Bible Review 3:2, Summer 1987

Was The Last Supper a Passover Seder?

By Baruch M. Bokser

To this day, Jews throughout the world observe the Passover festival with a highly ritualized meal called a seder. The word means “order” and refers to the order of the service at the meal, including prayers, psalms, other readings, the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the eating of special foods that have symbolic significance.

It is commonly supposed that the Last Supper, the meal Jesus ate with his disciples the night before his crucifixion, was a seder.

But was the Last Supper a Passover seder?

The question itself assumes that the Last Supper occurred on the eve of Passover. But all the gospel accounts do not agree on this. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) clearly indicate that the Last Supper was the Passover meal:

“And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to him, ‘Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?’” (Mark 14:12; see also the parallel passages in Matthew 26:17 and Luke 22:7–9).

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