In the interest of authentic ecumenism, we should encourage all of our Protestant friends to listen to Scott Hahn’s 15-minute discussion of the New Testament during his appearance on “EWTN Live” this past Wednesday (02-March-2011). [Note: Time-sensitive!! EWTN will be updating this link to the next program after it airs on 09-March-2011]
The subject for the program was Pope Benedict XVI’s recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini. In discussing the middle section of the Pope’s document, Verbum in ecclesia (the Word and the Church), Dr Hahn was revealing how Pope Benedict teaches that the Bible belongs to the Church; that the Bible is a part of the Church’s liturgy; that the Bible is a Sacramental document.
The professor reminded us that the collection of books/documents that we know as the New Testament never calls itself the “New Testament,” but refers to itself as a Sacrament!
Reminding us that the words “testament” and “covenant” mean the same thing in Scripture, Hahn illustrates his point by first citing Luke 22:19-20
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood
Note that Jesus doesn’t say “write this in memory of me” or “read this in memory of me.” He instructs his Apostles to “DO THIS in memory of me”!! The “this” to which Jesus refers is the Eucharist. Thus, the Eucharist is the new testament, according to the New Testament! The New Testament speaks of the new testament as a Sacrament, first and foremost.
Dr Hahn confirms this by citing the fact that St Paul’s New Testament teaching on the new testament (covenant) in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 uses the same words as St Luke
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
When someone uses the phrase New Testament, they are usually referring to the ‘document,’ to the portion of the Bible known by that name. But when we actually study that ‘document,’ we discover that the document is pointing beyond itself to something that existed long before the ‘document’ – the Eucharist!
The first books of the New Testament were written decades after the new testament was instituted by Jesus. The final book of the New Testament (Revelation) was not even completed until near the end of the first century. It’s a historical fact that the collection of books/documents that we now know as the New Testament was not even referred to as the “New Testament” until the second half of the second century.
This stands in stark contrast to the fact that it is the Eucharist that was being called the new testament (covenant) by the first-century writers.
That begs the question: Why did this collection of books/documents ever become known as the New Testament? Precisely because of their liturgical proximity to the Eucharist! These are the books/documents that the Church brought out for the Lord’s Day to be read in the liturgical assembly – what we would now call the Mass – what they called the Eucharist. They would never have been referred to as such if they did not have these connections to the Eucharist.
This summary is no substitute for hearing Scott Hahn himself present this material with his usual ardor. Click here to listen to the program. The beef of this discussion begins around the 9:00-minute mark of the program and continues for about 15 minutes. [Note: Time-sensitive!! EWTN will be updating this link to the next program after it airs on 09-March-2011]