"You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.
He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. " (Mark 16,5)


THE LORD'S SUPPER - (1COR 11,17-34) - I

Fr. G. Claudio Bottini ofm sbf - jerusalem
translated by Fr. Lionel Goh ofm


Recalling the literary and thematic division proposed, we can see that 1Cor 11:17-34 is a unit found in the 5th part of the letter. It includes almost all of Chapter 11 except v.1 which clearly belongs to the preceding chapter. The main theme can be said to be the problem posed by the prayer-gatherings in Corinth and this is specified in two topics: the clothing of prophets and prophetesses in the cultic assembly (11:2-16); and the celebration of the Eucharistic Supper (11:17-34).

11:17-34, based on its form and content, may be further divided into two paragraphs (11:17-22 and 11:23-34). The first paragraph is clearly delimited by the repetition of "I cannot praise you..."(v17) and "In this I cannot praise you..."(v22) which forms an inclusion. Paul had first praised the community (11:2) but now he sees it necessary to admonish the community severely for reasons Paul gives.

The second paragraph begins from v22 and ends in v34. Some authors would further subdivide this section but it appears to me a difficult task because the train of Paul's thought is very disconnected in both form and logic. Paul evokes the tradition "received from the Lord" and he points out the consequences of its meaning in the cultic act and for those who participate worthily in this act (v23-32). Then Paul gives some pratical rules of behaviour to the Corinthians.

It is worth noting some significant vocabulary that recur in this passage. "To gather" is repeated 5 times (v17. cf also similar terminology: "assembly" v18; "together" v20). Judicial terminology is also used: "guilty" (v27), "condemned/to condemn" (v29.32), "to judge" (v31.32) and to these may be added also terms such as "assembly"(v18), "together" (v20), "Church of God" (v22). These are evident contrasts with "division" (v18.19), "own meals" (v21) and other individual attitudes. The entire passage as a compact unit is further marked by an inclusion (v17 "Because when you come together....for the worse" and v34 "lest you come together to be condemned").

Regarding the internal literary unity of the passage, v23-26 which refers to the eucharistic commemoration received and transmitted by Paul, stand out in content and formulation. At the centre is found the eucharistic narrative in which Jesus is the protagonist. This narrative forms the peak of Paul's arguments. Paul declares to have received and transmitted this tradition/account and now he interprets its meaning.

© copyright 1998

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