Was Jesus body "broken" or "given"?


Is it right or wrong to say, as we find in some hymns, “Thy body broken”?

With us, some substitute the word “given,” on the ground that “broken” contravenes the prohibition, “A bone of Him shall not be broken.”

The expression in the said hymns is based on the A.V. of 1 Corinthians 11:24: “This is My body, which is broken for you.” Whether or not this is correct, it is difficult dogmatically to decide, but I think we are safe in refusing “given” as a substitute for “broken” in the Corinthian passage, for there is no serious manuscript authority for it, and it is only supported by three versions—the Latin Vulgate, the Egyptian and the Ethiopic, and the editor of the 4th or 5th century—_Euthalius. This reading, however, has the bulk of authority in Luke 22:19. The choice then lies between “broken” and simply, “This is My body for you” (lit, the one on behalf of you), though one cannot help feeling that this sentence seems to need completing with some verb.

However, although some good authorities like Drs. Tregelles and Christopher Wordsworth, refuse to give up “broken,” which has a considerable body of weighty authority behind it, there seems still more authority for omitting. Then again there is the prohibition: “A bone of Him shall not be broken.” which some quote as conclusive against our reading, “broken,” as the verb in 1 Corinthians  11:24. It is perfectly true that the bread is broken, but surely this is not as a symbol of anything that occurred at the cross, but simply for purposes of distribution. It is the breaking of bread which stands for the communion or sharing of it by those participating. Whether again the breaking of the body, i.e. of the skin and flesh, as was undoubtedly the case at Calvary, might take place, without the unity of the body being compromised, is a question. It is the bones which matter, for they are the foundation of the bodily frame, and alone preserve its unity. I have sometimes wondered whether the prohibition as to breaking a bone of the Paschal lamb (Exododus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12) did not mean that the carcase should preserve its entirety, the bones being not only unbroken, but unsevered. The flesh would be carved off, the bony frame remain intact. It seems as though nothing short of this would represent the unity of the Body of Christ symbolised by the Lamb. Our Lord’s prophetic words in Psalm 22:17, “I may tell all my bones,” no doubt refer primarily to His physical bones, but they go further to those whom He in His omniscience even then knew as His members, and as being crucified with Him. In Psalm 34:20, we have the assurance, “He keepeth all His bones, not one of them is broken”— where “broken” might well bear the sense of “severed.” In the next Psalm we have the testimony of each and all of these “bones”—”All My bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto Thee, which deliverest the poor from Him that is too strong for him” (v. 10).

Our conclusion must be on the whole that while “given” is doctrinally correct (Luke 22. 19), it cannot be upheld by the textual authorities of the Corinthian passage as what Paul wrote by the Spirit. As for “broken,” though well supported, it certainly has the general understanding of the prohibition of John 19:36 against it, as well as the larger bulk of manuscript authority. I think we are safer then in accepting with the R.V. the version of the words in question as, “This is My body, which is for you,” though we may not be able to do so with absolute conviction.