This post is based on Acts 2:42 and 46. In the NLT of Acts 2:42 the phrase breaking of bread, admittedly a bit less than meaningful in modern English, is translated as sharing in the Lord’s supper. The NRSV reads “breaking of bread” but a note in the New Interpreter’s Study Bible suggests “Lord’s Supper,” and the New Oxford Annotated Bible has a note suggesting “Eucharist.” (These are in the study notes, not translator’s notes. The NLT does not have a note.
I’m questioning the validity of this translation for the time in question. We might well ask just what this activity consisted of at the time, and whether “Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist” will suggest the right idea to modern readers. Personally, “Lord’s Supper” brings up my youth as a Seventh-day Adventist, and celebration of the Lord’s Supper which happened every quarter and was a longer church service than normal. It would be hard to fit that concept in which an activity carried out daily.
Eucharist is even more formalized and I would suggest that what is practiced in modern churches is very different from what would have happened at this time. I’m aware this wasn’t suggested as a translation but rather as a study note, yet even so is not the modern English reader misled?
Most likely this breaking of bread was a common meal by which Christians offered fellowship. It is unlikely that there was much ritual beyond what would be normal at a Jewish meal. The thing that was special about these meals was the offering of fellowship. I’m having a hard time replacing “breaking of bread” with something useful, but I’m thinking of one of these:
- sharing a common meal
- eating together as a sign of fellowship
- commemorating Jesus and their fellowship by eating together
Perhaps, however, the CEV has the best of it, however, with “They also broke bread . . .”