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Do I miss something here? Why the Eucharist is never mentioned in such a detailed book as the book of Hebrews?

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closed as not a real question by Caleb Apr 7 '13 at 7:52

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Question seems a bit broad. A narrower variant of this question, concerning the Mass itself: How would a Catholic explain the absence of the mass in the Epistle to the Hebrews? –  Alypius Mar 19 '13 at 20:21
This question/answer pair is problematic. The question could go either way, but combined with the accepted answer it just reads like an attack on Catholicism. If you want something about the book of Hebrews, an answer that just attacks Catholicism shouldn't be valid. If you want to know something about the Eucharist, you should be looking for something from not against a Catholic view. I'm going to close this pending a clarification to the question that makes it more clear what should happen with answers. –  Caleb Apr 7 '13 at 7:52
@Caleb (1) “If you want something about the book of Hebrews, an answer that just attacks Catholicism shouldn't be valid” - I don’t view the answer as the one that “just attacks Catholicism”. In fact, while reading it, I couldn’t care less about where that teaching (transubstantiation) came from – Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism or elsewhere. And, after all, the question itself was not about that teaching or its origin. –  brilliant Apr 7 '13 at 9:14
@Caleb (2) - If Eucharist was the life or death matter, than it surely should’ve been mentioned among other crucial matters pertaining to the Christian faith in the book of Hebrews. On one hand, the book of Hebrews is quite comprehensive and very consistent. It is clear that the author had a certain structure on his mind that he followed while writing his book. It is also clear that the author didn’t have any time constraints while he was writing it. –  brilliant Apr 7 '13 at 9:15
@Caleb (3) - It is obvious that the book wasn’t written spontaneously at one setting. On the other hand, unlike, say, the book of Acts, it does have as its aim to touch upon crucial matters of Christian faith – at the end of each section covering one crucial matter there is a strong warning not to fall away from believing in that matter. Therefore, the position that holds Eucharist as one of such important matters and at the same time considers that it was not mentioned in Hebrews just “because the book’s topic is the High Priesthood of Christ” (Alypius’ answer) sounds very unconvincing to me. –  brilliant Apr 7 '13 at 9:16

3 Answers 3

up vote -4 down vote accepted

The Eucharist as taught by the Catholic church isn't completely Bible-proof. It is true that Jesus said "This is my blood" and "This is my body" during the last supper with His disciples and that they celebrated that rite, of course. However, they were intended to be a symbol for all future believers and a reminder of Christ's sacrifice. In fact, the belief in transubstantiation has no biblical support, if I may. The belief that Jesus's death is literally repeated each time one celebrates the Eucharist isn't something a sound believer in the Bible can support.

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The belief that it isn't literally repeated would be valid if we were only capable of a literal interpretation of scripture. Catholics believe that scripture has an eternal sense and that the things contained within happen now and forever. We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem CCC 117 –  Peter Turner Feb 9 '12 at 18:09
@PeterTurner Hey, why vote down my answer just because my opinion doesn't match yours? I simply said there isn't a single verse in the Bible which suggests anything such as transubstantiation, and it's true. You have no right of voting my answer down simply "'cause you've got more rep than me". If you choose to believe the teachings of the Roman church have the power to establish something that's not mentioned in the Bible then so be it, but I'm not a Catholic as you clearly are. The site's about Christianity don't you forget that; it isn't merely about a particular denomination. –  the.midget Feb 9 '12 at 18:17
@the.midget Forget the fact that you have posited a position which is not a little bit controversial, unsupported, and generally ill-argued, you never even answered the question. –  cwallenpoole Feb 9 '12 at 18:33
Yeah, I didn't down vote it, I considered it, but I didn't think it would be polite. But you need to talk about Hebrews in your answer, otherwise it's an objectively bad answer. I was trying to help you answer the question better, because the anagogical sense of scripture shows that there is in fact a reference to the Eucharist. and it is what @cwallenpoole wrote about in Hebrews 7. "You are a priest forever, like Melchizidek of old". –  Peter Turner Feb 9 '12 at 18:41
@PeterTurner Well in that case, thanks for not voting down. Now I'll go read a bit more about the subject and try not to be disrespectful the next time, ok? –  the.midget Feb 9 '12 at 18:55

Hebrews is a letter directed to Jewish Christians in danger of apostasy (Hebrews 2:1), explaining the sacrifice of Christ with particular emphasis on themes in the Old Testament that would have been very familiar to the audience. It is not intended to be comprehensive ("I have written to you rather briefly", Hebrews 13:22), but it does mean to explore in-depth a particular theme. That theme is not the Eucharist, but the High Priesthood.

The author invokes Melchizedek and the High Priesthood, and stresses the importance of Christ's precious blood, in comparison to the blood of animals. He calls the bloody sacrifices that came before, now abolished, mere shadows of Christ's perpetual sacrifice. The High Priesthood of Christ is the primary message, and it's directed to those who have lost clear sight of even basic teachings:

Hebrews 5
[...] 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; 9 and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10 declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. 11 About this we have much to say, and it is difficult to explain, for you have become sluggish in hearing. 12 Although you should be teachers by this time, you need to have someone teach you again the basic elements of the utterances of God. You need milk, [and] not solid food.

So he would prefer to discuss the basics, but the problem, he judges, has now advanced far beyond the basics, and can only be remedied by detailed discussion of the High Priesthood of Christ.

Not all teachings will be repeated in all books, and the books will have different themes and will emphasize different points. For example, the following teaching is also not present in Hebrews:

1 Corinthians 11
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Apparently, there is something very important about not eating the bread, not drinking the cup. Does "drinking" mean that you should not try to have faith if you are unworthy? That you should not do good if you are unworthy? Or that you should starve until you are worthy? No, it means you must literally not drink and eat something (Someone, Catholics might say), because "proclaiming the death of the Lord" with His blood on your own hands is going to end badly for you. Where is this vital teaching in Hebrews? Nowhere, because in Hebrews something else was at issue: Jewish Christians focused on bloody sacrifices, and losing sight of the sacrifice of the High Priest.

For the record, some Catholics do use Hebrews to talk extensively on the subject of the Eucharist. I found, for example, "The Eucharist as the Meal of Melchizedek". Two relevant paragraphs can be found in that document by searching for "clean priesthood" and "brick in the face".

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It is by implication.

Melchizedek is supposed to be Christ (his name means, "my king is righteousness" after all) and the references to the meeting with Abraham will have undoubtedly brought up the memory of the story from Genesis where Abraham and "The King of Peace" (for he was king of Salem, which translates to "Peace") share "bread and wine". Such a reference would not have been missed by the audience listening to the book of Hebrews.

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