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Best book of the year

Posted by on Dec 30, 2007 in books, ordinances/sacraments | 3 comments

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:

Witherington on the Supper
Why just the bread and the cup?

So, what was the best book that you read in 2007?


3 Comments

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  1. 12-30-2007

    Does BW argue a) for the meal as originally a whole meal and b) that we should make this happen again?

    If yes, I will, God willing, buy the book…
    /Jonas Lundström
    http://blog.bahnhof.se/wb938188

  2. 12-30-2007

    By God’s grace we enjoyed an Agape Meal today. It was absolutely wonderful. We commenced with this meal immediately after the preaching/teaching of God’s word and interactive questions, comments, and sharing both during and after the preaching/teaching.

    The Agape meal allowed us to further discuss what we learned from the written word and also gave us a great time to build fellowship one with another. I’ve read most of Witherington’s book and ditto Alan’s comments thereon.

  3. 12-30-2007

    Jonas,

    Yes, Witherington says that the Supper was a supper. He spends a chapter or two explaining how the church moved from a supper to the elements alone.

    Dusty,

    Thanks for telling us about your meeting today. I would love to be able to meet with you all one day.

    -Alan

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