From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World

From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World

From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World

From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World

Synopsis

Table fellowship in the ancient Mediterranean was more than food consumption. From Plato on down, banquets held an important place in creating community, sharing values, and connecting with the divine.

Excerpt

I am pleased finally to publish this work in its complete form, having first addressed the subject in my Harvard dissertation, “Social Obligation in the Context of Communal Meals: a Study of the Christian Meal in 1 Corinthians in Comparison with Graeco-Roman Communal Meals” (1980). I have continued to enlarge and revise the original study. During that time there has also been a resurgence of interest in the subject, both in classical studies and in early Christian studies. My dissertation and my assorted articles on the subject have generated a bit of interest as well, and others have found them a resource on which to build their own research. Indeed, rather than fading over the years, the project has seemed to grow in importance. the perspectives I have developed in regard to the Greco-Roman banquet have proved to be illuminating for research in a number of areas of ancient study. Yet in my previous publications, I have been able to present only parts of the total picture, and I have often felt that no single part of the argument can be properly understood and evaluated without access to the complete argument.

Portions of this work appeared in preliminary form elsewhere. Parts of chapter 1 appeared in a preliminary form in Many Tables: the Eucharist in the New Testament and Liturgy Today (London: scm and Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990; Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2001 [reprint edition]), which I co-authored with Hal E. Taussig. the section on the Essene meal in chapter 6 is an adaptation and revision of my article “Meals” in The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls, edited by L. H. Schiffman and J. C. Vander Kam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). the section on the messianic banquet in chapter 6 is an adaptation and revision of “The Messianic Banquet Reconsidered” in The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester, edited by B. A. Pearson (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), 64–73. the section on the historical Jesus in chapter 8 is an adaptation and revision of “Table Fellowship and the Historical Jesus” in Religious Propaganda and Missionary Competition in the New Testament World: Essays Honoring Dieter Georgi, edited by L. Bormann, K. del Tredici, and A. Standhartinger . . .

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