Michael BG wrote: ↑
Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:46 pm
Ben C. Smith wrote: ↑
Sun Oct 15, 2017 10:08 am
Michael BG wrote: ↑
Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:23 pm
There are no fish at the Last Supper or the Eucharist.
Well, quite. That was supposed to be clear in the OP. My whole analysis depends upon the eucharistic overtones of fish being late and derivative, not early and constitutional.
This contradicts your assigning fish as a symbol of the Eucharist as 1b in your conclusion.
My only point here was that the eucharistic fish is not what lay behind the resurrection fish. That is all. Yes, the Jesus fish depends upon the eucharistic symbolism, or at least goes hand in hand with it. But it does that in patristic thought regardless
of our opinions as to why.
Perhaps I have missed the part where you give evidence that fish are eaten as part of remembering the Last Supper. I have attended Eucharist services in a number of Churches including an Orthodox one but I have never seen fish given to the congregation.
I stated specifically in the OP that I do not know whether or how often fish was ever actually eaten at a eucharist. That is not the point. It is beyond dispute that fish became a eucharistic symbol in Christianity (later than the NT, I mean, with the possible but highly meaningful exception of the feedings of the 4000 and 5000), and I am exploring why
It seems that Robin Margaret Jensen concludes that none of the meals pictured in the catacombs should be seen as Eucharists or even “agape meals”. Do you have any pictures from the catacombs with fish being eaten with bread and wine?
Not sure about the wine, actually. But there are pictures of 7 or 12 people seated at a table eating fish and bread:
Therefore not only in the New Testament are there no mentions of fish at “Eucharists” but the only fish we have with any Eucharist are the feeding of the 4000 and 5000, which I have suggested should not be seen as an Eucharist.
And I disagree with you. I think the fourfold verbal action, not to mention the bread, connects the feedings to the eucharist. I am influenced by Crossan here, I will readily admit. If you disagree, so be it.
It would seem that the Greek word for fish appears in the Inscription of Pectorius of Autun (the consensus date is late fourth century) because by then the “Jesus Fish” had been established. I read somewhere that the first letter of the words introducing each of the first five verses form the word fish in Greek.
Yes, and I gave the inscription of Pectorius in the OP. I also gave the full text of the first known instance of the Jesus fish acrostic (from the Sibylline Oracles). You write here as if you did not read the entire thing (I know it was long).
The inscription of Abercius uses “fish of exceeding great size” as a metaphor for faith in Jesus Christ (linking back to the “Jesus Fish”) as spiritual food and not as part of the Eucharist which is descripted later.
Your interpretation (the fish is a metaphor for faith) is inadequate, and by inadequate I mean impossible. Here is the text again:
Faith everywhere led me forward, and everywhere provided as my food a fish of exceeding great size, and perfect, which a holy virgin drew with her hands from a fountain and this it [faith] ever gives to its friends to eat, it having wine of great virtue, and giving it mingled with bread.
Faith is what gives the fish. The fish is not faith, and faith is not the fish. The fish is what faith is giving. Faith is also giving wine and bread. Laurence Harold Kant remarks on this passage on page 322 of Interpretation of Religious Symbols in the Graeco-Roman World: A Case Study of Early Christian Fish Symbolism
that "the description of the meal is clearly reminiscent of the descriptions of eucharistic meals in early Christian literature, where bread and mixed wine are prominently featured — thus indicating that this meal probably refers in large part to the eucharist."
Compare the inscription of Pectorius, which reads at one point: "As you hunger, eat a fish that you hold in the palms of your hands." What a Christian holds in the palm of the hand is probably the eucharist, as evidenced by Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture
23.21-22, which I quoted in the OP.
You provided no evidence that within Christianity there is an association with fish and the Messianic banquet.
The Christian evidence for this direct an association is fairly late. The evidence I gave was an attempt to connect the Jewish tradition of Leviathan and the messianic meal with the Christian tradition of the eucharist and the messianic meal, long before the more explicit evidence comes into play.
Later on we get stuff like this from Rufinus (commenting on the Apostles' Creed):
But perhaps some might fear that in a doctrine of this kind —— one in which we have spoken a little before that he was eternally with God the Father and that he was born from his substance and in which we have taught that he was one with the father —— we will now deal with his death. But do not fear, faithful hearer. Alittle after the death of the one you hear, you will see again that he is immortal. For his death is taken up so as to strip death. In fact, the purpose of that sacrament of flesh which is taken up and which we have discussed above, is that the divine virtue of the son of God —— just as a a certain hook —— is covered in the form of human flesh. And just as the apostle said a little before, discovered in the form of a human being [Philippians 2.7], he can invite the prince of the world to the contest. He handed his flesh over as food and, with the hook of divinity inserted inside, he held it. And with the profusion of immaculate blood —— for he alone does not know the stain of sin —— he destroyed the sins of all. In this regard, they stamped the door of his faith with his blood. Therefore, (he is like) a fish (who) seizes a hook covered with food and does not remove the food alone with the hook, but it (the fish) is brought out from the deep to be food for others. Such is he who had the power of death and who seized the body of Jesus in death, though not feeling in it the enclosed hook of divinity. But, when he devours it, he clings continually, and afterwards the gates of Hell are opened, as if he is dragged out from the deep so that he might serve as food for others. Ezekiel the prophet has indicated what is meant by this figure, saying: And I will drag you on my hook and I will extend you over the earth. Fields are filled with you and I will establish above you all the birds of the sky and I will satisfy from you all the beasts of the earth [Ezekiel 32.3-4]. But David said: He will give him as food to the peoples of Ethiopia. And Job similarly bore witness concerning this mystery. With the person of God speaking, he said to himself: Either you will bring a dragon to a hook or you will place a halter around its nose [Job 40.24; this is Leviathan].
Laurence Harold Kant comments on this passage on page 172 of Interpretation of Religious Symbols in the Graeco-Roman World: A Case Study of Early Christian Fish Symbolism
On the face of it, the evil character of Leviathan would, however, seem to constitute a greater problem for its influence on ("The Fish"). Yet, a passage of Rufinus of Aquileia (in spite of its confusing language) suggests that Leviathan could refer to a fish and that he could refer to the flesh of Christ consumed in a Christian banquet held during the messianic era. Thus, it is possible (at least for Rufinus in the fourth century C.E.) for a fish to refer simultaneously to the savior Christ and to the evil Leviathan.
While I agree it bears explaining, I am not directly concerned with the seeming equation of Leviathan and Christ. But the passage from Rufinus equates Leviathan (from Job) with the fish which will be served as food. This is explicit. My suggestion is that this sort of cross referencing happened early enough to have influenced the feeding narratives.
Augustine writes in Confessions
The earth does not need [water creatures and birds], although it eats the fish raised from the sea in that banquet which you have prepared under the watch of the faithful. For the fish is raised from the deep in order that it might nourish the dry land. .... For he judges what is right and he condemns what he finds wrong, whether in the solemnity of the sacraments by which [Christians] are initiated [= baptism], whom your pity searches out in many waters; or in that sacrament in which the fish is displayed [= eucharist], which a pious earth eats after it has risen from the deep.
The evidence you have provided is that the people at the Messianic banquet will eat two “meats” one from the monster the Behemoth and other from the monster Leviathan. If two types of meat are eaten at the Messianic banquet why does this mean fish rather than beef is associated with the Messianic meal?
That is a great question, and I honestly do not know why Leviathan gets so much more airtime than Behemoth (or, later, than Ziz, the avian equivalent to these monsters of sea and land). If you have any ideas on this, feel free to mention them.
In the meantime, consider the logic of the case overall. You have already agreed that I "seem to be on firmer ground" when I "see the eschatological feast and bounty expected during the messianic age in the feedings of the 5000 and 4000." In that case, we have a meal representing the messianic banquet, and that meal consists of bread and fish. The Jewish conception of the messianic banquet includes Leviathan, which virtually has to be considered a fish (for reasons given earlier) and definitely was
considered a fish by at least some of the rabbis. On the Christian side, we know that fish eventually came to represent the eucharist itself, which normally consists of bread (and wine). The elements of the equation are all in place: banquet = Leviathan = fish = eucharist. The texts which clearly lay out this equation in its entirety are late, to be sure. But each separate element of the equation is in place earlier. The messianic banquet consisting of the flesh of Leviathan is attested in 2 Baruch. Leviathan being a fish is implied in the Hebrew scriptures. The fish representing the eucharist is the latest attested juncture, the one for which I am relying on the other two as support, but the feedings representing the eucharist in some symbolic way is supported by the fourfold action of taking, blessing, breaking, and giving. Yes, these actions describe something that can
be done at any reasonably structured meal, but surely there is something to specifying
them, and only them. If you think that specifying these four actions is a natural way to describe any formal or semi-formal meal or whatever, then show me the texts that do so. I would then probably be wrong to connect the feedings to the eucharist because of these verbs.