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Eucharist

Source:
A Dictionary of the Bible What is This? Contains accessibly written entries for topics covering the religious, historical, and social aspects of the Bible.

    Eucharist

    The word used on the basis of 1 Cor. 14: 16 (‘your thanksgiving’) from early in the 2nd cent. for the principal rite of Christian fellowship, or communion. At the Lord's Supper Jesus gave thanks (Luke 22: 17), though the words employed are not recorded possibly because at that time it was forbidden to write down prayer (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 115b). Justin (c. 155 CE) in the Apology said the Eucharist president ‘prayed and gave thanks in his own way’, and the Christian rite is essentially an act of thanksgiving for the whole of God's work in creation and redemption. The Jewish rite of the blessing of bread, as used by Jesus, took the form of a thanksgiving to God, but in early liturgies (e.g. of St John Chrysostom) the language derives more from the Jewish Day of Atonement than the Passover, and Paul in his account in 1 Cor. 15: 3 refers to Isa. 53: 5–12 which reflects the high priest's role when he bears the sins of many and sprinkles atonement blood. Similarly, Heb. 9: 11–14 speaks of Christ as like a high priest offering sacrifice on the Day of Atonement. The narratives of the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus (e.g. Matt. 14: 19) may have been influenced by the Church's Eucharistic celebrations.

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