The Grail Code 
A cheap cup? Maybe not

My wife was just watching a bit of a documentary on the Discovery channel about the Holy Grail. I couldn’t take the MTV-style editing, so I didn’t watch much. The part I did see had a parade of experts explaining why the original cup of the Last Supper couldn’t have been anything very elaborate: it would certainly have been something simple and utilitarian, made of wood or terra cotta.

Allow me to disagree.

I don’t say the cup wasn’t utilitarian; it may well have been. But I do say there’s good reason to suppose that it might have been something rather expensive. We considered the question a little in The Grail Code, but here’s a recap:

Think for a moment about what we know of the Last Supper.

Jesus and his disciples didn’t have much in the way of possessions. In fact, the disciples were particularly instructed to travel with nothing.

But when the time came to celebrate the Passover, they did it in style.

For the occasion, they borrowed a house with a big dining room. It must have belonged to one of Jesus’ followers who was fairly well off—well off enough, anyway, to have a dining room suitable for entertaining a party of thirteen.

Since Jesus and his disciples certainly didn’t carry a full table service around with them, the plates, cups, and utensils probably came with the house. And since the Passover was the most important Jewish feast, and the owner of the house was entertaining the Master, we might guess that he set out the best he had. That might include a cup made at least of glass, or possibly of silver or gold.

I don’t know any of that, of course. But I do think it’s unscientific and unhistorical to dismiss the possibility that the original cup was something elaborate and expensive. In fact, on the whole, I’d say the circumstances are in favor of that possibility.

2 Responses to “A cheap cup? Maybe not”

  1. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » A pair of grails Says:

    [...] Speaking of art, the Carnegie Museum of Art has added a new collection search to its site. With it, I was able to find pictures of two of the Roman glass cups I’ve admired every time I walked past. One of them comes from the first century A.D.: it’s a solid deep red color. The other, from the previous century, is cast in beautiful swirling patterns of green, yellow, blue, and red. If the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper was glass, it might well have looked like either one of these. [...]

  2. The Grail Code» Blog Archive » One year Says:

    [...] MTV [...]

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