In my previous post I tried to argue that the longer version of the account of Jesus’ Last Supper in Luke could have been created by a scribe who wanted to make the passage sound more like what is familiar from Matthew, Mark, and John, and to stress the point made in those other accounts as well, that Jesus’ broken body and shed blood are what bring redemption.   The passage as you recall reads like this:

17 And he took a cup and gave thanks, and he said: “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you that from now on I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” 19 And taking bread he gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body that is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  20  Likewise after supper (he took) the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood that is shed for you.  21 But see, the hand of the one who turns me over is with me at the table….”

The words that are in bold and underlined are missing from some manuscripts, and it seems more likely that a scribe would have *added* them to a text that did not have them than that he would have *omitted* them for a text that had them.   That was what I argued yesterday.

Today I want to argue that the longer version of the text (with the additional words), which scribes would have preferred, is *NOT* the form of the text that the author of the Gospel of Luke would have preferred.   This is a different kind of evidence, based on a different set of questions.  Now I’m not asking about how scribes would have been inclined to change the text.  I’m asking about what the author himself would have been more likely to have written in the first place.

The reason the words in question are so problematic is that they embrace a theology that Luke himself has gone out of his way to avoid wherever possible (this will sound weird to many readers).  It is the theology that says that Jesus’ death was an atoning sacrifice for sins.

It is widely known that Christian authors producing their work *before* Luke definitely did have a doctrine of the atonement, i.e., the idea that it was Jesus’ death itself that brought about the removal of the sins of others, that Christ died “for the sake” of others, so that they could be right with God.  That was clearly the teaching of

This is a fundamental issue for understanding the New Testament and early Christianity.  Join the blog and you can read all about it.  Click here for membership options