Is the Story of the Last Supper a Work of Fiction?

Image result for image of the last supper

Excerpt from:  The Resurrection:  A Critical Inquiry

In summary, the synoptic Gospels, in part, tended to indicate that the Last Supper was a Passover meal.  Mark’s narrative presented several anomalies or inconsistencies, perhaps suggesting that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal (see below).  Smith (2003, 255) writes:  “Thus, even if Jesus did celebrate a Passover meal with his disciples as his last meal, we do not have a clear reminiscence of such a meal in the description we now have.”  Or as the apologist N. T. Wright (1996, 555; cf. 1999, 84) suggests, “it seems to me virtually certain that the meal in question was some kind of Passover meal.”

In contrast, John unmistakably does not have a Passover meal.  Paul’s letters are doubtful and unclear as to whether or not Jesus’ last meal was a Passover meal.  What can be said is that Paul is seemingly tilted toward John.

In conclusion, the lack of consensus regarding Jesus’ last meal among historians, scholars, and theologians raises doubt as to its historicity.

–Jewish author, Michael J. Alter, pp. 73-74

 

Gary:  Once again, if the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or the close associates of eyewitnesses as conservative Christians claim, shouldn’t we have better corroboration in the accounts of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples???

14 thoughts on “Is the Story of the Last Supper a Work of Fiction?

  1. Your Jewish author is an idiot.

    The Synoptics tell of Jesus’ Passover meal with his disciples – which, as was common in the first century – was done according to the original date, with the Passover lamb being killed at twilight between the 13th and the 14th of Nisan. Hence, this was the traditional Passover meal.

    John is going by “Temple reckoning”, in which the lambs were sacrificed in the daylight hours of the 14th, with the meal being eaten on the 15th – which was also the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is how the Jews still do it to this day. But, it goes back to the Temple era, when they needed more time to sacrifice all the lambs that were brought to the Temple.

    If you Jewish author had really studied, he’d know this is correct. But, evidently, he hasn’t studied that well.

    But even now there are Jews that are wanting to switch back to the original Mosaic Passover, which was the traditional Passover that Jesus had with his disciples, as noted in the Synoptics.

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    1. The Synoptics tell of Jesus’ Passover meal with his disciples – which, as was common in the first century – was done according to the original date, with the Passover lamb being killed at twilight between the 13th and the 14th of Nisan. Hence, this was the traditional Passover meal.

      Please provide evidence that originally the lambs were slaughtered on the 13th of Nisan during twilight and the Passover meal was eaten within a few hours, in the first hours of the 14th of Nisan.

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      1. Let’s go to the Book of Leviticus chapter 23:

        Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements. 4 These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight,[a] there shall be a passover offering to the Lord, 6 and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. 8 For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.

        You seem to be inferring that “twilight on the 14th is 24 hours prior to the beginning of the 15th (which would begin at sunset). Is that what the text means? I don’t think so. The lamb was collected and prepared for slaughter on the 14th and slaughtered in the twilight hours. I suggest that this means that the lamb was slaughtered, cooked, and then eaten all within a few hours, not 24 hours as you are implying. See this comment by a rabbi on this issue:

        https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/3283921/jewish/Why-Is-Passover-on-Nissan-15-Not-Nissan-14.htm

        Since Jews no longer slaughter lambs, this step in the modern Passover observance is skipped. Bottom line: the Passover lamb was killed on the 14th of Nisan, but the eating of the Passover lamb has always occurred on the 15th of Nissan. In the Synoptics, it certainly sounds as if Jesus and his disciples are observing some kind of Passover meal, while in John, it is very clear that they are not because we are told that Judas left the “last supper” for the express purpose of buying the provisions of the Passover meal.

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        1. For starters:

          You misquote a scripture, but, that’s because you don’t know Hebrew:

          “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight”

          In Hebrew, this scripture says “between the two eves”. This was originally understood as the twilight time leading into the 14th.

          The Jewish Encyclopedia notes the change in the “interpretation” which the Pharisees insisted on:
          (Note the part bracketed by asterisks)

          “The Passover lamb was killed, in the time of the Second Temple, in the court where all other “ḳodashim” were slaughtered, in keeping with the Deuteronomic prescription, and it was incumbent upon every man and woman to fulfil this obligation. The time “between the two evenings” (“ben ha-‘arbayim”) was construed to mean “after noon and until nightfall,

          In his book The Jewish Festivals—From Their Beginnings to Our Own Day, Hayyim Schauss explains the changes in the observance of the Passover that were instituted at the time of Josiah’s reform: “It was in this way that Pesach [Passover] and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were joined, and the two distinct spring festivals became one historical holiday, a symbol of the striving of the people toward national freedom. But, since the festival was still bound up with the family, or, at most, the village community, it could not yet become a great national holiday. It was only later, when Pesach was observed by all Jews in one place, in one great sanctuary, that it gained national importance.

          “This happened in the last few decades before the destruction of the first Temple, in the time of Josiah, King of Judah. Israel, the great Jewish kingdom of the north, was no more. [It is incorrect to describe the northern ten-tribed kingdom of Israel as Jewish. The Jews dwelt only in the southern kingdom of Judah]. All that remained was Judah, the smaller kingdom of the south. In the reign of Josiah there was a strong progressive party, seeking to reconstruct Jewish national life and establish it on a new basis of justice and right. Sweeping reforms were instituted. One of the most outstanding was the elimination of all the ‘high places’ because Jerusalem was declared the only sanctuary for all Jews. Sacrifices were forbidden anywhere else and only Jerusalem was to be the goal of the pilgrimages made at holiday time. The Festivals, therefore, lost their local character and became national observances that united all Jews in the one holy place, the Temple in Jerusalem.

          “Through this reform the Pesach ceremonial [observance] took on almost a new character. Since it was forbidden to make the Paschal sacrifice anywhere but in the Temple at Jerusalem, it was impossible to smear the blood of the sacrificial lamb upon the doorposts of the houses. In general, the observance lost its ancient weird character. The Book of Kings tells us truly that such a Pesach as [the temple-centered observance] was observed in the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, the year in which the reform was instituted, had not been celebrated [in that manner] since the Jews settled in Palestine.

          “We cannot be certain how long a time passed before the Jews accepted these reforms in practice and ceased to offer the Pesach sacrifice in their homes. Nor can we be certain how long it took for Pesach and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to become as one festival. But we do know that the importance of the festival grew and that it became, in time, the greatest Jewish national holiday” (pp. 44-46, emphasis added).

          ====================

          The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia reveals that many of the Sadducees—which included the high priests’ families—retained the practice of the domestic Passover at the beginning of the 14th. This fact is quite surprising. We would expect the high priests to observe the temple sacrifice of the Passover on the afternoon of the 14th, since they were in charge of the temple. But such was not the case. Notice: “This story of the first paschal lamb, as related in the Bible, became the pattern for the observance of the Passover during the period of the Temple, but with a few modifications. Thus the sacrifice took place in the sanctuary and the blood was sprinkled upon the altar.

          “The Pharisees and Sadducees had a dispute as to the time when the slaughtering should take place; the former held it should be in the last three hours before sunset, the latter, BETWEEN SUNSET AND NIGHTFALL” (p. 406).

          This record of the dispute between the Pharisees and the Sadducees shows that two separate Passover observances continued side by side. The Jews did not universally embrace the temple sacrifice of the Passover.

          I could go on an on, at even greater length, but I won’t. You need to either do your own research or stop posting pure BS.

          Just google “passover on the 14th or 15th of nisan”

          You’ll find an article on chabad.org about this very question, and of course, chabad, being Orthodox – the “descendants” of Pharisee-ism – defend the 15th. (It was, after all, a change which the Pharisees instituted).

          But, just start doing some reading, and you’ll find all kinds of info on this topic.

          Here’s one, for starters: https://www.hebcal.com/home/1247/pesach-on-15th-of-nissan-vs-the-14th

          I’m not vouching for what the author says — I just skimmed the article. But, it shows you that Passover and Unleavened Bread were once two distinct feasts, and, by the first century, they had become “fused” so that Passover and the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were no longer on separate days, but on the same day.

          This is no great secret. It has been a matter of debate among Jews for centuries. There are many that believe the Passover meal (seder) should be celebrated after the twilight of the 13th.

          None of this info is hidden, Gary. Your Jewish author is an idiot, that’s all.

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          1. I will research this issue further but what I can say is that most non-fundamentalist scholars believe that John’s day of the crucifixion and the Synoptic’s day of the crucifixion cannot be reconciled. Most scholars believe that John changed the day of Jesus’ crucifixion to fit with his theme of Jesus as the paschal lamb. I know you believe otherwise, but I am not going to debate you on the issue. As I have stated multiple times, since I am not an expert on these issues, I accept majority expert opinion and the majority of experts state that this is an irreconcilable contradiction.

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        2. Darius the Mede (see Daniel 6; 9:1; 11:1) wrote this proclamation:

          3 Now this year, the 5th year of King Darius, word was sent from the king to Arsawes, saying :
          4 In the month of Tybi (?) let there be a Passover for the Jewish garrison. Now you accordingly count fourteen
          5 Days of the month Nisan and keep the Passover, and from the 15th day to the 21st day of Nisan
          6 (are) seven days of Unleavened bread. Be clean and take heed. Do no work
          7 On the 15th day and on the 21st day. Also drink no beer, and anything at all in which there is leaven
          8 Do not eat, from the 15th day from sunset till the 21st day of Nisan, seven
          9 Days, let it not be seen among you ; do not bring (it) into your dwellings, but seal (it) up during those days. 10 Let this be done as Darius the king commanded.

          (Cowley AE. Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005-reprint, p. 63)

          You see here, in the time of Darius, the Passover was on the 14th, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted a week, began on the 15th.

          Even in the scripture reference you noted from Exo, there are EIGHT days – the Passover, followed by seven days of unleavened bread.

          And, as I’ve noted from two different writers (in my earlier posts) as well as in the Jewish Encyclopedia, this changed by the Second Temple period. But, as I also noted, there were, for a time, two celebrations that went on side by side: the “original” version (with the lamb being killed before dark, beginning the 14th), and the Temple version – in which they re-intepreted “between the two eves” to mean between the beginning and the end of the 14th – thus giving them all the daylight hours for sacrificing lambs at the Temple.

          I hope I’ve provided at least sufficient information for you to go off and actually do your own research.

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  2. I just saw where you refer to chabad, in regards to the Passover celebration. This is what I mentioned in my earlier, rather lengthy post. Chabad – Orthodox – stick to the Pharisaic tradition — and, it was the Pharisees that changed the celebration such that the lamb was no longer slaughtered in the dusk leading into the 14th, but rather, in the daylight hours of the 14th (and hence, eaten on the 15th) – presumably because you can’t slaughter 5000 lambs at the Temple at dusk. You need more hours of the day for that.

    Regarding your reference to Judas: “For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”

    The feast mentioned here could very well have meant the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and not a reference to the Passover at all.

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      1. Once again, the majority of scholars, including Raymond Brown, believe that John’s day of the crucifixion and the Synoptic’s day of the crucifixion are irreconcilable, and that is the point of the post. The “last supper” in John could not have been a Passover seder because the lambs were not killed until the next day.

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      2. Nope, I’m not. That’s what the writer of that gospel says about what some of the disciples might have been supposing at the time.

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  3. re: “Bottom line: the Passover lamb was killed on the 14th of Nisan, but the eating of the Passover lamb has always occurred on the 15th of Nissan. ”

    No. That’s the Bottom Line according to the Orthodox. That’s what they say, and it’s what the Pharisees argued sometime during the Second Temple period.

    But – Read this, which precedes that perio:

    Darius the Mede (see Daniel 6; 9:1; 11:1) wrote this proclamation:

    3 Now this year, the 5th year of King Darius, word was sent from the king to Arsawes, saying :
    4 In the month of Tybi (?) let there be a Passover for the Jewish garrison. Now you accordingly count fourteen
    5 Days of the month Nisan and keep the Passover, and from the 15th day to the 21st day of Nisan
    6 (are) seven days of Unleavened bread. Be clean and take heed. Do no work
    7 On the 15th day and on the 21st day. Also drink no beer, and anything at all in which there is leaven
    8 Do not eat, from the 15th day from sunset till the 21st day of Nisan, seven
    9 Days, let it not be seen among you ; do not bring (it) into your dwellings, but seal (it) up during those days. 10 Let this be done as Darius the king commanded.

    (Cowley AE. Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005-reprint, p. 63)

    You see here, in the time of Darius, the Passover was on the 14th, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasted a week, began on the 15th.

    Even in the scripture reference you noted from Exo, there are EIGHT days – the Passover, followed by seven days of unleavened bread.

    And, as I’ve noted from two different writers (in my earlier posts) as well as in the Jewish Encyclopedia, this changed by the Second Temple period. But, as I also noted, there were, for a time, two celebrations that went on side by side: the “original” version (with the lamb being killed before dark, beginning the 14th), and the Temple version – in which they re-intepreted “between the two eves” to mean between the beginning and the end of the 14th – thus giving them all the daylight hours for sacrificing lambs at the Temple.

    I hope I’ve provided at least sufficient information for you to go off and actually do your own research.

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  4. re: “Once again, the majority of scholars, including Raymond Brown, believe that John’s day of the crucifixion and the Synoptic’s day of the crucifixion are irreconcilable”

    Ehrman says the same thing. And, as you point out, so do most scholars. But, neither Ehrman or Brown had (or have) any real handle on “things Jewish”. They study Greek and history, and think they can understand something about the OT and Judaism in general.

    As long as one is going to insist that the Passover celebration as it stands today is the way it’s always been celebrated, then yes, the Synoptics and John are irreconcilable.

    But, I have given considerable evidence, all from scholarly sources, that say this does not appear to have been the case. Including a directive from King Darius of Mede.

    And, I could show you much, much more evidence.

    ““In the evening” is better translated “between the two evenings.” It is referring to that period of time between sunset and dark. So the lamb was to be killed after sunset but before dark. Notice that they were to keep the lamb until the 14th, not after or toward the end. “Until the 14th” would be at sunset right after the 13th” — “The Passover Controversy” – Flurry

    Stuff like this (above), written by gentiles and Jews alike, is all over the place out there.

    “(b) As a day of unleavened bread, the 14th Nisan also was celebrated as a feast by the Galileans; hence the Passover occurred on the evening of the 13th…” “A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures” – Lange – 1900.

    One has to look at the “historic” (original) Passover – not the “celebration”, but the event in Egypt:

    God tells Moses to tell everyone to sacrifice a lamb “between the two eves”, put blood on the doorposts, go inside, cook and eat the lamb, and wait… The 14th was the day that the Lord would pass over the houses of the Israelites who had done so. So, that’s what people did (according to the tale). They killed the lambs, did the doorpost thing, went inside, cooked, eat, and waited in the darkness of that day (which, as you know, begins at sundown). There was no “killing of lambs” in the broad daylight, as was done for hours in the afternoons at the Temple.

    “You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it [k]at twilight [ between the two eves]. 7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel [l]of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night…. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night

    I’ve pointed out, using info from (of all places) the Jewish Encyclopedia, there was a change in how the Passover was celebrated, which was instituted during the Second Temple period.

    Of course, those Jews that believe the Passover was always on the 15th are going to say so. But, history shows a much more questionable picture.

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  5. Here’s another interesting read on the topic:

    “Traditions of the Rabbis From the New Testament Era; Vol 2a; Feasts…” Instone-Brewer

    You’ll find a very in-depth look at the complexity of this situation, historcally — a depth which the likes of Brown or Ehrman never approach.

    Most scholars assume that there was one, fixed-and-rock-solid date established for the Passover, but, historically, that is not the case…

    “The combining of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread reduced the observance of the two feasts from eight days to seven days: “To fix a common date for the Jews in Babylonia the mazzot [unleavened bread] feast after 587 B.C.E. was given a fixed date, the 15th to the 21st of the first month, and thus connected with the Passover…” (Ibid.). The entire sevenday festival was renamed “Passover: “Passover, a spring festival, beginning on the 15th day of Nisan, lasting seven days in Israel…” (Ibid.).” [ Encyclopedia Judaica ]

    “From all this Wellhausen concluded that the coalescence of Passover and Unleavened Bread did not occur until the time of Josiah. The agricultural festival of unleavened bread was kept as such as a national Israelite feast, he felt, until the days of Josiah. The section in Deut. 16:1-10 was interpreted as an attempt to abolish the private Passover celebrations [We will thoroughly study Deuteronomy 16 in Chapter Fourteen.] and to eliminate the apotropaic rites [the sprinkling of the blood on the door posts and lintel] characteristic of these [the domestic observance of the Passover]; therefore the Passover was combined with the national feast [of unleavened bread] in Jerusalem” (Vol. III, s.v. “Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread”)

    As I’ve mentioned, this “14th – 15th” question has been brought up in recent times among Jews:

    “The consequence of this difference of opinion leads to the speculation that we’re really talking about two festivals whose distinct characteristics contain a subtle difference for the Israeli and the Diaspora Jewries. The 14th day of Nisan is the one-day festival of the Passover sacrifice, the paschal lamb; the 15th day commences a seven-day festival of Matzot and redemption….**In fact, when the paschal lamb sacrifice will eventually be *revived on the 14th of Nisan***, it will only take place here in Israel.” — Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of the city of Efrat and dean of Ohr Torah Institution of Israel

    Note the word “revived” — this is an indication that Riskin believes (as do many) that the original Passover celebration involved a sacrifice of the lamb, at twilight leading in to the 14th.

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  6. re: “Once again, the majority of scholars, including Raymond Brown, believe that John’s day of the crucifixion and the Synoptic’s day of the crucifixion are irreconcilable, and that is the point of the post.”

    I agree entirely that the accounts in the Synoptics and John cannot be reconcilled….

    re: “The “last supper” in John could not have been a Passover seder because the lambs were not killed until the next day.”

    I disagree entirely with this assessment.

    The reason the Synoptics and John cannot be reconciled is NOT because either the Synoptic writers or John “got it wrong”, or “switched things around for theological reasons” or any such thing.

    The reason the accounts cannot be reconciled is because they’re talking about two different Passover celebrations. The Synoptics are telling of Jesus and his disciples observing the Passover by having the lamb sacrifice at the twilight between the 13th and the 14th, and John is speaking of the Temple observation, with the lambs being sacrifice – NOT at twilight – but during the daylight hours of the 14th.

    So, yeh, I do totally agree that the accounts cannot be reconciled. I disagree entirely with the reasons for the irreconcilability – such as the one you give. That is totally contrary to the historic record.

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