I also want to note that Alex Golub’s article brings up one point that I have made often and yet do not see discussed in theological terms very much (if at all).
The original grounding event of the Last Supper thus becomes the source of a metaphorical identification. This is not the end of the matter, however, since the Last Supper itself is Jesus’s own elaborate riff on the festival he was celebrating — Passover. Passover itself is a here-and-now remembrance of the then-and-there event of the angel of death (creepily represented in The Ten Commandments by colored dry ice) passing over Hebrew houses marked with the blood of a lamb.
Years ago, after I began to really understand Yom Kippur, I began to wonder why it was that Jesus went to Jerusalem, expecting to be executed on Passover since Yom Kippur would have made a better theological analogy. (This is still a relevant question even if we consider the entire event to be a creation of the Gospel writers. Simply rephrase it to ask why the authors have Jesus going to Jerusalem on Passover instead of Yom Kippur.) Certainly the rest of the NT and early Christianity understood Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice (Hebrews) passim), so why not Yom Kippur?
What occurred to me one day is that of all the Pentateuchal festivals only Passover celebrated what Golub called a “here-and-now remembrance of the then-and-there event.” It as annual festival of remembrance rather than of necessity. So in addition to all of the metaphorical reasons to bring these two festival together there was also another layer, another reason for creating this equivalence. The sacrifice of Jesus was going to be a “one-time” event, later to be remembered but not repeated.
Now, it is possible and one could suggest that it is my Protestant background that leads me to this conclusion (although that obviously is not motivating Golub) but I think that the evidence leads to this conclusion. It is likely that others far smarter than I have thought of this before (and I would appreciate any references that you may have) since it seems rather obvious once the question is asked. Any thoughts?
2 thoughts on “The Last Supper at Pesach”
Hi Chris, Thanks for this post… interesting point to highlight here, i.e. that the ritual of thanksgiving is motivated by a commemorative impulse and so is doubly analogous to Passover.
And more to the point, thanks for the lead to Alex Golub’s article, which y’all obviously have been discussing for a while, although I hadn’t noticed. I was friends with Golub way back in the day and it was really refreshing to “hear” his voice in print after all these years.
Thanks Matthew! I only noticed his article this week, so it is a recent discovery for me.