One of humanity's most basic and common practices—eating meals—was transformed by Jesus into an occasion of divine encounter. In sharing food and drink with his companions, he invited them to share in the grace of God. He revealed his redemptive mission while eating with sinners, repentant and unrepentant alike.
Jesus' "table fellowship" with sinners in the Gospels has been widely agreed to be historically reliable. However, this consensus has recently been challenged, for example, by the claim that the meals in which Jesus participated took the form of Greco-Roman symposia—or that the "sinners" involved were the most flagrantly wicked within Israel's society, not merely the ritually impure or those who did not satisfy strict Pharisaic standards of holiness.
In this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume, Craig L. Blomberg engages with the debate and opens up the significance of the topic. He surveys meals in the Old Testament and the intertestamental period, examines all the Gospel texts relevant to Jesus' eating with sinners, and concludes with contemporary applications.
Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.
"Dr. Blomberg not only addresses current disputes about the 'table fellowship' practices of the historical Jesus, but also traces out the historical and theologically laden implications of table fellowship across the canon of Scripture, and issues a call to contemporary Christians to reform their habits in this matter."
"[Offers] an enlightening analysis of Jesus' table fellowship for Christian academics and laypersons alike. . . . Citing his own experiences overseas, the outreach efforts of the "Scum of the Earth" church in "Denver (of which he is a member), and other Christian ministries, Blomberg's application of 'contagious holiness' is a promising resource for Christians living in a post-9/11 age."
"A pivotal book for understanding how meals fit into the mission of Jesus and the church."
1. The current debate
"Sinners who need no repentance"
Did Jesus really eat with the wicked?
2. Forming friendships but evading enemies
Meals in the Old Testament
The historical books
The Wisdom literature
3. Contagious impurity
Old Testament Apocrypha
Qumram and the Dead Sea Scrolls
4. Jesus the consummate party animal?
Jesus' eating with sinners in the Gospels I: material not distinctive to Luke
Levi's party: Mark 2:13-17 and parallels
Feasting in the wilderness: Mark 6:30-44 and parallels
A repeat miracle: Mark 8:1-10 and parallels
How not to win friends and influence people: Matthew 8:11-16 and parallel
A glutton and a drunkard: Matthew 11:19 and parallels
Tax collectors and prostitutes: Matthew 21:31-32
The joy of new wine: John 2:1-11
A meal of reinstatement: John 21:1-14
Summary and conclusion
5. Pervasive purity
Jesus' eating with sinners in the Gospels II: material distinctive to Luke
A "sinner in the city": Luke 7:36-50
Hospitality versus holiness: Luke 10:38-42
A meal turned sour: Luke 11:37-54
A cagey host and a rude guest: Luke 14:1-24
A scandalous summary: Luke 15:1-32
Zacchaeus short-changed? Luke 19:1-10
Cleopas and company: Luke 24:13-35
Summary and conclusion
6 The potential of contemporary Christian meals
Conclusions and applications
Index of modern authors
Index of Scripture references
Index of ancient sources