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A Mass by any other name 3

EucharistThe breaking of the bread appears to be essentially a Lukan title for the service that followers of Jesus have with bread and wine.

It occurs in slightly different forms, as far as I can see, four times in the New Testament

Luke 24:35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread (τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου).
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight.

The seven actions that framed the formal meal (taking, giving thanks, breaking, sharing bread; meal; taking, giving thanks, sharing wine) have, in the tradition with the removal of the meal, been conflated to four (taking, giving thanks with bread and wine, breaking bread, sharing bread and wine).

“Breaking of the bread” focuses on one of those four (seven) actions. Each title for the service focuses on an aspect.

There is a resonance of this Lukan titling in Paul:

1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?

We continue to observe that the lesser-used terms in the New Testament are the more common titles today. This more-common title in the New Testament (at least in Luke’s tradition) is little used today.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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