Supper Ended

John 13:1‑2  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Q.-I have heard it stated that the opening words of John 13, “And supper being ended,” should more properly be, “And being supper time"; also that verse 4 should read, “He riseth and laid aside his garments,” for that it was contrary to all Jewish custom to wash after meals, but that they were very scrupulous about washing before meals. May I ask what is the correct rendering of these two clauses? —R.C.
A.-In the main, the alleged statement is correct. For neither the γενομένου of the Text. Rec., nor the “cena facta” of the ancient Latin version, is a sufficient warrant for the meaning “supper being ended.” What was finished was—not the supper, but—the preparation of it.
Two (now printed) texts of our earliest English version of Wiclif, made in the fourteenth century from the Latin Vulgate give “the souper maad,” (or, “the soper made") as the later Wicliffite also says, “Whanne the souper was maad.” Tyndale was the first (translating from the Greek) to render the aorist participle “When supper was ended,” followed by Cranmer, and the Genevan Version of 1557. Similarly, Coverdale (1535) also, “after supper.”
Probably Beza's change from the “coena facta” of his early editions of the Gr. Test. to “coena peracta” of his last folio (1598), may have inclined the translators of 1611 to Tyndale's view, which was also that of Diodati, who in his excellent Italian Version of 1607 had given “finita la cena,” but this was going too far.
Modern Editors of the Greek Text now adopt γινομένου the reading of the Sinaitic (firsthand) and Vatican Uncials with two others (LX), and this our Revisers render “during supper.” It was at the commencement of, or during, supper that, as verse 4 states, “Jesus riseth from supper and laid aside his garments,” &c. The feet washing was notoriously before the meal not at the end.