A Book: “The Foods and Feasts of Jesus”


I ran across something out of the ordinary from what I usually post. This won’t interest all of you, but there are some, like the folks at Simple Church (Zach and Kendall), who might like to incorporate it into their work. Others of you might like incorporating an authentic meal or two, with their recipes, into some celebrations during your Church Year events. I remember a church I served where the youth group invited the church to their meeting the Sunday after Easter to recall the Emmaus Supper from the day’s lectionary reading.


From Amazon:

The New Testament is filled with stories of Jesus eating with people—from extravagant wedding banquets to simple meals of loaves and fishes. The Food and Feasts of Jesus offers a new perspective on life in biblical times by taking readers inside these meals. Food production and distribution impacted all aspects of ancient life, including the teachings of Jesus. From elaborate holiday feasts to a simple farmer’s lunch, the book explores the significance of various meals, discusses key ingredients, places food within the socioeconomic conditions of the time, and offers accessible recipes for readers to make their own tastes of the first century. Ideal for individual reading or group study, this book opens a window into the tumultuous world of the first century and invites readers to smell, touch, and taste the era’s food.


Everyone knows that Jesus fed thousands with just a few fish and loaves, but what did people of the first century eat on an everyday basis? According to Neel and Pugh, the ancient Middle Eastern diet has much in common with the region’s contemporary foods despite 2,000 years of changing tastes and technological innovations. Jewish dietary proscriptions may have limited consumption of some foods, but the presence in Jerusalem of Roman occupation forces and other gentiles would have meant some diversity at table. The authors inventory available grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish. Holidays of the era, most tied to the cycle of planting and harvesting, had their own specific traditions for feasts. For those who want to recreate a seder, the authors offer a sample Passover meal and its ritual prayers in both Hebrew and English. Recipes enable anyone to recreate entire meals that Jesus might well have enjoyed. (Booklist)

Neel, an Episcopal priest, and Pugh, a CPA, are both serious experts on ancient foodways. This enjoyable and tasty book is an insightful culinary study of Jesus’s time and the role played by the preparation of food and its consumption. Their book allows the reader to ‘study, taste, and experience the culture of the first century Holy Land.’ The 50-plus recipes included permit the reader to incorporate these delicious and healthy foods into their own meals and celebrations. The authors see food as a gift from God and believe that in its preparation and consumption we create community. The authors not only present the recipes but also explore the significance of food in biblical times from everyday repasts to the specific meanings of food choices at rituals such as wedding feasts, religious gatherings, and Shabbat. The recipes feature the fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, and fresh spices that were used at the time and will enable readers to experience this important aspect of biblical studies. VERDICT This book is ideal for anyone looking for different and inspiring recipes as well as an excellent introduction to life in the first-century Holy Land. Highly recommended. (Library Journal)


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