The Last Supper
The Last Supper and the Passover"'Was the Last Supper a Passover meal?' This question has occurred often in works on the Supper and on the Passion. The problem in no new one. In fact it has attracted a large volume of literature. Unfortunately, this has made it impossible merely to consider the Biblical texts themselves, and yet they have been so overlaid with different theories that it is equally unhealthy to consider these theories without meticulously examining the texts. This essay attempts to steer a middle course between these extremes, and so by dint of limited space may deal too superficially with both. The method has been to see evidences, alternatives and possibilities, and conclusions are frequently a balance of judgments and assessment of preferences. The method is therefore critical, and must needs suffer from that subtle (and not so subtle) subjectivity which characterises all our attempts at objectivity. At least, if the relevant questions are asked, this method serves to elucidate the nature of the problem and to indicate in which directions the answers may perhaps be found."
The Chronology of the Last Supper"One can construe the chronology of the Johannine passion narrative in such a way as to place the Last Supper on the evening of Nisan 14 and the crucifixion later on the afternoon of Nisan 14. (The day was reckoned from sunset to sunset.) This construal of the data contradicts the synoptic dating of the same events: in the synoptics, Jesus’ Last Supper is a Passover meal and he is crucified on the afternoon of Nisan 15, the first day of the Passover festival. The consensus seems to be forming that it is a lost labor of love to attempt to harmonize these accounts.1 But it would seem, in fact, that the older attempt to harmonize the accounts by the assimilation of the Johannine chronology to the synoptic, which few, it seems, take seriously any longer, has much to commend itself."
How Jesus Understood the Last Supper: a Parable in Action"Jesus was a brilliant story-teller. He used parables not simply to add spice to his teaching, but in order also to involve people personally in his ministry and to challenge people very directly with his message...Jesus the great parable-teller did not abandon his parabolic method at the end of his ministry. At the Last Supper he explained his coming death through two startling and movingly acted parables. By taking the bread and wine and giving it to them he spoke of giving himself to us as the food of eternal life. By washing the disciples' feet he spoke of the cross bringing cleansing. In both parables he spoke of the need for us to receive his death - the spiritual food, the spiritual cleansing."