Apr 5, 2007

Ha, den bisri

Some like to argue exactly what Jesus said for the words of consecration during the first Mass, the Last Supper. These disputers like to point out the differences between Matthew and Mark’s Gospels (This is My Body), and Luke’s Gospel and St. Paul’s Epistles (This is My Body, which is given up for you) .

This was a Passover meal, and what Jesus actually said was Ha, den bisri, which is Aramaic, literally “Behold, My Body.” Jewish readers of Matthew and Mark would recognize that the word bisri, derived from the Hebrew word basar, for body or flesh, would have had sacrificial connotations from the word itself, which was used to describe the animal sacrifices then taking place at the Temple in Jerusalem. Jewish readers would also have had the context of a Passover sacrifice, where the participants would have eaten the sacrificial lamb.

Greek/Gentile readers would not have completely understood the context or the root words, therefore Luke, a Gentile from Antioch, and St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, added to Matthew and Marks simple Greek translation, “which is given up for you” to help convey the sacrificial nature of what Jesus was saying.

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