Childhood memories of dinnertime hold a special place in my heart. What used to be a daily experience of family unity and sharing is unfortunately now reserved for holidays and an occasional Sunday or birthday gathering. Rather than each family member drifting into his or her own individual world as their life grew busier, we always had the interaction during mealtime to strengthen our family bonds and enrich the daily experience of community life. My mother would create a meal consisting of either a pasta, or meat and potato type meal for our family of six.
Our evening meal always included a salad, plenty of vegetables, and a basic dessert like brownies, pie, or ice cream. There was never an official dinner time since my dad’s schedule varied. Therefore, some of my sisters would be play a game, read, watch a television program, or help with dinner preparations while we would wait for a call that said my dad would be leaving the hospital; we would then put the finishing touches on dinner so we could eat as soon as he got to the house. Music was always played while we ate; I especially liked when we would have the player piano play a Disney repertoire, classical music, pop, or rock.
Everyone was always happy when my dad came in from work; after welcoming hugs we would sit down, eat, and share the events of the day. No matter what we did, it somehow sounded like we achieved some feat or created a masterpiece. Each person in our brood was considered to be special. Please and thank you were always a necessity at the table, my favorite memory consisted of my dad would toss the loaf of bread-like a hurtling football—to my moms’ side of the table. Dinner wasn’t all play, we had responsibilities to complete after our bellies were full.
My father leaned the pots, and my sisters and my roles varied for cleaning the table/counter tops, putting leftovers away, loading the dishwasher, or sweeping the floor. With music playing in the background it was common for my whole family to start dancing and singing. Today the act of coming together at a table for a meal is still something special. It is expected that as our family grows, everyone’s interests vary and holidays are spent under the same roof, but in separate parts of the house. With all of that said, one tradition still stands true, we sit and share a meal together. Supper has also played in culture and history.
In his article Dinner with Jesus & Paul: The Social Role of Meals in the Greco-Roman World, Dennis E. Smith explores what must have been like during Jesus’ life in importance. In his introduction, Smith refers that “throughout the Gospels, Jesus is portrayed as teaching while at the dinner table, performing miracles at feast and sparking controversy by his choice of dinner companions (pg 30). ” In order to show what dinner was like in the GrecoRoman world, Smith described how people actually ate there meal. Smith first brings to light a misconception of the last supper that can be seen in a majority of art and modern translation of the Bible.
Jesus and his disciples are usually depicted being sat formally at a table; when in fact original Greek text says they were reclining (smith 32). Smith further states, “reclining was after all, the common posture for all formal meals, or banquets (32). ” To show the reader what a Greco-Roman Dining hall look like. “Smith commissioned artist Romney Oualine to create a reconstruction drawing, using Archeological remains, literary sources, Greek vase paintings, funerary reliefs, and Roman frescoes and mosaics (WHAT PAGE? ). ” Another interesting point was the similarity between a Greek banquets and Christian meals.
A Greek banquet consisted of two courses a “diepnon” and a “symposion”. The diepnon was the first course of the meal and when food was eaten. The second course, or symposion, was when the guests would drink and enjoy the entertainment. Similar to the Greek Banquets, Christian meals were also divided into two courses. The first course was the benediction, also known as the breaking of bread, and second course involved drinking wine. Smith summed up the idea of that meals, “throughout the Greco-Roman world, were a means of creating and solidifying social bonds (30).
Smith’s article also points out how scholars might go about their work. It is evident that A scholar obsesses over learning everything that he possibly can in his area of study. An example is Smith himself, as a scholar he gathered information from a vast array of sources. He researched through Greek biblical text, philosophical writings, archeological sites, Greek vase paintings, funerary relief, roman frescos, mosaics and much more. Being invited to a dinner with lesus would have included more than the mere sharing of food around a table.
I imagine the surroundings to be beautiful with stone chairs to enjoy our reclining meal. The size of the party would be small and intimate; all of the guests would share conversation and get to know each other deeply. As in a familial situation social bonds were developed and solidified while reclining. For the men, as the night goes on wine was incorporated into the festivities, while conversation flowed as all were enjoying the feast. As Jesus once told the apostles, my relationship would grow with those who He invited, and that I would dine with them in heaven and know the meaning of true joy.