CULINARY THEOLOGY: WHY FOOD AND SCRIPTURE ARE RELATED

WHEN BIBLICAL THEOLOGY APPEALS TO MORE THAN JUST A HEALTHY APPETITE

“I desire that they might be one…”

-Jesus Christ’s final prayer

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I have to come clean guys, I love food! Not a day goes by when I haven’t either googled, cooked or searched for some recipe online or on T.V. Although I have a fine appreciation for food and the culinary arts, I haven’t encountered many who have done an article on food. I am also a native African, and I can tell you, food is a part of the African culture and it speaks in volumes what a few words and statements cannot.

An invite to an African home is directly co-related with a family’s kindly gesture of invitation to dine with that very family. It is odd though that this warmth is what got lost over time and distanced Christians and Jews in the early church period. For although there were differences, there was fellowship and room was created to share each other’s beliefs regarding Jesus of Nazareth. And I think most of you who do host or have taken part in hosting will agree, it makes an incredible difference when sharing and discussing ideals/theologies/worldviews over a meal.

Why there is no discussion going on about this matter, I will never know. But this post has come to be because of my close friend and colleague Seblewongel M. Wolde from Ethiopia who is very much into food as she is into theology and people, so I owe this one to her. Thanks Seble! Looking at symbols and gestures of hospitality in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, I notice an odd trend: Those who shared exercised something that the rest of society wasn’t willing to; they also demonstrated another way when the culture didn’t seem to offer any good alternative views and they also showed beyond a shadow of doubt that humanity is redeemable.

As odd as it sounds, yes, sharing and not merely giving food show more than just pity. They show LOVE, compassion, unity and equality. This is what the setting was of the first church; slaves sat with nobles, farmers dined with officials, Christ dined with all. He was seen and witnessed as being alive in their midst. And that is what culinary theology does, it blends together as the spices and condiments do to the food materials and one incredible taste is made.

 

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