This past March I successfully defended my Masters Thesis: The Eucharist and Malachi in the New Testament and the Early Church.
In describing the Eucharist as the “new oblation of the new covenant,” Irenaeus of Lyons presents Malachi 1:10-11 as a foreshadow of this new sacrifice. He is not alone in doing so: the Didache and Justin Martyr also view the Eucharist as the fulfillment of Malachi 1:10-11. The primary question for this project is whether the text of Malachi itself or its use by New Testament authors warrants the type of Eucharistic interpretation seen in these second century authors.
In his essay “Eucharist, Sacrifice, and Scripture,” Michael Vasey comments that “two facts are clear: the New Testament never speaks of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, and the early church very quickly began to do so.” One might well get the impression that the two bodies of literature are at odds. We will propose that when second century writers speak of the Eucharist as sacrifice, they are doing so on the basis of what they find in the New Testament’s own use of Malachi.
We begin by exploring Malachi in its own Old Testament context and highlighting key changes to the text during its translation into the Septuagint. This is followed by an overview of two key New Testament allusions to Malachi that are found in Eucharistic contexts. An overview of the Eucharistic use of Malachi before Irenaeus is followed by a final chapter on his own use of Malachi in the context of his wider sacramental theology.