As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I’m doing some reading on table fellowship, and so I read my friend’s, Craig Blomberg’s, book called Contagious Holiness. This maybe the most complete display of what the Bible says on meals.
The book is a little more academically shaped than John Koenig’s, but Craig’s book does come round, in the last chp, to some sparkling vignettes of the impact of meals in the American Church.
Now here’s the big question: How many of us have used the word “inclusion” when it comes to Jesus’ practice of table fellowship? Now the kicker: How many of us have stopped there? Is the point of table fellowship inclusion or more than that? Put a little differently, just how “missional” was Jesus’ practice of table fellowship.
Now a brief on this book: it begins with the state of scholarship; it then trots its way through — in complete fashion — the whole Old Testament in sequential order, then he trots through the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha and then the Dead Sea Scrolls (almost nothing on the rabbis — sound history here because Craig knows that the rabbis are later than Jesus). Two chps on Jesus — good ones — and then a nice chp on practice today.
The singular contributions Craig makes to the discussion are two-fold: first, he debunks the idea that the Greek-Roman symposium shaped the meals of Jesus. The evidence for this is thin and often overdrawn. Second, and most importantly, Craig makes a big point about Jesus’ practice: inclusion is not enough to describe what Jesus accomplished. Jesus brings people to the table in order to become a “contagion of holiness.” Repentance, etc..
This isn’t really a book review, and I do have issues here and there with both Craig’s book and John Koenig’s book on Tuesday, but that’s for another setting.