What did Jesus eat? What was the theological, cultural and social significance of the meals that are read about in Scripture? And what do they say today about healthy lifestyle choices in the 21st century?
These and similar questions will be the focus of the second program in the series Spirituality Outside the Box: Living a Spiritual Life in the 21st Century, sponsored by All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Rehoboth Beach.
"What Did Jesus Eat: Lifestyle Choices, Then and Now" will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 7, in All Saints' Parish Hall, 18 Olive Ave. in Rehoboth Beach. The speakers are Anthony Chiffolo, author and publisher, and Rayner “Rusty” Hesse, a chef and Episcopal priest. They are coauthors of "Cooking with the Bible: Recipes for Biblical Meals" and, most recently, "Cooking with the Movies: Meals on Reels."
“Food connects us to one another,” Chiffolo says. “Since biblical times, the Judeo-Christian lifestyle has centered on meals. Extending hospitality to both friends and strangers was a divine command, and an invitation to dine was sacred.” Hesse adds, “The Judeo-Christian Bible is peppered with stories of meals; these range from simple meals put together quickly in order to feed a few unexpected guests to elaborate feasts carefully prepared to please dozens of partygoers for many days. In the Middle East, eating was not and is not for daily sustenance alone - it is a way of life.”
The book, which was the product of three years of research into what people actually ate in the times recounted in the Bible, provides more than modern adaptations or interpretations of biblical fare; it is as well a discovery of the daily lives of the peoples who inhabited the crossroads of civilization and a lesson about the exchange of foods across vast distances, from Egypt in the west to Persia in the east.
Building on recent interest in daily life in biblical times as exemplified by Bruce Feeler’s "Walking with the Bible," "Cooking with the Bible" describes 18 meals mentioned in the Bible, along with more than 200 recipes for dishes with such tongue-in-cheek names as Rice of Beersheba, Solomon’s Love Feast, Pomegranate Syrup Torte and Date Manna Bread.
According to the authors, “Biblical meals would have included many foods that are familiar to us breads, stew, rice, lentils, fish dishes, as well as some meals that would have been less familiar, such as goat and venison.” One recipe, Friendship Cake, inspired by the bond between Ruth and Naomi as narrated in the book of Ruth, takes 10 days to prepare.
“Food, and the shared community of meal taking, was such a huge part of Jesus’ day, as it is also of ours,” says Father Chris Moore, priest associate at All Saints’ and convener of the summer adult education program. “Jesus famously catered a meal for 5,000 people. Our own Eucharist or Mass is, after all, a shared meal. The whole idea of ‘eating on the run’ would have been unthinkable to people in Jesus' day.”
Spirituality Outside the Box will continue Wednesday evenings throughout August. Upcoming programs will include “The New Monasticism” Aug. 14, “The Spirituality of Nature” Aug. 21 and “Contemplative Spirituality - East and West” Aug. 28.
There is no charge. Light refreshments will be available following each presentation, courtesy of The Ice Cream Store on Rehoboth Avenue. Parking is available on the street in front of the church or in the church parking lot near the corner of Olive Avenue and First Street in Rehoboth Beach.