Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam > Blaise Pascal Instituut > Girard Studiekring > COV&R 2007 > Abstracts Papers
Metaphors of Sacrifice in the Liturgies of the Early Church
Email - Profile - Subtheme # 3 - Abstract
This paper responds to the following
question posed in sub-theme 3a of this years Colloquium on Violence and
Religion. The question reads:
How may we understand violence in
Scripture and in the theologian tradition with its notions such as the last
judgment, the classical doctrine of reconciliation by the blood Christ, the
focus in the Roman Catholic Church on the Eucharist as some kind of a sacrifice
while reducing and concealing the notion of the Eucharist as a meal as much as
will focus on the final phrase of query, the question of how to understand
violence in the focus on the Eucharist as some kind of a sacrifice, while
reducing and concealing the notion of the Eucharist as a meal as much as
The question posed by the Colloquium
begs more questions: historical, theological, and from the vantage point of
Girardian theory, anthropological. The
way the question is posed implies that metaphors of sacrifice in Christian
liturgy are inherently problematic in that they are inevitably interpreted
violently. The way the question is
posed suggests that Christian rituals may inevitably slide toward the
sacrificial even when exposed to the light of the Gospel, and furthermore asks
why this is so. Certainly, those of
us who work with Girardian theory tend to hear any language of sacrifice
skeptically and suspiciously, and to view any imagery of sacrifice through a
The question posed by the Colloquium
begs not only theological but anthropological reflection but historical
reflection first of all. The
question suggests that as Eucharistic prayers and practice are infused with
sacrificial metaphors, the quality of the Eucharist as a real meal recedes.
And so we must ask: when did early Christians begin to employ sacrificial
metaphors and references in their Eucharistic celebrations?
Were these metaphors present from the start, in all prayers and places,
or did they accrue in the liturgy over time, and for what reasons?
If they were present from the start, where did they come from: from
Jewish practice, or from Greco-Roman meals and rites, or from some combination
of the two? When did the practice of
celebrating the Eucharist in conjunction with a real (rather than symbolic) meal
come to an end, and why? And finally,
what was the intent of using metaphors of sacrifice in a meal where no human or
animal sacrifice was actually taking place?
How did those participating hear and understand the imagery of sacrifice
when used in the context of Christian worship and Christian Eucharist?
Were they participating in an unconscious slide back into captivation
with the scapegoat mechanism by interpreting the Eucharist in sacrificial terms?
Or were they using the metaphor of sacrifice for the Eucharist in a
parabolic and critical way?
My argument here unfolds as follows:
with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple to the Romans in 70 C.E., the Jewish
ritual setting for sacrificial worship was destroyed, and from the ruins of the
Temple, two new religions emerged: what would later become Rabbinic Judaism, and
what would later become Christianity.
Both nascent religions grappled with questions of what would constitute
their scriptural canon and what would constitute Mishnah
and Talmud (in the case of Rabbinic Judaism) or creed and doctrine (in
the case of Christianity). At the
same time, the liturgical practice of each religion was evolving, and neither
religion adopted or re-instituted a program of animal sacrifice according to
Biblical (Levitical) law.
The liturgical practice of each religion
came to focus around meal, prayer and study, although in different ways.
Within Rabbinic Judaism, the Sabbath meal took place in the home; prayer
and scripture study took place in the synagogue.
Among Christians, scripture study, prayers and meals took place first in
gatherings in private homes (the earliest sites of Christian worship) and then
in churches. While the ritual
practice of sacrifice was abandoned by each religion, Christian liturgy took up
images of sacrifice and employed them in Christian worship.
These metaphors of sacrifice were taken from scripture and from prior
Jewish liturgical practice, but also entered the liturgy due to influence
from---and perhaps mimetic rivalry with---Greco-Roman mystery cults.
It can be argued from a review of
primary evidence that early Christians were quite intentional in using metaphors
of sacrifice for a meal which was not in fact a sacrifice, and that their use of
such language was self-consciously parabolic.
Just as Girard has argued that Jewish and Christian scriptures are texts
in transition showing us an evolution away from a reliance on sacrificial
violence toward the recognition of the innocence of the victim, Christian
liturgical language is also a text in transition, trying to employ and reshape
the language of sacrifice, reorienting this metaphor toward images of
self-giving, kenosis, and
vulnerability of God, self, and community.
A paper of this nature entails obvious
limits. One such limit is to define
what I mean by early church. For the
purposes of this investigation I will confine my exploration to the ante-Nicene
period, that is, prior to the ascension of Constantine as Roman Emperor and
prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. Another
limit is to define what source material will be used.
I will rely on primary sources rather than secondary interpretations as
much as possible. The ante-Nicene
Eucharistic prayers we know of are those found in the Didache
(c. 100 C.E.), in Justin Martyrs First
Apology (c. 150 C.E.), and in the earliest version of the Egyptian liturgy
of St. Mark (the Strasbourg Papyrus), c. 200 C.E.).
The pertinent ante-Nicene commentary comes from Ignatius of Antioch (c.
110), from Justin Martyr, from Irenaeus of Lyon (c. 115-202), and from Origen
When we survey this evidence, we find Christians beginning to employ
sacrificial metaphors and references in their Eucharistic celebrations as early
as the Didache
or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,
a catechetical manual from Syria (c. 95-100 C.E.).
The Didache offers instruction
in discernment between the Two Ways (of life and death), combined with
instruction on prayer and fasting, Baptism, Eucharist, and on the discernment of
false prophets and teachers. The
redactor, or Didachist, seems to see no discontinuity between observing the
Torah and following Jesus. The
Didachist, while still belonging to a Jewish-Christian community, addresses a
situation in which questions of ritual observance, church order, and liturgical
leadership are arising.
We find two treatments of the Eucharist in the Didache
which can be treated separately and are not dependent on one another, given the
history of their redactions. The
first, in Didache 9-10 obviously
surround a meal and give us a prayer-meal-prayer sequence which undoubtedly
originates in the genre of Jewish blessing prayers.
Finkelstein has shown that Didache
10 is related to the birkat ha mazon,
but more recent Jewish liturgical scholarship such as that undertaken by Reif,
cautions us against assuming that there are fixed, written forms for these
prayers during the Second Temple era.
Rather, we must suppose that the forms and their varying content
circulated orally and only gradually became codified into the type of prayer and
instruction we find in the Mishnah.
Based on recent research into Jewish
prayer forms, Didache 9 seems to be
based on the meal or Kiddush blessings
in which a cup and bread are blessed at the beginning of a meal. The prayers in Didache
We give you
our Father, for the holy vine of David your child, which you made known to us
through Jesus your child. To you is
The second prayer over the bread is:
We give you
our Father, for the life and knowledge which is revealed to us through Jesus
your child. To you be is glory
forever. Just as this broken bread
was scattered upon the mountains and having been gathered together, became one,
so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your
kingdom. For yours is the glory and
power through Jesus Christ forever.
10 the prayer following the meal seems to be based on the birkat
ha-mazon, a three strophe prayer at the conclusion of a meal which includes
a blessing of God for sustaining the universe, a blessing of God who gives the
gifts of food, earth, and covenant, and a prayer for the restoration of
Jerusalem. What we find in the Didache
is a Jewish-Christian interpretation of these prayers in which the content is
Christianized but the form remains Jewish.
The prayer reads thus:
We give you
holy Father, for your holy name which you have made to tabernacle in our hearts,
and for the knowledge, faith and immortality that you made known to us through
Jesus your child. To you is the
Master, created all things for the sake of your name, and gave both food and
drink to people for enjoyment in order that they might give you thanks.
To us you graciously bestowed spiritual food and drink, and eternal life
through your child.
Above all we
give you thanks because you are powerful. To
you is glory forever. Remember you church, O Lord, to save it from all evil and
to perfect it in your love. And
gather it together from the four winds into your kingdom, which you prepared for
it. For yours is the power and the
glory forever. May grace come and
this world pass away. Hosanna to the
God of David. If
anyone is holy, come. If anyone is
not, repent. Maranatha.
In Didache 14 we find further
instructions concerning the Eucharist which are most likely part of a different
strand of source material from chapters nine and ten.
The instructions in chapter 14 instruct the community to gather on the
day of the Lord and before giving thanks, to confess your failings so
that your sacrifice (qusiva)
may be pure. The instructions
urge reconciliation among those in conflict prior to the Eucharist, and end with
a reference to
And on the divinely
instituted day of the Lord, having been gathered together, break a loaf.
And give thanks, having confessed your failings beforehand, so that your
sacrifice may be pure. Everyone, on
the other hand, having a conflict with a companion, do not let him come together
with you until they have been reconciled, in order that your sacrifice may not
be defiled. For this is said by the
Lord: In every place and time, offer to me a pure sacrifice.
For I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is wondrous among the
It is supremely significant that the Didache
uses the term sacrifice (qusiva)
to refer to a meal in which no meat is consumed, for a meal in which no meat was
consumed was not in fact a sacrifice in the eyes of the ancient Greco-Roman
The use of Malachi 1:11-14 cannot be anything other than metaphorical or
in fact parabolic: the offering of bread and cup in the name of Jesus is the
only pure sacrifice but is not in fact a sacrifice at all.
The next series of evidence comes from Justin Martyr.
In his Dialogue with Trypho (c.
135), an imaginary dialogue with a Jewish interlocutor, Justin is concerned to
show that the Christian Eucharist supersedes Jewish sacrificial practices,
though we have no evidence that Jewish sacrificial practice continued into the
second century of the Common Era. In
Dialogue with Trypho 41 Justin refers
the bread of
the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in
remembrance of the suffering which he endured on behalf of those who are
purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank
God for having created the world
Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one
of the twelve prophets
about the sacrifices at that time presented by you:
I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your
sacrifices at your hands: for from the rising of the sun unto the going down of
the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place
incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among
the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it.
So he then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer
sacrifices to him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the
Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify his name, and that you profane it.
God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which
Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and
the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the
world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to him.
But he utterly rejects those presented by you and by those priests of
yours, saying, And I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from
the rising of the sun to its setting, my name is glorified among the Gentiles;
but you profane it. Yet even now,
in your love of contention, you assert that God does not accept the sacrifices
of those who dwelt then in Jerusalem, and were called Israelites; but says that
he is pleased with the prayers of the individuals of that nation then dispersed,
and calls their prayers sacrifices. Now,
that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only
perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit.
For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the
remembrance affected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of
the Son of God which he endured is brought to mind
Here it is important to note that for
Justin the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices are those offered by
command of Jesus in the Eucharist of bread and cup---sacrifices which, as in the
Didache are not at all sacrifices in
the eyes of the Greco-Roman world. In
his First Apology 66 (c. 150 C.E.), Justin further defends the reputation of the
Christian Eucharist, insisting that the Greco-Roman mystery cult of Mithras is
but a rivalistic and wicked imitation of Christian practice:
For not as
common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus
Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and
blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is
blessed by the prayer of his word, and from which our blood and flesh by
transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made
flesh. For the apostles, in the
memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us
what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks,
said this do you in remembrance of me, this is my body; and that, after
the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, he said this is my
blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in
the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done.
And in the First Apology 67 Justin describes the typical order of a Sunday
Eucharist, in which bread, wine and water are shared after the presider offers
prayers which are apparently extemporaneous according to his ability.
In this description of Christian practice c. 150 C.E., the full meal has
apparently been replaced by the symbolic meal, although the bread, wine and
water are distributed to those who are not able to be present:
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in the cities or in the country gather together in one place [scripture is read and the president verbally instructs] then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
Our only other extant evidence of a
pre-Nicene Eucharistic prayer or celebration is that found in the Strasbourg
Papyrus version of the Liturgy of St. Mark (c. 200 C.E.).
The fragments of the prayer include reference to the Eucharist as a
reasonable (logiken) sacrifice and a
bloodless service and also make reference to
everything in your wisdom, the light of your true Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ; giving thanks through him to you with him and the Holy Spirit, we offer
the reasonable sacrifice and this bloodless service, which all nations offer you,
from sunrise to sunset, from south to north, for your name is great
among all the nations, and in every place incense is offered to your holy name
an a pure sacrifice.
In addition to the reflections quoted from Justin Martyr, we find a few
significant metaphors for the Eucharist in the writings of Ignatius, Irenaus and
Origen. In his letter to the
In addition to the reflections quoted from Justin Martyr, we find a few significant metaphors for the Eucharist in the writings of Ignatius, Irenaus and Origen. In his letter to the
be eager to come together to give thanks (eucaristivan)
and glory to God.
For when you gather together frequently as a congregation, the powers of
Satan are destroyed, and his destructive force is vanquished by the harmony of
In Against Heresies 5.2-3, Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 185 C.E.) argues against the
heresy of Docetism, the conviction that Christ only seemed to take a human form but in fact did not. In order to build his argument, Irenaeus asserts that Jesus Christ must have joined his true flesh and blood with ours (in the Incarnation and in the Eucharist) to bring about our salvation. Thus in this passage we find some of his Eucharistic theology illuminated:
But vain in
every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow
the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration,
maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption.
But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord
redeem us with his blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of his
blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of his body
.And as we are
his members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and he himself
grants the creation to us, for he cause his sun to rise, and sends rain when he
wills). He has acknowledged the cup
(which is part of the creation) as his own blood, from which he bedews our blood;
and the bread (also a part of the creation) he has established as his own body,
from which he gives increase to our bodies
When, therefore, the mingled cup
and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God and the Eucharist of the
blood and the body of Christ is made
how can they affirm that the flesh is
incapable of receiving the gift of God
?...Just as a cutting from the vine
planted in the ground fructifies in its season
and having received the Word of
God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our
bodies being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering
decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God
granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely
gives to this mortal immortality
Irenaeus is of course concerned to show
that Christ truly became flesh, and argues that if he did not, the cup of the
Eucharist (his blood) nor the bread (the communion of his body)
cannot serve as a source of our own regeneration and immortality.
Though he does not explicitly cite I Corinthians 11: 23-26 or any of the
Institution Narratives from the Gospels (Mark 14: 22-26,
Finally, two references from Origen (c. 185-251 C.E.) are worth noting here. The first is from his the Peri Pascha 33:
partake of the flesh of Christ, that is, of the divine scriptures
Here the metaphor of Christs flesh and blood refers not to the Eucharistic meal but to a strategy for exegesis in which the Scriptures themselves, when we learn and recite them, become for us the flesh of Christ.
Likewise, in his Homilies on
the rite of atonement for men, which was done to God, should be celebrated was
taught among the ancients. But you
who came to Christ, the true high priest, who made atonement for you to God by
his blood and reconciled you to the Father, do not hold fast to the blood of the
flesh. Learn rather the blood of the
Word and hear him saying to you, This is my blood which will be poured out
for you for the forgiveness of sins. He
who is inspired by the mysteries knows both the flesh and the blood of the Word
of God. Therefore, let us not remain
in these which are known to the wise and cannot be laid open to the ignorant.
We can speculate that Origen resists associating the Eucharist with Christs body and blood in favor of a Scriptural association due perhaps to his own well-known asceticism. In any case, these passages from Origen illustrate the various ways in which metaphors concerning Christs body and blood were used by patristic writers. The flesh and blood not only symbolized the Eucharist, but for Origen at least, symbolized the Scriptures which could be learned and digested as well.
To return to the questions posed at the outset of this paper, we can now
chart some clearer answers. We see
from the evidence of the Didache and
from Justin Martyr that our earliest descriptions of Eucharistic prayers and
practice already employ sacrificial metaphors, though perhaps not in the ways we
expect. Here we see the metaphor of
sacrifice drawn from
As early as Justins description in the First Apology (c. 150 C.E.), we find that the Christian celebration of Eucharist takes place on Sunday morning and does not seem to entail a full meal, yet Justins witness is only one, and we cannot make an argument from silence and therefore presume that other Christian Eucharists do not contain full meals at this time. Certainly we can say that by the end of the ante-Nicene period, the meal celebrated by Christians as Eucharist was a symbolic consumption of some bread and wine, though post-Nicene evidence from the Apostolic Tradition indicates that on certain occasions the symbolic meal also consisted of cheese and olives. Andrew McGowan has also documented the practice of bread and water Eucharist (excluding wine) among various Christians in the early church.
So why did the Christian communities described by the Didache, by Justin Martyr, and in the Liturgy of St. Mark, surround a service of prayer, thanksgiving and meal (whether actual or symbolic) with images and metaphors of sacrifice, when they knew full well that in the ancient world, a meal with no altar, no victim, no priest and no meat did not constitute a sacrifice? This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer because in order to do so, we would need to make inferences and rely on arguments from silence, both of which are suspicious activities for historians. When we rely only on the evidence at hand, we can make three claims. First, early Christians (such as Origen) employed metaphors of body, blood, sacrifice and consumption not only to the Eucharist, but to the practice of reading and assimilating Scripture as well. This use of sacrificial metaphors for activities which were not in fact sacrificial seems to subvert the expectation of the reader that where one finds language and imagery of sacrifice, one necessarily finds an actual victim. Second, early Christians employed metaphors besides sacrifice to their celebration of the Eucharist. Ignatius likens the Eucharist to the medicine of immortality. Irenaeus focuses on the Eucharist as a means of regeneration, not a metaphor of violent sacrifice.
And third, these Christians seem well
aware that their language and imagery is metaphorical, is subversive of common
expectations, and is in fact a parable. Justin
says it best: that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men,
are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I admit (Dialogue
Yet Justin is willing to publicly employ the language
and imagery of sacrifice in his defense of the rites of Christians, which are
yet not sacrificial. What purpose
could there be except to subvert common expectations of what constitutes
sacrifice, and what it produces? We
know from Girard that what constituted sacrifice in the ancient world was the
collective consent in the murder of a victim, and that what it produced as a
communal feeling of calmness, satisfaction and solidarity, displacing feelings
of rage, anger and suspicion onto the victim, who, because of the peace that
ensued, was often likened to a God. We
could look at the early Christian practice of Eucharist and view it in much the
Yet Justin witnesses to just the opposite intent: he
and his fellow Christians know that theirs is a sacrifice of prayers and
thanksgiving only. They know that
there is no victim present. And
instead of the gifts being offered to appease a god, the gifts are shared among
the community and then offered to the poor, the widowed, and the absent.
Justins use of the vocabulary of ancient sacrifice to describe
Christian worship which is in fact not a sacrifice is by no means accidental.
In the following passage he draws on the vocabulary of sacrificial ritual
to describe the Christian Eucharistic assembly, yet the purpose of that assembly
is clear: to help those in want, to meet together, to bless God through the name
of Jesus and through the Holy Spirit, and to share bread together with wine and
water---to turn away from the commonly sacrificial to a kind of self-giving to
have the means help all those who are in want, and we always meet together.
And over all that we take to eat (prosfereivn),
we bless the Maker of all things through Gods Son Jesus Christ and through
the Holy Spirit
then we all stand together and offer prayer (pempeivn).
when we have concluded the prayer, bread is set out to eat (prosfereivn)
together with wine and water. The
presider likewise offers up (anapempeivn)
prayer and thanksgiving, as much as he can, and the people sing out their assent
become numb to the surprise of this use of sacrificial language for what is no
It is better to say that sacrifice is the wrong word in these cases,
but that is just the point. Sacrifice
is used metaphorically when it is applied to the death of Christ or to the
Christian assembly. Metaphor
to use the wrong word in order to reveal to the imagination a plurality of
meanings that otherwise could not be spoken
The wrongness of the word needs to
be heightened, not tamed, in order for the figure of speech to work.
We need to inquire what truth about God is proposed by our calling our
assembly action sacrifice when it is not.
John Dominic Crossan offers a succinct and startling summary of the
function of parables in his book The Dark Interval: Toward a Theology of
Story, and what he says regarding the use of parables in the Gospels is
helpful in understanding the parabolic structure of Christian language and
liturgy as well. Crossan notes that
parables are the exact opposite of myth, but cannot function without
pre-existing myths, because the function of parables is always to undercut and
subvert our myths from the inside out. Those
familiar with the word of Rene Girard will understand immediately the
implications: Christian language and liturgy seeks to subvert prevailing myths
of the sacrificial by taking up, and intentionally subverting these myths by
using the same vocabulary and imagery in a purposely parabolic way.
Crossan describes the experience of reading a Gospel parable:
John Dominic Crossan offers a succinct and startling summary of the function of parables in his book The Dark Interval: Toward a Theology of Story, and what he says regarding the use of parables in the Gospels is helpful in understanding the parabolic structure of Christian language and liturgy as well. Crossan notes that parables are the exact opposite of myth, but cannot function without pre-existing myths, because the function of parables is always to undercut and subvert our myths from the inside out. Those familiar with the word of Rene Girard will understand immediately the implications: Christian language and liturgy seeks to subvert prevailing myths of the sacrificial by taking up, and intentionally subverting these myths by using the same vocabulary and imagery in a purposely parabolic way. Crossan describes the experience of reading a Gospel parable:
shows us the seams and edges of myth
Parables are fictions, not myths; they
are meant to change, not reassure us. Parable
is always a somewhat unnerving experience. You
can usually recognize a parable because your immediate reaction will be
self-contradictory: I dont know what you mean by that story but Im
certain I dont like it.
Those of us who hear the language of sacrifice in the Christian Eucharistic assembly may have much the same experience as Crossan describes: we dont know what it means, but were sure we dont like it. Yet Crossan reminds us not to dispense with parable, lest we allow the parables of Jesus (and by extension, the parables of the liturgy) to slide back too easily toward myth and allegory:
give God room. The parables of Jesus
are not historical allegories telling us how God acts with mankind, neither are
they moral example-stories telling us how to act before God and towards one
another. They are stories which
shatter the deep structure of our accepted world and thereby render clear and
evident to us the relativity of the story itself.
They remove our defenses and make us vulnerable to God.
It is only in such experiences that God can touch us, and only in such
moments does the kingdom of God arrive.
Lathrop admonishes us: We need to inquire what truth about God is proposed by our calling our assembly action sacrifice when it is not. Crossan reminds us that when we lose our ability to hear and read parables, we fail to give God room to touch us and make us vulnerable. Girard often reminds us that it is just this vulnerability from which we flee, and the scapegoat mechanism and reliance upon the sacrificial always ensure that we can transfer our feelings of vulnerability onto someone or something else. Yet Christian liturgy, if we can hear it in all its parabolic intent as its earliest practitioners envisioned, can extract from us precisely the condition of vulnerability which is necessary in order to have the mind of Christ. The truth about God proposed by our calling our Eucharistic assembly a sacrifice when it is not is the same truth about God proposed by Paul when he called Christ a servant and slave who humbled himself and emptied himself to the point of death:
Let the same
mind be in you as was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God did
not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, being found in human
form, having become obedient to the point of death, and death by a cross.
Wherefore also God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every
name, that in the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the Glory of God the Father.
---Philippians 2: 5-11
These two new religions were not mother and daughter (according to an older
model of emergence) but in fact sisters (or brothers or even twins), both
born from what was Second Temple Era Judaism.
See Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: the Partition of
See James G. Williams in the forward to Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall
Like Lightning (
See Stefan Reif., Judaism
and Hebrew Prayer: New Perspectives on Jewish Liturgical History (NY:
Cambridge University Press, 1993).
Translations from the Greek text of the Didache are my own.
See Stephen J. Patterson, Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and
Life of Jesus (
This and other quotations from Justin come from James Donaldson and
Alexander Roberts, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson Publishers, 1995) Vol. 1.
 The Greek translation is my own.
 James Donaldson and Alexander Roberts, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995) Vol. 1.
 It is interesting to note that neither I Corinthians 11: 23-26 nor the Gospel Institution Narratives enter Christian Eucharist prayers on a regular basis until the late 4th century. Prior to this, we find the fathers making references to these texts in their commentary on the Eucharist, but we do not find the association of the cup with Christs blood or the bread with his body present in the prayers themselves until c. 360 C.E., and not regularly until after 400 C.E.
Here and elsewhere quoting from Origen: James Donaldson and Alexander Roberts, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995) Vol IV.
McGowan, Andrew, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian
Meals (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999).
Here I rely on Gordon Lathrops translation and analysis of Justin in his Holy
Things: a Liturgical Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993)
 Lathrop 141-142.
John Dominic Crossan, The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story
(Sonoma, CA: Polebridge Press, 1988) 38-39.
 Crossan, 99-100.
 Lathrop 142.