Barry Newman's Blog

December 7, 2011

The Agape [Feasts] (part IX)

Filed under: Agape meals,Christian Community Meals,Love Feasts — barrynewman @ 9:12 pm

Concluding Remarks

Whatever conclusions we come to about what Jude intended to mean in v. 12 we should be careful not to claim too much for what seems to have been a fairly regular meal held at some place or another, in which some believers and some others took part.  Appealing to later writings in order to elucidate the character of these meals is not at all helpful.  It is likely only to be misleading.

The temptation however has been to read back into the earlier text, a temptation succumbed to by many. The oddity of Jude using “agapais” without an accompanying noun needs to be recognised as a feature of Jude and attempts to understand what Jude is doing need to be made without appealing to later writings.  While this oddity serves to indicate an historical connection between the “agapais” of Jude and the “love feasts” of post New Testament writings, it needs to be recognised and understood without appeal to that material.

As just one example of where our temptations have lead us, Bauckham, for all that is worthy in his commentary, surely says far too much when he writes with respect to, “en tais agapais humon”, “This is the earliest occurrence of the term “agape” in the sense of Christian fellowship meals”[1].  Jude is obviously making a reference to some meals in which believers and others, for which the term, “believers” seems utterly inappropriate, participated, but to what extent these meals are to be identified as “fellowship” meals is highly problematic.  There is no evidence that at these meals, there was the fellowship (koinonia) spoken of in Acts 2: 42. To the contrary, while “feasting” characterised the meals that Jude refers to, the very early believers simply “broke bread”.[2] Unfortunately, Bauckham compounds the problem as he continues, writing in the same place, “It is equivalent to the … term “the Lord’s Supper”.   “The Lord’s Supper”!?  How extraordinary! But that leads us to another story.  And one already partly told elsewhere.

[1]  ibid., p. 84.

[2] See an earlier blog series, entitled, “They devoted themselves … to the breaking of bread”.


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