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Food and Faith in Christian Culture$
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Ken Albala and Trudy Eden

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231149976

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231149976.001.0001

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Historical Background to Food and Christianity

Historical Background to Food and Christianity

(p.7) Prelude Historical Background to Food and Christianity
Food and Faith in Christian Culture

Ken Albala

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the food practices during the first millennium and a half of Christianity, and the several strands that influenced Christian attitudes toward food. Christianity was at that time profoundly influenced by both Judaism and Greco-Roman thought; earlier Judaic practices were adopted or continued by Christians. One Judaic practice that was retained is the ritual celebration of eating together, commensality, or as the early Christians called it, a love of agape feast designed to strengthen social harmony and brotherhood. The Jewish Passover was also retained, but in severely modified form, as the basis for the ritual at the very center of Christian worship—the Eucharist or communion. Fasting, as a way to purify the soul and show God one's sincerity and contrition, was another practice retained in early Christianity.

Keywords:   Christianity, Christian food practices, Judaism, Greco-Roman culture, commensality, agape feast, Passover, Eucharist, communion, fasting

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