FOOD AND FASTING IN THE PAULINE EPISTLES
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After reviewing both Jewish and pagan attitudes to food, I shall turn now to the Christian texts, starting with those parts of the New Testament that contain clear and explicit instructions about personal conduct fitting for Christians. Rules concerning proper Christian attitudes to food in daily life are most explicitly stated in the Epistles, attributed to the authorship of Paul. These, or the interpretation of these by later Christians, have greatly influenced Christian values. Through the ages these letters were read by theologians, who searched in them for ‘Paul’s Gospel’, or his Christology, while leaders of Christian congregations looked in them for guidelines for their flock. Some of the sayings of Paul have been claimed by later generations to be the foundation of Christian asceticism.1 It is the purpose of this chapter to concentrate on the instructions that Paul gave concerning the everyday life of Christian communities, and through these to examine Paul’s attitude to food.