The Bible

'The Last Supper was not a Passover meal?': A Close Reading of Scripture 11th Grade

A question of chronology arises among theologians in connection with issues concerning the traditionally assigned dating of the Last Supper as a Passover meal. Mark identifies it as such, and the synoptic (‘look-alike’) evangelists Matthew and Luke follow this version, but John is equally adamant in stating that Jesus died before the Passover meal was eaten (John 18.28; 19.14) and it is probable that Luke 22.15 is intended to convey Jesus’ unfulfilled desire to eat the Passover with his disciples before he suffers which might support John’s beforehand dating. Because of this there are essentially two schools of thought: J. Jeremias thinks that the Last Supper took place at the time that the Passover meal was celebrated, but G. Theissen thinks it took place the preceding evening.

Particular aspects of the evangelists’ telling of the Last Supper and the events to follow can quite easily be associated with typical components of the Passover festival. For one, the Supper was held in Jerusalem at a late hour. Jews would make it their duty to be in Jerusalem for the Passover, which began after sunset. The Greek verb in 14.18 translated as ‘sat at table’ (ἀνακειμένων) literally means were reclining- Jews reclined Roman-style at the...

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