by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis
This article is a slightly edited version of a “Mini Study” from The Heavenly Banquet, Understanding the Divine Liturgy (Orthodox Witness, 2008).
The Divine Liturgy did not appear ex nihilo (out of nothing). It came from somewhere. The question is, from where? Its origins are traced in the Jewish worship of the day, but which worship? Specifically the question often asked is: Was the Mystical (Last) Supper a seder (a Passover meal) or a chabûrah (a friendship meal)?
There is a short and a long answer. The short answer is, neither!
The long answer follows. But first, an explanation: What is a seder meal, and what is a chabûrah meal?
A seder is a Passover supper the Jews had on the anniversary of the Passover, to commemorate the passage of the angel of death over the homes of the Jews, leaving unharmed their first-born, and destroying every first-born of the Egyptians, from their children to their animals (see Ex. ch. 12). The chabûrah meal, on the other hand, was a formal supper, at which friends and relatives gathered, usually bringing their contribution—similar to our pot-luck meals, but very formal.