Friday, October 18, 2013

Where Did The Eucharist Come From?

Where Did The Eucharist Come From? For Catholics this is an easy question. Jesus instituted it. He gave a discourse on it in John 6 at the passover prior to the one on which He died. Then on the night he was betrayed He took bread  and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” ...

But suppose you are not accepting the New Testament as true. Suppose you are inclined to think of the Jesus story as a legend. That Jesus taught a few things and all the miracles and resurrection stuff was added later. Where would the teaching of the Eucharist fit into that? Did Jesus really say that bread and wine would be transformed into His body and blood and we should eat it? Isn't that a bit crazy? If He was doing miracles people would be slower to just say he has lost his marbles but this legendary Jesus does not do anything supernatural. He tells a few stories and talks about love a lot. Many of the things Jesus says might cause people to question His sanity. This would push almost anyone over the edge.

So maybe Jesus did not teach that. Maybe it came later and it was added in to this master forgery we know as the New Testament. But how does that happen? How does someone in the early church stand up and say, "Maybe the bread and wine actually become Jesus." Again the insanity of the teaching just makes such a notion implausible. Especially since the church did not have a central command for very long. Nobody had the clout to assert such a teaching and have it be accepted by the entire worldwide Christian community.

Then there is the problem of motivation. Why would anyone think it is in their best interests to push such a doctrine? You have to explain that the elements look and taste like bread and wine but they really are the body and blood of Jesus. Hellenistic society loved to question everything. This teaching raises many more questions than it gives answers. Among the Jews it is even worse. They had teachings that explicitly condemned drinking blood. Gnosticism was popular. That taught that the spiritual was important and the physical did not matter at all. Even if the doctrine did not fail the sanity test there would be no reason to be attracted to it.

So the Jesus as legend crowd has a bit of an issue. Nobody but Jesus is crazy enough or credible enough to be the source of this doctrine. Yet a legendary Jesus who taught such craziness and did not do miracles would not be someone people want to build a religion around.

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