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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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The Ideology of Fasting in the Reformation Era

The Ideology of Fasting in the Reformation Era

(p.41) Chapter 2 The Ideology of Fasting in the Reformation Era
Food and Faith in Christian Culture

Ken Albala

Columbia University Press

This chapter studies the practice of fasting. Despite the efforts of the early Christians to distance themselves from the legalism of Levitical food prohibitions, the Church had managed to invent its own intricate food rules, the most important of which was the compulsory fast during Lent. Fasting was always to be accompanied by prayer, and was construed essentially as an act of contrition, to facilitate forgiveness of sins and earn salvation. Meat, which is conceptually corrupting because it is inherently pleasurable, nutritious, and invigorating, and is linked directly to the libido, is excised from the diet as a form of self-punishment. The fast is also a proactive curb to the cardinal sin of gluttony, the first of the seven deadly sins. In sum, eating in a particular way and avoiding certain foods during specific times of the year is considered a devout act of piety.

Keywords:   fasting, kosher laws, Lent, self-punishment, gluttony, act of piety

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