Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What they sung at the Last Supper

Sorry that I've been so poor at updating this blog recently. I'm doing a full-time course on the sacraments at the moment, and I've also got exams on various Biblical stuff later in the week.

The highlight of the sacraments course so far has been realising what hymn Jesus and the disciples were probably singing as they left the Last Supper.

I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalms 118:17-29, ESV


Anonymous said...

Why do people think they were singing that one?

John said...

Because we've got an official Jewish Passover liturgy from around AD 200. And if you reconstruct as much as we can tell about what people did and when at the Last Supper, it looks very much as if the Last Supper was modelled on the Passover meal liturgy (but that there's been a bit added to the end between AD 30 and AD 200).

Jesus of course adapted it quite heavily - for example interpreting the "cup of redemption", which is normally the third cup of wine drunk, after the meal (the first two are before the meal) as his blood...

There's an interesting question as to whether there was lamb at the meal, or whether Jesus was the lamb, kind of like with Abraham and Isaac in Gen 22.

Anyhow, the liturgy has Psalm 118 at the right point for it to have been the ending in Jesus' day. And it fits really well.

Anonymous said...

That's quite cool. Since you mentioned Genesis 22, how reliable is the idea that Solomon's temple was built on top of mount Moriah, and hence Jesus was crucified rather near there? I found it in ttp://tinyurl.com/26lrcv just this morning.

John said...

It seems to be a later tradition, but it fits well theologically.

Muslims claim that the rock where it happened, except with Abraham and Ishmael, is the rocky outcrop inside the Dome of the Rock, which is where it's very likely Solomon's temple was.

My problem with it would be that if Salem, of which Melchizedek was king at the time of Abe, is the same as Jerusalem
(which another tradition has), then it's only a few hundred metres from Salem to Mt Moriah, which doesn't sound like Gen 22:3-5.

I think it's a case of "maybe, but on balance unlikely".