Bible Review 11:5, October 1995

Book Notes

The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity

Gillian Feeley-Harnick (Washington: Smithsonian, 1994), 200 pp., $14.95

This is essentially a reprint of a 1981 work and seems hard to justify. The book was supposed to be an anthropological study based on the viewpoint that food works like language, yet the author never succeeded in demonstrating the point. If food works like language, then it should have a grammar that realizes meanings from a social system. While Judeans in Judea can be said to have had a social system realizable in language and food, can the same be said of non-ethnics such as Christians? The book is sprinkled with ethnocentric observations (where the behavior of ancient Judeans is fused with that of modern Jews) and blatant anachronisms (she has “Jews” leaving Egypt at the time of the Pharaohs!).

Feeley-Harnick’s remarks on anthropology and the Bible were inadequate in 1981; they are now hopelessly out of date.

What Are They Saying About Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount?

Warren Carter (New York: Paulist, 1994), 136 pp., $7.95
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