The author of this meager submission once attended a birthday banquet at the local McDonald's establishment in the far southwestern corner of Oklahoma. The highlight of this social outing, which must have included many compelling and edifying moments, consisted of a game in which contestants were forced to stand and drop straws from their mouths in order to land them in awaiting cups on the ground. This event rounded off a long series of rituals which left every attendee with the feeling that he/she had been part of a successful attempt at remembering another child's day of birth.
As socially significant as this party had been, it in no way compares to the complex social implications and expectations which accompanied banquets in the Greco-Roman world. These often extravagant affairs were endeavors which sought to appease more than a six year old anticipating wrapped-up toys, ice-cream and friends. Instead, in a world where personal honor and stratification were of highest significance, banquets functioned as tools for the betterment or detriment of everyone involved. An examination of these diverse but common dinners will undoubtedly lead to a deeper understanding of New Testament teachings, specifically those concerning table fellowship and feasts, by providing important historical background.
[...] Even a very large house would normally have only one or two dining rooms (triclina), which would not accommodate everyone, so the poorer latecomers are forced to eat separately from the wealthier members and to scrounge for leftovers. The prominent Corinthians are having trouble letting go of their old Greco-Roman ideas of social net-worth, and Paul is forced to step in and reprimand them and show the purpose, importance, and correct way of breaking bread with every member of the body, not noticing economics or hierarchy. [...]
[...] Leuven: Peeters Smith, Dennis E. From Symposium to Eucharist. Minneapolis: Fortress Press Thiessen, Gerd. The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press Smith Dennis, E. and Hal E. Taussig. Many Tables: The Eucharist in the New Testament and Liturgy Today. Philadelphia: SCM Press Tidball, Derek. The Social Context of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Academie Books Willis, Wendell Lee. “Idol Meat in Corinth”. in SBL Dissertation Series ed. Talbert, Charles. Chico: Scholars Press Smith, Symposium Katherine M. D. Dunbabin, Graeco More [...]
[...] These networks provided patrons with increased honor and influence, and the clients with access to goods and services. To call another person a was not understood as a term of endearment, but instead one of function. In such a system of personal honor, each person was concerned first with his/her own status. Therefore, to enter into a relationship with a person, it was crucial that each had something to offer the other, or there was no good reason to pursue relations. [...]
[...] Banquets in the Writings of Paul Paul also has opportunity to confront the banquet and the effects it has on his churches, especially those in the Gentile world, who would have come from a purely Greco-Roman worldview. In 1 Corinthians Paul faces the issue of meats sacrificed to pagan gods. Often banquets would be held in a range of different temples, the invitations sometimes even noting an individual god as the actual host or hostess. During these banquets, there would be various rituals, some involving the dedication of food to the temple gods. [...]
[...] Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Koenig, John. The Feast of the World's Redemption. Harrisburg: Trinity Press Hanson, K. C. and Douglas E. Oakman. Palestine in the time of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press Malherbe, Abraham J. Social Aspects of Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press McGowan, Andrew. Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals. Oxford: Clarendon Press P. Koln 57 (SB X 10496) Einladung zur Kline des Sarapis. Smit, Joop F. M. “About The Idol Offerings.” in Biblical Exegesis and Theology ed. [...]
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