Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Communal Meals in the Book of Acts

In the late nineteen sixties in a nearby school district, more conservative than my current school district, there was a nasty school board election. The issue was quite clear and was one that was provoked by a rhetorical question asked by a high school teacher to his class. Was Jesus a Communist?

We are receiving robo-telephone calls warning us about wealth redistribution policies of one of the presidential candidate. In the neighborhood of my youth, the telephone calls would be well received and will no doubt gain McCain a few votes. After all everyone in that community voted against McGovern when he promised everyone ten thousand dollars. But in this neighborhood, perhaps one of the most liberal communities in the USA, home to nearby Swarthmore College, George McGovern was elected. No one told them that he lost everywhere else.

Today I was thinking, between robo calls, about communal meals and what it means to break bread together. Thinking about sharing possessions evoked memories of that nasty school board fight. The idea of sharing is still too radical to discuss.

Earl Kautsky, who expanded on the ideas of Friedrick Engels, recognized that the Acts of the Apostles revealed valuable information about the social and economic conditions of the times. Kautsky indicated that Matthew writing later revised the class hatred in the Gospel of Luke to attract wealthier and more cultural persons. Thus according to Kautsky, “the poor” in Luke became “the poor in spirit” in Matthew. Daily communal living made sense given their situation. Kausky’s economic analysis of early Christianity is quite accurate.

I now suspect that the communal meals depicted in the Acts of the Apostles are an application of the teachings of Jesus including the message of the parable of the unjust steward and a partial replication of the communal meals of the priests working in the Temple. Certainly, it is the new community of love’s attempt at its form of institutional almsgiving without the temple bureauacy.

Copyrighted 2008


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