Jesus and the Last Supper

Jesus and the Last Supper

Jesus and the Last Supper

Jesus and the Last Supper

Synopsis

Who did Jesus of Nazareth claim to be? What was his relationship to early Judaism? When and how did he expect the kingdom to come? What were his intentions? Though these key questions have been addressed in studies of the historical Jesus, Brant Pitre argues that they cannot be fully answered apart from a careful historical analysis of the Last Supper accounts. Yet these accounts, both by the Gospel writers and by Paul, are widely neglected by contemporary Jesus research.

In this book Pitre fills a notable gap in historical Jesus research as he offers a rigorous, up-to-date study of the historical Jesus and the Last Supper. Situating the Last Supper in the triple contexts of ancient Judaism, the life of Jesus, and early Christianity, Pitre brings to light crucial insights into major issues driving the quest for Jesus. His Jesus and the Last Supper is sure to ignite scholarly discussion and debate.

Excerpt

The gestation period of this book has been unusually long. To put it in perspective: when I first began research on Jesus and the Last Supper, I was on the verge of publishing my doctoral dissertation as a book; my wife and I were anxiously awaiting the birth of our third child; and the name “Katrina” had absolutely no significance to me whatsoever. As I write the words of this Preface, my daughter Hannah is fast approaching her tenth birthday; New Orleans (the city where I teach) is coming up on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; and Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile (my first book) seems like it was written a lifetime ago.

In part, the delay was due to the explosion that has taken place in historical Jesus research in the last decade. Anyone familiar with the field is well aware that it is undergoing a remarkable period of both prolific output and rapid flux. Much of what was once deemed settled — such as the use of the form-critical criteria of authenticity — is now considered up for grabs. in particular, the sands of methodology seem to be shifting so rapidly that it can be somewhat difficult to find and maintain one’s footing. I for one found myself delayed time and time again in my specific work on the topic of the Last Supper simply by trying to keep up with the torrent of recent publications on the historical Jesus, early Judaism (especially studies of Temple and cult), the criteria of authenticity, historical methodology, first-century archaeology, as well as the related field of Gospel studies, which is undergoing its own explosion of fresh research (the debate over Q and the Synoptic problem, eyewitness testimony, and memory studies come to mind). and that is to say nothing of the dreadful abyss of secondary literature that has grown up around the question of the date of the Last Supper, into which I willingly descended and found myself unable to emerge until I had come to peace with what I hope . . .

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