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. This consensus, however, 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.
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. He then examines all the Gospel texts relevant to Jesus’ eating with sinners. He concludes with contemporary applications.
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[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.
—Linda MacCammon, Theological Studies
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.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
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