12 See e.g. M. Grey, Redeeming the Dream: Feminism, Redemption and Christian Tradition (London: SPCK, 1989); R. R. Ruether, Introducing Redemption in Christian Feminism (Shefﬁeld: Shefﬁeld Academic Press, 1998).
One can understand why, for various reasons, Ernst Kasemann and others have wanted to abandon the whole notion of sacriﬁce.13
13 E. Kasemann, Jesus Means Freedom, trans. G. Krodel (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), 114. In his Le Salut par la croix dans la the´ologie contemporaine (1930 85) (Paris: Cerf, 1988), Michel Deneken puts the case for simply banishing ‘sacriﬁce’ from Christian vocabulary.
And yet this would mean also refusing to follow the Letter to the Hebrews and the mainstream Christian tradition in naming Christ as ‘priest’. From Hebrews and Chrysostom, right down to Torrance and beyond, calling Christ ‘priest’ stands or falls with the correlative reality of sacriﬁce. If we give up speaking of sacriﬁcial self-offering, we should also drop the language of his priesthood. Undoubtedly the language of sacriﬁce has at times been massively misused, but the witness of Hebrews and other New Testament authors makes it a normative way of characterizing Christ’s death and resurrection. Below we return to appropriate ways of using sacriﬁcial language.
But, second, can we apply the language of sacriﬁce to what Christ committed himself to at the Last Supper? Did Christ’s institution of the Eucharist take a sacriﬁcial form (so, for example, Cyprian, Chrysostom, and the Council of Trent)? Or, through his words and gestures at the Last Supper, did Christ leave his followers a ‘testament’ or ‘covenant’ (Luther), a loving ‘remembrance’ of the sacriﬁce made on Calvary (Calvin)? Obviously traditional Catholicism and traditional Protestantism collide at this point. Should our interpretation of what Christ did for his followers and bequeathed to them on the night before he died lead us to speak of ‘the sacriﬁce of the Mass’, or to use rather the ‘meal’ language involved in speaking of ‘the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper’? The ‘sacriﬁce’ language entails speaking of an ordained priest ‘offering the sacriﬁce of the Mass’, whereas the ‘meal’ language entails speaking of an ordained minister (or simply someone designated by the community) ‘presiding at the Lord’s Supper’.