Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Consuming the Word Chapter 5: The New Testament After the New Testament

Hahn begins chapter 5 reminding the reader that for the early Church the New Testament was the sacrifice of the Eucharist, not a collection of books.  The books that were then collected into what would eventually be called the “New Testament” were not composed until a number of decades after the great events of Pentecost.  As those twenty-seven books eventually were written and collected, it was within the Eucharistic liturgy that “they were canonized” because they were precisely liturgical books (40-41).  

Hahn goes on to show, through those books that “were canonized” in the liturgy, that the events of the Last Supper reveal that what Jesus endured on the cross was sacrificial.  As Hahn states: “It became the offering of an unblemished Paschal victim – the self-offering of a high priest who gave himself as a victim for the redemption of others – the offering of a New Covenant (42).”  And where did Jesus speak about the New Covenant?   It is in the upper room with his apostles during the Passover meal.   This reality is shown in 1 Corinthians most especially.  First, in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul compares the bread and cup with not only Jewish sacrifices, but also Pagan ones.  Secondly, there is the fact that “the only significant narrative overlap between the Gospels and the letters attributed to Saint Paul is the institution narrative (43)."  Paul relates this narrative as, not originating with himself, but through tradition (1 Cor. 11:23).  The Eucharist was the New Testament (and remains so) before the canonized books ever were.

The final section of this chapter begins with this sentence from Hahn, which is probably the most important thus far: “The New Testament as a document presumes and depends upon the New Testament sacrifice and the New Testament meal (45).”

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