Archaeology Odyssey 5:5, September/October 2002

“My Blood of the Covenant”

What did the apostles drink at the last supper?

By Nicholas K. RauhElizabeth Lyding Will

In Jerusalem around 30 C.E., an itinerant Jewish rabbi named Jesus lifted a cup of wine, passed it to his disciples and said:

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mark 14:23–25//Matthew 26:27–29).

But exactly what wine was in his cup at the Last Supper? What wine did Jews, during and after the time of Jesus, drink during Passover? And what communion wine did early Near Eastern Christians drink after they had been converted to Christianity by Paul?

Ancient literary sources and recent archaeological finds in Turkey and Israel suggest an answer: The fruit of the vine used in these rituals may well have been a rich, sweet raisin wine, called passum by the Romans.

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