As part of my ongoing look into and thought about the Last Supper and the five traditions we have about it, I am making some notes of comparison and contrast here. In my opinion the historical order in which the five accounts were written down is Mark, Paul, Matthew, John, and Luke. This is simplifying a somewhat more complex picture since John may have been written in an early edition with later additions and Luke’s account of the Last Supper, possibly, also has two layers. I am currently thinking of Mark being written in the 40′s. Paul’s account in 1 Corinthians is from the 50′s. Matthew is from the early 70′s. The early edition of John is somewhere in the late 70′s. And Luke is likely from the 80′s.
With that said, this is merely a comparison and contrast of the body and blood sayings (often referred to as the “words of institution”). Obviously, these do not exist in John’s Last Supper. So we really only have four traditions to compare on this. The results may surprise you and the relationships make sense once you see them.
The verses are all quoted below. Here are observations:
(1) Mark and Matthew say he “blessed” (from eulogeo) while Paul and Luke say “gave thanks” (from eucharisteo).
(2) All four say “this is my body.”
(3) Mark and Matthew say “take,” while Paul and Luke do not.
(4) Matthew adds “eat.”
(5) Paul and Luke add “which is [given] for you” (Paul leaves out the “given”).
(6) On the cup, all four have the words “covenant” and “my blood.”
(7) Mark, Matthew, and Luke have “poured out,” and all but Luke have “for the many.”
(8) Matthew adds “for the forgiveness of sins.”
(9) Paul and Luke have “do this in remembrance of me.” Paul has it for both the bread and the cup while Luke has it only for the bread.
Do you notice something? Mark and Matthew go together as a pair and Paul and Luke. This adds more evidence, by the way, to the theory that Paul is a source for Luke’s gospel and the book of Acts.
One theory that has been suggested is that Mark and Matthew represent a Jerusalem tradition (earlier, less infiltrated by the later customs of the Yeshua-community [early Christianity]) and Paul and Luke represent what has been called an Antioch tradition, more infiltrated by the ritual observance of the Yeshua-community [early Christians]). Scot McKnight discusses this theory on pg. 261 in Jesus and His Death.
Mark 14:22-24 (RSV)
And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said,
“Take; this is my body.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.
And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
1Cor. 11:23-25 (RSV)
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said,
“This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Matt. 26:26-28 (RSV)
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said,
“Take, eat; this is my body.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 22:19-20 (RSV)
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying,
“This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
And likewise the cup after supper, saying,
“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”