Barry Newman's Blog

October 11, 2011

The Breaking of Bread (part III)

Filed under: Agape meals,Eucharist,Holy Communion,Lord's Supper — barrynewman @ 9:46 pm

The Intertestamental Period

In his chapter entitled, “Contagious impurity: Intertestamental developments” in Contagious Holiness: Jesus’ meals with sinners, Blomberg makes a number of incidental references to “bread” though his intention is simply to tease out certain Jewish perspectives on various meal situations.[1]

“Tobit stresses the exemplary giving of bread to the hungry.”  “Tobit is told, ‘give none (of your bread) to sinners.’”  Sirach’s book of wisdom “echoes Tobit by forbidding gifts of bread to the ungodly.” In Joseph and Aseneth “a heavenly visitor leads Aseneth to discover a honeycomb … which is specifically dubbed ‘the bread of life’” In the Testament of Jacob there is a reference to “eating the bread of life in the kingdom of God.”. One of the Qumran hymns of praise applies Psalm 41: 9 in terms of “[all who have ea]ten my bread have lifted their heel against me.” In the Rule of the Congregation there is a reference to “‘[no-one should stretch out] his hand to the first-fruit of the bread and of [the new wine] before the priest, for [he is the one who bl]esses’ the wine and bread.”  Philo, in one of the works, discusses certain “culinary traditions and a common meal comprising of only bread and salt.”

Thought at one extreme the references are to food handouts and at the other to “heavenly food”, along with the Old Testament literature, they lend additional support to the general notion that for Israel, “bread” of one form or another could be a significant component of a meal.


[1] Blomberg, pp. 65-96.

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