I’ve read many good books this year. But, like last year (see “Best book of the year” for 2006), I want to point my readers to my favorite book that I’ve read this year.
My favorite book this year is Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord’s Supper by Ben Witherington. In this book, Witherington traces the scriptural and historical roots of the Lord’s Supper. He begins with Passover and other religious meals. He then discusses the Last Supper from the Synoptic Gospels and John. He describes the Eucharist in the early church writings, then in the medieval writings as the Supper became the Mass. He ends by describing the various views of Christ’s presence in the Supper.
I primarily like this book because of Witherington’s focus on unity through the Supper. Consider this paragraph near the end of the book:
The Lord’s Supper was originally used as a destratifying tool by Paul. He wanted less hierarchy and pecking order, and more equality amongst the participants. One wonders indeed how happy he would be that in so many Christian contexts today the meal is controlled by clerics who not only control and perform the ritual, but usually serve themselves first, ignoring the complaint of Paul about the well-to-do and poor in Corinth! Protestants like to say we all stand on level ground at the cross, for we are all equal at the foot of the cross. I would add we are all supposed to be equal when we kneel or sit at the Lord’s Table as well. The leveling effect of the Meal needs to come more into play in some quarters these days. (pg 140-141)
I’m glad that Witherington, among others, is calling believers back to a fellowship meal that reminds us both of the death of Christ and our unity with one another.
If you’re interested, here are two posts that I wrote after being inspired by certain sections of this book:
So, what was the best book that you read in 2007?