Christ’s “anamnesis” as the sacrifice
offered before His fight against the devil

Wojciech Kosek

This translation was first published
at Academia.edu on 16 Sep 2020.

DOI of this paper:
10.5281/zenodo.4033147

This translation was published here on 16 Sep 2020.

Abstract

On the basis of the Bible and numerous works of Greek writers, it will be proven that nations of the ancient world, both Jewish and Gentile, had a number of identical cultural practices relating to times of war. The custom to offer “the anamnesis-sacrifice” before battle in order to ensure their god’s memory of the donor during the struggle makes it possible to understand Jesus’ command “do this in memory of Me” (1 Cor 11:24-25), where “this” means “the offering of anamnesis-sacrifice made by Jesus as the Man at His Last Supper, i.e. before His fight against the devil.”

Table of contents:

Introduction.
1.The biblical typological relation between the exodus of Moses and of Israel and the exodus of Jesus and of the Church.
2.The explanation of “commemoration” as the ability of the Passover liturgy to “make something present”.
3.Jesus as the victor in the battle against death and as the leader on the way to life.
4.The ancient custom of the offering of the anamnesis sacrifice in the background of other religious customs among the Greeks.
 4.1.Sacrifices and prayers among the Greeks.
 4.1.1.Sacrifices and propitiatory prayers.
 4.1.2.The sacrifice before leaving with the legation to Achilles.
 4.1.3.Priam’s sacrifice before his dangerous expedition.
 4.1.4.The offering of the daughter as a supplication for a fair wind before the expedition to Troy.
 4.1.5.The Sacrifice of Polyxena before sailing out to sea after the capture of Troy.
 4.1.6.Themistocles’ sacrifice before his way to death.
 4.2.Sacrifices and prayers before the war or the battle.
 4.2.1.The Greeks’ sacrifice before their expedition against Troy.
 4.2.2.The prayer before the duel between Hector and Ajax.
 4.2.3.Achilles’ sacrifice and prayer.
 4.2.4.Sacrifices before the naval battle between the Greeks and Persians at Salamis (480 BC).
 4.2.5.The sacrifice before the Corinthians’ expedition to Sicily (344 BC).
 4.2.6.Alexander the Great’s sacrifices before the war against the Persians (334 BC).
 4.3.The anamnesis sacrifices among the Greeks according to Lysias.
5.Prayers and the anamnesis sacrifices before the fight as a custom among the Jews.
 5.1.The anamnesis sacrifices in the Law of Moses.
 5.1.1.Bread for a memorial (Lev 24:5-9)
 5.1.2.The sacrifices of anamnesis and the trumpets of anamnesis (Num 10:9-10).
 5.2.King Saul offers the anamnesis sacrifices before the crushing defeat of the Philistines.
 5.3.Maccabees’ prayers before the fight.
The completion of the research and its application to the exegesis of the consecratory formula.

Introduction.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians is the oldest biblical writing containing the explanation of the Holy Mass. In chapter 11 St. Paul twice inscribed the words “Do this for My anamnesis.” In traditional translation this means “Do this in memory of Me” or “Do this for the commemoration of Me” as spoken by Christ over the bread and wine (verses 24-25). The essential theme of this article is the interpretation of this injunction.

In the New Testament, four texts clearly contain the Lord Jesus’ words that He spoke over the bread and wine in the Cenacle  [1]. These texts, which are extremely important for the understanding of the liturgy of the Holy Mass, are divided by biblical scholars into two groups  [2]:

(a) 1 Cor 11:23-27 and Luke 22:14-30, where among other words is the phrase τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν, which is translated as “Do this for My anamnesis,” and

(b) Matt 26:26-30 and Mark 14:22-25, where this phrase is not present.

The authors of the first group are St. Paul and St. Luke, the companion of Paul in his evangelizing expeditions in the areas of Asia Minor and Greece. They both knew perfectly the language, literature, religion, and the Greek culture; and their texts were primarily directed to the believers of this particular cultural environment. Therefore, one can suppose that the expression pointed out above can be rightly understood only if it is considered within the wider background of the religion, literature, and culture not only of the Jews but also of the Greeks. The issue of the Eucharistic anamnesis has been explored from the Church Fathers to contemporary Biblical scholars with a wide background of ancient culture and literature, including in particular the Jewish and Greek ones  [3].

Because the command “Do this for My anamnesis” is found only in one strand of the eucharistic tradition (1 Cor 11:24-25; Luke 22:19), some biblical scholars assert that “as is seen by comparison with Mark and Matthew, the memorial command is literarily secondary and therefore unlikely to be authentic”  [4]. This author’s annotation is valuable, however it needs significant correction in one point: comparison of the two groups does not imply that the injunction “Do this for My anamnesis” is not authentic, but that it is an important explanation of Jesus’ sentence in the realities of the Greek culture. It must be so, since St. Mark and St. Matthew under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in a different manner described for their audience the same that St. Paul and St. Luke described for their audience from the Greek culture. It should be also noted that it is the close relationship between the meaning of doing “for the anamnesis” and the explanation contained in 1 Cor 11:26  [5].

The lack of the statement being discussed in the texts of the authors of the second group is valuable information for the interpretation of all four texts: surely this expression does not represent the ability of the liturgy to “make present” the redemptive work of Jesus. “Making present” is given by God as an attribute of the Passover rite, which is the rite on which Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the Passover of the New Covenant. The first two points of this article are devoted to proving this characteristic of Passover and the Eucharist. In the first one, the very important biblical typological parallel between the exodus of Moses and Israel and the exodus of Jesus and the Church is shown. This parallel sets the close relationship between Passover (i.e. the liturgy making present the exodus of the Old Covenant) and the Eucharist (i.e. the liturgy making present the exodus of the New Covenant).

After proof of the existence of the fundamental relationship between Passover and the Eucharist, one will be able to answer the question: What does it mean “to do it for the anamnesis”? The relationship between Jesus’ injunction and the correctly understood explanation of it contained  [6] in St. Paul’s 1 Cor 11:26 will show the depth of the liturgical “making present.”

1. The biblical typological relation between the exodus of Moses and of Israel and the exodus of Jesus and of the Church.

At His Last Supper, Jesus Christ instituted the New Covenant in His Blood. It is an extremely important event which took place on the night directly before the dramatic time of His redemptive Passion. The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and the power of the Pharaoh was preceded by the feast of the lamb, which was the Passover celebrated in the night by the Israelites in honor of God. Similarly, Jesus’ exodus from the world under the power of the devil (cf. Luke 4:6; 2 Tim 2:26) was preceded by the feast of the new Passover, which was celebrated in the night with the apostles as representatives of a new community – the Church.

The exodus from Egypt is shown by the Book of Exodus as a battle in which God won a great victory over the Pharaoh (cf. Exod 15:1-21). God, responding to the obedience of the Israelites who complied with His command to celebrate the feast of the lamb, the Passover (cf. Exod 12:28), intervened on their behalf and led all His people out of slavery and passed them between the miraculously divided waters of the Red Sea to the banks of new life in freedom.

It is worth noting that in the light of the comparative analysis of the biblical phrases “with the strong hand” (ביד חזקה) and “with the outstretched arm” (בזרע נטויה) with similar expressions ranging from Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty (1800 BC), hymns glorifying the Pharaoh-winners show their full capacity as men conquering other nations by their “strong hand”: “the arm of king is regarded as the vehicle by which he conquers”  [7]. Analogically Israelites’ hymn for God (Exod 15:1-21; cf.: Exod 3:19; 6:1.6; 13:3.9.14.16; 15:16), which glorifies “the power of the hand” of God, within the framework of Egypt’s cultural canons reserved for Pharaoh-winners, shows God יהוה as the king-winner, more powerful than the hitherto existing peremptory ruler – the Pharaoh. It is worth mentioning that the analysis of Amarna Letters (about 1400-1360 BC) and particularly of the letter of Abdi-Heba, the king of Jerusalem (in three places he writes that he became a king of Jerusalem thanks to the hand of powerful Pharaoh, whereas the original word “hand” is sonically similar to the Hebrew word זרע – hand, arm, power) prove that inspired authors, adherent to the same cultural environment of Canaan of the fifteenth century before Christ, had also to know this Egyptian expression.

The exodus is a battle in which God won a victory over the Pharaoh. Similarly, one ought to understand Jesus’ departure from this world as the fight in which God gained victory over the devil thus fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah  [8].

The existence of the analogy between the victory of God in Israel’s exodus through the Red Sea and the victory of Jesus in His exodus through the Hades is visible in the resemblance of the literary logic of the two songs: Exod 15:1-19 and Rev 15:3b-4.

Meynet  [9] draws attention to the crucial double question in Exod 15:11, around which the structure of this song was built; he also points out on the occurrence of the analogous structure in the song of Moses and of the Lamb in Rev 15:3b-4, where the central place is occupied by the rhetorical question glorifying God.

God’s responding to the obedience of Jesus, who within the framework of the Paschal Feast before His exodus made the “anamnesis-offering” of Himself  [10], intervened on Jesus’ behalf and led Him out from the life in this world and passed Him through the Abyss to “the bank” of new life; in other words, God brought Jesus out from among the dead (cf. Heb 13:20).

As God closely tied Israel’s departure out of Egypt with the execution of the avenging judgment upon the gods of Egypt (cf. Exod 12:12)  [11], so in Jesus’ departure God inscribed a judgment which the Holy Spirit executes upon the devil, the ruler of this world (cf. John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 3:8).

Just as the departure from the place of celebrating the Paschal Feast and the passage between the waters of the Abyss (the Red Sea) was an act of making the covenant between God and Israel  [12], so similarly Jesus’ departure from the Cenacle and His passage between the darkness of the “Abyss-Death” was an act of establishing the New Covenant in His Blood.

It is worth noting that in Jonah 2:3-7 one can see the illustration of the Lord’s People conviction of the location of the after-death land (i.e. of Sheol) somewhere under sea, at the bottoms of the mountains and lands. By virtue of this relationship between the sea and Sheol one ought to understand the passage of Israel upon the bottom of the Red Sea as the passage through the land of the Death-Abyss. Israelites had to go down into the deep pit, which is the sea bottom, in order to climb up thereafter until they reached the other side of the sea. Israelites under the leadership of the Lord passed through the abyss!  [13]

It was and it is very important for all those who received and receive the faith in Jesus as the Savior that not only He himself passed this way to eternal life but He is the leader for all His people to pass this way. Jesus is the leader to eternal life – ἀρχηγός τῆς ζωῆς  [14]. By virtue of this function of Christ as the leader, the biblical typological relationship fully appears between:

(a) the passage of all Israel under the leadership of Moses and led by God through the Abyss of the waters of the Red Sea to the new life in freedom from the Pharaoh who subjugated them, and

(b) the passage of all the Church under the leadership of Jesus Christ and led by God through the Abyss of Death to the new life in freedom from the devil who subjugates us.

It should be noted that although in His historically single act Jesus passed through death alone, it is, however, thanks to the liturgical “now” contained especially in the Eucharist that Jesus is the leader in this passage for those who want to follow Him to the “other bank” which is eternal life. Still, in this “only” liturgical participation of them all, it appears again the similarity between the exodus of Israel and exodus of the Church. For all Israelites until the end of earthly life, the only way to participate in the exodus is the annual Passover; and it is Passover, God’s liturgical gift for Israel and the heritage of her successive generations that Jesus Christ took into His own divine hands to form of it a new reality – the Eucharist.

2. The explanation of “commemoration” as the ability of the Passover liturgy to “make something present”.

To understand the liturgical “now” of the Eucharist, it is necessary to remember on the basis of the Bible how the Jews understand its archetype, Passover.

The Bible makes it possible to read, in accordance with God’s intention, the essential meaning of the yearly celebration. Passover is not only the remembering of the immemorial past, but first it “makes present”  [15] the events which God has done for his people in Egypt; it is “a redemptive activity of God”  [16]. This specificity of Passover reflects the Hebrew term זכרון meaning “remembrance” (Exod 12:14)  [17]. Poniży  [18] points out the wording contained in the Tractate “Pesachim” X.5, showing the proper manner of understanding and of experiencing the celebration of Passover: “In every generation each person should see himself as if he himself went out from Egypt… Today we are in the passage through the Red Sea … Today we enter into our heritage.”

The celebration of the paschal solemnity is regulated by rules, the faithful pursuance of which should be guarded by everybody, but especially by the leader of this worship assembly. To comply with the prescriptive order of the Passover (in Hebrew “Seder” סדר  [19]), participants of this celebration rely on a special liturgical book, the “Passover Haggadah”  [20]. By comparing  [21] Moses’ speeches in Exod 13:8 and Deut 6:23 concerning the day of the Passover, “Haggadah” explains and proves the Passover’s ability of “making present.”

In Exod 13:8 Moses addresses the Israelites who are just leaving Egypt and explains to them how in the future they will have to explain to their sons the meaning of the Passover celebration: “And you will say to your son in that day, It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.”

Later in Deut 6:20-25, Moses addresses the Israelites who, for the most part on account of their age, were neither witnesses of the Egyptian plagues nor of the exit from slavery because at the time of departure they were either children or not yet conceived (cf. Num 32:11-13). Nevertheless, Moses ordered them in compliance with Exod 13:8 to recount to their sons: “21We were servants under Pharaoh’s yoke in Egypt; and the Lord took us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22And the Lord did great signs and wonders against Egypt, and against Pharaoh and all his house, before our eyes. 23And he took us out from that place, guiding us here to give us this land, as he said in his oath to our fathers” (Deut 6:21-23).

Therefore every Israelite has to have awareness of the participation, thanks to the celebrated liturgy, in the historically single departure from Egypt  [22]. Regelson’s Haggadah (32) clearly teaches this:

“In every generation, one ought to regard himself as though he had personally come out of Egypt. (here is Exod 13:3) Not only our forefathers did the Holy One, blessed is He, redeem, but also ourselves did He redeem with them. As it is said: (here is Deut 6:20-25).”

The Hebrew text, printed beside the English text, is particularly important. Below is the Hebrew text and its literal translation:

in every generation let the manבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדּוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם
perceive his substance / his boneלִרְאוֹת אֵת עַצְמוֹ
as if it went out from Egyptכְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָ מִמִּצְרָיִם

The meaning of this text becomes understandable in comparison to the biblical text describing the Israelites’ going out from Egypt. For when Moses was going out, he took Joseph’s bones (עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף) with him (Exod 13:19). Is it important?

About the importance of bones one can read in Gen 50:25; Josh 24:32; 1 Sam 31:13; 2 Sam 21:12-14; 1 Kgs 13:31; 2 Kgs 23:18; 1 Chr 10:12; 1 Macc 13:25; Ps 34:21; Sir 46:12; 49:10.15; Jer 8:1; Bar 2:24; Ezek 37:1-14. Ska  [23] points out the importance of the act of digging up of Joseph’s bones from under the ground, the Egyptian ground – this is the beginning of the process of coming out of Israel from the state of the slavery, the beginning of the nascency of Israel as the People of God. According to Ska, Exod 13:17-22 represents the transition between the story about plagues and Passover and the story about the passage through the sea. Ska shows that Israel has broken with her own Egyptian past (and that is just why Moses dug up the bones of Joseph) and all the People went off to the new and unknown world. Exod 14:1-31 narrates how to make a definitive transition to this new dimension of the existence.

Exod 13:19 WTT narrates:

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף עִמּוֹ a
כִּי הַשְׁבֵּעַ הִשְׁבִּיעַ אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר b
פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹהִים אֶתְכֶם וְהַעֲלִיתֶם אֶת־עַצְמֹתַי מִזֶּה אִתְּכֶם c

The literal translation is as follows:

And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him,

for he had certainly adjured the children of Israel saying,

God will certainly visit you, and you will carry up my bones with you from here.

The biblical author marked the extraordinary importance of the described event in this verse by the double use of the emphatic sequence  [24] composed of the verb in the infinitive absolute and the same verb in the perfect or imperfect tense:

The first time this sequence appears with the verb שׁבע (to swear); it should be translated as “had certainly adjured.”

The second time this sequence appears with the verb פקד (to visit); it should be rendered as “will certainly visit.”

Such a dual emphasis is very rare in the Bible  [25]: it does not exist anywhere else in Exod 1-18 (i.e. in the literary entirety, within which there is the verse in question here). It occurs four times in the Book of Exodus (13:19; 19:13; 22:22; 23:24), while in the whole Hebrew Bible only forty-six times. Its presence in the text implies that it describes a particularly important event. Thus, Moses’ taking of Joseph’s bones had not only theological but also historical significance. It would have been true since Joseph, as the steward of Egypt and the highest ranking person after Pharaoh, would have issued an order to be buried immediately after his death in the land of Canaan, the land promised by God to the fathers. So Joseph did issue an order, after all in relation to his father Jacob, according to his last will (cf. Gen 49:33-50:14). When Joseph abandoned this possibility, he did so under God’s inspiration for the fulfillment of God’s plan. For it is necessary to remember that it is God who is the source of Joseph’s power for interpreting the dreams revealing His purposes for man or nation (cf. Gen 37:5-10; 40:8; 41:16.25.28.32.38.39).

Therefore one ought to conclude that in compliance with God’s inspiration, the patriarch Joseph wanted his bones to participate in the exodus. In that sense, he and all past and future generations of Israel also partook in the exodus. This historic event was proven to be not only a single act of liberation of Abraham’s descendants in accordance with the covenant God made with Abraham when God passed between halved animals (cf. Gen 15), but also the act of making the eternal covenant by God with all the people, the perfect act done between halved waters of the Red Sea  [26].

Just as the patriarch Joseph took part in the exodus by the fact that his bones were taken from Egypt; so too, according to the Haggadah’s injunction, every Israelite has to perceive his essence (his bone)  [27] as if it came out of Egypt. Every Israelite by the Paschal Liturgy celebrated annually participates in that event from earlier centuries; thus this event constitutes the whole of Israel as the people of God.

It should therefore be stressed that in the Passover liturgy redemptive events do not “become present” because they do not take place at the present time of the contemporary Israelites (as it is usually incorrectly interpreted, unfortunately). However, contemporary Israelites do “become present” at the past time because they actually participate in those past redemptive events from earlier centuries. In accordance with the meaning of the shown biblical texts and “Passover Haggadah,” this and only this is the correct understanding of the terms “become present” and “making present” which describe the relation between the acts of the Passover liturgy and the redemptive events that are represented by these acts.

In the same way one should correctly understand the meaning of the liturgy of the Eucharist as a new Passover in its relation to the exodus of Jesus Christ. Thanks to this liturgy, the redemptive passage through Hades does not take place in our time, but we actually stand by Christ in His time from two thousand years ago to participate in His exodus and to be together with Him and to follow Him on the way through death to life.

This direction of “making present” is confirmed by the conclusion of the above discussed Haggadah text which begins: “In every generation, one ought to regard himself as though he had personally come out of Egypt” (Regelson 32). The final words are: “Therefore, it is our duty to thank, praise, laud, glorify, extol, bless, exalt, and adore Him Who did all of these miracles for our fathers and for ourselves. He has brought us forth from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festive day, from darkness to a great light, and from subjugation to redemption. Let us then recite before Him a new song.”

Similarly in the Eucharist one ought to worship the One Who brought up from Hades the great shepherd Jesus Christ and us together with Him.

3. Jesus as the victor in the battle against death and as the leader on the way to life.

The liturgical “making present” of the redemptive events, given to us by Jesus in the Eucharist, permits every believer to consciously enter into the time of Jesus to follow Him on His way through death to life in order to be under His command in the battle against the devil and to win with Him. St. Luke refers to this role of Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles (3:15) when he shows, in the manner appropriate to the mentality of the Jewish and Greek readers, Christ as “ἀρχηγός τῆς ζωῆς καὶ σωτήρ.” That is to say, Christ as the hero, the master, the commander leading us to life, the savior. How can this be confirmed?

First, it is worth noting that this title “ἀρχηγός” was clearly understood by the Jews and Greeks of that time.

The Jews knew from the Septuagint that “ἀρχηγός”  [28] describes not only the heads of the houses of their families (cf. Exod 6:14), but it also describes God (cf. Jer 3:4 με ἐκάλεσας … ἀρχηγὸν τῆς παρθενίας σου) leading Israel as His bride to the Promised Land, to the land of life in abundance. This route forced them to bear many hardships and finally to take up the fight against the people living there in those days. Thanks to God’s leadership and to the special gifts given first to Moses and then to Joshua, Israel won Canaan. On the basis of the typology, this way and the victorious fight have to be translated into the spiritual way. The Chosen Leader, anointed by God for the mission, is God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Christ’s victory over spiritual powers is expressed in the New Testament, including St. Paul, by using many different terms, such as: θριαμβεύω “to triumph” or “to lead in triumph” (2 Cor 2:14; Col 2:15), βασιλεύω “to reign” (Rom 5:17.21; 1 Cor 15:25; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 11:15.17; 20:4.6), and κυριεύω “to be a ruler” (Rom 14:9; 1 Tim 6:15). The designation of Jesus as Lord “κύριος,” which is the word used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew name of God יהוה , also belongs to these terms; it was used frequently.

The Greeks, in turn, attributed the term “ἀρχηγός” to gods and heroes, i.e. to persons who were models for others  [29]. Now is the time to ask the question so crucial for the exegesis of Paul’s writing about the Holy Eucharist (1 Cor 11). Did the Apostle Paul, during his time of preaching the gospel of God to the Greeks, show them Jesus Christ as the hero, as the winner in the fight against the devil and death?  [30] Jesus is the winner  [31] and the leader (κύριος – ἀρχηγός), the only one who conquered death and who gives life to every creature. He is also the One who at the end of time will give up to God the kingdom acquired in such an extraordinary battle, just after the time when he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power (ὅταν καταργήσῃ πᾶσαν ἀρχὴν καὶ πᾶσαν ἐξουσίαν καὶ δύναμιν 1 Cor 15:24). Now then, was Jesus Christ, thus described, someone about whom the Greek recipients of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians could not listen to without interest? Was this Jesus Christ’s resemblance to the ideal person formed by ages of Hellenic culture? Was this resemblance essential for them and useful for making them able to understand clearly the opus of Savior and the Holy Eucharist, which actually connects with this opus in the deepest manner?

The answer to these questions must be in the affirmative. Why? It is so, because the mentality of this nation was formed by the epics of Homer, the historical works of Hesiod or Polybius (the best Hellenistic historian), and many other historians, orators, and tragedians. All of these men praised the courage and strength of the heroes, who fought with God’s help in defending the moral values and the life of the nation  [32].

For many leaders and warriors, Homer was surely a fascinating teacher. For instance, Alexander the Great had his copy of The Iliad during his expedition to Egypt, and it was The Iliad that he believed was the most valuable possession belonging to him there. According to Plutarch  [33]When a small coffer was brought to him, which those in charge of the baggage and wealth of Dareius thought the most precious thing there, he asked his friends what valuable object they thought would most fittingly be deposited in it. And when many answered and there were many opinions, Alexander himself said he was going to deposit the Iliad there for safe keeping (αὐτὸς ἔφη τὴν Ἰλιάδα φρουρήσειν ἐνταῦθα καταθέμενος). This is attested by many trustworthy authorities. And if what the Alexandrians tell us on the authority of Heracleides is true, then it would seem that Homer was no idle or unprofitable companion for him in his expedition (οὔκουν{οὐκ} ἀργὸς οὐδ᾽ ἀσύμβολος αὐτῷ συστρατεύειν ἔοικεν Ὅμηρος). They say, namely, that after his conquest of Egypt he wished to found a large and populous Greek city which should bear his name, and by the advice of his architects was on the point of measuring off and enclosing a certain site for it. 5 Then, in the night, as he lay asleep, he saw a wonderful vision. A man with very hoary locks and of a venerable aspect appeared to stand by his side and recite these verses: ‘Now, there is an island in the much-dashing sea, In front of Egypt; Pharos is what men call it.’ Accordingly, he rose up at once and went to Pharos…”

Since the Hellenistic period, Alexander the Great was the ideal of a good king  [34]. An important characteristic was his personal involvement in battles at the head of his armies, which became the source of courage and strength for his soldiers. In light of this ideal, recipients of Paul’s letters looked at Jesus Christ, who as the leader of them and of all the New People, had personally engaged in mortal battle against the devil; and who, as the winner, bestowed them with supernatural goods; and who, in a completely new manner, accomplished that worldly ideal of a king-leader  [35].

What is more, St. Paul knew this inspiring literature because he was born in Tarsus and spent his childhood there (cf. Act 22:3) in a cultural center which rivaled Athens and Alexandria  [36]. He frequented the Hellenistic school there where, according to the teaching program, Homer’s epic poems were used to teach the pupils how to read.

It is worth mentioning an important information about St. Paul as a writer and as an expert in Greek, including the following  [37]: Paul had ability to adapt the manner of proclaiming the Gospel to Jewish and Greek listeners; Paul was an outstanding writer of the Greek language; he naturally used expressions of the intellectual elite, as well as popular words of the day of his times; Paul spoke fluent Greek and not only: he excellently perceived its different nuances. In the school’s reading canon, Homer’s works were far superior to those of at least six other outstanding authors of equal talent who could not begin to compete with Homer!  [38]

In turn, it is necessary to say about Paul himself that he lived like his hero, Jesus Christ, because he tirelessly fought the good fight for eternal life for himself and for all those to whom Jesus sent him (cf. 1 Cor 9:16-27; Phil 1:30; 3:14; Col 2:1; 1 Thess 2:2; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7).

Because the Apostle spoke and wrote in a manner appropriate to the mentality of the recipients (cf. 1 Cor 9:20-22), it is not by accident in the First Letter to the Corinthians how he exhorts them to prefer prophecy over speaking in tongues (i.e. the uttering of unintelligible speech) in their public meetings. Paul stresses his point of view by using military terminology in 1 Cor 14:8:

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?”

καὶ γὰρ ἐὰν ἄδηλον σάλπιγξ φωνὴν δῷ, τίς παρασκευάσεται εἰς πόλεμον;

The argument had to be convincing to the recipients. If so, it means that in matters of war, the habit of using a special trumpet to call the army together was familiar to them.

A simple trumpet of a long straight tube was well-known already in antiquity as an instrument for signal and fanfare  [39]. Common was the heritage of military and religious customs of Egypt, Israel, Greece and Rome, and in this the custom of the use of trumpets in the army and at sacral meals (cf. Num 10:9-10). The trumpets were used previously by the people of God and the heathen, especially for calling the people to the sacrifice, and whenever they marched into battle  [40].

About trumpets of ancient Egypt  [41]: “The history of Egyptian music stretches from before 3000 B.C.E. to the present. (…) Mostly it concerns music in religious contexts: texts of hymns and psalms, (…) sacred meals to the accompaniment of music.” “instruments common in ancient Egypt were (…) the straight trumpet (a soldier’s instrument), and the *sistrum (a cult instrument).”

About trumpets of ancient Israel  [42]: “Small gold or silver trumpets of ancient Israel, similar to the Greek salpinx and the Roman tuba. They are mentioned in the Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls as signaling or ceremonial instruments.”

About trumpets of ancient Rome  [43]: “A straight tube of bronze or iron, 1.25-1.6 m long, with a slightly flaring bell, it was first and foremost a military instrument, sounding the attack and retreat in battle. In civilian life it was heard in funeral processions, at games and gladiatorial contests, and in religious rituals, particularly sacrifices.”

The Corinthian Jews knew the habit of using a special trumpet before the battle. They knew it from their own history and from several places in the Old Testament; and surely in the Greek Septuagint translation  [44], the Greeks knew this from the works of Homer  [45], Hesiod, Aeschylus, Plutarch, and many others. Besides, military issues occurred in the everyday life of many of them.

Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC. Since at least Herodotus’ time (Histories, 2.53), Hesiod and Homer have generally been considered the earliest Greek poets whose works have survived  [46].

Aeschylus (c. 525-456 BC) was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. He was an eyewitness to the naval battle at Salamis, and in his play he describes the Greek victory over the Persian fleet in 480 BC:  [47]

“The trumpet with its blast fired all their line; and instantly, at the word of command, with the even stroke of foaming oars they smote the briny deep”:

σάλπιγξ δ᾽ ἀϋτῇ πάντ᾽ ἐκεῖν᾽ ἐπέφλεγεν. εὐθὺς δὲ κώπης ῥοθιάδος ξυνεμβολῇ ἔπαισαν ἅλμην βρύχιον ἐκ κελεύματος.

Plutarch (c. 46 – 120 CE) was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, known primarily for his Lives and Moralia. He wrote about Alexander the Great  [48]:

“after the trumpet had sounded the signal, he attacked the walls”

καὶ τῇ σάλπιγγι σημήνας ἀπεπειρᾶτο τῶν τειχῶν.

This conclusion allows one to go to the second part of the present article, which describes the ancient military traditions of the Jews and Greeks, among which the “anamnesis-offering” played an important role.

4. The ancient custom of the offering of the anamnesis sacrifice in the background of other religious customs among the Greeks.

The summarized analogies discussed earlier between Israel’s departure from Egypt and Jesus’ departure from this world showed that Jesus’ passage through Hades should be regarded as the struggle that He fought against the enemy of God and humanity – the devil. The interpretive comparison of basic characteristics of the mentality of the Corinthians, the recipients of Paul’s Letter explaining the Eucharist for them (1 Cor 11), led to the same interpretative key.

Now the studies need to broaden the knowledge of the war traditions of the ancient peoples of Europe, Asia, or Egypt for many centuries before the time of the New Testament, especially of the Hebrews and Greeks  [49].

It must be pointed out that there was the very important custom of offering a special sacrifice before a fight or before a dangerous journey. The aim of such sacrifice was to obtain the help of the gods, in whose effective intervention the donor believed  [50].

The next most common religious elements of the peoples of antiquity are: the sacrifices being offered as a thanksgiving for winning a battle and returning safely from an anabasis, the pouring of wine as a drink offering, the burning of animals as an offering, and the lifting up of pure hands in prayer.

The presentation of the “anamnesis-offering” on the broader background of other religious traditions will prove the existence of a common religious language in which one communicated with the true God and with the ancient gods. The Apostle Paul could refer to the fundamental concepts of this language, when he took on the task of the explaining the holy mystery of the Eucharist to the Greeks and Jews.

4.1. Sacrifices and prayers among the Greeks.

Now selected Greek literary descriptions will be presented, beginning with the earliest of Homer’s works from about the 9th-7th century BCE  [51], which are the source of knowledge of religious and war customs. It should be noted at the beginning that although The Iliad is an epic poem and is therefore not strictly an historical document, its author did not aim to show a world absolutely lacking in reality. On the contrary, Homer had to depict faithfully  [52] the religious, social, and military customs in order that his fictitious scenes depicting the history of the heroic struggle of the Greeks and Trojans would be able to influence the listener or reader by the power of realism. The same rule applies to the religious relation between heroes and gods. The offered vows and sacrifices and the spoken words of prayers had to reflect realistically the religious mentality of the ancient people. Specific examples presented below will fully show the validity of this understanding of Homer’s text. Scholars specializing in extra-biblical Greek understand it in the same way  [53].

In selected passages, the basic form of the Greek will be given in parentheses.

4.1.1. Sacrifices and propitiatory prayers.

The understanding of sin (ἁμαρτία) as a violation of the divine order and hence the appearance of divine punishment in human life, is the reason people commonly appeased the gods for their sins by prayer, drink-offerings, and burnt-offerings. Before proceeding to the sacred action, one should wash his hands; and during the prayer, one should raise his hands. This universal custom, well known in the Bible  [54], is present also in The Iliad  [55].

Il. 1:446-448: they made haste to set in array for the god the holy hecatomb around the well-built altar,

Il. 1:449-450: and then they washed their hands (χερνίπτομαι) and took up the barley grains. Then Chryses lifted up (ἀνέχω) his hands (χείρ), and prayed aloud (εὔχομαι) for them: “Hear me, god…”: χερνίψαντο δ᾽ ἔπειτα καὶ οὐλοχύτας ἀνέλοντο. τοῖσιν δὲ Χρύσης μεγάλ᾽ εὔχετο χεῖρας ἀνασχών

And Il. 9:499-501 in the literal translation: By burnt-offerings and pleasant prayer, by drink-offering (λοιβῇ) and the savour of burnt sacrifice (κνίσῃ), the imploring (λισσόμενοι) people propitiate when any man transgresses and sins (ἁμάρτῃ): καὶ μὲν τοὺς θυέεσσι καὶ εὐχωλῇς ἀγανῇσι λοιβῇ τε κνίσῃ τε παρατρωπῶσ᾽ ἄνθρωποι λισσόμενοι, ὅτε κέν τις ὑπερβήῃ καὶ ἁμάρτῃ.

where: λοιβή – libation = drink-offering

4.1.2. The sacrifice before leaving with the legation to Achilles.

When the king Agamemnon wronged king Achilles, he took offence; and from that time he and his people have not taken part in the battles. This was the reason why Agamemnon’s troops began to suffer defeat. Therefore when Agamemnon recognized his mistake, he decided to send a legation to fulfill the very difficult task of persuading Achilles to return with his army to fight against the Trojans. Before leaving for this mission, the chosen men washed their hands and then prayed and offered the drinking-sacrifice.

Il. 9:171-178  [56]:

171 And now bring ye water for our hands, and bid keep holy silence,

φέρτε δὲ χερσὶν ὕδωρ, εὐφημῆσαί τε κέλεσθε

where: εὐφημῆσαί – εὐφημέω – avoid all unlucky words, during sacred rites: hence, as the surest mode of avoiding them, keep a religious silence; κέλεσθε – κέλομαι – urge, exhort, command;

172 that we may make prayer unto Zeus, son of Cronos, if so be he will have compassion upon us.”

ὄφρα Διὶ Κρονίδῃ ἀρησόμεθ᾽, αἴ κ᾽ ἐλεήσῃ.

173 So said he and the words that he spake were pleasing unto all.

174 Then heralds poured water over their hands

αὐτίκα κήρυκες μὲν ὕδωρ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἔχευαν,

where: ἔχευαν – χέω – pour out, let flow

175 and youths filled the bowls brim full of drink,

176 and served out to all, pouring first drops for libation into the cups.

νώμησαν δ᾽ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενοι δεπάεσσιν

where: ἐπάρχω in the phrase δεπάεσσιν ἐπάρχεσθαι: to begin with the cups, i.e. by offering libations to the gods before the wine was served.

177 But when they had made libation and had drunk to their hearts’ content,

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τ᾽ ἔπιόν θ᾽ ὅσον ἤθελε θυμός,

where: σπεῖσάν – σπένδω – to pour or make a drink–offering

178 they went forth from the hut of Agamemnon, son of Atreus.

4.1.3. Priam’s sacrifice before his dangerous expedition.

It was very important for a man to pray to his god and offer him the libation before an expedition so that he would return home safely (οἴκαδ᾽ ἱκέσθαι).

Before Priam  [57], the king of Troy, went to the enemy camp to beg Achilles for the body of Hector (his son who was killed by Achilles), he washed his hands, made an offering by pouring wine from the golden cup, and lifted up the prayer to his god that he would allow him to return safely from this extremely dangerous expedition.

The words of Priam’s wife, bearing him wine in the golden cup so that he might make the libation before they went out, are especially significant (Il. 24:286-287): “Take now, pour libation to father Zeus, and pray that thou mayest come back home from the midst of the foemen” (τῆ σπεῖσον Διὶ πατρί, καὶ εὔχεο οἴκαδ᾽ ἱκέσθαι ἂψ ἐκ δυσμενέων ἀνδρῶν).

And Priam’s answer (24:301): “Good is it to lift up hands to Zeus, if so be he will have pity”: ἐσθλὸν γὰρ Διὶ χεῖρας ἀνασχέμεν αἴ κ᾽ ἐλεήσῃ.

After Priam said these words, “Then, when he had washed his hands (νιψάμενος), he took the cup (κύπελλον) from his wife and then offered a prayer (εὔχετ᾽ ἔπειτα), standing in the midst of the court (στὰς μέσῳ ἕρκει), and poured forth the wine (λεῖβε δὲ οἶνον) with a look toward heaven (οὐρανὸν εἰσανιδών), and spake aloud, saying: ‘Father Zeus…’”(24:305-307).

Washing hands before liturgical acts, well known in the Bible (cf. Exod 30:18-21; 40:30; 2 Chr 4:6), was the universal custom among ancient peoples. Lifting up one’s hands for prayer was also a common custom of that time (cf. Exod 9:29; 1 Kgs 8:38.54; 2 Chr 6:12; 28-29; Job 11:13; Ps 28:2; 44:21; 63:5; 87:10; 134:2; 141:2; 143:6; Sir 48:12; Isa 1:15; Lam 2:19; 2 Macc 14:34; 1 Tim 2:8).

Finally one should yet pay attention to the words:

(Il. 24:327) and his kinsfolk all followed wailing aloud as for one faring to his death.

φίλοι δ᾽ ἅμα πάντες ἕποντο πόλλ᾽ ὀλοφυρόμενοι ὡς εἰ θάνατον δὲ κιόντα.

Themistocles’ sacrifice before his way to death is analogous (see 4.1.6.).

4.1.4. The offering of the daughter as a supplication for a fair wind before the expedition to Troy.

According to the historic works of Herodotus as well as the tragedies of Euripides  [58], when the Greeks set out for Troy, adverse winds prevented the sailing of the fleet. The seer Calchas prophesied that Agamemnon had offended the goddess Artemis by an impious boast, and she had sent the head-winds. According to Calchas, Artemis would be propitiated only by the sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia. Finally Agamemnon lured his daughter to Aulis on the pretext that she was to be married to Achilles. When Iphigenia was sacrificed, the adverse winds were removed because Artemis changed them after the sacrifice. The fleet then sailed for Troy.

St. Gregory Nazianzen mentions it (καὶ τὴν ἐπὶ Τροίας θυσίαν τῆς βασιλικῆς κόρης: and the sacrifice of the royal maid before the expedition to Troy) as being blameworthy. He mentions it among other historic sacrifices of people  [59].

4.1.5. The Sacrifice of Polyxena before sailing out to sea after the capture of Troy.

In Euripides’ tragedy  [60] after the capture of Troy, the Greeks wanted to set sail for their homeland. Dead Achilles appeared to them; and, under threat of suspension of favorable winds, he demanded for himself the sacrifice of Polyxena, the daughter of the king of Troy. The sacrifice was really offered by pouring out her blood over the tomb of Achilles. The act of offering was preceded by the proclamation of silence and by the prayer of all the gathered people. The prayer was as it follows (535-542): “…accept the offering (δέξαι χοάς)… and come to drink the black blood of a pure girl (κόρης ἀκραιφνὲς αἷμ᾽), which we are offering you (ὅ σοι δωρούμεθα); oh! be propitious to us (πρευμενὴς δ᾽ ἡμῖν γενου); grant that we may loose our prows … and, meeting with a prosperous voyage from Ilium, all come to our country (ἐς πάτραν μολεῖν).”

And the prayer and sacrifice were answered:

1289-1292: I perceive a breeze just rising to waft us home (πρὸς οἶκον). May we reach our country (ἐς πάτραν) well and find all well at home (δόμοις), released from troubles here!

It should be noted that Euripides’ tragedy strongly influenced the next generations. For example, in the works of Ovid and Seneca, a similar scene of offering of a young girl is contained  [61].

4.1.6. Themistocles’ sacrifice before his way to death.

Themistocles, who used to offer sacrifices before the battle or dangerous travel, left in the same way for travel to death and eternity  [62]:

“having decided that his best course was to put a fitting end to his life, [5] he made a sacrifice to the gods (ἔθυσε τοῖς θεοῖς), then called his friends together, gave them a farewell clasp of his hand, and, as the current story goes, drank bull’s blood, or as some say, took a quick poison, and so died in Magnesia, in the sixty-fifth year of his life….”

4.2. Sacrifices and prayers before the war or the battle.

In order to obtain a god’s blessing during times of war, the Greeks used to offer sacrifices to him.

4.2.1. The Greeks’ sacrifice before their expedition against Troy.

Before the Greeks left from Aulis for the military expedition against Troy (Ilion), they offered sacrifices on the altar: Il. 2:303-308  [63]:

“(303-304) It was but as yesterday or the day before, when the ships of the Achaeans were gathering in Aulis, laden with woes for Priam and the Trojans; (305-306) and we round about a spring were offering (ἕρδομεν) to the immortals upon the holy altars (κατὰ βωμοὺς) hecatombs that bring fulfillment (τεληέσσας ἑκατόμβας), (307-308) beneath a fair plane-tree from whence flowed the bright water; then appeared a great portent (σῆμα)….”

where in 305-306: ἕρδομεν – ἔρδω – offer a sacrifice;

τεληέσσας – τελήεις – perfect, complete, of victims.

4.2.2. The prayer before the duel between Hector and Ajax.

The duel between David and the Philistine Goliath in the Bible (cf. 1 Sam 17) has its counterpart in the duel between the Trojan Hector and the Greek Ajax. Just as in the Bible (cf. 1 Sam 17:8-9), the Greeks and Trojans agreed that instead of fighting between the armies, a duel would take place and the army whose representative killed their enemy would be declared the winner and would take the spoils of war. A prayer preceded the fight, just as it is universally practiced among people all over the world  [64].

Il. 7:192-196 and 200-201  [65]:

“For I deem that I shall vanquish goodly Hector. But come now, while I am doing on me my battle gear, make ye prayer (εὔχεσθε) the while to king Zeus, son of Cronos, in silence by yourselves, that the Trojans learn naught thereof nay, or openly, if you will, since in any case we fear no man … So spake he, and they made prayer (εὔχοντο) to king Zeus, son of Cronos; and thus would one speak with a glance up to the broad heaven (ἰδὼν εἰς οὐρανὸν).”

where: εὔχεσθε, εὔχοντο – εὔχομαι – pray

4.2.3. Achilles’ sacrifice and prayer.

Homer, Il. 16:225-252 describes what king Achilles did when he sent his closest friend into battle at the head of his troops  [66]:

“had he a fair-fashioned cup, wherefrom neither was any other man wont to drink the flaming wine, nor was he wont to pour drink offerings to any other of the gods save only to father Zeus. This cup he then took from the chest and cleansed it first with sulphur, and thereafter washed it in fair streams of water; and himself he washed his hands (νίψατο δ᾽ αὐτὸς χεῖρας), and drew flaming wine. Then he made prayer (εὔχετ᾽ ἔπειτα), standing in the midst of the court, and poured forth the wine (λεῖβε δὲ οἶνον), looking up to heaven (οὐρανὸν εἰσανιδών); … ‘Zeus, thou king, Dodonaean, Pelasgian, … even so now also fulfill thou for me this my desire. Myself verily will I abide in the gathering of the ships, but my comrade am I sending forth amid the host of the Myrmidons to war: … But when away from the ships he hath driven war and the din of war, then all-unscathed let him come back to the swift ships (ἐπὶ νῆας ἵκοιτο) with all his arms, and his comrades that fight in close combat,”

where: νίψατο – νίπτω – wash; εὔχετ᾽ – εὔχομαι – pray, vow; λεῖβε – λείβω – pour; ἵκοιτο – ἱκνέομαι – come to, arrive at, reach.

See also Homer, Od. 23:258-259  [67]: “the gods (θεοὶ) have indeed caused thee to come back (ἱκέσθαι) to thy well-built house (οἶκον) and thy native land (σὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν).”

4.2.4. Sacrifices before the naval battle between the Greeks and Persians at Salamis (480 BC).

The description is as follows [68]:

“[2] But Themistocles was sacrificing (σφαγιαζομένῳ) alongside the admiral’s trireme. There three prisoners of war were brought to him, of visage most beautiful to behold, conspicuously adorned with raiment and with gold. (…) When Euphrantides the seer (μάντις) caught sight of them, (…) he clasped Themistocles by the hand and bade him consecrate the youths, and sacrifice them all to Dionysus Carnivorous, with prayers of supplication; for on this wise would the Hellenes have salvation and victory (σωτηρίαν τε καὶ νίκην [69] [3] Themistocles was terrified, feeling that the word of the seer (μάντευμα) was monstrous and shocking; but the multitude, who, as is wont to be the case in great struggles and severe crises, looked for salvation (σωτηρίαν [70] rather from unreasonable than from reasonable measures, invoked the god with one voice (τὸν θεὸν ἅμα κοινῇ κατεκαλοῦντο φωνῇ), dragged the prisoners to the altar (βωμῷ), and compelled the fulfillment of the sacrifice (θυσίαν), as the seer (μάντις) commanded. At any rate, this is what Phanias the Lesbian says, and he was a philosopher, and well acquainted with historical literature.”

The phenomenon of prophecy is of course well known in the Bible. Misleading prophets were frequently acting alongside the true prophets of God. Euphrantides the seer  [71], in accordance with the custom of that time, took part in the military expedition to make key decisions in the name of the gods.

The same in the Bible: 1 Sam 14:36-37; 23:2; 30:7-8; 1 Kgs 22:2-39.

4.2.5. The sacrifice before the Corinthians’ expedition to Sicily (344 BC).

The description is as follows [72]:

“Furthermore, Timoleon himself journeyed to Delphi and sacrificed to the god (ἔθυσε τῷ θεῷ), and as he descended into the place of the oracle (εἰς τὸ μαντεῖον), he received the following sign. From the votive offerings suspended there a fillet which had crowns and figures of Victory embroidered upon it slipped away and fell directly upon the head of Timoleon, so that it appeared as if he were being crowned by the god and thus sent forth upon his undertaking (ἑπὶ τὰς πράξεις). And now (…) he set sail (ἀνήχθη – ἀνάγω).”

4.2.6. Alexander the Great’s sacrifices before the war against the Persians (334 BC).

The description is as follows [73]:

Plutarch’s description shows the role of oracles in Alexander’s life and also the role of Homeric heroes and customs described by him:

“14 [1] And now a general assembly of the Greeks was held at the Isthmus, where a vote was passed to make an expedition against Persia with Alexander, and he was proclaimed their leader. (…) [4] And now, wishing to consult the god concerning the expedition against Asia, he went to Delphi (βουλόμενος δὲ τῷ θεῷ χρήσασθαι περὶ τῆς στρατείας ἦλθεν εἰς Δελφούς); and since he chanced to come on one of the inauspicious days, when it is not lawful to deliver oracles, in the first place he sent a summons to the prophetess. And when she refused to perform her office and cited the law in her excuse, he went up himself and tried to drag her to the temple, whereupon, as if overcome by his ardour, she said: ‘Thou art invincible, my son!’ On hearing this, Alexander said he desired no further prophecy, but had from her the oracle which he wanted.”

where: χρήσασθαι – χράω – deliver an oracle; στρατείας – στρατεία – warfare

“14 [5] Moreover, when he set out upon his expedition, it appears that there were many signs from heaven (σημεῖα παρὰ τοῦ δαιμονίου), and, among them, the image of Orpheus at Leibethra (it was made of cypress-wood) sweated profusely at about that time. Most people feared the sign (σημεῖον), but Aristander bade Alexander be of good cheer, assured that he was to perform deeds worthy of song and story, which would cost poets and musicians much toil and sweat to celebrate.”

“15 [1] (…) [4] Then, going up to Ilium (εἰς Ἴλιον), he sacrificed to Athena (ἔθυσε τῇ Ἀθηνᾷ) and poured libations to the heroes (τοῖς ἥρωσιν ἔσπεισε). Furthermore, the gravestone of Achilles he anointed with oil (τὴν δὲ Ἀχιλλέως στήλην ἀλειψάμενος λίπα), ran a race by it with his companions, naked, as is the custom, and then crowned it with garlands (ἐστεφάνωσε), pronouncing the hero happy in having, while he lived, a faithful friend, and after death, a great herald of his fame.”

where: ἔσπεισε – σπένδω – pour; make a drink-offering (because before drinking wine a portion was poured on the table, hearth, or altar); Ilium is the Homeric Troy.

“to make sacrifices” (θύω) in the Bible: Gen 31:54 (Jacob); 46:1 (Jacob); Num 22:40 (Balac); 1 Sam 1:4 (Helkana in the temple); 11:15 (in Gilgal, where Saul was made king); 1 Kgs 8:63 (Solomon – when he dedicated the temple of the Lord); 19:21 (Elisaie – when he was called by Eliu to be a prophet); 1 Chr 29:21 (David); 2 Krn 15:11 (Asa – of the war spoils).

libation – to make a drink-offering (of wine): σπένδω; in the Bible: Gen 35:14 (Jacob); Exod 25:29; 30:9; 38:12; Num 4:7; 28:7 (according to the Law); 2 Sam 23:16 and 1 Chr 11:18 (by David – water which was brought for him by his warriors at the risk of their life); Sir 50:15 (by Aaron as the high priest); Hos 9:4 (by Israelites); Jer 7:18; 19:13; 39:29; 51:17.19.25; Ezek 20:28 (by Israelites to idols); Flp 2:17; 2 Tm 4:6 (Paul’s blood will be poured out like a libation).

τῷ θεῷ χρήσασθαι (χράω) περὶ τῆς στρατείας – ask god for an oracle concerning the expedition. In the Bible the word χράω does not appear in this sense, but other terms are applied instead, especially connected with the noun κρίσις, eg. the Aaron’s oracular breastplate: τὸ λογεῖον τῆς κρίσεως (Exod 28:29.30); Num 27:21: ἐπερωτάω τὴν κρίσιν τῶν δήλων ἔναντι κυρίου – ask before the Lord the judgment of the Urim. See also 1 Macc 3:48: the scroll of the law was used by Judas Maccabeus to ask God before the battle.

4.2.7. Sacrifices before Alexander the Great’s capture of Tyre (332 B.C.).

The description is as follows: [74]

The description below stresses the role of the seer who offered the sacrifice to the gods before the struggle and interpreted the oracle obtained from them. It also shows the importance of the trumpet by which the commander announced the beginning of the fight.

“The siege of the city had the following issue. (…) Aristander the seer made a sacrifice (Ἀρίστανδρος ὁ μάντις ἐσφαγιάζετο), and after taking the omens (καὶ τὰ σημεῖα κατιδὼν), declared very confidently to the bystanders that the city would certainly be captured during that month. His words produced laughter and jesting, since it was then the last day of the month, and the king, seeing that he was perplexed, and being always eager to support his prophecies (συμφιλοτιμούμενος ἀεὶ τοῖς μαντεύμασιν), gave orders to reckon that day, not as the thirtieth of the month, but as the twenty-eighth; and then, after the trumpet had sounded the signal (τῇ σάλπιγγι σημήνας), he attacked the walls with greater vigour than he had at first intended. The assault became fierce, and even those troops which had been left in camp could not restrain themselves, but ran in throngs to help the assailants, and the Tyrians gave up the fight. So Alexander took the city on that day.”

4.3. The anamnesis sacrifices among the Greeks according to Lysias.

In The Second Speech of Lysias  [75] (No. 39) is the fragment where the orator mentions the Athenians’ defensive naval battle under Salamis when they fought victoriously against the fleet of Xerxes, the King of Persia. In the following sentence, one should pay close attention  [76] to its thorough analysis and exceptional significance:

ποῖαι δ᾽οὐχ ἱκετεῖαι θεῶν ἐγένοντο ἢ θυσιῶν ἀναμνήσεις,

The verse is correctly and strictly translated:

What supplications to the gods were not performed, or [what] anamneses of sacrifices [were not performed].

Because the word θυσιῶν is Genitivus qualitatis, the last part can be translated as “sacrificial anamneses” (anamnesis which are sacrifices).

In Turasiewicz’s translation  [77]:

“What supplications were not sent up to the gods, what sacrifices were not remembered!”

In Lamb’s translation  [78]:

“What supplications, what reminders of sacrifices, were not sent up to Heaven!”

In Lamb’s translation, the original grammatical structure of the Greek text is preserved: one predicate refers to two direct objects. Putting the verb in the place of the substantive ἀναμνήσεις, Turasiewicz introduced an additional predicate. Lamb’s translation is clearly better.

To check whether it is important in the Greek language to notice that specific grammatical relation, one should try to find a single sentence in which the verb relates to two direct objects and is between those objects.

Nowadays, the easiest way to perform this task is to do it in the Greek biblical text with the help of a computer program  [79].

After the command was executed, the following two clauses were found:

BGT Job 7:12 πότερον θάλασσά εἰμι ἢ δράκων ὅτι κατέταξας ἐπ᾽ ἐμὲ φυλακήν

Am I a sea or a Dragon, that You have set a watch over me?

BGT Jas 3:12 a μὴ δύναται, ἀδελφοί μου, συκῆ ἐλαίας ποιῆσαι ἢ ἄμπελος σῦκα;

Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs?

For example, it would be worthwhile to perform the analogous research in the Greek extra-biblical literature in the on-line Perseus Digital Library  [80], but this would exceed the scope of this article. However, one example is this passage from The Iliad, 1:93:

οὔ τ᾽ ἄρ ὅ γ᾽ εὐχωλῆς ἐπιμέμφεται οὐδ᾽ ἑκατόμβης,

not because of a vow (Apollo) blames, nor [because of] a hecatomb.

To complete the analysis of the text from The Second Speech of Lysias one should also pay attention to the Greek word “θυσιῶν” from the word “θυσία” meaning “burnt-offering” or “sacrifice,” found mostly in the plural  [81] and also well known in Israel  [82].

In conclusion, according to The Second Speech of Lysias (No. 39), in order to obtain the victory in the naval battle from the gods, the Athenians raised to them supplications (ἱκετεῖαι θεῶν) and anamneses of burnt sacrifices (θυσιῶν ἀναμνήσεις).

5. Prayers and the anamnesis sacrifices before the fight as a custom among the Jews.

The Greeks were accustomed to praying and offering anamnesis sacrifices before the battle. The same custom was practiced among the Jews in the Old Testament.

5.1. The anamnesis sacrifices in the Law of Moses.

In the Bible there are very important texts which in the translation of the Septuagint contain the expression εἰς ἀνάμνησιν.

5.1.1. Bread for a memorial (Lev 24:5-9)

In the Holiness Code belonging to the Book of Leviticus  [83], there is the following fragment which, in the translation of the Septuagint, contains the expression εἰς ἀνάμνησιν. An English translation of this text is given below, and the Greek words and phrases essential for an understanding of the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (among them 11:24-25) are highlighted:

And you shall take fine flour, and make of it twelve loaves (…) and you shall put them in two rows (…) on the pure table (ἐπὶ τὴν τράπεζαν τὴν καθαρὰν – cf. 1 Cor 10:21) before the Lord. And you shall put on each row pure incense and salt; and they will be as loaves for a memorial, set forth before the Lord (καὶ ἔσονται εἰς ἄρτους εἰς ἀνάμνησιν προκείμενα τῷ κυρίω). On the sabbath-day they shall be set forth before the Lord continually before the children of Israel, for an everlasting covenant (διαθήκη). And they shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat them in the holy place: for this is their most holy portion (ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων) of the offerings made to the Lord (ἀπὸ τῶν θυσιαζομένων τῷ κυρίῳ), a perpetual statute” (Lev 24:5-9).

There is a subtle difference between the MT text and the LXX text of Lev 24:7.

In the MT, because וְהָיְתָה is the feminine verb, it is either the row (מַעֲרֶכֶת – a noun of feminine gender) or the incense (לְבֹנָה – a noun of feminine gender) that the sentence talks about: וְהָיְתָה לַלֶּחֶם לְאַזְכָּרָה אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָה.

It can be translated as:

(a) and it (row) will be as the bread, as a memorial-offering, an offering burnt for the Lord,

(b) and it (incense) will be for the bread as a memorial-offering, an offering burnt for the Lord  [84].

In the LXX, because προκείμενα is a participle of neuter gender and only τὸ θέμα (row) is a noun of neuter gender in this sentence, it is necessary to understand that it is two rows (rows of loaves with the incense and salt on them) that this sentence talks about:

and they (two rows) will be as loaves for a memorial, set forth before the Lord

καὶ ἔσονται εἰς ἄρτους εἰς ἀνάμνησιν προκείμενα τῷ κυρίω

In the MT one ought to notice אַזְכָּרָה which is a special kind of offering, i.e. the memorial offering.

There are six places in the Bible  [85] where this important term appears as אַזְכָּרָתָהּ: Lev 2:2.9.16; 5:12; 6:8; Num 5:26. אַזְכָּרָתָהּ means “its memorial-offering” because it is the portion of the meal offering; hence it is תָהּ (“of her” / “its”) at the end of אַזְכָּרָתָהּ. It is a chosen part because it is burnt for God; the priest shall turn it into smoke on the altar, as a burnt offering of pleasing odor to the Lord. This portion of the offering was very important and holy. In these places in the LXX, the term אַזְכָּרָתָהּ is rendered as τὸ μνημόσυνον.

Only in one place in the LXX, in Lev 24:7, the term אַזְכָּרָה is not in the form אַזְכָּרָתָהּ, but לְאַזְכָּרָה; it is translated εἰς ἀνάμνησιν. It is not a part of sacrifice, but it is itself a sacrifice. And only this kind is to be offered for God not by burning, but by eating by the high-priest in the holy place. This is the right understanding of the text in the light of the lexical analysis performed above.

The function of these both kinds is the same: the offered sacrifice is to be a memorial, something done to arouse the memory of God. However, the bread for anamnesis (εἰς ἀνάμνησιν in Lev 24:7) seems to be the best figure of the bred which is eaten as Christ’s anamnesis (cf. 1 Cor 11:24-25) in the holy place of the New Covenant – in every place (cf. Mal 1:11) where the Eucharist is celebrated.

In the LXX text, the phrase “εἰς ἀνάμνησιν” is the same as in 1 Cor 11:24-25 and Luke 22:14-30. It is usually rendered as “in memory,” i.e. “for the special kind of reminder of Jesus’ life.” Only when the Old Testament vocabulary of the Septuagint is taken into account, this understanding of “anamnesis” appears as being not compatible with the intention of the inspired author. Why? Because it is the Septuagint that is Paul’s Bible  [86].

It is necessary to notice here two important linguistic questions:

(a) When the phrase “εἰς ἀνάμνησιν” is translated as “in remembrance” or “in memory,” the function of “making present” is connected with it. But the phrase “εἰς + accusative” expresses not only the function of something. It can also express the essential feature of an entity or being. The phrase “εἰς ἀνάμνησιν” has the same logic as the expression “εἰς γυναῖκα” (cf. Gen 12:19; 20:12; 34:4) which means “as a wife” and not “in a wife” and not only “for a wife.” Thus she is the wife of somebody, so then “being the wife” is her essential feature, not only her function. The same logic is in many other examples  [87]: ἔσται εἰς λαόν – he shall be a people (Gen 48:19); ἔσται εἰς ἄρχοντα – he shall be ruler (Judg 10:18); ἔσῃ εἰς ἄνδρα – be a man (1 Kgs 2:2); ἔσομαι αὐτοῖς εἰς θεόν, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔσονταί μοι εἰς λαόν – I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Heb 8:10).

The sacrificial loaves being put before the Lord are to be “as the remembrance” or simply “the remembrance” or “the incessant remembrance of Israel before the Lord.” So this “remembrance” in Lev 24:7 is directed towards the future and not towards the past, as it could be mistakenly understood in the case of both the Greek (εἰς ἀνάμνησιν) and Hebrew (לְאַזְכָּרָה) expression, i.e. “in remembrance of the past events.”

(b) Because the phrase “εἰς ἀνάμνησιν” in Lev 24:7 is the translation of the Hebrew “אַזְכָּרָה,” it has the meaning “as the sacrifice of memory” or “as the memorial offering” because “אַזְכָּרָה” actually bears such a meaning.

It can be inferred from both the texts of Lev 24:5-9, the part of the Holiness Code, that:

(a) the anamnesis here is not an act of mind to make the past events present; it is not a calling to mind; it is not a recollection,

(b) the anamnesis is an offering (cf. Lev 24:7),

(c) the anamnesis is the most important kind of offerings consumed by fire (burnt) or by the high-priest (cf. Lev 24:9),

(d) the function of anamnesis is not to make the past events present,

(e) the anamnesis is before the face of the Lord to remind Him of Israel-donor as His covenant partner (cf. Lev 24:8); this is the right function of the anamnesis sacrifice.

It is worth to notice two final remarks about Lev 24:7:

The MT does not specify whether the row or rather the incense is this burnt sacrifice. The LXX unequivocally points out that two rows of bread are this sacrifice. They are some kind of sacrifices in general, not of the burnt sacrifices (as it is according to the MT). They are offered by an act of eating, not by an act of burning.

This role of the Septuagint to narrow the semantic area of Hebrew word to one object is the same as in the case of Isa 7:14, where the Hebrew word עַלְמָה means a virgin or a young woman newly married; in the LXX the Greek word παρθένος means a virgin only. The perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus fulfilled this translation, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

One can suppose that also Holy Spirit’s inspiration caused that Lev 24:7 in the LXX unequivocally points out, that it is two rows of the bread that is the anamnesis (as a kind of sacrifice). The bread eaten by the priest in the holy place is the anamnesis sacrifice; its typological meaning is fulfilled by the Bread offered in the Cenacle by Jesus and eaten by His disciples congregated unto Him.

5.1.2. The sacrifices of anamnesis and the trumpets of anamnesis (Num 10:9-10).

The next fragment of the Septuagint which contains the word “ἀνάμνησις” appears in the Book of Numbers (10:9-10). It relates God’s speech directed to Moses. The literal translation of the Greek text is presented below to show its specificity  [88]:

LXE Num 10:9 And if ye shall go forth to war in your land against your enemies that are opposed to you (ἀνθεστηκότας ὑμῖν), then shall ye sound with the trumpets (σημανεῖτε ταῖς σάλπιγξιν); and ye shall be had in remembrance (ἀναμνησθήσεσθε) before the Lord (ἔναντι κυρίου), and ye shall be saved (διασωθήσεσθε) from your enemies. 10 And in the days of your gladness, and in your feasts, and in your new moons, ye shall sound with the trumpets (σαλπιεῖτε ταῖς σάλπιγξιν) at your whole-burnt-offerings (ἐπὶ τοῖς ὁλοκαυτώμασιν), and at the sacrifices of your salvations / of your returns (ἐπὶ ταῖς θυσίαις τῶν σωτηρίων ὑμῶν); and there shall be a memorial for you (ἔσται ὑμῖν ἀνάμνησις anamnesis) before your God (ἔναντι τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν): I am the Lord your God.

In the LXX the phrase ἔσται ὑμῖν ἀνάμνησις ἔναντι τοῦ θεοῦ ὑμῶν translates as “and there shall be a memorial for you before your God.”

However, in the MT the phrase וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לְזִכָּרוֹן לִפְנֵי אֱלֹהֵיכֶם is different at the beginning and translates as “and they [trumpets and / or sacrifices] will be a memorial (זִכָּרוֹן) for you before your God.”

This phrase must be understood as: they [sacrifices accompanied with the sound of trumpets] will be your zikkaron (anamnesis) sacrifice which is the sacrifice that reminds the Lord of you [trying to ensure His aid].

When this Hebrew phrase from verse 10 is taken into account, the meaning of both texts is that it is the offering act (the priestly act of offering favored sacrifices to God on the solemn days, accompanied with the sound of special trumpets) that God called “anamnesis.” It is also important that this act “is” in some way before His face and reminds Him of Israel.

God in verse 9 commands Israel that she, in the moment of threat and being aware of “the presence” of the anamnesis before the face of God, must sound these special “trumpets of anamnesis” before the fight. Then God, remembering her, will come to her aid with His effective help and with salvation (σωτηρία)  [89], namely with liberation from her enemies and with the happy return to her patrimony, to the place from which she went into the fight.

The comparison of the texts Num 10:10 and Lev 24:5-9 allows one to understand the meaning of the Hebrew term “זכרון”  [90], and to ascertain that the anamnesis:

  • is not only a remembrance of past events, but
  • is also the offering for God; namely, a special kind of sacrifice favored by the Law, the reminder sacrifice, zikkaron “זכרון”  [91].

What is the meaning of God’s command in Num 10:9-10? God wants the sacrifices to be offered to Him in the holy place, and He wants the priests to blow the trumpets during the offering of these sacrifices on the especially solemn days. The performance of the sacrifices and the blowing of the holy trumpets have to be an expression of Israel’s memory of the Lord as her King. When the day comes on which Israel will have to go to fight against the enemy who has invaded her land, she will not be helpless. Quite the contrary; for in such a situation, Israel will have the right to await the help of the Lord! Just then the offered sacrifices will be the reminder (precisely: the anamnesis) of Israel before the Lord at this very time; therefore, God, as being faithful to the covenant with Israel, will intervene on behalf of His people. Of course, He will also bestow on them the victory and joy of a happy return to their patrimony. He will give them σωτηρία as His answer to their anamnesis offering.

Israel, therefore, was accustomed to offering this anamnesis sacrifice in her most serious and dangerous situations as a sign of the faithful remembrance of God and of the covenant that God had deigned to make with her. God as always answered this sacrifice with His help because He had guaranteed it in the covenant.

The trumpets of anamnesis played a special role here. Their sound, accompanying the offering of the anamnesis sacrifices to God in the days of peace, also began battles; and, by virtue of God’s decision, His intervention on behalf of Israel.

One ought finally to notice that the expression “σημανεῖτε ταῖς σάλπιγξιν” (Num 10:9) is analogous to the quotation given above in Plutarch’s text about Alexander the Great beginning his attack on Tyre.

5.2. King Saul offers the anamnesis sacrifices before the crushing defeat of the Philistines.

The event described in the First Book of Samuel is significant in discovering the meaning of offering sacrifices before battle. In the wider context, this event took place in the following way: according to God’s command, the prophet Samuel secretly anointed Saul to be the king of Israel (1 Sam 10:1). Then Samuel announced before his departure that after seven days he would come to Gilgal to offer to God the burnt-offerings (עֹלוֹת) and peace-offerings (זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים), namely “the anamnesis offering” (according to Num 10:9-10), in the king’s presence, and then to instruct the king in what he had to do next (1 Sam 10:8). On the appointed day the king was in Gilgal with Israelite warriors as he waited tensely for the prophet. Because Samuel was late in arriving, King Saul decided to offer both of these sacrifices without him (1 Sam 13:9). As soon the king offered the sacrifices, Samuel came and (13:13-14) said in the name of God that Saul’s acts had not pleased God; and, as a punishment, he would be a king for only a short time  [92].

However, God’s response to the offered sacrifices was to give the Israelites the splendid victory over the Philistines (1 Sam 13:15-14:15).

The event presented here brings to light the unusual role that the offering of both these sacrifices as “the anamnesis sacrifice” before the fight used to play in Israel. Although in compliance with God’s command from Num 10:9-10, this sacrifice had to be offered by priests, not necessarily immediately before a battle, but rather regularly on solemn days to serve as a reminder (לזכרון) to God of Israel before the battle. However, King Saul felt himself obliged to offer this sacrifice right before the fight to remind God of His covenant with Israel.

The weight of his decision is shown by the circumstances described here: although the king, according to God’s order, had to wait for the offering of the anamnesis sacrifice to be performed by the Prophet Samuel in Gilgal (1 Sam 10:8), Saul decided to offer it without him. This took place when it seemed that the prophet would not come in time in accord with his earlier announcement, and when the moment of mortal threat had already come!: “I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt-offering” (1 Sam 13:12). The king decided to break God’s command, given through Samuel, in order to perform what guaranteed (according to Num 10:9-10) God’s intervention on behalf of Israel. In God’s eyes such a decision was wrong, and the king was aware of it, since he stated “I forced myself” (וָאֶתְאַפַּק – the form of אָפַק [93] to sacrifice. It cost Saul a lot of effort to act against God’s order. The king’s internal struggle brings to light how the custom of offering both of these anamnesis sacrifices before the fight was deeply ingrained in Israel!

It is important to comment here about the prophet Samuel’s announcement (1 Sam 10:8) in order to understand the magnitude of the penalty; for in a short time, Saul will be removed from his throne and the immense effort required by the king to overcome his internal resistance to the idea of disobeying God’s command. Thus, the syntax used here: participle + הִנֵּה (it is futurum instans – an imminent future) serves to express the prophetic threat or solemn requirement put forth in the name of God  [94]:

1 Sam 10:8 b I shall come down to you, to offer the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings.

וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יֹרֵד אֵלֶיךָ לְהַעֲלוֹת עֹלוֹת לִזְבֹּחַ זִבְחֵי שְׁלָמִים WTT

The first phrase literally means: “Here I am coming down to you.”

The form which is used here shows that God Himself through His prophet informed the king that He wanted Samuel to sacrifice to Him after seven days in the presence of Saul and then to announce to the king what He, God, wanted him to do in the immediate future.

To complete the analyses, it is important to pay attention to the Greek translation of the Hebrew names of both sacrifices in 1 Sam:

עֹלָה – ὁλοκαύτωσις – whole burnt-offering (cf. Num 10:10)

הַשְּׁלָמִים – [τὰς] εἰρηνικάς or θυσίας εἰρηνικάς – sacrifices for peace; usually translated in the Septuagint as θυσίας σωτηρίου – sacrifices for salvation.

5.3. Maccabees’ prayers before the fight.

These are prayers (ποῖαι δ᾽οὐχ ἱκετεῖαι θεῶν ἐγένοντο) that appear nearby the anamneses in The Second Speech of Lysias (No 39). It is worth mentioning from the Old Testament passages in which the victorious battle was preceded by prayers and blowing the trumpets of anamnesis.

In the relation of 2 Macc 10:24-30, Timothy with his troops appeared in Judea. To make supplication to God (πρὸς ἱκετείαν τοῦ θεοῦ – v. 25), Maccabeus and his men sprinkled earth upon their heads and girding their loins in sackcloth. They prostrated at the foot of the altar (τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου – v. 26) and begged God to help them. After the prayer (δέησις – v. 27), they went to the battle. And really, God send them from the heavens five men riding on golden-bridled horses, who helped them.

Many events described in the First and Second Book of Maccabees show the effectiveness of the blowing the trumpets and prayers made before the fight against the enemy.

For example in 1 Macc 3:42-4:25, Judas Maccabeus gathered the army together to prepare for battle (εἰς πόλεμον) and to pray (προσεύχομαι) (3, 44). Because the sanctuary in Jerusalem was ruined, it was impossible to offer any sacrifices; so they went to Mizpah where it was Israel’s former place for prayer (τόπος προσευχῆς – 3, 46). They prayed to God to help (βοηθέω – 3, 53) them; they sounded their trumpets (καὶ ἐσάλπισαν ταῖς σάλπιγξιν – 3, 54) and cried out with a loud voice. The next day, just before the battle, Judas appealed to his army to pray in the hope the God remembered His covenant with the fathers (μνησθήσεται διαθήκης πατέρων – 4, 10). When they sounded their trumpets (4:13), the battle was joined. And really, God gave the victory for His people.

The next time (cf. 1 Macc 4:40-41), when the signal was given with trumpets (ἐσάλπισαν ταῖς σάλπιγξιν τῶν σημασιῶν – 1 Macc 4:40), they cried out to Heaven, and attacked the citadel. Afterward, when they sounded their trumpets (ἐσάλπισαν ταῖς σάλπιγξιν – 1 Macc 5:33), and cried out in prayer (καὶ ἐβόησαν ἐν προσευχῇ – 5:33), the battle was joined. And the Lord gave them victory over their enemies.

6. The completion of the research and its application to the exegesis of the consecratory formula.

In the New Testament, the word “ἀνάμνησις” appears only four times  [95]; however, it appears three times within the framework of Jesus’ formula of consecration: “Do this as my remembrance (ἀνάμνησις)” (cf. Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24.25) and once in the statement referring to the sacrifices of the Old Covenant (Heb 10:3). An understanding of the consecration formula requires analysis of the meaning of this term in other places in the Bible and in the extra-biblical Greek literature.

Beginning with the understanding of the Hebrew “זכרון” as the equivalent of the Greek word “ανάμνησις,” and being aware of the realities of the liturgical celebration of the Passover within the framework in which Jesus has instituted His “remembrance” (anamnesis)  [96], biblical scholars showed the proper meaning of that “remembrance” as “making presentJesus’ sacrifice and Jesus’ resurrection, where Jesus’ sacrifice is the expiatory sacrifice and simultaneously the sacrifice constituting the new covenant between God and humankind  [97].

Being aware of the results of previous research, I have proposed in this article to analyze the meaning of these biblical texts in which the very same Greek term “ἀνάμνησις” appears. Taking into account the significance of the Hebrew equivalent, it is worth noting that the use by saint Paul of this word which appears only five times in the Septuagint might not be accidental  [98]. Rather it can be assumed that it was quite the reverse. It must be very important since the Apostle chose this rarely used word to translate the content of these significant words of Jesus (Hebrew / Aramaic) by which He constituted the New and Eternal Covenant between God and humankind!

It is important to remember that the author could have used another Greek word “μνημόσυνον” which translates as a „remembrance,” “memorial,” “memorandum,” or “reminder;” and it appears in the Septuagint as many as 77 times. This word is always a translation of Hebrew words being derived from the root “זכר”  [99] which is the same one from which the above mentioned word “זכרון” is derived! Because the author did not make this choice, it means that he wanted the reader of his text to understand the context of the “ἀνάμνησις” in the light of these particular five texts  [100].

It is worth mentioning that the phrase εἰς μνημόσυνον has two different meanings in the Bible  [101]:

(1) to be remembered by God

(a) Sir 45:16; Isa 66:3; Acts 10:4: to make an offering as a reminder before the Lord;

(b) Sir 50:16: to use trumpets of beaten metal (cf. Num 10:2 and 10:9-10) to make them resound “as a reminder” before the Lord;

(c) Sir 45:9.11: to be remembered by the Lord or to be as a reminder before the Lord; and

(2) to be remembered by people (Exod 17:14; Esth 1:1[16]; 2:23; 9:32; 10:2; Ps 111:6; Matt 26:13; Mark 14:9).

How then ought one to understand the Lord Jesus’ command that what He did during the Last Supper must be fulfilled by His disciples “in memory” or “in remembrance” as is traditionally being translated and explained?

It should be noted on the basis of the research carried out, that:

(1) To offer the anamnesis sacrifices before the fight was a common religious-military custom among the peoples of the ancient Mediterranean world. These people often experienced that their gods, in whom they believed, answered their sacrifices by their effective intervention, so they won victory and safely returned to their homeland. Numerous Ancient Greek literary and historical works confirm this conviction.

(2) Hebrews were living in the same world of religious traditions and had similar ideas about what pleased the gods. When the one and only true God first called Abraham and after that his descendants to be His people, He did not strip off all their religious customs at a glance. Rather, He gave their customs a proper direction to change, customizing them to His own plans of leading Israel to a fuller and fuller knowledge of His delights. Thus God taught His people how He expected them to offer sacrifices to Him, so that they could offer Him proper worship and be truly worthy of Him.

(3) Pagan peoples believed that their gods performed the function of their helpers (βοηθός) and defenders (σκεπαστής), and for that reason they used to offer them sacrifices (cf. Deut 32:38). It was the same in the lives of the Chosen People because one of the essential needs of Israel was protection against their enemies. Therefore the one and only true God fulfilled this function on behalf of Israel as their covenant partner. After God had made the covenant with Israel at Sinai and they had to set forth, God gave them the laws of the trumpets and of the anamnesis sacrifices (Num 10:9-10).

(4) It was exclusively on the strength of man cooperating with God that the Son of God chose to be the Savior of all mankind. It is not as the Omnipotent God that Jesus redeems us! He redeemed us as the One who truly accepted the realities of the Incarnation as one of the sons of mankind and as a man who needed God’s help in a dangerous situation. As stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews 5:7: “In the days when He was in the flesh, He offered prayers and supplications (δεήσεις τε καὶ ἱκετηρίας) with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.”

Jesus was heard by God the Father; however, His plea was not answered by removing death from Him but in a completely different way:

Heb 13:20: “The God of peace … brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord.”

God led Jesus through Hades, the sphere of death, and then He brought his Son up from the dead and to the “other side,” to a truly new life in eternity, just as He brought the Israelites to a new life free from the subjugation of the Pharaoh.

In the Cenacle, Jesus offered the sacrifice of Himself; He offered the same sacrifice which took place on Golgotha: “This is my body, that for you is being given” (Luke 22:19: διδόμενον – stated in the present participle) and “This is my blood of the new covenant, that for many is being poured out” (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20: ἐκχυννόμενον – stated in the present participle)  [102]. The present participles of both statements means that this sacrifice lasts as a logical unit extended in time over several hours or, in other words, since the moment of its offering in the Cenacle until the moment of Jesus’ dying on the cross.

The Father accepted this sacrifice as:

(a) a propitiation for our sins (cf. Matt 26:28; Luke 24:47; Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2);

(b) a sacrifice sealing the establishment of the covenant (cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25). According to the custom described in Gen 15, Jesus passed through the sphere of death, the sphere of His own blood, analogically as the parties of the covenant did in the ancient Near East who passed over the ground soaked with the blood of slaughtered animals  [103]; and

(c) the anamnesis sacrifice (cf. Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24-25), which assures God’s intervention on behalf of Jesus as its immolator in the situation of the fight. This sacrifice belongs to the benefits of the simultaneously made covenant, just as the anamnesis sacrifice described in Num 10:9-10 belongs to the benefits of the covenant made in the blood of animals on Mount Sinai.

Responding to the question posited at the beginning of this article: What does it mean “to do for the anamnesis”? It should be noted that:

It was before leaving the Cenacle that Jesus already made the covenant with God in His blood whose the final moment of being poured out would be His death on the Cross on Golgotha. For Jesus gave to the Cenacle Sacrifice not only the meaning of constituting the New Covenant (cf. Jer 31:31), but also the meaning of a sacrifice belonging to the benefits of this covenant, a special sacrifice – the anamnesis sacrifice (cf. Num 10:9-10). By virtue of the established covenant, God as Jesus’ contracting party pledged to remember Jesus in the fight, since Jesus offered the anamnesis sacrifice of the New Covenant before His fight. God’s remembrance of Jesus manifested itself at the time of His ingress into the gates of death. Thus God intervening with His power enabled Jesus to overcome the hitherto existing ruler of Hades, the devil. Thanks to this, God gave Him the power to come out as the Son of Man by the act of Resurrection from the darkness of Hades, just as He had given the power to the Israelites to come out of the darkness of the sea bottom (cf. Exod 13:17-15:21).

Every time the disciples are obedient to Jesus’ command and assembled for the Eucharist, they offer the sacrifice of His Body and Blood “as His anamnesis” (cf. 1 Cor 11:24-25). This means that at the time when they offer this sacrifice and consume it, they are required not only to participate knowingly in Jesus’ “handing Himself for us” to death, but also to wait for Him for His return to them at the same celebration (cf. 1 Cor 11:26)  [104]. For by virtue of the same sacrifice, which is not only “for our sins” but also “the anamnesis sacrifice,” God will answer by His intervention on behalf of the Son of Man: He will make present the miracle of Jesus’ exit out from Hades (cf. Heb 13:20) and of His return to the Cenacle. More precisely the Eucharistic participants will be really made the witnesses of the miracle of Jesus’ exit from Hades and of His return to the Cenacle. They will be really in the time of these historical miracles of Jesus’ life.

In the light of the research carried out, the anamnesis sacrifice is „the sacrifice before the fight.” It means that when Christ (through the person of the priest) does His anamnesis, He is really before the fight against the devil, He is really before leaving the Cenacle. In every Eucharist, Jesus is in His existential situation from two thousand years ago in the Cenacle.

Every time the disciples are assembled for the Eucharist, they are with Jesus in the Cenacle. They are there in the time when He is before His fight against the devil. When Jesus’ priests do this what He does in this very time, they do this with Him as His anamnesis sacrifice. So when the whole congregation eats and drinks His Body and Blood, it participates in His death and His return to them as the winner.

His redemptive passage through Hades does not take place in our time, but we actually stand by Christ in His time from two thousand years ago to participate in His exodus and to be together with Him and to follow Him on the way through death to life.

The eucharistic congregation is in Jesus’ time when He offers His anamnesis sacrifice and makes His Church to participate in His redemptive Death and Resurrection. This is the right reason why the Catholic Church teaches that Eucharist has the possibility of “making present” Christ’s Death and Resurrection.