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Posted June 14, 2006

Book: Eating Your Way Through Luke's Gospel
Author: Robert J. Karris
Liturgical Press. Collegeville, MN. 2006. Pp. 110

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Robert Karris spreads before us a delightful feast of information about food themes in the Gospel of Luke. In a lively style of writing, Karris describes the food and drink popular in Jesus' day, Eucharistic implications, and the social role Jesus assumes in relation to food.

An Excerpt from the Book:


When we think of a symposium, we most often think of a conference during which speakers will address various aspects of a theme, e.g., "A Symposium on Food." Our modern-day use of the word symposium captures just one dimension of what Jesus and Luke meant by a symposium. For Luke and Jesus a symposium was a meal, generally a festive one, at which the participants reclined, ate, drank wine, and conversed. In the strictest sense, the meal was first and was followed by the drinking of mixed wine and conversation. In Greek, symposium means "drinking with." Places of honor were generally on the middle couch of a three-couch or triclinium setup. On each of the three couches three people reclined. Thus, there would generally be nine people present. The Greco-Roman authors Lucian and Plutarch describe dignified women as present. Lucian places the women together by themselves on the left couch. In Luke's Gospel Jesus frequently eats at a symposium: with toll collector Levi; with Pharisee Simon; with other Pharisees; with still other Pharisees; with his male and female disciples. Many of the features we might find strange in Luke's accounts of Jesus' meals make sense in the setting of a literary symposium. For example, the strange fact that the woman sinner crashes the gate of the symposium in Luke 7:36-50 finds a ready parallel in "the univited guest" feature of the ancient symposium. Further, Lucian's Symposium satirizes the common practice of guests to squabble over who should get the choice couch at a symposium. Recall Luke 14:7-14.

Table of Contents:

1. The realia of food and drink during the time of Jesus and Luke
2. The theme of food in Luke's gospel
3. Jesus, glutton and drunkard, friend of toll collectors and sinners
4. Jesus as guest, host, and teacher at meals
5. Jesus' petition for food and food imagery in Luke's parables
6. Trawling for the theme of food in the Gospels of John, Mark, and Matthew
7. Food and women
8. Eating is a serious and dangerous, but also a joyful business