Fee on the "Unworthy Manner"

From My Bookshelf Jul 20, 2010

There has been an ongoing conversation about 1 Corinthians 11 and the famous partaking in an “unworthy manner”. Gordon Fee weighs in:

…Paul proceeds to apply what he has just said about the meaning of the words of institution in v. 26 to their abuse of the Table: “Whoever eats the bread and rinks of the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Partaking of this meal “in an unworthy manner” is what the entire section is about. Unfortunately, this adverb was translated “unworthily” in the KJV. Since that particular English adverb seems more applicable to the person doing the eating than the manner in which it is being done, this word became a dire threat for generations of English-speaking Christians. [FOOTNOTE 10: This is especially true in the more pietistic sectors of the Protestant tradition. People are “unworthy” if they have any sin in their lives, or have committed sins during the past week. This in turn resulted in reading v. 28 personally and introspectively, so that the purpose one’s self-examination was to become worthy of the Table, lest one come under judgment. The tragedy of such an interpretation for countless thousands, both in terms of foreboding the Table and guilt for perhaps having partaken unworthily, is incalculable.

Fee, Gordon. The First Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament). PP 559-560

For those interested, here’s the text: 1 Corinthians 11:27

NASB: Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
NIV: Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.
KJV: Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
NET: For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

UBS4: Ὥστε ὅς ἄν ἐσθίῃ τόν ἄρτον ἤ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως, ἔνοχος ἔσται τοῦ σὠματος καὶ τοῦ αἵαμτος τοῦ κυίου.
Vulgate: itaque quicumque manducaverit panem vel biberit calicem Domini indigne reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini

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