Saturday, May 16, 2015

Robert F. Taft, S.J., following William of Champeaux, on the argument against intinction from the "dipped morsel" (the "sop") of John 13:21-30

"As to reception of the Eucharist, there is a certain diversity of practice based upon various reasons, but it is really all one and the same thing.  Reception of the intincted Bread has been forbidden on a frivolous pretext; namely, on account of the intincted morsel which the Lord delivered to Judas in order to expose him."

"De perceptione Eucharistiae diversi quidem usus sunt secundum aliquas causas, sed res eadem.  Quod enim panis intinctus prohibitus est accipi, ex frivola causa fuit, scilicet pro buccella intincta quam Dominus Judae ad distinctionem porrexit. . . ."

     William of Champeaux (c. 1070-1121), De sacramento altaris, PL 163, col.1039, as translated by William Herbert Freestone in The sacrament reserved:  a survey of the practice (1917), 160.  (But check a medieval patrology for the authenticity and best edition of this!)

     I was put onto this by Robert F. Taft, S.J., "Communion via intinction," Studia liturgica 26 (1996):  230 (225-236), whothough siding with the Reformers (the 12th-century reservation of the cup was "a grave departure from the universal ancient tradition rightly stigmatized by the sixteenth-century Reformers" (229)) against a Catholicism that chose to forget that its own magisterium had once consistently and vociferously opposed every departure from the ancient practice of communion in both kinds in the hand separatelynonetheless considers the rationale that became, from Braga IV (675) at the very least, "a topos in Latin anti-intinction polemics and legislation" frivolous at best:  "saner heads like William of Champeaux (d. 1121) found it silly (ex frivola causa)" (230).
     As for (the Reformers on) communion in both kinds,
One often hears it said that Catholics have abandoned the tradition of communion under both species while the Orthodox have preserved the tradition.  The truth is that both Churches have abandoned the primitive usage, if in different ways.  For the ancient tradition was not just communion under both species, but communion under both species separately.  Despite Eastern Orthodoxy’s deep sense of tradition and its conviction never to have deviated from it, the present Byzantine ritual of lay communion represents a major departure from the universal ancient practice.  In the Early Church and throughout Late Antiquity, in the whole of Christendom eastern and western, the laity took communion under both species separately, receiving first the sacred bread in the right hand, then drinking from the cup. . . . in spite of their attachment to tradition, the Orthodox Churches managed to introduce the innovation of communion via intinction without a struggle:  barely a murmur of reproach or need for justification emerges in the Eastern sources cited above.
Things could not have been more different in the West, where the struggle over the issue was intense [(228)].
In the Western, or at least Roman Catholic communion ritual, the reduction of the ancient symbol was more radical, the problem more grave.  In the Catholic West’s favor, however, is the fact that it does not persist in pretending to have remained ever true to the traditions of the past when, in fact, neither East nor West has.  Furthermore, the Catholic Church since Vatican II has taken steps, already effective in some places, to restore the ancient usage [(235)].
     Cf. Dominique Cerbelaud, "'Et, trempant la bouchée . . .' (Jn 13:23):  Une curieuse exégèse des Pères syriens," Le Muséon:  revue d'études orientales 110 (1997):  78-80 (73-80):  The five [fourth- to sixth-century Syriac] texts [translated below] differ, but possess major commonalities as well.  They
interpret the 'morsel' of Jn 13:26 (Gk. ψωμίον) as a morsel of bread.  This interpretation Ephrem in all probability borrowed from the [text of the] Diatessaron.  Indeed, it is important to admit that many other ancient versions (the Peshitta . . . ; the Vulg[ate] panis; the Sl[avonic] . . .) accept it, while others (the Arm[enian] . . . and the Eth[iopic] . . . 'morsel') reject it.  Today it appears very problematic.  In the light of the Jewish paschal meal, certain Christian exegetes have in fact comprehended this 'morsel' as the bitter herbs that one dips ritually into a sauce called ḥaroseth . . . [There is] none of this in our texts, in which, in the wake of Ephrem, it is said that Jesus dipped 'in the water' a morsel of bread...
     But in this perspective, the execratory value of the act of intinction becomes, it, too, very problematic.  Whatever the nature of the 'benediction' here supposed (simple preliminary benediction or Eucharistic consecration), our authors interpret Jesus' gesture as its nullification.  Now, the exegetes are unanimous in seeing in this a gesture of hospitality, even affection—even if, in the present case, Jesus utilizes it to designate the one who will betray him.  We note [too] that this interpretation can be reconciled very well with the manducation of the bitter herbs.
     Across these distortions, one assumes that [(on pressent que; but then why not presse?)] that the Syrian authors that we have passed in review seek, in fact, to respond to an underlying question:  Did Judas take part in the Eucharistic meal?  Now, that they imagine an execratory intent in the act of intinction; that they, like Cyrillonas, imply that the traitor left the room before the event, or, like the anonymous monophysite, that he was sulky with [(il a boudé)] the cup; whatever the case, they give to this question a negative response.  And there we touch on the decisive point.  In the wake of Ephrem these [fourth- to sixth-century] Syrian theologians in fact judge it inconceivable that the felon was able to receive the precious gift of the Eucharistic sacrament, he who a few moments later was about to betray his Master.  Yet [(Comme on le sait)], the majority of the Greek and Latin Fathers were, on this point, of precisely the opposite opinion.  This question, still fiercely debated into the 1950s, seems to have lost today, in the eyes of the exegetes, its urgency.
     One realizes, however, that it could [only] arise on the basis of a harmonization of the different narratives of the Last Supper of Jesus, [a harmonization] integrating even the Johannine material, which it remains very difficult to know how to incorporate [into the synoptic tradition].  We should recall that the Ephremite thematic appears in a commentary on the Diatessaron, a text that did nothing if not fuse the four gospels into one.  The perduring success of this exegesis—which even after the interdiction of the Diatesseron and its replacement by the 'gospels separated' under the episcopate of Rabboula of Eddesa in the first half of the fifth century—appears, for that [reason], all the more remarkable.  Jacob of Sarug and the anonymous monophysite persist in interpreting the 'morsel' given to Judas in the context of a Eucharistic ritual . . . [a Eucharistic ritual] that the Fourth Gospel, 'separated', does not mention in any way!  One is permitted to see in this an eloquent index of the prestige of the deacon of Edessa in the Syriac tradition.
     The following are somewhat more appreciative than Taft (or Cerbelaud, above) of the "dipped morsel" rationale:
  • David Randall Boone, "To dip or not to dip?  Intinction among Reformed churches," Reformed liturgy and music 22, no. 4 (Fall 1988):  203-206:  "Popular sentiment against intinction was also fueled by the interesting argument that Jesus gave intincted breada morsel of soponly to Judas, to show who would betray him" (204).
  • Hellmut Zschoch, "Abendmahl ist Essen und Trinken - nicht Tunken:  Gegen das Vordringen der Intinctio in die evangelische Abendmahlspraxis," Luther 83 (2012):  167-173:  "Auch diese Reminiszenz gibt Anlass zur Zurückhaltung bezüglich der symbolischen Qualität des Tunkens beim Abendmahl" (170).

     What follows is a working timeline for this argument in particular, not the larger question of the history of intinction (or even administration) more generally.  It should be filled out with a truly thorough investigation of the evidence in the scholarship, as well as tools such as the indices, BiBLindex, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, the Library of Latin Texts, and so forth:
  • 150/160:  Diatessaron 19.3:
  • 4th cent.:  Ephrem the Syrian (c. 306-373), Commentary on the Diatessaron XIX.3, as translated from the French translation of Cerbelaud (cf. SC 121, trans. Leloir, pp. 332 ff.):
If it is truly certain that the Lord, when he gave the bread to his disciples, gave them the mystery of his body, one must also believe that, when he gave the body to his murderer, he gave it to him as [the] mystery of his body put to death.  And he dipped it into the water in order to indicate the total participation of Judas in his death, his body about [(devant)] to be dipped in his blood.  Or, rather, he dipped it in order not to give the testament with him [(pour ne pas donner le testament avec lui)].  The bread was moistened, then given; moistened first, by reason of the events that had [(devaient)] to follow.  The avarice of Judas had judged him and separated him from the perfect members of the Lord, as [he] showed in his sweet teaching, he who gave us his life; Judas was not [a] member of the body of the Church of Jesus; rather, he was only the dust which adhered to the feet of the disciples.  That is why, during the night in which he judged him and separated him from the others, he washed the dirt from their feet, in order to teach them that Judas, whom one could consider as the feet of the body as well as [the] last of the Twelve, him he with the water removed from the feet of the disciples, as an ordure good [(bonne) only] to be burned.  In the same way the Lord, by means of the water, separated Judas from the apostles when he dipped the bread into the water and gave it to him, for Judas was not worthy of the bread that was given to the Twelve with the wine:  it was not permitted that he receive the bread that saves from death, he who was about to deliver him up to death.
Leloir (SC 121, 332n4:  "the holy doctor seems to have wanted to signify that, by dipping the bread, Our Lord suppressed the effect of the words of consecration and every bond of the gesture with the New Testament economy."  Cf. the translation into English by Carmel McCarthy (Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Taitian’s Diatessaron:  an English translation of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709 with introduction and notes, Journal of Semitic studies supplement 2 (Oxford:  Oxford University Press for the University of Manchester, 1993), 284):
     If it is truly certain that, when [the Lord] gave the bread to his disciples, he gave them the mystery of his body, one must also believe that, when he gave the bread to his slayer, he gave it to him as the mystery of his slain body.  He dipped it, to render [evident] the total participation [of Judas] in his death, for his body was destined to be dipped in his blood.  Or [alternatively], he dipped it so as not to give the testament with him.   He moistened it and then gave it to him; moistened first because it had been prepared for [the testament] which was to follow.
     Judas’ avarice judged and separated him from the perfect members [of the Lord], as the Life-Giver has shown in his gentle teaching.  [Judas] was not a member of the body of his Church, he was but the dust which clung to the feet [of the disciples].  That was why, on the night when [the Lord] judged and separated him from the others, he washed the feet of the disciples with water, [like] dung fit for burning.  [Judas] was considered [as] the feet of the body in as much as he was the last of the twelve.  Likewise, [the Lord] separated Judas from the apostles by means of the water, when he dipped the bread in the water and gave it to him, for [Judas] was not worthy of the bread which, together with the wine, was given to the twelve.  It was not permissible that, through it, he should receive the One who would save from death him, who was going to hand him over to death.

  • 4th cent.:  Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on the Azymes (in Hymns on the Pasch) XIV.15-17; XVIII.15-16, as translated from the French translation of Cerbelaud:
Dipping the bread, he gave him over to the secret death:
a bread henceforth stripped of the remedy of life.
He who vivifies all had blessed this nourishment;
it had become [the] remedy of life under the eyes of the guests.
This bread thus stripped of all benediction,
the murderer received it, second serpent.

The mystery of the Son, Moses had buried it
At the heart of the unleavened bread, as a remedy of life.
He stripped the unleavened bread of this remedy of life,
And gave it to Judas as a deadly poison.

The translation of Cassingena-Trévedy, on pp. 119-124 of SC 502 (Éphrem de Nisibe:  Hymnes pascales (Paris:  Les Éditions du Cerf, 2006)) is complete, but also differs somewhat from the one by Cerbelaud.  Here I select and translate stanzas 9-24:
The Iscariot murmured
against the blessed [woman],
And, giving the poor as a pretext,
The thief made himself judge.

Which hearing, the Lord
Unmasked him not at all,
Although he was the Crucible
That tests every man.

The secret that he kept
Hidden from his disciples,
He revealed it to John,
As to his well-beloved.

See?  Virginity
Has immediate access to the Holy [One];
Sanctity, shows he,
Shares [in] his secret.

He dipped the bread,
Gave it [over] to Rapine[,]
Who raised [his] mask
Without being forced to.

He, the All-Benevolent,
Revealed himself [to be] longsuffering
In order that the scoundrel
Might condemn himself.

He dipped, gave
The bread [over] to the hidden death,
But a bread expurgated
Of its medicinal [(vitale; 122n1:  médicinale)] virtue [(sam ḥayyé)].

Life of the world, he blessed
This food:  there it is [(le voilà),]
Medicine of Life
For those who eat it.

This bread, therefore, expurgated
Of the Benediction,
The accursed [one] receives it,
He, the second serpent.

He took the bread, and then
Cut himself off from the disciples;
It is he who separated himself:
No one excluded him.

Not even the Lord,
In order that no one [might] have the effrontery
To call him constrained.
It is he who wished it!

He did not invite:
The Lord joined himself [to] him;
He separated himself and went out:
He pursues him not at all.

The Lord chose him:
In this he [(Voilà qui)] was good;
He himself cut himself off:
In this [(Voilà) was] the villainy.

While the apostate,
This disguised wolf,
Goes out of the sheepfold
Constituted by the Twelve [(Que forme la Douzaine)],

The Lamb, the Truth, gets up
And breaks his Body
For the sheep whom the paschal lamb
Had satiated [(qu’avait | Repues l’agneau pascal)].

Then came to term
The symbol come running up [(accouru)]
From the very heart of Egypt
To this very place.
  • 4th cent., end:  Cyrillonas, The true lamb I.10, as translated from the French translation of Cerbelaud, 78:
Then the Lord dipped the bread into the water, and gave it to Judas, whom he dismissed without [any] other reward.  His bread was at once his reward and his hope.  But why did he dip the bread in the water before giving it to him?  In order that its power might be withdrawn from it, [along] with its mirth-provoking savor, because this bread had been blessed and sanctified.  In fact he had pronounced over it the benediction and had set it before them.  He took of this bread and caused the benediction to depart from it.  He stripped it of its virtue and voided it of his word.  The bread was deprived of benediction; and Judas, of the throne.  The Spirit of Wisdom blew, and the tare was uprooted.  Justice entered into disorder, and Judas pushed [open] the door.
  • 451-521:  Jacob of Saroug, Homily as translated from the French translation by Cerbelaud:  “By dipping it he [re]made [(deconsecrated?)] the bread [(il en [re]fit du pain)], in order that he might not receive, in imitation of his companions, a bread become body” (Homiliae selectae Mar Jacobi Sarugensis, ed. Bedjan, vol. 2 (1906), p. 487 l.21-p. 488 l. 1).
  • 6th cent., second half:  an anonymous monophysite, Homilies for Holy Week, as translated from the French translation by Cerbelaud:
All approached in order to drink from it
—or, rather, eleven of them.
In fact, when Jesus gave his bread
to the Eleven without distinction,
Judas had approached in order to partake of it,
as his companions who approached in order to receive it.
Now Jesus had dipped the bread in the water

          in order to give it to Judas.
He had washed it of his benediction,
Isolating, thereby, the cursed [one].
From that moment the disciples had known
that Judas was about to betray him.
Dipping the bread, Jesus gave it to him
in order that the benediction [might] be removed from the bread:
it is not a consecrated bread that he had eaten,
and he had not drunk from the cup of life.
Angered by this, that the bread had been dipped
(for he knew himself to be unworthy of life),
in a rage he withdrew, in such a way that he did not drink
from the cup of the blood of Jesus.

  • 675:  Braga IV (sometimes called III), canon 2:  “We do not read that Christ gave intincted bread to anyone except to that disciple alone whom, by the intincted morsel, he showed to be the master’s betrayer” (trans. Robert F. Taft, “Communion via intinction,” Studia liturgica 26 (1996):  230, citing J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima 11:155).
  • Before 1004:  Abbo of Fleury:  “The example of Christ is quoted against it, Who delivered a piece of steeped bread to Judas the traitor, into whom Satan entered after the sop.  Yes, but as one who knows all hidden things, He gave it, that He might thereby expose the lost disciple; whereas we who are conscious of our own sins, offer the Eucharist to the brethren, not with this purpose but in commemoration of Christ” (trans. Freestone; Collectio canon. ad Hugon. (43) de communion; Mabillon, Vet. Analecta (vol. iv of D’Achery, Spicileg., p. 146)).
  • 1000-1061:  Humbert of the Romans:  “‘we find intincted bread offered by the Lord to none of the disciples save Judas the betrayer, to show that he was the one who would betray him’”   (Adversus Graecorum calumnias 33, trans. Taft, 231, citing PL 143, cols. 951-952).
  • pre-1121:  William of Champeaux (above).
  • Early 12th century:  Ernulph, Bishop of Rochester, Epist. II ad Lambertum, as summarized by Freestone:  “Then, of course, there is the sop given to the traitor.  But, if this is allowed to have weight, we must be consistent and not only never use sops at our meals, but also abolish the kiss of peace; because by a kiss Judas betrayed his Lord” (Freestone, 157; Latin, p. 158n1).
  • 1175:  Council of London, canon 16:  “repeats verbatim the prohibition of the Council of Braga IV against communion via intinction, including the topos that the only thing Jesus gave at the Last Supper by intinction was the morsel to the traitor Judas” (Taft, 233, citing Mansi 22, 151).

For more on the passage in John, see
  • D. Francois Tolmie, "Jesus, Judas and a morsel:  interpreting a gesture in John 13,21-20," in Miracles and imagery in Luke and John:  Festschrift Ulrich Busse, ed. J. Verheyden, G. Van Belle, and J. G. Van der Watt, Bibliotheca Ephemeridium Theologicarum Lovaniensium 218 (Leuven:  Peeters, 2008), 105-124.  Tomie draws no strong conclusions, but leans towards interpreting Jesus' gesture positively (as indicating "care and [the offer of] nourishment" (-120-)), albeit non-sacramentally (or only very indirectly so).
     The following I have not yet read:
  • F. J. Maloney, "A sacramental reading of John 13:1-38," Catholic biblical quarterly 53 (1991):  237-256.  According to Cerbelaud, Maloney answers the question "Was the morsel eucharistic?" (pp. 250-255) in opposition to R. E. Brown in the positive.