Paul Never Quotes Jesus
Here’s another oddity of the Bible that Christians hardly ever mention, and apparently it doesn’t bother many people. But it has sure bothered me over the years: The apostle Paul hardly ever quotes the words of Jesus or even references any of his teachings. How strange!
The only time I am aware of Paul ever quoting Jesus directly is in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, where Paul describes what allegedly happened at the Last Supper. Paul’s words here became the basis of the “words of institution” recited in Christian communion services.
Now Paul was not actually present at the Last Supper. So how did he learn what Jesus did and said there? You would think he might have learned it from the disciples who were actually at the table that night with Jesus. After all in Galatians Paul says that he visited some of the apostles in Jerusalem at some point after his conversion. They could have told him.
Instead, Paul claims in 1 Corinthians 11 that he did not learn about what happened at the Last Supper from the people who were actually there, but from Jesus, whom Paul never actually met aside from the vision of Jesus he experienced on the road to Damascus. “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you…” (1 Corinthians 11:23)
The synoptic gospel accounts of the Last Supper were written much later than Paul’s letters, yet their description of the words said there is curiously similar to Paul’s.
So did the gospel writers get their description of the Last Supper from Paul? Did Paul make the whole thing up? Some of the ancient Roman mystery cults celebrated sacred fellowship meals which involved symbolically consumming the body and blood of a god. Did Paul borrow this practice and adapt it for the Christian movement?
Is Holy Communion–the central sacrament of Christan worship–founded on a fiction?