Skip to main content
×
Home

A Symposiastic Background to James?*

  • Peter-Ben Smit (a1)
Abstract

The Epistle of James is not commonly seen in relation to early Christian common meals. At the same time, the work is preoccupied with the common life of an early Christian community, which in turn was, generally speaking, closely related to the way in which it celebrated its meals. In other words, ethics, ecclesiology, and etiquette were closely related. Based on this consideration, this essay attempts to relate aspects of the epistle to symposiastic conventions as they were known in the first-century Mediterranean world.

Copyright
References
Hide All

1 Klinghardt Matthias, Gemeinschaftsmahl und Mahlgemeinschaft: Soziologie und Liturgie frühchristlicher Mahlfeiern (TANZ 13; Tübingen: Francke, 1996) 7980 n. 68, is an exception as he argues that the gathering described in Jas 2 is a meal. Earlier, Bo Reicke, Diakonie, Festfreude und Zelos in Verbindung mit der altchristlichen Agapenfeier (Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift 1951:5; Uppsala Lundequistska Bokhandeln, 1951) 37–8, also argued that this meeting was that of the ‘Kultgemeinde’ (the context of Reicke's study leads to the assumption that a meal is meant); in fact, he identified the hearing of the word (1.19.21–23), worship (θρησκεία) in 1.27, the συναγωγή in 2.2, the ‘peace’ in 2.15, and the sacrifice of Abraham as a type for Christians in 2.21, as elements of Christian liturgy that can be found in the letter.

2 Garleff Gunnar, Urchristliche Identität in Matthäusevangelium, Didache und Jakobusbrief (Beiträge zum Verstehen der Bibel 9; Münster: LIT, 2004) 303, is representative for many: ‘Das Medium “Ritus” spielt im Jakobusbrief zur kollektiven Identitätskonstruktion keine besondere Rolle. Es finden sich keine Anmerkungen zu rituellen Aspekten der Taufe, zum Abendmahl oder zum Gottesdienst. Die gottesdienstliche Versammlung bildet in Jak 2,1ff lediglich die Kulisse des ethischen Problems der Parteilichkeit. Wenn man überhaupt im Jak Hinweise auf einen identitätskonstruierenden Ritus finde will, dann kommt allein der Abschnitt 5,13–18 dafür in Frage, in dem es um die Gebetspraxis geht’. This lengthy quotation shows two things: too strict a subdivision between ritual and ethics (ritual is more often than not enacted ethics), and too narrow a concept of what the Lord's Supper might have been in first-century early Christianity. Voices similar to that of Gerlaff include also e.g. Konradt Matthias, ‘“Geboren durch das Wort der Wahrheit”—“gerichtet durch das Gesetz der Freiheit”. Das Wort als Zentrum der theologischen Konzeption des Jakobusbriefes’, Der Jakobusbrief. Beiträge zur Rehabilitierung der ‘strohernen Epistel’ (ed. Gemünden Petra von, Konradt Matthias, and Theißen Gerd; Beiträge zum Verstehen der Bibel 3; Münster: LIT, 2003) 115, 1. On Jas 1.26–27, see also Burchard Christoph, Der Jakobusbrief (HNT 15/1; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000) 91–5.

3 A view that was put forward in modern exegesis by Ward Roy Bowen, ‘Partiality in the Assembly: James 2:2–4’, HTR 62 (1969) 8797; see further e.g. Hartin Patrick J., James (Sacra Pagina 14; Collegeville, MI: Liturgical, 2003) 131–2; Davids Peter H., James (NIC; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1982) 109–10; Wachob Wesley Hiram, The Voice of Jesus in the Social Rhetoric of James (SNTSMon 106; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2000) 157–8; Martin Ralph P., James (WBC 48; Waco: Word, 1988) 109–10. For a concise critique of Ward, see Burchard Christoph, ‘Gemeinde in der strohernen Epistel’, Kirche (ed. Lührmann Dieter and Strecker Georg; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1980) 315–28, esp. 322–3.

4 See for example Ropes James Hardy, The Epistle of St. James (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1916) 188–9; Dibelius Martin, Der Brief des Jakobus (KEK 5; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 5th ed. 1984) 167–8; Laws Sophie, A Commentary on the Epistle of James (Cambridge: Harper & Row, 1980) 100101; and Hoppe Rudolf, Jakobusbrief (SKK.NT; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 2nd ed. 1999) 52 (indicating that it is probably a liturgical gathering); Frankemölle Hubert, Der Brief des Jakobus. Kapitel 2–5 (ÖTK.NT 17/2; Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1994) 388–9; Mussner Franz, Der Jakobusbrief (HThK.NT 13/1; Freiburg: Herder, 4th ed. 1981) 117.

5 See e.g. Gerd Theißen's way of putting it: ‘Das Verhältnis zum Sakrament wird zum Test für die Zugehörigkeit zu Jesus—und damit zur Gemeinde’ (Die Religion der ersten Christen: eine Theorie des Urchristentums [Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2000] 275). The common meal can be seen as the central rite of early Christianity, thus contributing to the construction of its identity. See e.g. Garleff, Identität, 42–4.

6 Questions related to meal praxis belonged to the more hotly debated questions of (ritual) identity within early Christian communities. See e.g. 1 Cor 8; 10–11; Rom 14–15; Acts 10; see in the Gospels esp. Mark 7.1–15/Matt 15.1–20.

7 See e.g. the observation made by Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 156, ‘Es ist überraschend, in welch hohem Maß Gemeinschaft als Mahlgemeinschaft realisiert wurde, denn zunächst ist Koinonia ein ganz umfassender Wertbegriff für alle Formen sozialen Zusammenlebens, der beispielsweise in den antiken, an der Polis orientierten Staatstheorien eine zentrale Rolle spielte’. See further also: Schmitt-Pantel Pauline, La Cité au Banquet. Histoire des Repas Publics dans les Cités Grecques (Collection de l’École Française de Rome 157; Rome: École Française, 1992) 113; Davidson James N., Kurtisanen und Meeresfrüchte. Die verzehrenden Leidenschaften im klassischen Athen (trans. Ghirardelli Gennaro; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1999) 5891; Dunbabin Katherine M. D., The Roman Banquet: Images of Conviviality (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2003) 110; Dayagi-Mendels Michal, Drink and Be Merry: Wine and Beer in Ancient Times (Jerusalem: The Israel Museum, 1999) 7997, esp. 79; as well as D'Arms John, ‘The Roman Convivium and the Idea of Equality’, Sympotica: A Symposium on the Symposion (ed. Murray Oswyn; Oxford: Clarendon, 1990) 308–20.

8 See esp. Smith Dennis E., From Symposium to Eucharist: The Banquet in the Early Christian World (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003).

9 On which, see e.g. Smith, Symposium, esp. 87–131, further also e.g. Ebel Eva, Die Attraktivität früher christlichen Gemeinden (WUNT 2/178; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), offering detailed descriptions of two non-Christian collegia: the ‘cultores Dianae et Antonoi’ (12–75) and that of a society dedicated to Dionysus (76–142), noting in the Introduction (1–12, here: 2) that the meal was central to these societies; see further Claussen Carsten, Versammlung, Gemeinde, Synagoge: das hellenistisch-jüdische Umfeld der frühchristlichen Gemeinden (StUNT 27; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002), and Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 251–67. See also the overview provided by McCready Wayne O., ‘Ekklēsia and Voluntary Associations’, Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World (ed. Kloppenborg John S. and Wilson Stephen G.; London: Routledge, 1996) 5973. See for the state of research and a discussion of objections e.g. Ascough Richard S., ‘Voluntary Associations and the Formation of Pauline Christian Communities: Overcoming the Objections’, Vereine, Synagogen und Gemeinden im kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasien (ed. Gutsfeld Andreas and Koch Dietrich-Alex; STAC 25; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005) 149–83. See for further studies e.g. Ebel, Attraktivität, and also Ascough Richard S., Paul's Macedonian Associations: The Social Context of Philippians and 1 Thessalonians (WUNT 2/161; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), as well as Ascough , ‘The Thessalonian Christian Community as a Professional Voluntary Association’, JBL 119 (2000) 311–28. See for a study that underlines the coexistence of (functional) hierarchy and (theological) equality in the Pauline communities qua societies: Schmeller Thomas, Hierarchie und Egalität. Eine sozialgeschichtliche Untersuchung paulinischer Gemeinden und griechisch-römischer Vereine (SBS 162; Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1995).

10 See e.g. Nijf Onno M. van, The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East (Dutch Monographs on Ancient History and Archaeology; Amsterdam: Gieben, 1997); Sommer Stefan, Rom und die Vereinigungen im südwestlichen Kleinasien (133 v. Chr. – 284 n. Chr.) (Pietas 1; Hennef: Clauss, 2006); the contributions in Egelhaaf-Gaiser Ulrike and Schäfer Alfred, eds., Religiöse Vereine in der römischen Antike (STAC 13; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2002); Liu Jinyu, Collegia Centonariorum: The Guilds of Textile Dealers in the Roman West (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition 34; Leiden: Brill, 2009); Dittmann-Schöne Imogen, Die Berufsvereine in den Städten des kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasiens (Theorie und Forschung 690; Regensburg: Roderer, 2001). For a briefer overview, see also: Ascough Richard S., ‘Greco-Roman Philosophic, Religious, and Voluntary Associations’, Community Formation in the Early Church and the Church Today (ed. Longenecker Richard N.; Peabody: Hendrickson, 2002) 319.

11 See e.g. Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 156; Smith, Symposium, 1–13.

12 See e.g. Ascough Richard S., ‘Forms of Commensality in Greco-Roman Associations’, Classical World 102 (2008) 3345 (34).

13 See for an argument calling attention to a broad spectrum of social functions e.g. Ascough, ‘Forms’, reacting to the somewhat narrower view of Donahue John F., ‘Toward a Typology of Roman Public Feasting’, AJP 124 (2003) 423–41.

14 See e.g. McGowan Andrew, Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford: Oxford University, 1999) 45, and esp. Crossan John Dominic, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991) 261–4.

15 See also e.g. Bendlin Andreas, ‘Gemeinschaft, Öffentlichkeit und Identität: Forschungsgeschichtliche Anmerkungen zu den Mustern sozialer Ordnung in Rom’, Vereine (ed. Egelhaaf and Schäfer ) 940.

16 See also e.g. Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 173–4, who notes that ‘es ganz unabhängig von speziellen religiösen Aspekten so etwas wie eine gemeinsame, griechisch-pagane Mahltheologie gibt, die sich zunächst nicht in Kategorien wie Theoxenie, Theophagie, Mysterienmahl, Opfermahl usw. (also in einer wie immer gedachten göttlichen Präsenz im oder beim Mahl) äußert, sondern in einem konsistenten Komplex von Wertvorstellungen, die traditionell mit Symposien verbunden sind: Ruhe und Frieden, Reichtum und Fülle, unbeeinträchtigte Gemeinschaft, Gerechtigkeit, usw’.

17 See e.g. D'Arms, ‘Convivium’, further also Smith, Symposium, esp. 8–12, 54–8.

18 See e.g.: Xenophanes, fr. 1 (Diels/Kranz); Homer, Od. 9.5–10; Acts 2.46; Rom 14.17. See more extensively: Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 173–4.

19 So e.g. Slater William J., ‘Sympotic Ethics in the Odyssey’, Sympotica (ed. Murray ) 213–20, 213–4, see Plutarch Mor. 612E; Lucian Par. 51.

20 For this and the following, see esp. D'Arms, ‘Convivium’.

21 See e.g. D'Arms, ‘Convivium’, 308–17; Smith, Symposium, 55–8.

22 See Anakreon fr. 9 (Diehl). Murray Oswyn, ‘War and the Symposium’, Dining in a Classical Context (ed. Slater William J.; Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1991) 83103, surveys the association of drinking fellowship and military fellowship, however.

23 See Smith, Symposium, 33–4, 87–131, for various examples and two sets of statutes.

24 See e.g. the convincing argument by Wachob, Voice, esp. 11–17; see also Frankemölle, Jakobus, 390–1.

25 On the structure, see e.g. Garleff, Identität, 251–2; Martin, James, 57–9.

26 See above, section 1.

27 See above, note 3.

28 See e.g. Konradt Matthias, Christliche Existenz nach dem Jakobusbrief (StUNT 22; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997) 136 n. 228: Lev 19.15; Ps 81.2 LXX; Prov 18.5; Mal 2.9; Sir 4.22, 27; 1QH 6; Did. 4.3; Barn. 19.4; 1 Clem. 1.3; Polycarp Phil. 6.2.

29 See Konradt, Existenz, 136.

30 See for a summary, Davids, James, 109.

31 A real situation often seems to be assumed in the literature, or is left open, with emphasis on the character of Jas 2.1–13 as an example (e.g. Konradt, Existenz, 137; similarly: Frankemölle, Jakobus, 387; Mussner, Jakobusbrief, 116–17), but this is not necessary; if Jas 2.1–13 is indeed deliberative in character, the possibility of the use of an exemplum here, not an actual case from the community addressed by the letter increases. See Mitchell Margaret M., Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians (HUT 28; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991) 14, 23. However, as e.g. Verbin John S. Kloppenborg, ‘Patronage Avoidance in James’, HTS 55 (1999) 140, esp. 3–5, indicates (and as was commonly accepted in contemporary rhetorical theory), an example that was close to the world of the addressees would be stronger than one that was not, and it seems likely that the situation sketched in Jas 2.1–3 may well be one known to the recipients of James. See further also Ahrens Matthias, Der Realitäten Widerschein oder Arm und Reich im Jakobusbrief (Berlin: Alektor, 1995) 147–51.

32 A NT text that indicates this rather clearly is Luke 14.8–10; see in general Smith, Symposium, 33–4. For further offices and officers, see the statutes of four associations as they have been published by Schmeller, Hierarchie, 96–115, esp. 115.

33 See Smith, Symposium, 56. Timon argues that if a host assigns places according to honor, he ‘instead of playing the host, makes himself a juryman and a judge over people who do not call upon him to decide an issue and are not on trial as to who is better than who, or worse; for they have not entered a contest, but have come for dinner’ (trans. LCL).

34 See e.g. Frankemölle, Jakobus, 388m, ὑμῶν clearly indicates that the meeting is that of the Christian group addressed by James (even if the term ‘Christian’ is somewhat of an anachronism here). As Burchard, ‘Gemeinde’, 315, suggests, the use of the word ἐκκλησία in Jas 5.14 is probably more a self-designation of the group addressed by James than ‘synagogue’.

35 See e.g. Garleff, Identität, 253; Martin, James, 61.

36 See e.g. Dibelius, Jakobus, 165–7, Dibelius rightly warns against drawing too many conclusions from the use of the word συναγωγή only. Similarly e.g. Ropes, James, 188–9, noting the Christian use of the term in order to describe meetings in Herm. Mand. 11.9, 13, 14; Ignatius Pol. 4.2, Trall. 3; Irenaeus A.H. 4.31.1–2; Epiphanius Haer. 30.18; Justin Dial. 58.14.

37 This in spite of the semantic unclarity of the noun συναγωγή, which can indicate a gathering, a building or a gathering for judgment. As the majority interpret the noun in this context as referring to an assembly or a gathering of people, it is, as will be demonstrated, anything but impossible to imagine that this gathering is a meal or a symposiastic gathering. See on the semantic aspects e.g. Garleff, Identität, 253.

38 See e.g. Epiphanius Haer. 30.18; Ignatius Pol. 4.2, Trall. 3; Herm. Mand. 11.9, 13, 14.

39 See e.g. Hoppe, Jakobusbrief, 52; Konradt, Existenz, 137 n. 239; Laws, James, 100–101: a meeting.

40 This is commonly done; see e.g. Martin, James, 57, assuming an undefined kind of worship, or, as Martin also considers, a meeting of the Christian community that needed to settle particular disputes.

41 See e.g. the considerations of Rouwhorst Gerhard A. M., ‘The Reception of the Jewish Sabbath in Early Christianity’, Christian Feast and Festival (ed. Post P., Rouwhorst G., Tongeren L. van, and Scheer A.; Leuven: Peeters, 2001) 223–66, esp. 254.

42 See e.g. Martin, James, 62. Martin notes rightly that, depending on who is doing the seating, one may well have to do with an official of the congregation here, which would point to ‘a congregation rife with practices of discrimination’.

43 For a brief overview of the inventory of a dining room, see Smith, Symposium, 14–18.

44 This does not mean that the poor man in Jas 2.1–13 was expected to do actual table service, but standing could be interpreted as a ‘servant's position’. See for a critical review of this general rule, however, Roller Matthew B., Dining Posture in Ancient Rome: Bodies, Values, and Status (Princeton: Princeton University, 2006), who gives on 84–92 various examples of free men who were made to stand or who were left standing at a symposium, or who elected to do so. See for two interesting examples: Cicero Ver. 2.3.62, and Plautus Stich. 486–93.

45 See the considerations of Klinghardt, Gemeinschaftsmahl, 79–80.

46 E.g. Popkes Wiard, Der Brief des Jakobus (ThHNT 14; Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2001) 162–3, opts for a worship setting in analogy to 1 Cor 14.23–26, but why it should be 1 Cor 14 and not 11.17–34, he does not address. Similarly e.g. Burchard, Jakobusbrief, 98–9.

47 On the negative evaluation of this attitude in Jewish-Christian tradition, see e.g. Popkes, Brief, 159–60, with reference to Acts 10.34; Rom 2.11; Col 3.25; Eph 6.9; 1 Pet 1.17; see further also: Wachob, Voice, 157–60.

48 See e.g. Wachob, Voice, 178–87, on the ‘cultural scripts of honor, limited good, and patron–client relations’ that constitute much of the ‘social and cultural texture’ of Jas 2.1–13.

49 On the background of this caution, see e.g. Martin, James, tracing its background in early Judaism and the OT/HB, see e.g. Ps 82.2; Prov 6.35; 18.5; 24.23; 28.31; Mal 1.8; 2.9; Sir 4.22, etc. A particularly prominent text in this respect is Lev 19.15, on which see esp. Johnson Luke Timothy, ‘The Use of Leviticus 19 in the Letter of James’, JBL 101 (1982) 391401, esp. 393, 400–401. However, the fact that Lev 19.15 stands in the context of a text about judicial procedure does not imply that also Jas 2.1–13 must refer to such a situation; in fact, what is culled directly from Lev 19 in Jas 2.8 is a rather general rule, while also Lev 19.15, probably at the background of James’ thought here, whether as part of rabbinic tradition or not, is a text that may well transcend its original setting and have become a more general rule.

50 A central statement on equality and difference in James is already found at the very beginning of the letter, i.e. in Jas 1.9–10, where (social and) economic differences are recognized and simultaneously paraenetically corrected. Jas 2 may well be seen as an application and further elaboration of this statement. See e.g. Konradt, Existenz, 145–8; Frankemölle, Jakobus, 368.

51 See e.g. Martin, James, 61–2, comp. 1 Pet 3.21; Rev 22.11.

52 See for a succinct discussion of the realia: Garleff, Identität, 253–4, comp. also Martin, James, 61. If the man was a patron of the congregation (or within the congregation) the dynamics described in the text would be all the more perspicuous; see for considerations about this e.g. Kloppenborg Verbin, ‘Patronage’, and also Vyhmeister Nancy J., ‘The Rich Man in James 2: Does Ancient Patronage Illumine the Text?’, Andrews University Seminary Studies 33 (1995) 265–83.

53 The golden ring that is mentioned may be indicative of equestrian status; see Davids, James, 108; equestrian status was one that could be achieved through the accumulation of wealth.

54 Vgl. Hoppe, Jakobusbrief, 52, see also above, n. 32.

55 As e.g. Ropes, James, 191; Dibelius, Brief, 168; Davids, James, 109; Konradt, Existenz, 138 (rightly noting that it seems likely, but cannot be proven), argue.

56 See e.g. the various examples offered by D'Arms, ‘Convivium’.

57 Clement Paul A. and Hoffleit Herbert B., trans. and ed., Plutarch: Moralia 8 (LCL 405; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1969) 25.

58 See for an overview and examples: D'Arms, ‘Convivium’; Smith, Symposium, 10–12, 42–6.

59 See e.g. Garleff, Identität, 255.

60 See e.g. Konradt, Existenz, 137; Frankemölle, Jakobus, 371, comp. Mussner, Jakobus, 116; Frankemölle, Jakobus, 375. See also Wachob, Voice, 70.

61 See above, the references to Plutarch; see further the evidence assembled by D'Arms, ‘Convivium’.

62 See e.g. the treatment of Malina Bruce J., The New Testament World (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, rev. ed. 2001) 97100. A classic example in this case is Petronius’ Trimalchio, who is very rich indeed, but not quite honorable.

63 See e.g. Garleff, Identität, 256; Martin, James, 63–8; see esp. Frankemölle, Jakobus, 371–6, on the theological background. See also Mussner, Jakobusbrief, 120, ‘Jetzt ist nicht mehr reich, wer goldene Ringe an den Fingern trägt und in prächtigen Kleidern umherschreitet, sondern wer von Gott erwählt ist’.

64 In this context, it is not necessary to consider (all) those covered by the remark about blaspheming the name (Jas 2.9) as members of the congregation; rather generic behavior by the rich, which stands in contradiction to the saving name referred to here, is in view. The blaspheming in question is behavior contradicting the ethical code implied by the name; at least, that seems to be the flow of the argument here.

65 See on the place of this section in the entire epistle, e.g. Martin, James, 103–7. On the traditional background, see e.g. Popkes, Brief, 217, esp. also the considerations of and the parallels presented by Dibelius, Brief, 222–49.

66 So e.g. Konradt, Existenz, 274–80.

67 With an obviously Jewish background, see e.g. the exemplary comments of Hartin, James, 173.

68 See Smith, Symposium, 47–66. See further on discussion as a possible form of entertainment also Pellizer Ezio, ‘Outlines of a Morphology of Sympotic Entertainment’, Sympotica (ed. Murray ) 177–84.

69 See Philo, Contempl. 57–9, 75–9.

70 It may be observed with e.g. Smith, Symposium, 138, that music and other entertainment could have the same structural value for a symposium as table talk.

71 On various aspects, see e.g. Burchard, Jakobusbrief, 138–44, Hartin, James, 173–81.

72 See e.g. the references listed by Konradt, Existenz, 275, and Frankemölle, Jakobus, 491.

73 See e.g. Smith, Symposium, 50–4; for James, this is not the primary issue, as e.g. Frankemölle, Jakobus, 483–4, underlines, given that James is primarily concerned with the veracity of speech and the agreement between teaching and walk of life.

74 See the considerations of Konradt, Existenz, 274–5 n. 42, who draws attention to the fact that being a teacher implies a position of prominence, which is related to the theme of honor in the rest of the letter. Similarly: Davids, James, 136.

75 See Smith, Symposium, 47–66.

76 See e.g. Mor. 149A-B, 158C, 621C, even if these friendships should be thought of in pragmatic, rather than emotional terms (see: Plutarch Mor. 616A, see Mor. 660B-C). On equality and Roman meals in general, see D'Arms, ‘Convivium’, 308–20, who notes that another Roman poet, Statius (Silv. 1.43–45; see Juvenal Sat. 2.110) praises these banquets of Domitian, whereas Augustus was known for organizing his cenae rectae (formal dinners) strictly according to social hierarchy; see e.g. Suetonius Aug. 75, comp. Macrobius, Sat. 2.4.28.

77 See esp. the discussion by Konradt, Existenz, 85–100, as well as Frankemölle, Jakobus, 583–5 and Mussner, Jakobusbrief, 177–8.

78 Slater, ‘Ethics’, 214–5, the classical example of this kind of ὕβρις being the unhappy ending of the wedding celebration of Peirithoos and Hippodameia to which the Centaurs had been invited and who get drunk (see Homer Od. 21.295–304). Slater himself proposes convincingly that in the Odyssey a contrast is made between the ideal symposium of the Phaeacians on the one hand (Od. 8) and the celebrations of Penelope's suitors, all through the Odyssey. Such disorderly conduct was closely associated with symposia, especially with those associated with collegia (see e.g. Plato Leg. 2.671A; Plutarch Alc. 4.4–6; Athenaeus Deipn. 12.534E-F).

79 Betrayal in the context of a meal is betrayal at a high level of intimacy; see the association with Ps 41.10 in John 13.18. This may have been appreciated thus in a wide cultural circle: betrayal by a friend could be regarded as worse than an enemy's insult (see Lysias Or. 6.23; 8.5–6; Chariton Chaer. 5.6.2; Cornelius Nepos Lib. Ex. 14.6.3, 11.5; Sir 22.21–22; Test. Jud. 23.3); the higher the degree of intimacy, the worse the betrayal (see Cicero Rosc. Amer. 40.116). See for disgust for traitors of their people: Xenophon Hell. 1.7.22; Cicero Fin. 3.9.32; Virgil Aen. 6.621; Livy Urb. Cond. 1.11.6–7; 5.27.6–10; Valerius Maximus Dict. 1.1.13; Seneca Controv. 7.7; Cornelius Nepos Lib. Ex. 4.4. What may well be in the background as well are the strong bonds established especially by hospitality and guest friendship (see e.g. Lysias Or. 12.24; 18.10, Plutarch Cor. 10.3; Cicero Fam. 13.19, 25, and 36). For guest friendship and for the rejection of unkindness/violence against those who had shared the same table see: Homer Il. 21.76; Od. 4.534–5; 11.414–20; 14.404–95; Hesiod Op. 327; Euripides Cycl. 1126–28; Hec. 25–6, 710–20, 850–6; Ovid Metam. 1.144; 10.225–8; Livy Urb. Cond. 25.16.6. See Keener Craig S., The Gospel of John: A Commentary, vol. 2 (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003) 912–13; Delorme Jean, ‘Le dernier repas de Jésus dans le texte. Mc 14, 16–25’, Nourriture et Repas dans les milieux juifs et chrétiens de l'antiquité (ed. Quesnel Michel, Blanchard Yves-Marie, and Tassin Claude; LD 178; FS Charles Perrot; Paris: Cerf, 1999) 111–12.

80 At the very least someone was needed to preside over the meal, for example the pater familias. At a symposium the leader of the symposium did not need to be the host. Depending on the kind and the scale of the meal, there were more or fewer officers; the aim of their functions is expressed well by the title ‘ϵὔκοσμος’, referring to one of these functions. See Schmeller, Hierarchie, 43.

81 See in general the considerations of Ebel, Attraktivität; Smith, Symposium; and further Schmeller, Hierarchie; Claussen, Versammlung.

82 See e.g. Burchard, ‘Gemeinde’, 318–19. That may be comparable to synagogue officers or officers of other voluntary associations, see e.g. Burtchaell James Tunstead, From Synagogue to Church: Public Services and Offices in the Earliest Christian Communities (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1992) 228357; see also e.g. Davids, James, 191–3; the remark that back then there was no ‘Amt in unserem Sinne’ (Frankemölle, Jakobus, 483, see also 487–8) is both misleading (there were offices and officers indeed) and superfluous. Also his argument that, on the one hand, the reference to teachers in 3.1 and elders in 5.14 offers no indication as to the sociological structure of the community addressed by James, and on the other hand that ‘die griechische Gerusia, bzw. der jüdische Orts- und Synagogenvorstand als Modell einer kollegial-patriarchalen Presbyterordnung’ play a role (Frankemölle, Jakobus, 710), fails to convince, given that the argument contradicts itself.

83 See e.g. Martin, James, 104–5.

84 See e.g. Gerlaff, Identität, 315.

85 So also e.g. Gerlaff, Identität, 313.

86 See e.g. Mussner, Jakobusbrief, the ‘Bezeichnung als “die Ältesten der Gemeinde” im Jak-Brief setzt das Ältesten-Institut in den Lesergemeinden als bekannt voraus’.

87 See Baumgarten Albert, ‘Graeco-Roman Voluntary Associations and Ancient Jewish Sects’, Jews in a Graeco-Roman World (ed. Goodman Martin; Oxford: Clarendon, 1998) 93112. See also: Burtchaell, Synagogue, as well as Barclay John M. G., ‘Money and Meetings: Group Formation among Diaspora Jews and Early Christians’, Vereine (ed. Gutsfeld and Koch ) 113–27; Richardson Peter, ‘Early Synagogues as Collegia in the Diaspora and Palestine’, Associations (ed. Kloppenborg and Wilson ) 90109. Burtchaell, Synagogue, while rightly underlining the institutional character of even the earliest Christian communities (esp. 272–357), overemphasizes the importance of the synagogue, giving the impression that early Christian communities simply adopted this specific form of organization, while ignoring the importance of voluntary associations.

88 See for an overview with regard to Jas 5 e.g. Kaiser Sigurd, Krankenheiliung. Untersuchungen zur Form, Sprache und Aussage zu Jak 5, 13–18 (WMANT 112; Neukirchen–Vluyn: Neukirchener, 2006) 112–16.

* The author is grateful to the Rev. Sarah Fossati Carver, Midland, MI, for proofreading this essay, as well as to the anonymous reviewer of NTS for many insightful comments.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

New Testament Studies
  • ISSN: 0028-6885
  • EISSN: 1469-8145
  • URL: /core/journals/new-testament-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 56 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 141 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.