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The Roots Of The Early Christian Eucharist: Jewish Blessings Or Hellenistic Symposia?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter offers a brief critical evaluation of theories regarding the pre-Christian origins of the Eucharist. It also assesses the symposium thesis and the extent to which early Christian ritual meals were based on Greek and Roman symposia. The most decisive argument against the Jewish roots theory is that it is based on uncritical use and incorrect dating of Jewish liturgical sources. In so far as the new view on the early Christian Eucharist allows for a variety of ritual practices not necessarily based on the uniform pattern of the Last Supper, it may support the assumption that early Christian rituals such as the Eucharist have their origins in Jewish traditions. An interesting example might be provided by the 'breaking of the bread'. The importance given to this ritual gesture from the very first days of Christianity appears to be unparalleled in Greco-Roman and Jewish sources.

Keywords: early Christian Eucharist; Greco-Roman sources; Greek symposia; Jewish roots theory; Last Supper



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