Meals Are Where the Magic Is

Scope: Like other ancient and modern religious groups, early Christians shared fellowship meals. Evidence from Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures testifies to the peculiar power experienced by participants in meals. The cultural contexts, however, offer a number of possible antecedents to Christian practice. What, then, was the precise meaning of the Christian meal? One scholarly view proposes that it was a memorial for the dead rather than a celebration of participation with the risen Christ. The topic raises the question of the appropriate way to interpret archaeological and literary evidence, the issue of unity and diversity in early Christianity, and the character of the Christian movement as based in the Resurrection experience.

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