Mazza, Enrico. "Chapter Three: The Origin of the Christian Eucharist." The Celebration of the Eucharist: The Origin of the Rite and the Development of Its Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press/Pueblo, 1999, 19-28.
Mazza ties the eucharist directly to the Last Supper and Jesus' command to continue doing what he had done (Mazza 1999, 19). The Christian anaphora, or eucharistic prayers, are centered around the blessing of the bread and giving thanks for the cup. Mazza sees the explanations and prayers as setting this meal apart from other meal rituals. An understanding of this difference may well have led the disciples in their decision to continue in Jesus' command to "do this" (Mazza 1999, 20).
While Mazza concedes freely that in the second century the actual meal was separated from the eucharist, and that the separate prayers over the bread and the cup were combined into one prayer, still there is a good deal of conformity to the Last Supper (Mazza 1999, 21). Mazza catalogs nine ritual actions which were present in the Last Supper and remain present in the celebration of the Mass, from taking bread until the time the cup is given with accompanying words.
Among the four New Testament reports of the Last Supper, there are two different threads of tradition represented. Mazza observes that Mark and Matthew describe the Supper one way, while Luke and Paul describe it differently (Mazza 1999, 22). He dates Paul's account to spring of 54, but traces it to an earlier tradition. Since Paul had been handed the tradition which he transferred to the Corinthians, the tradition itself was present by the time Paul began work in Corinth in 49 (Mazza 1999, 23). His description in 1 Corinthians 10 is very similar to that in Luke 22 and in Didache 9-10. Mark's narrative, though it may have been redacted earlier, is not necessarily more accurate. Mazza considers it to have grown, as did Luke's from liturgical tradition in his community (Mazza 1999, 24). Luke's harmonizes well with known Jewish meal traditions, while Mark's does not.
Mazza considers the different chronologies of the Synoptics and of John, and notes that current scholarship is becoming more convinced by John's chronology, which places the Last Supper the night before the Passover (Mazza 1999, 25). While Jesus is the true Passover lamb, the meal with the disciples does not appear to be a Passover. Luke's description of the introductory rite, the meal, and the concluding ritual does certainly speak of God's coming kingdom. Jesus clearly gives his disciples his body to eat (Mazza 1999, 27). Yet Mazza doesn't find it to be a passover meal. It is a ceremonial meal with a cup and bread, a supper, and a final cup, all accompanied by prayers. This is very like the Eucharist except with the insertion of a meal.