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Old 09-02-2013, 03:32 AM   #1
GI_Jeep
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Default Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Does anyone know what type of substance the Holy Grail would have been made of? Wood? stone?

Any insight is appreciated.
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:33 AM   #2
Mac H.
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Ignoring for a moment that the 'Holy Grail' is a legend from a later era ... Pottery was extremely common in that time.

The stuff we've found from that era is almost exclusively pottery - and Josephus makes a point of mentioning when things are cups are metal .. presumably because it was unusual.

Personally, though, I'd do what 'Last Crusade' did and make it simple & wooden. It fits with the 'theme' of it.

I'd go for plain - any design would certainly not show be entirely abstract. There was a riot in Galilee when Herod had statues showing animals - as statues counted as 'graven images' which, if you recall the Ten Commandments, was a big no-no.

(It seems that people in Jerusalem were more tolerant and basically called the Galileans hicks for being so fussy about it - but definitely having any 'graven image' on the cup would be bad idea)

Of course, remember, too, that the Last Supper took place in a borrowed room of someone else's home - so I'd take a guess and assume that it was using someone else's crockery. But since he was a celebrity at the time - perhaps they were effectively using the 'good china' for the guest?

(BTW - This is entirely guess work. In Elizabethan times it was expected that guests to a meal would bring their own cutlery .. so it's easy to insert our own cultural expectations when imagining others..)

There are two sources for the timing - the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew & Luke - probably using Mark as a reference) as opposed to Gospel of John.

John says that the Last Supper happened before the Passover - the Synoptic Gospels say it happened during the Passover. So it is tempting to consider to cheat and argue that the 'Last Supper' was a typical 'Passover' ritual and extrapolate the dining habits of the meal from our knowledge of Passover.

The trouble with that, though, is that we know very little about how Passover was ritualised at that time outside the temple. Inside the temple we know the rituals in tedious detail - but there is no contemporary record of what people did (if anything) in their homes to remember Passover in that era.

Thankfully we don't need to worry too much. Lucas has put his stamp on the Holy Grail legend, so I'd say a plain wooden cup is pretty much canon now...

Mac

Last edited by Mac H. : 09-02-2013 at 04:50 AM.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:59 AM   #3
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Cursed be the day I quote Max Landis, but alas, that day has come, and so I would answer in the same manner his father did on the question of how to kill a vampire, the answer being the same as the answer to your question about the cup of the Holy Grail. That is, in principle, it can be anything you want, because the Holy Grail didn't exist.
Having said that, you can apply a little logic to your imagination: First, the Holy Grail is something that acquired relevance after the fact. In other words, unlike a king's crown, it was supposedly not made with its importance in mind but, according to legend, was simply the cup used in the Last Supper.
That does not mean that you could even alter that presupposition, because you could, but logically the Holy Grail would be a modest cup that is later adorned accordingly to its importance, whether painted gold or incrusted with precious metals or with a golden base, etc, etc.
You can also make up the fact that one of those benefactors at the time of Jesus, or the humble owner of the abode where the supper took place, could very well have provided a modest metal cup.
In other words, to have an impressive looking original cup, as you would with the cup of a head of state, etc, you would have to make up stuff, a specific backstory so that this makes sense. Other than that, you are stuck with the fact that it was probably the cheapest cup available that, at most, was adorned after the fact, probably centuries after the fact, by which it would probably not look like the classiest of vases, unless you can think of something that successfully combines modesty with glitter, like a special gold rimmed glass box or something, or as mentioned, a gold base for the cup.
The whole problem with the representation of the Holy Grail, as you can imagine, is that it's a religious symbol of circumstance. If this is still not clear let me offer you this parallel vision: Imagine if, instead of the Holy Grail, there would be a legend about Jesus' Cross. Would you imagine it made of gold or merely a couple of simple wooden beams?
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:11 AM   #4
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Personally, I wouldn't go with wood. I'd probably go here and look at how the Eastern Orthodox depict the setup of the Last Supper. Eastern Orthodox iconography is pretty ancient and unchanged, and there were likely traditions passed down about what was on the table. In the icons at the link, I think the drinking vessels look like pottery.

Didn't someone tackling the Arthurian canon (someone in the modern era) describe the Grail as pottery with the inside coated in gold leaf (the understanding being, I think, that the gold had been put on later)? I only have a vague memory of that, though, and I can't recall who wrote it or when, so it's not very helpful.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

The holy grail wasn't a cup... it was a vagina (see Dan Brown.)
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Thanks for the information, everyone. Very insightful stuff.

I was going to make it a simple wooden cup originally, and i'll stick with that.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac H. View Post
Lucas has put his stamp on the Holy Grail legend, so I'd say a plain wooden cup is pretty much canon now...

Mac
I agree it seems silly to quibble about legend but at least so far as Lucas goes, the Holy Grail wasn't a wooden cup. The line from the movie is "That's the cup of a carpenter," meaning the cup was what a poor carpenter would own, not necessarily that it was made by a carpenter.

In any case, everything I've seen (including info from Lucas archives and Indiana nerds) is that the grail is clay. There are some claims that the actual prop was resin, other claims it was terracotta but no one seems to disagree that it was intended to be a clay grail.
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Old 09-03-2013, 02:19 AM   #8
Mac H.
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

Huh . You are right. I just look at the snippet again. My brain recorded it as wood - probably because of the 'carpenter' line.

Apparently I'm very suggestible...
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Craftsmen in the times of Jesus

I'm certainly not claiming any sort of authority, just quoting what I've read around the internet - and the internet is always right! The funny thing about it being fictional is that George could come out tomorrow and announce it was wooden and... there you go. After all, we now all know (thank you, George!) that Hans did not shoot first.
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