The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels: Critical Studies in the Historic Narratives

By Thomas James Thorburn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
THE EUCHARIST AND THE MYSTERY-CULTS

The Institution of the Eucharist

WE will commence our necessarily brief examination of this most important subject with a statement of Doctor Drews's fundamental position taken from The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, pp. 81-83.

"Historical theology," he says, "generally regards the passage in Corinthians [I Cor. II : 23] as the earliest version we have of the words used at the institution of the supper. But a particularly striking reason that prevents us from seeing in St. Paul the oldest tradition of the words at the Last Supper is their obviously liturgical form and the meaning which the apostle puts on the words. It is very remarkable that Paul and Luke alone regard the Lord's Supper as instituted by Jesus in memory of him; Mark and Matthew know nothing of this. They have a much simpler text than the other two. Hence Jülicher, against Weizsäcker and Harnack, rightly doubts whether the supper was founded by Jesus ( Theol. Abhandlungen für C. Weizsäcker, 1892, p. 232). He did not institute or found anything; that remained for the time when he came into his father's kingdom. He made no provision for his memory; having spoken as he did in Matt. 26: 29, he had no idea of so long a period of future time (p. 244).

" Paul, therefore," Drews continues, "according to Jülicher, indicates a later stage of the tradition in regard to the first eucharist than Mark and Matthew, and the earliest tradition does not make Jesus show the least

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