Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

By Andrew F. Gregory; Christopher M. Tuckett | Go to book overview

8
The Eucharist in the Gospel of John and
in the Didache
Carsten ClaussenUnlike the synoptic gospels and Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, the Gospel of John does not give a narrative account of the Last Supper of Jesus.1 However, there seem to be a number of possible allusions to the Eucharist2 in the Fourth Gospel. Since the middle of the twentieth century, these have led scholars to mainly three rather different conclusions:3
1. For quite some time many scholars regarded John 6. 51c-58 as clearly eucharistic, but as an interpolation by a later ecclesiastical redactor.4 However, this view has meanwhile lost most of its influence.5

1 Matt. 26. 17–30; Mark 14. 12–26; Luke 22. 7–38; 1 Cor. 11. 23–6.

2 When we use terms like ‘Eucharist’ and ‘eucharistic’, we do so because they represent the original

and its derivatives, not because of any dogmatic or denominational implications.

3 For a survey of the history of research regarding the question of the Eucharist in John, see H. Klos, Die Sakramente im Johannesevangelium, SBS 46 (Stuttgart:Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1970); R. E.Brown, ‘The Johannine Sacramentary Reconsidered’, TS23 (1962), 183–206; idem, The Gospel According to John I–XII, AB 29 (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), pp. cxi–cxiv; R. Schnackenburg, Das Johannesevangelium: Dritter Teil: Kommentar zu Kapitel 13–21, HTKNT 4/3 (Freiburg: Herder, 1957), 38–53; M. Roberge, ‘Le discours sur le pain de vie, Jean 6, 22–59: problémes d’interpretation’, LTP 38 (1982), 265–99; L. Wehr, Arznei der Unsterblichkeit: Die Eucharistie bei Ignatius von Antiochien und im Johannesevangelium, NTAbh, n.s. 18(Münster: AschendorV, 1987), 9–17; M. J. J.Menken, ‘John 6:51c–58: Eucharist or Christology’, in R. A. Culpepper (ed.), Critical Readings of John 6, Biblical Interpretation Series 22 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), 183–204, esp. 183–5.

4 See R. Bultmann, The Gospel of John (ET Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971), 218–19: ‘These verses refer without any doubt to the sacramental meal of the Eucharist, where the flesh and blood of the “son of Man” are consumed, with the result that this food gives “eternal life”, in the sense that the participants in the meal can be assured of the future resurrection.… This not only strikesoneas trange in relation to the Evangelist’s thought in general, and specifically to his eschatology, but it also stands in contradiction to what has been said just before.… Thus, we must inevitably conclude that vv. 51b–8 have been added by an ecclesiastical editor.’ Cf. also E. Lohse, ‘Wort und Sakrament im Johannesevangelium’, NTS 7 (1960), 110–25; G. Bornkamm, ‘Die eucharistische Rede im Johannesevangelium’, ZNW 47 (1956), 161–9; repr. in idem, Geschichte und Glaube, i: Gesammelte Aufsätze 3(Munich:Kaiser, 1968), 60–7); the problemsof the Johannine Literarkritik are discussed extensively in J. Frey, Die johanneische Eschatologie, i: Ihre Probleme im Spiegel der Forschung seit Reimarus, WUNT 96 (Tübingen: J. C. B.Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1997), 429–45.

5 See the Wne collection of essays by R. A. Culpepper (ed.), Critical Readings of John 6, Biblical Interpretation Series 22 (Leiden: Brill, 1997), and in particular the editor’s summary

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