close of the meal (11.25). The point is obscured by the fact that the term 'supper' in 'the Lord's Supper is an old fashioned term and now more misleading than helpfully descriptive. The term Paul uses in 11.20 is deipnon, which refers to the main meal of the day, eaten in the evening; 'the Lord's dinner' would be a more accurate translation, however crassly it may ring in the modern ear. No doubt, a large part of the attractive the churches, as with associations generally, was the companionship (fellowship) and conviviality of these meals (not to mention a share in better food than many might be able to provide for themselves). The complete meal character of 'the dinner of the Lord' also carries an important theological corollary: to the extent that we can speak of the Lord's Supper in Corinth as a sacramental meal - as we can (10.16) - a key consideration is that the sacramental character embraced the whole meal, beginning with the shared bread and ending with the shared cup. Integral to the religious character of the meal was its shared character; for Paul the whole meal was to be shared in conscious memory of Jesus' last supper and, as in the earliest Jerusalem gatherings, probably in conscious continuation of Jesus' own table-fellowship." (pp. 645-46).