If you’re new to this series, go here to catch up:
Book of Revelation, Chapter 2, Verses 12-18:
To the angel of the church in Pergamum, write this:
The one with the sharp two-edged sword says this:
I know that you live where Satan’s throne is, and yet you hold fast to my name and have not denied your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was martyred among you, where Satan lives. Yet I have a few things against you. You have some people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block before the Israelites: to eat food sacrificed to idols and to play the harlot. Likewise, you also have some people who hold to the teaching of [the] Nicolaitans. Therefore, repent. Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and wage war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna; I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.
Continuing with Pergamum as a type for the church during the Early Middle Ages (roughly 313 AD to 1,000 AD).
The final “rewards” segment of the letter is fascinating when seen in the context of early Medieval Christianity:
To the victor I shall give some of the hidden manna; I shall also give a white amulet upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.
During the second five hundred years of the Christian era, the Church substantially developed the doctrines about both Eucharist and Baptism. I think the references to hidden manna and a white amulet refer to this aspect of Church history.
Hidden Manna as a sign of Eucharist
Manna was the food God miraculously sent to the Israelites during their forty years sojourn in the desert (Exodus 16; Numbers 11:6-9). As a reminder to future generations, a vessel filled with manna was placed near the Ark of the Covenant. While it was a miraculous and nourishing gift from God, it was not at all hidden in any way.
Right from the start, manna was a common Eucharistic symbol. In chapter six in the Gospel of John, Jesus makes a direct connection between manna, Himself and eternal life. Then, at the Last Supper,
Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” [Matt 26:26]
From the earliest days, Christian worship services started with preaching, teaching and prayer, then culminated in the formal acts taken over from the Last Supper. This latter was known variously as the breaking of bread, communion, or eucharist (Greek for thanksgiving). Again, nothing hidden.
- At the beginning of the Early Middle Ages, it was held that an actual change took place in the bread and wine; the fourth century Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose, wrote that the Eucharist contains the true, historical body of Jesus Christ.
- Toward the end of the Early Middle Ages, St. Paschasius wrote De Corpore et Sanguine Domini in which he explained why he agreed with St. Ambrose.
Although there were some theologians who held that the “body and blood of Jesus” in the Eucharist were merely metaphorical, not real, it was the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (known in Latin as transubstantiation and in Greek as metousiosis) that became the dominant and eventually defined doctrine for both East and West.
The Catholic Catechism explains:
Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, … that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation. [Italics added by CtH.]
Clearly, the reality of the Real Presence was a hot issue during the Early Middle Ages, because around 700 AD, God sent us one of my all-time favorite miracles to reassure the Church that the Real Presence was really REAL.
The Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano [4:18]
In the Eucharist, the species (appearance, taste, smell, as opposed to the substance) of the bread and wine (usually) stay the same, which I’ve always thought was a genuine act of hospitality and courtesy on God’s part cuz otherwise … ew.
Here then, we find the hidden part of hidden manna that victors will receive!
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died. … I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. [John 6:48-51]
Oy … I was planning to finish Pergamum in one blog, but again I find there’s so much fun stuff for both Eucharist and Baptism that it seems better to split them into two blogs. But I PROMISE … one more and I’ll be done with Pergamum LOL!
Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity [Eerdmans Publishing, 1977]
The New Bible Dictionary [Eerdmans Publishing, 1962]
New American Bible online @ http://www.usccb.org/bible/
Manna at the Catholic Encyclopedia online @ http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09604a.htm
On the Body and Blood of the Lord @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschasius_Radbertus#De_Corpore_et_Sanguine_Domini
Transubstantiation in the Middle Ages @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation#Middle_Ages
Miracle of Lanciano @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_Lanciano
Catholic Catechism on The Sacrament of the Eucharist @ http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a3.htm