Supper, the Last

Supper, The Last is a modern phrase often used to designate the Lord's Supper, in view of the fact that it was the last meal of which Jesus partook with his disciples (Mt 26:29; Mr 14:25; Lu 22:18). The circumstances of the repast have been so fully discussed in preceding articles, that it remains to consider more particularly only one feature, namely, the relative position of the gtiests at the table; as this reflects special light upon several incidents and expressions in the narratives of the evangelists.

1. The place of Peter would properly be that of honor among the disciples; and it is agreed upon all hands that such was by custom the uppermost or left-hand one on the highest or left-hand wing of the triclinium or dinner- bed, reckoned according to the fact that the guests reclined upon their left side (so as to leave the right hand free for eating with), each facing the person next below. In this arrangement also he would be the first to whom the Master would come for the foot-washing, as is evident from the account of that incident ("began," Joh 13:5). Moreover, he would thus be opposite John, and sufficiently removed from him to render "beckoning" necessary in order to ascertain through him the person of the traitor (Joh 13:24).

2. The interesting group of which the Lord himself formed the center consisted, besides him, of Judas and John, who were so situated that the latter, as he lay "in Jesus' bosom," could lean back (ἐπιπεσών, Joh 13:25, for which many read ἀναπεσών, both to be carefully distinguished from the ἀνακείμενος of the verse preceding), and whisper to the Master; and the former so located that he could readily receive the sop from the Master's hands. All this renders it plain that Judas occupied the honorable position above, i.e., at the back of Jesus; and John the next favored location below or just in front of him.

According to classical etiquette, the master or host reclined on the middle place of the middle bed; and in that case the arrangement of the whole would be as in the accompanying diagram (see Smith, Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v., triclinium). This meets the ordinary sense of propriety also. But Edersheim maintains (Life and Times of Jesus, 2:494), from certain rabbinical notices, that the appropriate place for the giver of the feast was at the foot of the table, and in that case John would be exactly opposite Peter, at the other extreme of the entire series, as in the subjoined diagram. In this way, however, these two disciples would seem to be too near each other to suit the need of signs, since they could freely converse across the table; and they would not so fully face one another, since they would be reclining rather back to back. SEE ACCUBATION.

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