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Precedence at the Communal Meal in Corinth

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The explanation of 1 Cor 11:14-37, that Corinthian meal practice involved either peer benefaction (wealthy members providing the meal), or eranistic practices (members each contributing differing amounts and qualities of food), and the late arrival of the poorer members, is flawed in several respects. This paper uses data from Graeco-Roman associations to show that association meals were rarely funded by endowments or peer benefaction on a continuing basis, and there is no evidence of eranistic practices. The idea that poorer members typically arrived late at meals is based on anachronistic views of the structure of labor and on ambiguities in translations of προλαμβάνειν in 11:21. The disturbances at the communal meal, like those typical of association meals, likely involved competitive behavior that used differential allotments of food to assert status and privilege.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto Toronto Canada


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