Hebraic Antecedents To The Eucharistic Αναμνησισ Formula -- By: David W. A. Gregg

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 30:1 (NA 1979)
Article: Hebraic Antecedents To The Eucharistic Αναμνησισ Formula
Author: David W. A. Gregg

Hebraic Antecedents To The Eucharistic Αναμνησισ Formula

David W. A. Gregg

The current strengthening of the speculation that Jesus may have spoken in Hebrew at the Last Supper1 gives added stimulus to the quest for possible Hebraic antecedents to the formulae that we find in the Greek New Testament. Material for this quest in respect of the ἀνάμνησις formula has, however, proved particularly elusive.

If we begin, as we must nowadays, with Jeremias’s standard work, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus,2 we find, despite his championing of the longer text of Luke 22, no reference at all to this formula in the section on ‘Semitisms’ (pp. 173-186), nor in that on ‘The Original Language’ (pp. 196-203). In the section ‘. . . That God may Remember Me’ (pp. 237-255), however, he does extend a modicum of help. On p. 249 he first proposes splitting the sentence between the command (τοῦτο ποιεῖτε) and the purposive clause (εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν) which parts he then treats separately.

For the former he offers as antecedents Ex. 29:35; Num. 15:11–13; Deut. 25:9 (cf. Mishnah, Yeb. 12:3). However he himself acknowledges, in a footnote, that these are all examples in LXX of the adverb οὕτως with a form of ποιεῖν, rendering the Hebrew כָּכָה a jussive of ,עשה which he identifies as ‘an established expression for the repetition of a rite’. But since the eucharistic formula has, instead, the demonstrative pronoun τοῦτο used as the direct object, these are rather unconvincing as antecedents, and hardly justify the closing of the question whether the command here is to repeat a rite (i.e. breaking and eating/drinking), or to manipulate an

object (i.e. the bread/cup), as a commemorative act. One might even argue that, in the light of these suggested antecedents, the absence of οὕτως (the ‘established expression’), and the alternative use of τοῦτο, make the latter interpretation rather more likely than the former!

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