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WHAT ABOUT THE AGAPE? : UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNAL LOVE FEAST OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY BY DELANEY ANDERSON A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Susan Marks Sarasota, FL May 2012
! ii Acknowledgements Professor Marks Thank you for your continual support over the past four years. I cannot sum up my thanks to you in a paragraph, but it will do for now Thank you for serving as a model of a strong and knowledgeable person I aspire to be like. Thank you for all the criticisms and conversation s that made me grow and be better. Thank you for always en couraging me to persevere and for continually affirming that my ideas are valid and important (and therefore I need to avoid passive voice). I am thankful that you are here to help, teach, and guide others as you have done with me. We are lucky to have you teaching us. Family Thank you for not asking about my thesis and for making me laugh. Thank you to my Dad for always supporting me, acting interested in my thesis when it made no sense, editing and for bestowing on me a love of books travel plays, and dogs. Troy Thank you for listening to my woes and revising my thesis with a 12 hour time difference. Thanks for leading the way and imparting your wisdom onto me. Also, thanks for sharing food, saving me from Tampa, listening, making puppy chow, gi ving me a Christmas stocking, encouraging, and being my friend. Allie Thank you for being my roommate and friend for four years. I appreciate all the times you have listen ed to me and helped me through problem s You are a very wise and caring person. Thank you for being a great friend and genuinely good hearted person I aspire to be like. Tristan Thank you for being like family during my time at New College. Thanks for continually pushing me to be better in all that I do. I am indebted to you for the conversations and jokes that mean so much to me. My C losest Friends, especially Alex and Jenica Thank you for being a continual support to me over these past four years at New College You all helped me through it. You made my college education exte nd beyond class and studying. Professor White and Professor Newman Thank you both for taking the time to read my thesis I am so glad that to have learned from both of you. Brian and Rachel Thank you for going through this process with me. Whenever times got hard, I could count on Rachel to bring me down to reality, telling me it was not that bad and Brian to joke with me, making me forget I was having a hard time in the first place. Thank you for all the revisions Your company has meant a lot to me. Housing and RA Staff Thank you for always distracting me, both when I needed it and when I did not I hope to always be a part of a team like I have been of part of this one.
! iii Table of Cont ents Acknowledgements ii Table of Contents iii List of Illustrations iv Abstract v Introduction 1 Chapter One 8 Agape Origins 9 Single Origin Theory 24 Common Banquet Theory 28 Chapter Two 31 Carthage, Tertullian, and Montanism 31 The Agape in Apology 36 The Agape in The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas 42 Chapter Three 49 Ignatius of Antioch's Instructions for the Agape in Letter to the Smyrnaeans 51 Criticism of Agape Participants in Jude 12 54 Clement and Origen on the Agape in Alexandria 57 Conclusions 63 Conclusion 66 Appendix Gl ossary 70 Bibliography 71 !
! iv List of Illustrations Figure 1: Map of the Roman World 32 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
! v Abstract WHAT ABOUT THE AGAPE?: UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNAL LOVE FEAST OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY Delaney Anderson New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT While many people know of the Last Supper and Eucharist, not many know of the Agape or "love feast" a popular banquet feast in early Christianity. Th is thesis argues that the Agape existed as another celebratory meal for Christ followers at this time. The Agape appeared after the celebration of the Last Supper, but before the establishment of the Eucharist at the Council of Nic a ea. Through an analysis of primary texts, no relation appears between the Eucharist and the Agape or a direct connection from the Agape to the Last Supper. Further, this thesis argues that the popularity of the Agape resulted from the development of associations in Christian com munities, following the practice of Greco Roman pagan associations. So, what does the Agape show us? The Agape illustrates the division in early Christian ity. During this period, no over arching church structure existed and the Agape developed as a me ans of celebrating amongst Christ followers The Agape developed from the general duty of Christ followers to celebrate together. Acknowledging the existence of the Agape allows us to see the ambiguity and division present in Christian communities at this time Dr. Susan Marks Division of Humanities
! 1 Introduction Christian churches everywhere celebrate the Eucharist. In this sacrament, bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The tradition flows from the Last Supper, a meal celebrated amongst Jesus and his disciples before his death. Now, with such a var iety of denominations that fall under the title "Christian," each celebrates the Eucharist in a different way, but all focus on the sacrificial meaning behind the bread and wine. Due to its popularity in churches, many people know about the Eucharist and i ts practices. However, many people do not know how the Eucharist came to be. While it may seem that the Eucharist comes from the Last Supper, this transition from Last Supper to Eucharist did not happen as clearly and directly as is sometimes assumed. In f act, primary texts show us that many meals were celebrated amongst Christians during the early Jesus movement and early Christianity One such meal existed as early as the 2 nd Century, called "love feast" or "Agape." This meal differed significantly from t he Eucharist for which our first evidence comes from the 4 th century. The existence of the Agape illustrates that other meals existed within early Christian communities, a topic that has been somewhat limited to study of the later Eucharist. The Agape was a banquet style feast, celebrated amongst early Christ followers with no reference to the sacrificial meanings of bread and wine. This Agape with its banquet style and communal emphasis presents a different approach to celebratory meals amongst Christ fo llowers than what appears in the Eucharist. In studying early Christian meals, the Agape appeared as a unique celebratory meal, quite unlike the Eucharist seen today. I questioned whether the two meals were
! 2 connected or if they rather arose independentl y. I began my research looking at the Last Supper and the development of the Eucharist. The Council of Nicaea set the practice of the Eucharist as a morning, sacrament based celebration in 325 CE, including the emphasis on the bread and wine items. However if the Last Supper supposedly occurred in 33 CE, an entire three centuries exist s between the celebration of the Last Supper with Jesus and his disciples and the development of the Eucharist as the means for celebrating the Last Supper we see later. My i nterest in the Agape grew from this very gap. As I began research, I found few scholars writing on the Agape as the main point of study. In looking at the writings of different scholars on the Eucharist, I realized many did not know how to characterize the Agape, or did so in a very general way. This led me to ask why scholars overlooked the Agape in studies of Christian meals. It is rare to find an article written solely on the Agape. Rather, the Agape is used as a f ootnote to prove a larger point usually pertaining to the Eucharist. Because the Agape lacks a similar structure to the Eucharist, some scholars use it to describe any meals between the time of the Last Supper and the establishment of Eucharist practice a t the Council of Nicaea. Because scholarship tends to neglect the Agape as a point of study, my initial goal was to find out what it was. Consequently, the first question of this thesis asks: what exactly is the Agape and what role does it play in early Ch ristianity? This question, though seeming simple, actually has not been explored extensively in scholarship. Through this thesis, I find the Agape to be a meal celebrated amongst early Christ followers. More importantly, this thesis reveals that understand ing the Agape as an early celebratory meal amongst Christians reformulates how we look at Christianity and Christian meals as a whole.
! 3 To explain more specifically what the Agape is, we find that mentions and descriptions appear in multiple primary texts many of which are examined in this thesis. The primary texts show the Agape as a well known meal in a variety of c o m m u n i t i e s 1 The authors write of the Agape in relation to Christians, but actually describe very little of the meal This lack of a descrip tion led me to question the precise role it played in this early Christian meal setting. If this meal was so popular and appeared in a variety of early Christian communities, why do we know nothing of it now? Studying the development of this meal answers m y second question: what does the Agape show us about the transition from the Last Supper to Eucharist? The Agape existed in a time of transition for early Christianity. Just as the early Jesus movement developed into the Christian church, so did the Last Supper develop into the Eucharist. While the former is certainly not the equal of the latter, the Agape appears during this period of transition, acting as a great example of an early meal celebrated amongst Christ followers that does not much resemble th e Eucharist. The example of the Agape highlights the idea that the Eucharist was not the only meal celebrated in the Christian tradition and it certainly was not inevitable. At least one other celebratory meal option existed at this time. Only in later cen turies did the Eucharist become the primary means of celebration. By studying the Agape, we examine the differences between the Agape, the Last Supper, and the Eucharist in order to better understand the relationship of the Last Supper to the Eucharist tha t we see today. An examination of each of these topics appears in the following chapters. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 I explore the Agape as it appears in Ignatius' Letter to the Smyrnaeans, the Letter of Jude Cl ement's Paedagogus Tertullian's Apology, The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas, and Origen's Contra Celsus.
! 4 The texts I explore in the chapters that follow offer different clues for answering the questions I ask in this thesis. In order to focus on the Agape meal I limi ted where I looked for information I only looked where the meal appeared by the name "A gape" or "love feast." One of the major flaws I found in the current scholarly literature was the use of the term "agape" to describe any meal that does not fit into t he typical Eucharist s t r u c t u r e 2 I avoid this generalization of the Agape in this thesis. One scholar who has considered many of these sources, Andrew McGowan, writes frequently on the Agape, especially in his two pieces, Rethinking agape and Eucharist in early North African Christianity" (2004) and "Naming the feast: the agape and the diversity of early Christian meals" (1997) Much of this thesis builds off of his work and I am indebted to the framework he provides. However, McGowan suggests that the Agape and Eucharist are the same meal at different stages of development. In other words, he asserts that the Eucharist acts as the more sacral meal (the bread and wine being Christ ), while the Agape acts more as a communal celebratory meal. Our differing positions on the relationship of the Agape to the later Eucharist separates my thesis from McGowan 's McGowan argues that the meals are the same in that they both arise from the desire to remember the Last Supper. I respectfully disagree with this assertion for the reasons I outline in this thesis. The structure of the Agape varies significantly from that of the Eucharist. Through an exploration of early texts that mention the Aga pe, we observe the presence of an Agape in multiple communities, the celebration of that Agape referred to as commonplace, and particular meals referenced by the name "Agape." To ignore the independence of this meal disregards key evidence. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 While a few other texts write of the existence of an Agape, due to the length of this thesis, there is not enough time to cover all of them Other possible references to the Agape include: Ignatius' Letter to the Romans the Epistula Apostolorum, the Sibylline Oracles, and the Apocalypse of Paul.
! 5 Ultimately, the se primary texts reveal the Agape as unique and, therefore, independent from the forthcoming Eucharist. In the first chapter, I explore the existing research on the Agape. In order to grasp the place of the Agape in the early Christian meal setting, we m ust look at the other meals popular at this time. Therefore, I describe the Last Supper, Eucharist, Lord's Supper, and some unnamed meals that appear in different texts in the beginning of the Jesus movement. Each of these meals possesses a distinct struct ure, regardless of whether it is called by name. This helps us look at the Agape as an independent meal. Each meal's structure differs significantly from the look of the Agape as described in different texts that mention the Agape. Understanding how the Ag ape relates to these other meals proves a central struggle to scholarship on the Agape, and early Christian meals in general. In this chapter, I describe the Agape as an independent celebratory meal which scholarship overlooks, mistakenly depicting it as a general term for meals celebrated amongst Christ followers. In this section, I also consider a text from Paul. Paul's treatment of the Lord's Supper looks very familiar to the Eucharist we see develop later. For this reason, I find that he play s a key rol e in the development of the later Eucharist, a topic I explore in later chapters. The first chapter allows us to look at the state of current research and see what it lacks. The second chapter focuses on two of the main texts that actually mention the Ag ape. Specifically, I look at Tertullian's defense of the Agape in Apology, as well as the description of the Agape celebration in The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas. While the Passion text helps us to understand the Agape, Tertullian's text gives us the most comprehensive description of the Agape. Still, the Passion text reveal s a lot about the
! 6 public reception of this meal celebrated amongst Christians. However, it tells us nothing ab out the origin of the meal. Neither of the descriptions shows the celebration of an Agape as having a direct connection to the liturgical interpretation of the Last Supper. Tertullian speaks briefly on the duty of Christians to celebrate together, possibly relating to the Last Supper, but more likely just iterating to the need for communal fellowship. I assert in this chapter that these texts show that the Agape emphasizes the communal aspect of a meal celebration, not a necessary connection to the Last Sup per. Chapter three focuses on confirming and questioning what appears in Chapter two. In light of a letter from Ignatius, Jude's Epistle, Clement's Paedagogus and Origen's Contra Celsus I explore how each relates to the Tertullian and Passion text in t he last chapter. These texts also show no reference to the Last Supper. The lack of reference to the Last Supper supports the conclusion of this thesis that the Agape does not bear a relation to the sacramental nature of the Last Supper, whereas the Euchar ist does. These texts also provide an important glimpse at ancient associations. Associations existed as a common part of the Greco Roman pagan culture. They were groups of members with some common identity (occupation, location, ethnicity) that focused on socializing, eating together, and honoring b e n e f a c t o r s 3 These groups and their participants prove central to the conclusion of this thesis. An examination of the development of pagan associations in the Greco Roman world into associations within Christia nity appears in this chapter. I hope to convey the true uniqueness of the Agape. It offers a wealth of valuable information regarding the relationship of the Last Supper and Eucharist, a connection !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 Harland, Philip A. Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations : Claiming a Place in Ancient Me diterranean Society 2003, 2.
! 7 sometimes taken for granted. Narrowing my research solel y to texts that mention the Agape by name allows us to look closely at texts usually glossed over. A close study of these texts informs our questions about the Agape and its participants. This study of the Agape shows a history of the Jesus movement and ea rly Christian world and depicts the priorities Christ followers found important. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
! 8 Chapter One Any discussion of meals in the Jesus movement and early Christianity relies heavily on interpretation. In studying the Agape, I continually encounter this struggle of competing interpretations regarding the look of this meal As seen in the Introduction, the celebration of the Agape appeared in multiple communities during the first couple of centuries CE. Communities celebrated this banquet style feast amongst their fellow Christ followers. While study of these communities is an interesting topic, the Agap e proves a smaller topic of study on which few scholars have focused much of their r e s e a r c h 4 In fact, scholars ev en lack a consensus of what this meal was or how communities celebrated it. Because so much scholarship on Christian meals orients itself around the Eucharist, the Agape merely seems similar to the Eucharist rather than an independent meal. In Eucharist centered study, texts examining early c elebrations of Christian meals assume a direct progression from the Last Supper to the Eucharist. Such scholarship neglects or too broadly defines the Agape when looking at meals falling in this assumed p r o g r e s s i o n 5 Many of these scholarly assumptions fo cus on who attended the meal, where it occurred what was eaten, and, most dramatically, how it developed. The progression from the Last Supper to the Eucharist, and all the meals in between, remains unclear, however, and does not fully explain the origins of the Agape. In order to understand the Agape's origins, we must first understand other meals existing in early Christianity. While some scholars explored in this chapter use the Agape as a catch all term to describe any meal in early Christianity ot her than the Eucharist, I !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 Those scholars that do, I reference in this chapter : Joachim Jeremias, Joseph Ysebaert, Gregory Dix, Hans Lietzmann, Paul Bradshaw, Dennis Smith, Mattias Klinghardt, and Andrew McGowan. 5 This overuse of the Agape appears in the S ingle and Duel Origin theories, see discussion of these theories by Jeremia s Ysebaert, Dix, Liet zmann, and Bradshaw below.
! 9 conclude that the Agape was an independent celebration, separate from the other meals explored in this chapter. I argue that the current scholarship explored in this chapter ignores the independent nature of the Agape and further illustrates that early Christian meals actually appear much more diverse than frequently acknowledged. In this chapter, I also discuss meals similar to the Agape, relationships of the meals with the Eucharist and Last Supper, and the theories of origin f or the Eucharist, and by extension, the Agape. Because so much of the Agape scholarship revolves around the meals it supposedly relates to, I must begin with examining texts that speak of these meals. I begin by reviewing common meals, named and unnamed, a s these will figure in to the arguments of origin presented later. I explore these texts in the order they were written before moving on to theories of the Agape's origins. In looking at these theories of the origin of the Agape, I explore the relationshi p of the Agape to the later Eucharist. Exploring this relationship highlights the differences between the two and the need to acknowledge the Agape as a meal independent of the Eucharist. I also compare other early Jesus movement meals to the Agape. Many s cholars suggest that the Agape meal lacked a set structure and the methods for celebrating it varied. In many cases, these assertions extend beyond the existing evidence. Through an analysis of the earlier meals and their origins, we see a distinction betw een the Agape as an individual meal and the scholarly construction of the Agape as a catch all meal. Agape Origins Studying most meals in early Christianity, one finds the same struggle found in studying the Agape meal the desire for meals to be completely sacred or secular. Given that no set church leadership existed at this time, this distinction becomes difficult to
! 10 recognize and further leads to some of the confusion in trying to understand the Agape. Some scholarship surrounding the Agape orients it to the Eucharist and Last Supper as a means of putting it in a Christian context. Under the assumption that the Euc harist relates to the Agape the Agape then exists merely as a type of Eucharist celebrated before a more official stance was taken in the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE. In order to fully understand how the Agape relates to other meals, we must understand wh at these other meals are. In continuing, I examine scholars that study the Last Supper, the Eucharist, the Didache Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, the Agape, and many unnamed meals found in the various Christian Scriptures in relation to each other. Due to a focus on the Eucharist, the theories of origin that follow attempt to connect the Eucharist to its origin, not or ient the Agape in a context. By this I mean the Agape is not a priority for other scholars Rather, for the most part, the Agape acts as evidence for suggestions of what the Eucharist's origin is. However, because the texts considered are so connected to t he Agape, theories on the origin of the Eucharist also inform our question regarding the origin of the Agape. I look at many of the early Christian meals connected to the Agape, starting from the earliest written account in Corinthians. I look at these mea ls to understand their own context, as opposed to their relations to the Eucharist. In Corinthians, Paul writes of the earliest account of celebrating the "Lord's Supper," the title given to meals meant to remember the Last Supper. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 11 writes to the cosmopolitan, Roman colony of Corinth, full of different religious movements. Paul wrote his first lette r to the Corinthians between 54 and 55 C E 6 Paul introduces the terminology "Lord's Supper" ( !"#$%& ( )* + ,(-() in 1 Corinthians !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6 Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible 2011, 331.
! 11 11. However, before discussing the Lord's Supper, Paul first concerns himself with connecting the meals celebrated by the Israelites and the meals celebrated by the early Christ followers he addresses. In 1 Corinthians 10.3 21, Paul states: O ur ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and t he rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them...Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play'The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all pa rtake of the one breadYou cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of d e m o n s 7 Paul references the Israelites and instructs Christ followers to look to them as examples of relating to God and celebrating a meal. Paul attempts to take the fo od and drink of the Israelites and relate it to the Lord's Supper to possibly bring legitimacy to what he asserts. He creates this sense that a meal like the Last Supper did not simply begin with Christ, but relates back to the Israelites. Therefore, celeb rating the "Lord's Supper" builds on an Israelite tradition of sacred meals, but Paul cautions against the risk of becoming "idolaters From the beginning at verse 3, Paul references the Jewish Scriptures. In Exodus 13.20 21, the author states, "The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the wayneither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the p e o p l e 8 He begins with the idea that God surrounded the Israelites and continu es to write about the spiritual food they ate, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 7 Bassler, Jouette M., and Way ne A. Meeks. The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books 2006. NRSV, 1 Corinthians 10. 3 21. 8 NRSV, Ex odus 13.21 22
! 12 most likely referring to manna, and the drink they drank, again probably referring to the water from the r o c k 9 If the spiritual drink describes the water from the rock, Paul then asserts that the rock was Ch rist. Paul uses this interpretation of the Exodus accounts to relate the experience of them to the Christ followers. According to him, regardless of the fact that they ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual drink, God disapproves of them. Paul atte mpts to relate the Israelites spiritual food and drink to the meal commemorating the Last Supper. Paul connects the experience of the Israelites to the Christ followers, and further calls Jesus the rock responsible for the spiritual drink of the Israelite s. He continues in verses 16 and 17 to state that this connection meant sharing in the body of Christ. He asserts that both the Israelites and the Christ followers celebrate this idea of a meal with God. Paul draws a picture that emphasizes the importance of the spiritual bread and wine. The importance becomes the responsibility of the practitioners in this meal. In this section, we see Paul asserting the need for Christ followers to share meals together and honor God. Further, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul specifically focuses on the abuses to the meal celebrated amongst Christ followers. Disagreements become evident concerning how this meal should be celebrated. Paul distinguishes what he thinks correct from what others practice: W hen you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For to begin with, when you came together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who am ong you are genuine. When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord's supper. For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9 NRSV, Exodus 16.4 and Ex odus 17.6.
! 13 you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend y o u 10 In this text, the "Lord's Supper" appears as the earliest title for a meal emulat ing Jesus' last meal with his disciples as we see when he continues Paul introduces the concept of the Lord's Supper, speaking specifically of the problems in celebrating this meal. His concerns over the abuses to the Lord's Supper possibly reflect the s tate of Paul's converts in Corinth. Many of the converts came from the lower class; however, some converted from the upper class. For this reason, the concerns regarding drinking and eating that Paul raises when celebrating th e Lord's Supper possibly rela te to a class issue, rather than a theological issue. The upper class possesses more money and time to spend at the meal, allowing them to get to the meal earlier and eat and drink more before the lower class could. This text presents an example of a meal shaped by the cultural and social setting it exists with in. In order to clarify what the Lord's Supper should actually look like, according to Paul, he continues: For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' Of as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against t h e m 11 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 10 NRSV, 1 Corinthians 11.17 23. 11 NRSV, 1 Corinthians 11.23 29.
! 14 Paul describes the importance of ce lebrating the Lord's Supper in the proper way, versus the ways in the past two Corinthian chapters. From Paul's description, we see that other participants celebrated this type of meal in different ways but not how Paul instructs. Paul's interpretation e mphasizes theological and eschatological i mplications not present in the G ospel narratives on the Last Supper. The eventual adaption to the ritual and sacrament based Eucharist, with the body and bread metaphor, relates back to Paul's account here for its understandings of the Last Supper and how to celebrate it. However, overall, this text shows us that Paul felt the need to assert how to properly practice a meal meant to honor God. This gives us the understanding that other meals existed for this same pur pose, but did so in a different way, or wrong way according to Paul. The first G ospel account of the Last Supper appears in The Gospel of Mark, written about 30 or so years after 1 C o r i n t h i a n s 12 This Last Supper narrative dates the meal to Jesus' last ye ar of life, between 30 or 33 CE. However, the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke were not written until between 66 70 CE, 80 90 CE, and 85 95 CE, r e s p e c t i v e l y 13 Many of the subsequent scholars associate the Last Supper with the origin of the Eucharist. They argue that the Last Supper acts as a model for other early meals in the Jesus movement and Christian church that follow. Many of the meals emphasize the impor tance of celebrating together as Jesus and his disciples did, like at the Last Supper. The Eucharist relates its meaning to the Last Supper, as described in the G ospel narratives. While the Eucharist possesses a more ritualized structure than the Go spel na rratives show, the Christian church attributed the rituals to the Last Supper. The ritualized Last Supper appears eventually to have led to the Eucharist. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 12 While dating the Gospels is complicated, for the purpose of this thesis I am following the general assumption that Marks was the first written narrative. 13 Harris 2011, 327.
! 15 Each of the narratives, found in Mark, Matthew, and Luke, speak of a meal Jesus shared with his disc iples before his death. The story begins with Jesus and the disciples celebrating the Passover. After the Passover meal, the Last Supper occurs. The earliest written narrative of the Last Supper in Mark provides: While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, Take; this is my body.' Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of h e a v e n 14 This Last Supper narrative focuses on Jesus passing around bread and wine as symbols of himself. I find it in teresting to look at the modern Eucharist and compare it to this description of Last Supper. A distinct difference exists between Mark's narrative and what we see in today's Eucharist. A Eucharist today looks much more like the passing around of cups of gr ape juice and wine with squares of bread to symbolize one's belief as a Christian. This differs significantly from what appears in this Last Supper narrative. Mark's narrative allows me to highlight some important characteristics of the Last Supper and com pare them to the meals that follow, particularly the communal aspect of eating that appears with Jesus and his disciples. While the disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus passed the bread and wine around to everyone present. This highlights multiple ide as. First, the bread passed before the wine, an issue explored later in this chapter. Second, everyone present at the meal participated. While we may assume that everyone who participated believed Christ to be the Savior, no confirmation of this exists. Th e account states that Jesus celebrated with disciples, still no affirmation exists that every one in attendance believed Christ to be the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 14 NRSV, Mark 14. 22 25
! 16 savior. This idea that Jesus passed bread and wine to all of them differs from the assertion that follows in the moder n Eucharist saying only Christians should participate Also, when Christ presides over this meal he refrains from giving any specifics pertaining to leadership. Many other accounts and ultimately the versions of the Eucharist that exist today differ from this. The idea developed that, because Christ conducted the meal, only Church leaders possess the authority to conduct such a sacrament. However, this sentiment appears nowhere in the Last Supper narratives. Further, the Last Supper account ends with th e idea that Christ refrained from drinking the wine again until they rejoin in the kingdom of heaven. This particular point raises interesting questions. If Christ refused to drink the wine, why do Christ followers continue to celebrate and drink the wine? The answer invokes some eschatological and theological themes in the description of a covenant and in th e talk of the kingdom of heaven, but these come more from the earlier exploration by Paul, rather than the Gospels. After Christ's death, the Apostles sought to form the early Christian church. Acts of the Apostles supposedly chronicles this beginning. By the phrase "early Christian church," I refer to the early group of Christian believers that congregated at this time attempting to follow Christ 's message put forth by the disciples. However, through an exploration of these texts, it becom es increasingly apparent that an established structure for the Christian church did not exist. Rather, the Apostles created their ow n community of Christians in the areas they traveled to. The early Jesus movement, however, was not limited to the Apostles. The accounts found in Acts describe events from the time of Jesus' resurrection to Paul's a r r e s t 15 Therefore, the descriptions of Acts span between !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 15 Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament : A Historical Introduction to the E arly Christian Writings 2004.
! 17 around 30 or 33 CE and 60 63 C E 16 However, while the actions span this period, Luke did not write Acts until around 85 90 CE or even later. 17 A significant gap exists between when the actions took place and when the related text was actu ally written. Like some other texts that follow Christ's death, the author of Acts writes of an early meal celebrated amongst Jesus' disciples. It presents a meal with two i nstances of "breaking bread." The first meal described in Acts 2.41 47 illustrat es a gathering of Jesus' disciples, following Peter's speech at Pentecost and focuses on the new converts to the movement: So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to th e apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their posses sions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the p e o p l e 18 This text describes the common ideas of the disciples and, further, the important practices the new coverts must participate in. The text speaks of the actions that follow a person's baptism. The disciples then dedicated themselves to the teachings, t he breaking of bread, and the prayers. The author mentions "breaking of bread" two times as an action new converts devoted themselves to and as a daily activity that they celebrated at their homes in happiness. The breaking of bread, as well as the teach ing an d prayers, appear a central tene nt to this new faith. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 16 Harris 2001, 326. 17 Harris 2011, 331. Dating Acts of the Apostles proves difficult and not the goal of this thesis. For this reason, I use the general timeline currently acknowledged for simplicity. 18 NRSV, Acts 2. 41 47.
! 18 However, while the breaking of bread holds importance in th e text, the guidelines appear vague If we assume that this text describes a meal meant to commemorate the Last Supper, it lacks the s ame structure and meaning, and even more specifically, leadership for conduct ing the Lord's Supper. Nothing in this text indicates that this meal follows the form of the Last Supper. The reason that one might assume such a relation most likely relates to t he fact that the meal occurs in a community of baptized Christ followers and because they praise God when breaking bread. This text lacks any commentary leading back to the Last Supper narratives. None of the eschatological ideas seen in other texts on th e Lord's Supper appear here. It, very simply, describes a meal shared with common believers celebrated daily to praise God. While it indicate s the meal's importance, it does not describe an organized Lord's Supper. Regardless of its ambiguity, some scholar s still find this meal to derive from the Last S u p p e r 19 The other meal account of "breaking bread" in Acts of the Apostles appears in Acts 20.7 12. This text contains even more ambiguity, if it relates at all to the Lord's Supper. It states: On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then l e f t 20 This text gives very little information about the act of the "breaking of bread." It states nothing of order or significance. It appears dissimilar to the Lord's Supper described in 1 Corinthians 11, or even the Last Su pper narratives. Having explored these three canonical G ospel meals, we recognize questions and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 19 See the discussion of Ysebaert and Dix below. 20 NRSV, Acts 20.7 12.
! 19 peculiarities of dating. The Last Supper supposedly occurred around 33 CE. However, no written accounts appear until 80 85 CE. Paul clarifies to the Corinthi ans, in 55 57 CE, how to properly celebrate the Lord's Supper, based on the meal Christ shared with his disciples before his death. However, according to internal dating of the narratives, the Last Supper occurred in 33 CE, then the account told in Acts oc curred shortly there after followed by 1 Corinthians. So because Paul writes of the Lord's Supper following these apostolic experiences readers have some reason to believe that he knew certain information about the Last Supper in order to base the Lord's Supper tradition off of it. Ultimately, however, we see that the Lord's Supper draws upon very little of the Last Supper. Besides remembering what exactly Christ did at the Last Supper the passing around of bread and wine and what he said most of the eschatological and theological undertones come from Paul's writing However, these themes are absent from the Gospel narratives and, therefore, do no seem important enough to include. So, in a sense, we have conflicting reports about Christ's Last Supper. A text less familiar to some readers, the Didache narrative, composed sometime between 100 and 140 CE, also describes a Eucharist type c e l e b r a t i o n 21 The Didache meal proves important for this thesis because some scholars we see later draw a connection be tween the Eucharist in the Didache and the A g a p e 22 Some thinkers belittle the Didache meal when looking at what the understanding of the Last Supper eventually becomes, but it does show one of the earliest times the term "Eucharist" appears and it seems to describe a meal meant to commemorate Christ's last meal with his disciples. Now about the eucharist (* /%#$01 2 %3): This is how to give thanks: First in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 21 Harris 2001, 327. 22 The scholars I reference to draw a connection between the Agape and the Eucharist in the Didache are Dix and Bradshaw.
! 20 connection with the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child, which y ou have revealed through Jesus, your child'Then in connection with the piece [broken off the loaf]: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you have revealed through Jesus, your child'You must not let anyone eat or drink of your eucha rist except those baptized in the Lord's n a m e 23 People first drink wine and then eat bread as a way of celebrating the Eucharist. This differs from the synoptic Gospel accounts that have a bread wine o r d e r 24 This raises questions concerning how the Euchar ist in the Didache text relates to the later Eucharist celebrated in a different order. Joseph Ysebaert suggests that the reason for this is because the Didache text actually describes an Agape. These kinds of assertions are typical of early Christian meal studies. The desire exists to keep the Eucharist as what we know of it today. Therefore, any early Christian meal that differ s from Eucharist that became fixed at the Council of Nic a ea must be an Agape The Didache text refers to the Eucharist though, and not an Agape. It calls the meal by name, /%#$01 2 %3" or E u c h a r i s t 25 Given the fact that the author calls the meal by the name "Eucharist," this means the author saw the meal as a separate meal with a different name than Agape. Multiple other authors we explore in the next two chapters write of the Agape and call it by name. Because such little evidence exists for the Agap e, it is easy to generalize it to include other meals. This mistaken categorizing of meals both named and unnamed as examples of the Agape shows the lack of specific attention the Agape receives, and therefore a gap in the current state of scholarship. Another meal similar to the Last Supper appears in the Apostolic Tradition of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 23 Didache 9. Trans: Cyril C. Richardson, Library of Christian Classics, 1970. (Accessed in Ehrman 1999, 346.) 24 The canonical Gospel acco unt of Luke speaks of a wine bread wine order. However, ultimately, Luke concludes with Christ passing around the bread as body and the wine as blood. 25 Accessed online at
! 21 Hippolytus, written around the late 2 nd century or ear ly 3 rd century CE. Hippolytus writes of the "Lord's Supper," most likely following Paul's terminology This example of the Lord's Supper represents how another community built a meal around this memory of the Last Supper. Hippolytus' Apostolic Tradition contains a more liturgical structure than seen in the previous texts discussed here and focuses heavily on the duty of church leaders. However, as with Didache earlier, some scholars, like Gregory Dix, argue that the Lord's Supper from Hippolytus and the Agape are the same m e a l 26 The Lord's Supper in Apostolic Tradition acts like the Didache 's Eucharist, in that their descriptions differ from what appears in Paul, Acts, and the Gospels, and therefore they are called celebrations of the Agape The text s tates: And then the offering is immediately brought by the deacons to the bishop, and by thanksgiving, he shall make the bread into the image of the body of Christ, and the cup of wine mixed with water according to the likeness of the blood, which is shed for all who believe in himThe bishop shall explain the reason of all these things to those who partakehe shall say: The heavenly bread in Christ Jesus. And the recipient shall say, Amen. And the presbyters or if there are no enough presbyters, the deac ons shall hold the c u p s 27 This account of what Hippolytus earlier calls the "Lord's Supper," places an emphasis on leadership structure. Through prayer, the bishop conducts the ceremony and makes the bread into the image of the body. Roles exist for th e deacons, the bishop, and the presbyters. Hippolytus may also be suggesting that this description shows how a proper meal should be celebrated, and that the community he speaks to has since been celebrating incorrectly. Considering that we see the termino logy of "Lord's Supper" coming from Paul back around 50 CE, it seems plausible that different writers in the early Christian Church want to assert the proper ways of conducting such a ceremony in their !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 26 The scholar I reference that draws a connection between the Lord's Supper and the Agape is Dix. 27 Ehrman 1999, Apostolic Tradition 23.1 2,4 7. Trans: B. S. Easton, Cambridge University Press. 1934.
! 22 respective communities. As stated earlier, a defined c hurch structure on how to celebrate the Eucharist does not appear until 325 CE. Again, the same struggle appears here in Apostolic Tradition as in the Didache the meals possess specific names, but because they differ from the Eucharist, some scholars on the Eucharist call them examples of the A g a p e 28 The Lord's Supper in Apostolic Tradition relates in some manner to the Last Supper and thus overlaps with the Eucharist in their common origins. However, when looking at the transition from Last Supper to Eucharist, questions arise concerning what the "Eucharist" actually is. While the 1 Corinth ians text certainly influences the Eucharist seen today in Christian churches, the term, /%#$012%," appears nowhere in the canonical Christian scriptures in reference to a Last Supper type m e a l 29 However, both the Lord's Supper (!"#$%& ( )* + ,(-() and th e Agape ( 454,%$ 6 ) do appear by name in the Christian B i b l e 30 We would expect the term "Eucharist" if the New Testament authors understood the Lord's Supper to already be developing into the Eucharist. However, this connection between the Lord's Supper and Eucharist never appears from New Testament writers. This point is essential to my thesis. Other early Christian meals developed at this time, possibly with the Last Supper as their origin, and possibly referring to some other meal shared by Christ and his disciples. The Eucharist that came from the Council of Nicaea resulted from the ongoing process of development, with many meals influencing each other's structure s before the Eucharist developed into it s later form The main point is that the Eucharist was not the only meal that came out of the Christian tradition and the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 28 The scholars that I refere nce that draw conclusions using the Agape as a catch all meal are Jeremias, Ysebart, Dix, Lietzmann, and Bradshaw. 29 The term /%#$012%" does appear in Acts, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Revelation in reference to thankfulness gratitude, thanksgiving, and prayers of thanksgiving. 30 NRSV, 1 Corinthians 11.20 and Jude 12.
! 23 Last Supper was not the only origin for meals amongst Christ followers. The meals explored in this chapter show the promin ence of meals amongst Christ followers and the problem with using the term "Agape" to describe a variety of meals. These meals are extremely similar to the Agape in that they are all early accounts of Christ followers celebrating a meal together. Also like the Agape, these meals highlight different traditions and probl ems in the theory of origin of the Eucharist. These texts describe meals specific to the communities and situations present like the Acts community sharing a meal or the Corinthians community demonstrating its awareness of the various classes of convert s. While limited evidence exist s describing the Agape, the celebration distinguishes itself from this group of meals because of its consistency. Multiple sources that I examine in chapters that follow speak of the Agape meal, and while little is said about its actual description trends of community and modesty appear throughout the descriptions of the Agape. Due to this ambiguity, the title Agape frequently gets applied as a catch all term for other early Christian meals with more set characters, like the Didache Eucharist, Lord's Supper, or the meals in Acts and Corinthians with strict identities that appear in this transition from Last Supper to Eucharist. However, as we see in this chapter, these meals may already have names or specific characters This analysis of meals leads me to a close view of the Eucharist's theory of origin to explain this progression. We now conti nue with the question of origin, since k nowledge of these meals just explored will prove valuable. Scholars often use these meals to explain the progression from Last Supper to E u c h a r i s t 31 More to our purposes, these meals inform the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 31 Smith, Dennis Edwin. From Symposium to Eucharist : The Banquet in the Early Christian World. 2003, 4.
! 24 relationship of the Agape to the Eucharist. The prominent theories that exist regarding the development of the Agape, as it is related to the Eucharist, ar e the Single Origin theory, the Dual Origin theory, and the Common Banquet theory. Each of these theories focuses on the difference between the Last Supper and what the Eucharist eventually becomes. Single Origin Theory Joachim Jeremias mainly develop ed and popularized the Single Origin theory in 1 9 6 6 32 Jeremias' theory connects the Last Supper to the Passover meal asserting that the Last Supper originated from the Passover and is the single origin for the later Eucharist Therefore, the Passover meal greatly influenced both the form and theological implications of the m e a l 33 This concept of the Eucharist meal deriving from one single origin proved a popular concept in the past. Many studies assert the idea of a single origin for the Eucharist. Joseph Ysebaert writes on the Single O rigin theory, building on the theory presented by Jeremias. He also suggests that the Eucharist tradition came out of the Passover meal and continues further to state that the Eucharist and Agape existed once as a common m e a l 34 Ysebaert attempts to answer the question of Eucharist origin. In the process, he encounters meals that do not fit in a scheme. He tries to assign these meals to the same origin as that of the Eucharist. Ultimately, he asserts that the Lord's Supper acts as the Eucharist and the Agape at the same time, a distinction does not yet exist between the Eucharist and the Agape. This is also common to some of the early meals that reflected the Last Supper, like the breaking of bread in Acts 2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 32 Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus 1966. 33 Smith 2003, 4, citing Jeremias 1966, pages 42 61. 34 Ysebaert, Joseph. The E ucharist as a love meal (agape) in Didache 9 10, and its development in the Pauline and in the Syrian tradition ." 2004, 11.
! 25 Ysebaert suggest s that the Acts 2.41 47 meal reflects a celebration when it was at one time, a combination of the Eucharist and Agape. The text of Acts examined earlier speaks of a gathering of Jesus' disciples sharing a daily meal together, possibly as a celebration of the Lord's Supper. Ysebaert continues to argue that it was not until the meal in 1 Corinthians 10 11 that Paul distinguishes the Eucharist from the Agape; up until this point, he states that no distinction existed between these meals. However, as I noted a bove, 1 Corinthians was written before the written account of Acts existed Ysebaert suggests, in effect, that the meal in Acts serves as evidence for an unattested pre Pauline practice The meal described in 1 Corinthians 10 shows that Paul saw abuses to the meal meant to remember the Last Supper. Because of Paul's distinction Ysebaert states that this combination of the Eucharist and Agape meal no longer existed by 55 CE when 1 Corinthians was w r i t t e n 35 The two have a common origin and had simply not sep arated until that time. Greg ory Dix also subscribes to the Single Origin theory. He, like many Single O rigin scholars, states that the Last Supper and Eucharist are based off a Jewish meal. However, his opinion differs from those preceding him as he conn ects the origins of the Eucharist and the Agape back to the chaburah meal ( a Jewish meal that preceded the Last Supper ) rather than the P a s s o v e r 36 While differing on the origin of the Eucharist and Agape, Dix and Ysebaert are consistent on two things: 1) there was a single origin to the Eucharist and the Agape and, 2) the Eucharist and Agape were the same meal initially. Dix even goes further and as serts that the Lord's Supper, found in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, also describes an Agape. He argues contrary to Ysebaert, that the meal in !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 35 Harris 2011, 433 434. 36 Dix 1945, 82.
! 26 Corinthians still presents a combined Eucharist and Agape meal. He states that the combination of this meal existed until the epistle of Jude calls the Agape by name, written between 130 150 C E 37 Jude 1.12 states, "These are blemishes on your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves." 38 Jude informs the community he writes to t hat people are blemishes on the love feasts. Dix interprets this as a criticism of the love feast, or Agape, and therefore considers the split of the Agape and Eucharist to appear here. Dix also tries to eliminate the questions of the Didache Eucharist/L ast Supper/Eucharist by suggesting that the Didache actually describes an Agape, after the Eucharist and Agape had already s p l i t 39 This type of distinction appears typical in scholarship on the Agape Using the Agape as a catch all answers many of the ques tions scholars have about how to describe a Eucharist like meal that is not the later Eucharist However, the idea that the Last Supper and Eucharist develop from a Jewish meal creates some problems. To begin, the Jewish meals as they are known today did not necessarily exist in that shape in the 1 Century CE. While definite connections exist between the meals in their later formations, the Rabbinic tradition of Judaism and the Christian tradition devel oped alongside each other. The Single O rigin scholars conflate early Jewish meals with the Passover meal of Rabbinic Judaism Dual Origin Theory Hans Lietzmann acts as a major proponent and developer of the Dual Origin !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 37 Harris 2011, 331. 38 NRSV, Jude 1.12 39 Bradshaw, Paul F. The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship : Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy / Paul F. Bradshaw 2002, 120.
! 27 t h e o r y 40 Lietzmann, like Joachim, looks at the Eucharist and tries to apply it to a context within early Christian meals. Lietzmann suggests that the meal did not have a connection to Passover and, in fact, argues that the Eucharist possessed two basic forms befo re the becoming what it is t o d a y 41 This Eucharist holds two separate origins and therefore, accounts for the other meals, like the Lord's Supper and Agape that sprang up in the first couple of centuries CE. A more recent scholar to support this theory is Paul Bradshaw. In his book, The Search for Christian Origins Bradshaw returns to this question of the meal in Acts 2. He notes the extreme difference between the meal in Acts and the meal in 1 Corinthians that Paul describes. One exists as a daily meal a mongst shared friends and the other exists as a sacred meal with eschatological significance. Bradshaw's distinguishes these meals as two entirely separate meals, rather than Ysebaert and Dix's assertions that they possessed a common structure. Bradshaw us es the Agape as an important and distinct part of his dual origin theory. He suggests that the Agape answers many of the questions that exist about meals related to the Eucharist and Last Supper. He suggests, like Dix, that the Didache speaks about an Agap e, hence the reason that the wine bread order of the Didache celebration This argument (and any one that follows it) proves problematic for many reasons. One of the shortcomings of this argument is that it evaluates the Eucharist and then applies it to an earlier meal rather than judging the Last Supper and meals' narratives in their own historical and cultural contexts. In general, the entire use of the term "Eucharist" proves problematic. The Eucharist that scholars suggest is present in these !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 40 Lietzmann, Hans and Robert Douglas Richardson. Mass and Lord's Supper : A Study in the History of the Liturgy. 1953. 41 Smith 2003, 4. Citing Lietzamann 1953, 127 215.
! 28 early me als lacks the shape or theological themes of the Last Supper that came before it. Furthermore, the Eucharist that scholars suggest exists so early looks nothing like the Eucharist that develops later. These theories seek to connect the Eucharist back to an origin based on its current shape, rather than look at an original meal and see what comes out of it. Common Banquet Theory Seeing the faults in the previous two theories, some scholars take another approach. This approach focuses on the origin rather than the end result. Dennis Smith, advancing from Mattias Klinghardt's thesis on Greco Roman meals, suggests that there exists a common model for all the meals present in Greco Roman t i m e 42 The Common Banquet theory states that the banquet is the common tradition for all meals in early C h r i s t i a n i t y 43 Smith writes that this theory excels beyond the Single and Dual O rigin theories because it focuses on the development of meals, rather than working backwards from the conclusion of the meal progression that e nds with the Eucharist. Andrew McGowan is another scholar who supports the Common Banquet theory. As already stated, McGowan works as one of the foremost scholars on the Agape. McGowan writes of the problems explored in t his chapter, "since the early A g ape remains difficult to describe or define, it can be made to fit a reconstructive picture created to serve scholarly interests largely focused on the E u c h a r i s t 44 McGowan highlights the faults here in the Single and Dual Origin theories. The theorists use the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 42 Smith 2003, 2 3. 43 Smith 2003, 3. 44 McGowan, Andrew. "Naming the Feast: The Agape and the Diversity of Early Christian Meals." Studia Patristica Vol 30. 1997, 314.
! 29 Agape meal to fit wherever it can, rather than looking at it as its own meal. McGowan argues, like Smith, that no combination exists of the Eucharist and Agape since sources do not reflect such an example. He asserts that calling the Agape by name eliminates some of the difficulty of placing it in a context an Agape meal by name defines an Agape meal. Therefore, unnamed meals do not act as celebrations of the A gape This exploration reveals the complexity of considering the meals within the Jesu s movement, early Christianity, and amongst Christ followers. Given this new area of focus, the Agape connects to the Eucharist in that they both build upon the Common B anquet tradition. However, its existence does not rely on the progression from Last Sup per to Eucharist. With this new understanding, the Agape may relate to the Last Supper tradition, but it continued as a completely different meal from the Eucharist. Its shape and structure relate back to the banquet. This theory best allows for the indepe ndence of the Agape meal as its own meal and answers the question of where it fits in the progression from Last Supper to Eucharist. When examining each of these different approaches regarding the origin of the Eucharist, it appears that the majority of scholarship focuses on the origin of the Eucharist and not the Agape. Specifically, it shows that the Agape remains somewhat ignored in scholarship and it is mostly used for the purpose of explaining away other meals within this early Christianity that do not fit in the argued transition from Last Supper to Eucharist. However, following McGowan's approach, studying the Agape when it appears by name allows us to understand it as a specific independent meal and not an overarching term to describe a variety of early Christian meals. In the next chapter
! 30 I explore these texts that mention the Agape by name to understand exactly what the Agape looked like. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
! 31 Chapter Two The most extensive description of the Agape appears in Tertullian's Apologeticum ( henceforth just called Apology ) and in The Passion of Perpetua and Felic itas ( henceforth just called Passion ). Both texts highlight many important aspects about the Agape and its presence in the Carthagian Christian community. Through exploration of the author, community, and text, we will better understand the criticisms, character, and justification for the Agap e. Most specifically, we will see that descriptions of the Agape in these texts lack any explicit reference to the Last Supper, and instead focus on the meal's communal aspect. While the Agape appears in texts from other areas, it appears particularly pr evalent in the Carthagian community. One of the main authors that mentions the Agape, Tertullian proves a difficult writer to base scholarship on due to certain inconsistencies in his writing, so I examine these problema tic aspects of using Tertullian. I conclude my study of Tertullian wi th a brief look at the Montanist movement, to which he and the character Perpetua belonged. So also presumably Passion 's author belonged to the Montanist movement, possibly Tertullian himself. I then examine both Apology a nd Passion, exploring what each shows about the Agape. After a close examination of these texts, I conclude with looking at what the exploration of they show about the Agape and, further, how they will compare with the texts we examine in the next cha pter. Carthage, Tertullian, and Montanism Carthage was a cosmopolitan city in North Africa that became a prominent city for Christians in the first couple of centuries CE. Rome took control of Carthage
! 32 beginning in 146 BCE and held control until around the 5 th Century C E 45 Figure 1 46 This map situates Carthage in the Roman world. Carthage itself was controlled by many different group s over a period of time, as is typical of this age. However, during our time period and in our search for a description of the Agape, we see Carthage controlled by Rome. Both of our primary texts in this chapter, Tertullian's Apology and Passion take place in Carthage. The study of Christianity in Carthage is a complex topic. Persecution of Christians began in Carthage around 180 CE when Commodus was in power and became the first Carthagian governor to execute a C h r i s t i a n 47 However, in the midst of persecution, Christians appear ed in the African army around 212 C E 48 We also see that Perpetua married a n oble man and Tertullian was a well educated and literate man, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 45 Soren, David, et al. Carthage : Uncovering the Mysteries and Splendors of Ancient Tunisia / David Soren, Acha Ben Abed Ben Khader, Hdi Slim 1990, 14. 46 Figure 1: Map of the Roman World. Four cities are emp hasized. The authors that write about the Agape are from each of these cities. The map is from Bassler and Meeks, The HarperCollins Study Bible : New Revised Standard Version, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books 2006. 47 Barnes, Timothy David. Tertullian: A Historical and Literary Study 1971, 60. 48 Barnes 1971, 69.
! 33 indicating that they both were of high birth. So, while Christian persecution existed, Christians also possessed important roles in Carthagian society. Tertullian became a prominent Christian writer in Carthage during the late 1 st Century and the early 2 nd Century. His father was a centurion in the Roman army. Not always a Christian, he converted to the movement in the middle of his l i f e 49 He was well educated and contributed greatly to the early Christian church. He wrote many works concerning Christianity and the church. Tertullian lived from about 150 160 CE to 225 240 CE. He offers a vast perspective of Christians at Carthage during the first couple of centuries CE. However, despite his influence as a prominent writer, Tertullian also became infamous for certain problematic discrepancies in his writing. While his writing focuses on defending the Christian faith and justifying positions of the Church, scholars generally accept that he writes rather inconsistently. In some of his writings, Tertullian describes a situation that calls for one response and then later suggests a completely different one. One such example appears in his talk o n baptism, writing first that the best time to be baptized is on Easter. Then, he later goes on to challenge his point and call Pentecost the best time for baptism. Finally, he states that every day is good for a b a p t i s m 50 Scholars of early Christian texts criticize Tertullian for such inconsistency and suggest that he states both the facts and his o p i n i o n s 51 Another example of his inconsistency appears in his opinions of women. Many scholars refer to Tertullian as one of the first Christian misogynists, co ntinually calling for women to be submissive in the church and to their !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 49 Greenslade, S. L. S. Early Latin Theology; Selections from Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, and Jerome 1956, 21. 50 Bradshaw, Paul F. The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship : Sources and Methods for the Study of Early Liturgy. 2002, 101. The text references Tertullian's De Baptism 19. 51 Bradshaw 2002, 101
! 34 h u s b a n d s 52 Many of Tertullian's writings reflect this negative sentiment towards women. 53 However, Tertullian became involved in the Montanist movement, which preached a universal pries thood and had two women as its founders How could Tertullian assert such a limited role to women in the church and then follow a movement that had two women at the head of it? These inconsistencies appear and it is important for us to try and discern opin ion from fact. With this knowledge of Tertullian, I must then question how to proceed when using him as a major source of information concerning the Agape. Does this really invalidate him as a source for the Agape? I believe not. His text remains a power ful source for evidence for such a meal for the following reasons: f irst, the Agape text appears mentioned by o ther authors besides Tertullian, including Ignatius' Letters, the book of Jude, Clement of Alexandria's letters, and other texts ; and s econd, Ter tullian's text on Agape avoids instructing people on how to celebrate the Agape, and rather, defends it. In Apology 's description, we see Tertullian defend this meal in his community, rather than offer instruction. Given this knowledge, while elsewhere Tertullian causes conundrums with his inconsistencies in his instructions, it makes little sense to question his defense of a meal. While some subjectivity on the part of the author must exist, given that he writes on how people persecute Christians, it do es not insinuate that the entire text revolves around his own opinion. Why would Tertullian defend an idea facing criticism if it did not exist or if people were not criticizing it? If no one criticized the meal, he would not have defended the meal, but si mply given instructions for it. Also, at a very basic level, Tertullian remains one of the only authors that we have regarding the Agape at this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 52 Klawiter, Frederick C. "The Role of Martyrdom and Persecution in Developing the Priestly Authority of Women in Early Christianity : A Case Study of Montanism." 1980, 251. 53 For example, Tertullian's text, On the Apparel of Women.
! 35 place and time. As I continue, I will acknowledge his tendencies of embellishment, but believe he will still pr ove a helpful and informative author. In addition to embellishment and inconsistencies in his writing, Tertullian's relationship to the Montanists also proves a topic that leaves questions regarding his consistency. As I already stated, Tertullian's opin ion of women changes through his joining the Montanist movement. However, before exploring Tertullian's relationship to Montanism, I first wish to give a brief overview of the movement. The Montanist movement, also called the New Prophecy, started with Mon tanus, Priscilla, and Maxima. The Montanism movement dates back as far as 165 or 170 C E 54 But, it became a popular force at the time of Tertullian in Carthage during the late 2 nd Century C E 55 While Montanism had a strong presence in Carthage, it also exist ed elsewhere. Evidence shows that Montanism became a popular movement throughout the early Christian world. However, the message of the Montanist movement carried with it an emphasis on the end times, on revelations from the Holy Spirit, and on a universal p r i e s t h o o d 56 Montanus himself claimed that God existed in him and that he spoke for God. Priscilla and Maxima likewise claimed access to these highly spiritual and charismatic experiences. God dwelled in certain humans specifically martyrs and they re ceived priestly authority from that n a t u r e 57 The movement called for Christians to go public about their identities, due to the impending end times. This proved a crucial decision as the leaders in the mainstream Christian church eventually rejected the movement, most likely due to the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 54 Klawiter 1980, 251. 55 Onica, Paul. "Lessons from Montanism." 1997. Page 54. 56 Onica 1997, 52. 57 McGowan, Andrew. "Discipline and Diet: Feeding the Martyrs in Roman Carthage." 2003, 475.
! 36 fact that the movement stated that humans possessed power to connect with and speak directly for G o d 58 The influence of Montanism does not appear as strongly in the Apology as it does in Passion While the author of Passion remains unknown, many suggest Tertullian may be the author. In this case, it makes sense that the text closely relates to the Montanist movement. While Christians accepted the Montanist movement at first, the church authority later deemed it h e r e t i c a l 59 Questions arise about Tertullian's writing, due to the influence of this heretical movement. However, taking a close look at the text wil l allow us to look and see where the Montanist influence appears. The Agape in Apology Tertullian wrote Apology on of his earlier works, around 198 CE Tertullian's focus in a lot of his writing, and specifically in Apology seeks to defend the Christian church. At this time, social and political charges were made against Christians and Christian communities, and Apology acted as a defense against such persecution. In addition to defending his own community, Tertullian proceeds to criticize other communities by illustrating the propriety and goodness of Christianity in comparison to others. Included in the topics he defends, we find his discussion of the Agape in chapter 39. The description of the Agape found in Apology remains one of the most extensive descriptions of the Agape we have. For this reason, the text proves crucial for understanding the meal and its importance. The main section of Apology that focuses on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 58 Onica 1997, 53. 59 Eusebius writes of the official rejection of Montanism in Ecclesiastical History 2.25.5 7; 6.20.3.
! 37 the Agape appears in 39.14 20. I have broken this text up into three secti ons accusations made against the meal, the purpose and description of the meal, and the justification of the meal. Each of these will further inform our question of what th e Agape actually looks like and contribute to the larger picture of how a communit y interpreted ways to celebrate together. Tertullian begins his section on Agape by discussing the accusations made against the meal. It starts: What wonder then, if friends so dear have a common meal? For you attack our small feasts quite apart from th e infamy of the crimes committed at them, as being extravagantWith all those tribes and senates and decurions belching the air grows sour. When the Salii dine, the money lender will be needed. Actuaries will have to reckon the cost of Hercules' tithes and banquets. At the Attic Aparturia, Dionysia and mysteries, conscription is proclaimed for cooks. The smoke of a dinner of Serapis will fetch out the firemen. It is only the banquet of Christians that calls for c r i t i c i s m 60 Tertullian focuses here on the criticism brought up against the small feasts, which we will see in the next section are called "agape." In his response to such criticism, he focuses on the celebration of meals in other communities. Throughout Apology Tertullian tries to emphasize and d efend the Christian faith. He emphasizes that members of Christianity differ from members of other groups that require dues and money to pay for their feasts that they participate i n 61 Tertullian states that the members of Christianity do not have this sam e obligation. In Apology 39.4 6 he states, "Our presidentshave reached this honour not for a price, but by character; for nothing that is God's goes for a price. Even if there is a chest of a sort, it is not made up of money paid in entrance fees, as if r eligion !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 60 Tertullian, ca 160 ca 230, et al. Apology : De Spectaculis 2003, Apology 39.14 15. 61 Pagels, Elaine H. Beyond Belief : The Secret Gospel of Thomas / Elaine Pagels. 2003, 7.
! 38 were a matter of contractit is a voluntary o f f e r i n g 62 The Christians that Tertullian speaks of here are giving money voluntarily to help those in need. He continues on to list the good things the Christians do for others using their donated money in contrast to the other groups that use their money to pay for their food and d r i n k 63 These Christians, Tertullian emphasizes, feed the poor, support the orphans, and bury people who would otherwise remain unburied. Tertullian emphasizes these points earlier in Apology but he also emphasizes them again in this passage. He begins with speaking of the Salii needing a money lender, insinuating that they spend excessive amounts of money on their group. Then, he continues and speaks of the cost of Hercules' tithes, money due, and their banquets. This group's money goes to feeding and drinking for themselves. Likewise, the Attic Aparturia spends money on the banquets with the cook. Finally, the Serapis appears irresponsible at their dinner through their call for firemen. Tertullian emphasizes the luxury and irresponsibility found in the groups wasting money. Having emphasized all these groups and their faults, Tertullian then questions why o nly the Christian banquet raise s criticism. Having established earlier in the chapter all that this Christian group does, such as taking care of the poor and orphaned, it frustrates Tertullian as he tries to defend his community and its banquet. This frustration shapes the way he descr ibes his meal in the next section. He wants to discuss how well the Christians behave at their banquet to emphasize this point that Christians do not deserve the criticism for their banquets that the other groups deserve. He writes: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 62 Apology 39.4 5 63 It should be noted that Tertullian describing the propriety of the meal very much resembles Philo's discuss ion of the Therapeutae. In about 10 CE, Philo writes De vita contemplativa In this text, he references the Therapeutae. He describes the Therapeutae as a ascetic Jewish sect that lived in th e desert.
! 39 Our dinner shows its idea in its name; it is called by the Greek name for love ( a g a p e ) 64 Whatever the cost, it is gain to spend in piety's name, for with that refreshment we help the needy. No, not, as among you, parasites aspire for the glory of selling their freedom, author ized by their belly to fatten themselves at the cost of any insult; no, because with God there is greater consideration for those of lower degree. If the motive of the banquet is honest, take the motive as the standard of the other proceedings required by our rule of life. Since it turns on the duty of religion, it allows nothing vile, nothing immodest. We do not take our places at table until we have first tasted prayer to God. Only so much is eaten as satisfies hunger; only so much drunk as meets the need of the modest. They satisfy themselves only so far as men will who recall that even during the night they must worship God; they talk as those would who knew the Lord listens. After water for the hands come the lights; and then each, from what he knows of the Holy Scriptures, or from his own heart, is called before the rest to sing to God; so that is a test of how much he has drunk. Prayer in like manner ends the b a n q u e t 65 This text shows the most comprehensive view of the Agape. It provides rich informa tion as to the motive and description of the celebration. To begin, Tertullian names the meal. Tertullian explicitly calls the Agape by name and, since my goal in this thesis is to look for the Agape when it is called by name, it proves an invaluable resou rce for examining the meal. While Tertullian writes later than most of the other authors that mention the Agape by name, his text provides the most extensive description. We see that this community celebrated the meal in the evening. As we will see, this c hanges over the course of the next 50 y e a r s 66 But for this time, in the early 3 rd century, the meal predominately existed as an evening celebration. Next, Tertullian goes on to talk about feeding the needy. He scolds the ambiguous "you," his criticizers, and compares those who do it for glory to his community, to those who do it because "with God there is greater consideration for those of lower degree." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 64 Tertullian wrote in L atin so the Greek for A gape that we saw in the last chapter does not appear here. But the Greek word that refers to love refers to A gape as this translator shows 65 Apology 39. 16 18 66 Cyprian of Carthage writes around 250 CE, only mentioning a morning Eucharist. See Letter 63.16.1 2.
! 40 His sets up a comparison that shows the criticizers as acting for glory and his community acting to ser ve God in the manner God intended. Obviously, this perspective presents a biased view. Tertullian wants to make his community look as perfect as possible. We gather at the very least, that Tertullian says they fed the needy and that was important for those celebrating the meal. However, whether the community fed the needy continually with the purest intentions we will never know. Continuing, Tertullian calls the Agape a "duty of religion," and therefore nothing can be done at the meal that goes against sa id religious morality. He continues, first they must pray to God. They only eat enough for sustenance and only drink enough for modesty. They test knowledge and sing to God as a means of judging if a person drank too much. Then the meal concludes with pray er. Tertullian shifts the focus of his writing from the hypocrisy of others to how the participants at the meal should prove their own modesties. They celebrate the meal as a religious duty and therefore must hold it to high principles of propriety and mod esty, evident in the conduct of the participants. Undoubtedly, some of this text embellishes the purpose of the Agape and the goodness of the community celebrating it. Tertullian paints his community with perfect intentions and proper modesty. As a stude nt studying Antiquity, I will never know what Tertullian's community actually looked like. I only can gather the information expressed in these sections and proceed with the knowledge that no writer exists without fault or embellishment. But, what can we g ather? Certainly we see what Tertullian's idealistic Agape looks like. The Agape was meant to be a dinner where a community came together to serve God through feeding the poor, praising and praying to God, eating and drinking modestly, and holding each oth er accountable to said modesty.
! 41 Tertullian sought to emphasize the propriety and modesty of the Agape. This emphasis may be because he felt the meal was under attack, but there is a distinction that the Agape was not like a symposium no one was glutton ous or greedy with d r i n k 67 They met together for the purpose of thanking and worshiping God as a community. While in the previous chapter, some of the scholars assumed that this purpose was to remember the Last Supper, Christ's last meal with his disciple s, Tertullian's text does not support this connection. There is no specific reference to the Last Supper meals, but the Agape follows a similar fashion of the Last Supper praying, eating, drinking, and giving thanks. No explicit mention was made to Jesus final meal that later serves as the basis for the Eucharist. Still, as we saw earlier in looking at early Carthage, the Agape seems to be the norm for celebrating the Lord's Supper type meal. It was not until later in Carthage's history that a morning, s acral based Eucharist developed as the norm for c e l e b r a t i o n 68 Finally, Tertullian concludes his discussion of Agape with his justification of why the meal proves important and does not deserve the accusations that criticizers raised against it. He writes: Then we break up; but not to form groups for violence nor gangs for disorder, nor outbursts of lust; but to pursue the same care for self control and chastity, as men who have dined not so much on dinner as on discipline. This gathering of Christians may properly be called illegal, if it is like illegal gathers; may properly be condemned, if any complain of it on the score of which complaint is made of factious clubs. To whose hurt have we ever met? We are when assembled just what we are when apart; taken together then same as singly; we injure none; we grieve none. When decent people, when good men, gather, when the pious and when the chaste assemble, that is not to be called a faction; it is a S e n a t e 69 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 67 Symposium here refers to the ancient Greek drinking parties described by Plato in his work, Symposium 68 McGowan, Andrew Brian. "Rethinking Agape and Eucharist in Early North African Christianity." 2004, 170. 69 Apology 39. 19 20
! 42 Tertullian emphasizes that those celebrating the Agape proceed with modesty and propriety. Tertullian references the fact that this type of Christian gathering is illegal and may be condemned, but in response he asks who suffers from such a meal a response I find quite interesting. Instead of arguing t he necessity of pursuing God in the midst of a condemning society, he rather argues that they get together but they do not hurt anyone. He justifies the meal because the Christians celebrating are simply good men. The fact that Tertullian uses this explan ation to defend his meal sheds a bit of light on the Agape itself. It speaks to the simplicity of the meal. Men gathered together to eat and drink in modesty, worship God, and thank Him for their blessings. His justification for the meal is simply that the y harm no one, so why raise offense at it? So, it seems that this community saw this meal as their own way to celebrate and worship God. Tertullian describes it simply as a friendly get together where they eat, drink, and worship God. The Apology text offers an informative glance at this meal. It shows us so many aspects of the meal, including what happens, why it happens, and how the community responds to such a meal. First, we see that Tertullian continually defended the meal, indicating that cr iticizers found fault in the meal. Next, we see that the actual meal, described as a "friends so dear sharing a common meal," consisted of eating, drinking and giving thanks to God, no one eating or drinking in excess of what was proper. And ultimately, Te rtullian refrains from mentioning any details of the Last Supper. The Agape in The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas While Passion offers less information regarding the Agape than found in Apology it still provides unique insight into this meal that w e desire to acquaint ourselves with.
! 43 While Apology gives a description and purpose, Passion actually allows us to see an instance of the Agape in practice. The author of Passion remains unknown. While we see that it possesses a first person narrative, that does not prove that someone named "Perpetua" actually wrote it. I t has often been suggested that Tertullian wrote the narrative after he joined the New Prophecy movement. Regardless of the author, the text definitely possesses a Montanist influence. It emphasizes the importance of d eclaring oneself as a Christian and communicating with God. T he author explicitly states Perpetua belonged to the New Prophecy movement. In this narrative, Perpetua declared herself as a Christian and was put to death in 203 C E. Perpetua, Felicitas, and Saturus were three Christians imprisoned for their confessions of Christ. Perpetua was the wife of a respectable man and the mother of a newborn son. However, her husband does not appear at any point in the narrative. Perpetua's father begs her to not profess herself a Christian and asks her to come back to her family and child. However, in the face of this, Perpetua chooses her commitment to Christ over her commitment to her family. Shortly after she confesses herself as a Chri stian, she and others are sent to the arena to die. However, before the gruesome death scene where wild animals tear the martyrs apart, they celebrate their last meal together. This short text on the meal gives us a great look at an Agape in action. The text reads: Perpetua spoke to him directly. "Why can you not even allow us to refresh ourselves properlyWould it not be to your credit if we were brought forth on the day in a healthier condition? The officer became disturbed and grew red. So it was that he gave the order that they were to be more humanely treated; and he allowed her brothers and other persons to visit, so that the prisoners could dine in their companyOn the day before, when they had their last meal, which is called the free banquet, the y celebrated not a banquet, but rather a love feast ( 7 54,8(). The spoke to the
! 44 mob with the same steadfastness, warned them of God's judgment, stressing the joy they would have in their s u f f e r i n g 70 This story recounts the martyrs' last meal before going to the Carthagian arena to die. Perpetua criticizes the tribune for not allowing them to be refreshed. F eeling bad, he then demands they be allowed more luxury so that their Christian brothers and sisters could come in and feed them, a fairly common practice at the t i m e 71 Finally, they celebrated this last meal as an Agape. The martyrs ate with their Christian "brothers" and preached to them, telling them of God's judgment and talking about martyrdom. This text shows us an Agape in action. It shows a reason for the Agape a last meal for martyrs. Further it shows what happened the martyrs preached God's judgment. This text presents a certain use for the Agape, even though Tertullian 's Apology never mentions the Agape's relationship to martyrs Thus we see that although consistent in emphasis the Agape is a versatile meal that is celebrated for multiple purposes. One additional aspect of this Agape that differs from Tertullian's basic description of it appears in the teaching at the meal. The martyrs u se this meal as an opportunity to teach their fellow Christians about God and what they know as martyrs, as they stand in a better position to communicate with God. The reason for this added component not seen in Apology probably reflects the Montanist inf luence on this text. As we saw earlier, the Montanists placed a huge emphasis on sacrifice for God and martyrdom as a very high honor. Earlier in the text it states that Perpetua belonged to the New Prophecy movement. Perpetua, as a martyr, openly labels h erself a Christian. The Montanist emphasis on martyrdom and the end times appears through Perpetua's narrative. So, the reason !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 70 Musurillo, Herbert. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. 1972, Passion 16 17. 71 McGowan 2003, 459.
! 45 martyrs appear so important in text relates to the Montanist community celebrating it, not the basic Agape structure itself. Fu rthermore, another reason for the emphasis on t eaching relates to the Montanist emphasis on the Holy Spirit and r e v e l a t i o n s 72 Perpetua's own ability to communicate with God and explain visions to others, as she did for Saturus, shows that she has this char ismatic ability to receive revelations. Saturus claimed that Perpetua was close to God and could therefore receive visions from God One could see this as a way of God speaking through Perpetua in her visions. Perpetua's communicating with God also relates to a central belief of the Montanist movement. They believed the martyrs possessed the priestly authority of communicating with God. This kind of communication explains the teaching at the Agape. The martyrs taught because t hey could communicate with God. I t was important for them to teach the public what they had learned from being in such close communication with God. We see again that this text makes no reference to the Last Supper. It appears as its own meal with no set procedures or reference to Christ as the food and drink items. This disconnect appears in both Apology and Passion leading readers to believe that th is Christian community, although putting a great influence on the Agape, did not use the Agape as a meal to repeat the Last Supper. This lack of mention of the Last Supper proves important. So, what does it mean that the Agape does not place as heavy an emphasis on such a meal? Elaine Pagels offers an interesting interpretation of a similar issue in her book, Beyond Belief: Gospel of Thomas. In a small section she talks about some of the very struggles I discuss in this thesis how did Christianity get f rom the Last Supper dating around 30 CE to the Eucharist we see at the Council of Nicaea in 4 th Century? Pagels suggests that the strictly !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 72 Onica 1997, 52.
! 46 body and blood of Christ interpretation was not the only interpretation that dominated this time. Pagels asserts that the symbolism of the broken bread could represent the unity of Christians through Christ, not simply Christ's b o d y 73 While some in the Pauline communities celebrated their meals with the more morbid and literal interpretation of eating the bread and drin king the w ine as Christ's body and blood, t he communal emphasis of the Agape follows from this importance of community rather than the more morose interpretation. In Apology we see a community of close friends getting together and sharing a meal. No disc ussion of food at the meal appears, except that people not eat in excess. At the meal, they feed the needy, give thanks to God, and read the scriptures to show they refrained from drunkenness. No mention refers to the Last Supper, or of the food and drink being Christ's body and blood. Rather, the meaning of the meal is to honor God. This interpretation focuses much more on the communal aspect of meals rather than the symbolic aspect that appears later in the Eucharist of the Council of Nicaea. As stated earlier, Tertullian wrote around the early 3 rd Century in Carthage About 50 years after Cyprian started writing there Acting as the b ishop of Carthage around 250 CE, Cyprian leads us to believe that the Agape no longer existed as the proper means of ce lebrating amongst Christians, and rather Christians must celebrate a morning sacral celebration with the bread and w i n e 74 Cyprian writes: Are we, therefore, to celebrate the Lord's sacrifice after supper so that we may then offer a mixed cupat the time of the Lord's sacrifice? Now it was only proper that Christ should make His offering towards the eveningso that He might signify by that hour at which He sacrificed the setting and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 73 Pagels 2003, 17 18. 74 McGowan, Andrew. "Rethinking Agape and Eucharist in Early North African Christianity." 2004, 173. Cyprian Saint, Bishop, of Carthage, and Allen Brent. On the Church : Select Letters. 2006, Letter 63.16.1 2.
! 47 evening of the worldWhereas for us, we celebrate the resurrection of the Lo rd in the m o r n i n g 75 Cyprian explains that while Christ passed the cup around in the evening, it is not the way to practice now. Rather, they must celebrate the "resurrection of the Lord" in the morning, contrary to how it had been celebrated in the past. Cyprian includes opposition to celebrating in the morning because that was not the only practice. He writes to clarify how the sacrament must be practiced, rather than how it has been practiced. However, this does not mean that the Agape ceased. Cyprian at tempts to normalize a morning sacral celebration. He asserts that this proves the correct way for celebrating the Lord's Supper and disproved of the evening b a n q u e t s 76 From this shift we see the Agape losing its place to a morning sacrament. While evening banquets possibly still existed, Cyprian announced his dis a pproval of them and we lack any evidence later in Carthage that speaks to their existence. So, by 250 CE we already see the Agape losing its place to the more sacrament based Eucharist celebration that wins out in the Council of Nicaea. As early as 250 CE, celebrating the Agape falls out of public view in Carthage. While the Agape appeared in the public view through Tertullian, we did not see any resemblance to the Last Supper in either Apology or Passion. So the question then becomes: why? Why did the Agape that appeared in Carthage lack all reference to the Last Supper? The emphasis on communal feasting found in the Agape answers this question. Rather than focus on the Last Supper, the Agape's focused on the communal aspect of dining together as Christians. As we go forward to the next chapter, we will search the other texts that speak of an Agape to see if they also lack mention the Last Supper. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 75 Cyprian 2006, Letter 63.16.1 2. 76 McGowan 2004, 174.
! 48 In moving to the next chapter, I examine a var iety of other authors that mention the Agape. When looking at these texts, I will watch for this connection between Last Supper and Agape. I want to see if this connection exists in the other texts or if the emphasis on communal feasting also seems a centr al component of the Agape. Further reading of these primary texts that reference the Agape will show more information regarding what it is and if it spans different areas and writers. ! ! ! ! ! ! !
! 49 Chapter Three The Agape, or love feast, explored in the last chapter shows Tertullian's description of this meal. However, evidence for the Agape extends beyond Tertullian to many other early Christian writers. Tertullian provided us with a wealth of information concerning the Agape. He provid ed us with a more specific character and told us how the community perceived the meal. All of this information plays a key role in helping us as we examine the Agape. However, while Tertullian gave us a relatively detailed look at the Agape, I explore furt her descriptions that allow us more insight into the character of the Agape. This chapter asks what the Agape looks like according to different authors in different regions, confirms the existence of the Agape in other locations and attempts to evaluate th e role the Agape played in the early Christian meal setting. For this, I look at a letter from Ignatius, Jude's Epistle, Clement's Paedagogus and Origen's Contra Celsus These texts introduce the interesting topic of Christian a ssociations into the discus sion, a topic I explore later in the chapter that becomes a central part of this thesis. The texts validate the presence of the Agape in the early Christian world and further show the associations as an explanation for the popularity of the Agape. Explor ing other texts helps legitimize the Agape as a specific meal, so I look at multiple authors and locations. I examine each text in the order written. To begin, I start by examining the two concepts that prove very important for this chapter the Last Supp er origin of Christian meals and Christian associations. Wit h an understanding of my focus regarding these topics, I then begin looking at Ignatius' Letter to the Smyrnaeans written around 110 CE. Next, I look at the Epistle of Jude, where we encounter so me struggle with determining the actual author. From Jude, I continue on to the Alexandrian
! 50 writers. I explore both Clement and Origen and their texts that reference the Agape. Having explored each of these authors, I then focus on what the new texts we ex amine help us learn more about the Agape. Most importantly, as in the previous chapter, I observe the continual lack of mention to the Last Supper narratives and, from the evidence in this chapter, the presence of associations in early Christianity. The texts gathered for the remainder of this chapter seek to confirm the existence of this Agape. However, each text approaches the topic of Agape in a different way. Tertullian's text focused primarily on the description and defense of the Agape. However, thi s amount of detail and defense is not the case for the following texts. Many of the following texts focus on different themes and speak of the Agape as an aside or an example of a larger point. In one case, an author finds fault with the Agape and criticiz es it. While we obtain helpful information to describe the Agape, these texts act differently than the Apology text. These texts I use primarily for proving the existence of the Agape in different areas. As it stood in the last chapter, the Agape could have just been a celebration in Carthage. In this chapter, I present a more comprehensive view that shows the wid espread presence of it, not limited to a specific area. Besides confirming the existence of the Agape in other communities, these texts also highlight some other important assertions about the Agape. Two of the concepts that prove crucial to my thesis her e are challenging the connection of the Last Supper and the Agape and the Agape as a central part of Christian associations. As we go forth exploring the following texts, these points prove key to understanding how the Agape fits in the early Christian mea l framework. I provide some basic descriptions to why these are interesting topics before examin ing the texts for information. The previous chapter
! 51 showed that neither of the texts explored indicated any connection of the Agape to the Last Supper. It rathe r simply speaks to the common practice of the Agape, as if it were a meal that everyone knew about and did not need further information. As I continue with this chapter, I want to search further to see if the Last Supper appears in these discussions of the Agape. The second main conclusion of this chapter concerns Christian associations. Associations positioned themselves as a part of the Greco Roman culture. Harland speaks of associations as groups that "gathered together regularly to socialize, share co mmunal meals, and honor both their earthly and their divine b e n e f a c t o r s 77 Harland speaks of these groups being very similar to Christian assemblies. He eventually asserts that Christians formed associations in the Greco Roman world, as their congregations wer e similar to other a s s o c i a t i o n s 78 A ssociations help us understand the importance of the communal aspect of the Agape that scholars would overlook in their search for Eucharistic origins. They prove a central part to this thesis and I look at them furth er after exploring each of the texts. Ignatius of Antioch's Instructions for the Agape in Letter to the Smyrnaeans An early, if not the earliest, mention of the Agape appears in Ignatius' Letter to the Smyrnaeans Ignatius served as the bishop of Antioc h from the later half of the 1 st Century CE to the first couple years of the 2 nd Century CE. He remained in power until about 110 CE when a movement of persecution of Christian s swept through the area, and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 77 Harland 2003, 2. 78 The term "associations" regarding Christians appears in the following: Pliny the Younger in Epistles 10.97.7 8, Origen's Contra Celsus 1.1, 3.23, 8.17; Ig n atius to Ephesians 12.2, 19.1; Tertullian's Apology 38 39, Eusebius in H.E 10.1.8.
! 52 Ignatius was arrested. While incarcerated he wrote many of his letters, including his Letter to the Smyrnaeans His letters followed a theme of speaking against heretical teaching and division within the c h u r c h 79 Ignatius wrote his Letter to the Smyrnaeans around 110 CE after his a r r e s t 80 This t ext shows the Agape in both a different time and a different area from the texts in the previous chapter. It reads: Flee from schism as the source of mischief. You should all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ did the Father. Follow, too, the presbytery as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons as you would God's law. Nobody must do anything that has to do with the Church without the bishop's approval. You should regard that Eucharist ( / % # $ 0 1 2 % ) 81 as valid which is celebrated either by the bishop of by someone he authorizes. Where the bishop is present, there let the congregation gather, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. Without the bishop's supervision, no baptisms or love feasts ( 7 5 4 8 ( ) 82 are permitted. On the other ha nd, whatever he approves pleases God as well. In that way everything you do will be on the safe side and valid. 83 As with many of his letters, the text focuses on the worry of division. For this reason, Ignatius seems to assert the authority of the bishop and presbytery as a way to avoid such a division. He asserts the need to follow and respect the church officials as a way to keep the church together and safe from the heretical teachings that cause division. Ignatius speaks generally at first, simply ord ering Christians to follow the bishop. He then presents a specific example to which one must follow the bishop regarding the Eucharist. He states that the Eucharist ( /%#$01 2 %) is not valid unless celebrated by the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 79 Ehrman 1999, 325. 80 Ehrman 1999, 325. 81 Accessed online at
! 53 bishop or someone the bishop gives aut hority to. Ignatius uses the Greek word for Eucharist, so we have evidence tha t shows that something called "E ucharist" existed at this time. Ignatius goes on to discuss baptisms and love feasts, or the Agape. He asserts that these events must also not b e celebrated without the presence of a bishop. Because, Ignatius asserts, what the bishop approves of pleases God. This gives some unique insight to the love feast. This is the first text we have examined that shows the need for authority when celebrating the Agape. Ignatius states that without the bishop, an Agape must not occur. This leads us to see the legitimacy of the Agape in the early Christian church. It was a specific act, known to the bishop of Antioch, and needed formal church officials to be pre se nt to celebrate it, as did the E ucharist. Besides the fact that the Agape needed a bishop for proper celebration, we also learn th at the Agape differs from the Eu charist. As I explored in the first chapter, some of the scholars believe the Agape to be an early form the E ucharist, a meal that had not yet developed fully to the E ucharist that we know t o d a y 84 However, this text challenges that point. For example, Andrew McGowan suggests that the E ucharist and Agape are the same meal just reflecting different stages of development, but thi s text speaks separately of a "E ucharist" (* /%#$01 2 %) and an "A gape" ( 7 5 4 ,8(). This distinction shows us that the Agape is separate fr om whatever the "E ucharist" is that Ignatius speaks of. To combat this conclusion McGowan argues that Ignatius actually speaks of the same meal, but uses the terms "E ucharist" and "agape" interchangeably. However, that argument proves unpersuasive given what Ignatius says. Ignatius begins with the instruction that a !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 84 The scholars I referenced to argue the Agape and Eucharist to be the same meals at different stages are Yesbaert, Dix, and McGowan.
! 54 E ucharist needs a bishop. He says later that a bishop must also be present for baptisms and love feasts, using a completely different word for l ove feast than to describe the E ucharist. While t he exact nature of this E ucharist proves unknown, it makes no sense that Ignatius would use two different names, not to mention two different connotations, to explain the same exact meal. The Ignatius text shows that while the Agape interacted somewhat wit h the E ucharist meal he describes, they remain meals distinct enough to be called by different names. This text also shows us that by 110 CE a E ucharist as a separate ceremonial m eal already existed. What that E ucharist looked like remains unclear, but the terminology appears to describe a meal Beyond simply seeing t he two as separ ate meals and a E ucharist meal already appearing, we also see that t he Agape existed alongside the E ucharist, at least as Ignatius writes of it in Antioch. Ignatius seems to speak about them on the same level of importance Both meals proved worthy enough to require a bishop. It adds new level of importance to the Aga pe than originally seen in the Tertullian and Passion texts. This view of the Agape allows us to continue on from what Tertullian showed us. Tertullian gave us a description of the Agape and no w Ignatius helps us put the meal in the context of the early Christian church in Antioch. Criticism of Agape Participants in Jude 12 Questions arise when studying the Letter of Jude. While the author of Jude's epistle is not definitively known, canoni cal tradition attributes it to Jude, the brother of Jesus mentioned in Mark 6 3 85 If the author of Jude proves to be the Jude we see in Mark 6, he wrote in Palestine, a fairly popular spot for Christians in the movement's infancy. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 85 NRSV, Mark 6.3 "brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon
! 55 However, the theory that Jude's epistle is ascribed to Jesus' brother is generally rejected in favor of the pseudonymous author in R o m e 86 The letter dates between 130 and 150 CE, a few decades after the Ignatius letter appeared. Given this late dating, we assume that the letter is attributed to an author other than Jesus' brother who would not be alive at this time. However, this ambiguity of authorship prov es unimportant for us as we go through this text, for in its reference to the Agape, we see yet another author, be it Jude or someone else, speaking of the love feast. Furthermore, Jude actually belongs to the biblical canon, adding more legitimacy to this text. The early church authorities that determined canon deemed the book of Jude to be without error and therefore also added validity to the Agape. The book of Jude remains short, but informative. This text comes from verses 10 12: But these people slander whatever they do not understand, and they are destroyed by those things that, like irrational animals, they know by instinct. Woe to them! For they go the way of Cain, and abandon themselves to Balaam's error for the sake of gain, and perish in Ko rah's rebellion. They are blemishes on your love feasts (agape) ( 7 5 4 % $ 3 ) 87 while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds of autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted 88 Jude speaks here about false teachers. He criticizes them for their lack of knowledge and for acting as irrational animals would. He then continues to give a specific example of where the false teachers specifically cause trouble. To this point, he brings up the Agape Jude states that the false teachers, those speaking wrongly of the true Christianity, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 86 Harris 2011, 478. 87 In Jude, the Agape is in the dative plural, because it's object of the preposition. noun pl fem dat, Accessed online at
! 56 are blemishes on "your love feasts." He faults those wrongly participating because they prioritize feeding themselves without any shame, meaning those that eat and dri nk with no modesty as necessary of the Agape. Jude addresses the community following Christ he writes to in Rome He shows us that the people in the community celebrated the Agape and that some amongst them were not holy enough to celebrate. Jude cares mor e about the false teachers than the Agape, but he still gives some insight to this meal. First of all, he finds no fault with the individual love feast, but with the false teachers that celebrate the love feast with followers of Christ. To say that false t eachers are blemishes on the love feast shows that the false teachers are the problems, not the meal itself. The fact that Jude worries that false teachers attend the Agape shows more that he finds the Agape to be something for only properly behaving Chris t followers. In addition to his insight to the Agape in his community, Jude's focus here allows us to see a canonical text in the Christian Bible speaking of an Agape in a positive way. It also speaks somewhat to the popularity of the meal that it appe ars in a canonical text. If Jude thought the Agape unimportant, he would not mention it in his let ter to this community of Christ followers. Further, the church leaders of the time believed this text important enough to include in canon adding a layer of validity to the Agape in the eyes of church leaders. Along with this, we also see this section of Jude repeated in 2 Peter. While the text from 2 Peter refrains from naming the feast, it speaks to the same i s s u e 89 Because Christian canon includes both of these texts, church leaders approve d the texts, before deciding to include them. Then, this means that the church leaders also approved !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 89 NRSV, 2 Peter 2.112 14"These peopleare like irrational animals, mere creatures of instinctThey slander what they do not understand, and when those creatures are destroyed, they also will be destroyed, suffering the penalty for doing wrong. They count it a ple asure to revel in the day time. They are blots and blemishes, revealing in their dissipation while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin."
! 57 of the Agape. Canonizing these texts, and specifically these texts that mention the Agape, gives the Agape a precedent. Canonizing meant that the texts were the word of God, without error. If the texts were without error, that means that the Agape was a practice church leaders saw as God inspired. While they inevitably favored the Eucharist in the Council of Nicaea that does not mean that the leaders did not see the Agape as God inspired. In fact, they necessarily must have found it important to include it in canon. Clement and Origen on the Agape in Alexandria Two of the more complicated texts I look at come from aut hors in Alexandria. Clement lived around the time of Tertullian and Origen followed some 50 years later. Less information exists about Clement's life than Origen's. Clement was born sometime in the mid 2 nd Century CE. Evidence shows that he possibly preced ed Origen as the head of a Christian school in A l e x a n d r i a 90 He fled from Alexandria around 202 CE for fear of persecution that arose around this time. 91 Clement's discussion of the Agape appears in his book, The Instructor However, Clement emphasizes diffe rent aspects than we saw in previous texts. It reads: whence some, speaking with unbridled tongue, dare to apply the name a g a p e 92 to pitiful suppersDishonouring the good and saving work of the Word, the consecrated agapeby drink and delicacies and smoke desecrating that name, they are deceived in their idea that the promise of God might be bought with suppers. Gatherings for the sake of mirth, and such entertainments as are called by ourselves, we name rightly suppers, dinners and banquets, after the example of the Lord. But such entertainments the Lord has not called agapae But love ( agape) is in truth celestial food, the banquet of reasonFor the supper is made for !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 90 Oulton, John Ernest Leonard, et al. Alexandrian Christianity : Selected Transla tions of Clement and Origen 1954, 21. 91 Ehrman 1999, 387. 92 Emphasis added by the translator.
! 58 love, but the supper is not love (agape); only a proof of mutual and reciprocal kindly f e e l i n g 93 This text proves very difficult to interpret. Clement discusses both the love feasts known as Agape and the concept of agape as love. He believes that calling these feasts after the world "agape" actually dishonors Christ. This appears as the only text I examine thus far that speaks harshly about the Agape and finds fault in the actual celebration of such a meal, rather th an the people celebrating it. However, I do not think his text speaks as harshly of the meal as originally anticipated. He argues that this meal is not love, but the evidence of love. We see that Clement finds fault in the name of the meal, not necessarily in the meal itself. In fact, Clement does not write anything specifically bad about the meal, but rather the name of the meal. Contrary to what Tertullian emphasized in his text, Clement calls the Agape a luxurious meal, believing that such delicacie s des ecrate the name "love." He describes it as too luxurious to be named after "love." This does not show that the meal was in any way wrong or too luxurious for Christians to be celebrating. Rather, it emphasizes this point that it was not humbl e enough to be titled after the essential point of Christ, love. He asserts that the meal receives too high an honor in its name. But, besides this name issue, he refrains from speaking poorly of the meal itself. For this reason, I see Clement's discussion here an argum ent for a name change and not an argument against the Agape. Regardless of what Clement argues, his text shows evidence of an Agape practiced in Alexandria. While it proves interesting to note his opinions on it, the text shows the existence of an Agape in another Christian community. The Agape appeared enough in this community that Clement felt the need to comment on it, revealing his !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 93 Donaldson, James Sir 1831 1915, et al. The Ante Nicene Fathers; Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A. D. 325 1950. Paed 2.1.
! 59 anger at naming it the way it was. The Agape possessed enough importance and enough people participated that Clement fel t the need to write on such a topic. Origen followed Clement in Alexandria. Origen also acted as the head of the Christian learning school in Alexandria, as early as when he was a t e e n a g e r 94 Clement very much influenced Origen. However, unlike Clement, O rigen speaks of the Agape much more briefly in Contra Celsus While the references are brief, he also writes more generally about "Agape," which has led scholars to question whether he actually w rote of the Agape feast or the a gape love amongst C h r i s t i a n s 95 Origen wrote this text i n an effort to combat Celsus, an important critic of early Christianity. In the text shown here in reference to the Agape, Origen defends early Christians against Celsus' accusations. It states: Celsus' first main point in his desire to attack Christianity is that the Christians secretly make associations with one another contrary to the lawswishing to slander the so called love (agape) (or love feasts) which Christians have for one another, he says that it exists because of th e common dangerAs he talks much of the common law saying that the associations of the Christians violate this, I have to make this reply. Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians whose laws are contrary to divine law, who has no opportunity to g o elsewhere and was compelled to live among them; such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations with like minded people contrary to the laws of the S c y t h i a n s 96 Origen's focus here looks more l ike an attempt to discredit Celsus and prove him wrong than intent to speak about the Agape at all. What we know about Celsus, we know from Origen's text here against him. We see that Celsus criticized Christianity in some part due to the illegal actions t hey took through the formation of associations. However, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 94 Ehrman 1999, 82. 95 Henry Chadwick translates "A gape" in this selection into "love". I argue later that this word be better translated as "love feast". 96 Origen, Henry 1920 ed and tr Chadwick, and Henry. Contra Celsum. 1980, Book 1, Chapter 1.
! 60 Origen argues against this critique using the example of a man living amongst another community. Origen argues that the man's main obligation to the "true law" takes authority over the law of the Scy thians because their laws go against his true law. This argument shows that Origen believed that Christian associations were both legal and important. Associations not only acted as a means for Christian to come together, but they also allowed Christians t o work together towards the "true law" rather than the wrong law that existed in the community they occupied. Besides his rejection of Celsus' assertion about Christian associations, we also see Origen's brief mention of "agape" related to this concept o f Christian associations. This particular translator believes the agape to mean love. The "agape" term here is 7 5 4 8 97 This could mean either "love" or "love feast." The reason why I include it as a love feast follows from my previous Clement discussion an d from what we know about Christian congregations in the early Christian world. Origen very briefly speaks of the Agape with which Celsus finds fault. Celsus sees Agape amongst Christians as illegal and contrary to the laws of the land. Does Origen mean the Agape as feast or love? To begin this discussion, I want to first include Clement in this discussion. We just examined how Clement wrote extensively on his negative view of the Agape. Clement focused very much on the love feast and how Christians celeb rated it, specifically citing its difference from love. Origen denies the Agape the same attention it received from Clement because Origen focuses more on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 97 Origen uses the nomin ative singular, using Agape as a title rather than using as a grammatical part of a sentence. noun sg fem nom attic epic ionic, Accessed online at
! 61 defense of the Christian community. So, we already see that the Agape appears in Alexandrian Christia n history through Clement's discussion of it. Further, even though Origen refrains from criticizing the Agape in the same fashion as Clement, he defends Christian congregations and the Agape in the same way as Clement, Tertullian, and other writers in th is thesis defend the Agape. Origen defends the Agape as an important communal activity celebrated in associations. Philip Harland writes extensively on Christian associations and congregations in the Greco Roman World. Origen writes here of the "associatio ns" amongst Christians, a common trend during this time. As stated earlier, pagan associations were groups of people gathered together to socialize, share food, perform religious ritual, and honor benefactors. Harland asserts a relationship here between th e associations of Greco Roman pagans and of Christian associations. This terminology of "association" appears frequently in Christian texts such as those from Origen and Tertullian. Harland asserts that just as pagans in the Greco Roman world formed assoc iations, so did Christian groups. He argues this because of the prevalence of the terminology of associations found in Christian texts, the similarity of leadership and celebration structure of Christian associations to pagan associations, and the fact tha t Christian groups were not completely sectarian and did assimilate into the Greco Roman c u l t u r e 98 The authors show us that Christians formed associations just as other groups in the Greco Roman World. 99 Closely connected to the actions of associations at this time was the concept of eating together at feasts. Feasts played a key role in different associations' f r a m e w o r k s 100 We also see the prominence of Christian associations that look and act the same as !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 98 Harland 2003, 178. 99 Origen's Contra Celsus 1.1, 3.23, 8.17 and Tertullian, 's Apology 38 39. 100 Harland 2003, 74.
! 62 Greco Roman pagan associations and we see the promi nence of feasting in these Christian associations. Knowing the importance of feasting amongst associations, understanding that Origen refers to this community as a Christian association, and finally seeing that Clement spoke about the same Agape years earl ier in the same geographic area shows us the precedence for using the term "Agape" to refer to a love feast, and not merely love amongst Christians. If, as I conclude, Origen spoke about the Agape as a love feast, we see how this feast is described. Most specifically, as seen in Tertullian, we see the need to defend love feasts in Christian associations. Each author sought to defend these Christian associations or congregations due to their persecution in each of their communities. The same sentiment of d efending Christian behavior against the persecution of the outside world appears in the texts we have seen as well. But, persecution of something does not mean it is unfamiliar. Harland asserts that Christians used the same terminology and structure of associations that appeared amongst other groups in the Greco Roman World and e l s e w h e r e 101 While one might originally assume that members of the early Jesus Movement wanted to distinguish themselves from the society around them, the completely sectarian mode l proves too simple for such a complex early m o v e m e n t 102 Harland responds to such criticism by describing the idea of assimilation. Members of Christian groups quite possibly already belonged to other associations, it follows that this new group would turn to a practice they knew and acted in as a new practice for a new religion. On the contrary, the congregations or associations of early Christ followers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 101 Harland 2003, 182. 102 Harland 2003, 12.
! 63 related very much to the Greco Roman associations, both in practice and in structure. Origen, Tertullian Ignatius, and other authors not explored here, speak of Christian associations in their writings. The question, then, is: what do Christian associations have to do with the Agape? We see that two of our main authors speak of these associations as celebrating love feasts. Associations existed before a more formal organization was set up and then when a more strict Church structure developed, Christian associations were abandoned. Knowing what we do about Christian associations, the Agape very much c onnects to these groups. The early Christian world did not possess the organization that exists today. Christians were dispersed and living in different areas with different bishops of different influence. No set canon existed and it remains impossible to know what each community read and or possessed access to. It was a disjointed community in a large area. Turning to associations allowed Christians to find each other and p lace themselves in a community while also following a structure they already underst ood. Understanding the structure of these Christian groups that celebrated the Agape allows me to draw conclusions regarding how the Agape connects to these associations. Conclusions My investigation spans different areas and times. Now that I have exp lored a variety of texts and authors on the Agape text, I want to restate what appears common amongst all references of the Agape. We see the Agape described as a feast celebrated in Christian communities. With the exception of Clement who found fault in t he title, none of the authors showed disapproval of the meal, but rather each sought to defend it and protect it from either criticism or wrongdoing, like through the overseeing of a bishop.
! 64 None of the authors in this chapter examined provide the same spe cific description of the meal as seen in Tertullian, or the same altruistic motive of feeding the hungry and helping the poor. Regardless, the general structure of the meal appears similar amongst different communities: a feast celebrated amongst a communi ty of Christians. It appears even more official based on the description in Ignatius' text due to the need for a bishop for celebration This sort of structure remains unseen in the other texts, but still does not question the structure of the meal. Thro ugh the examination of the variety of texts, some themes became apparent regarding the look and importance of the Agape. The two over arching themes gathered from this research show the Agape's disjointed connection to the Last Supper meal and the relation ship of the Agape to Christian associations. These two themes prove to the crucial answer to the questions posed in the introduction: what is the Agape and how does it fit in the early Christian world? Not one of the texts shown in the past two chapters indicates any relation to the Last Supper. The general sense behind the Agape resides in the need for Christians to celebrate together. Other than a brief reference to duty in Tertullian, the early writings on the Agape show very little connection the Last Supper. This observation contrasts with Andrew McGowan's analysis. He asserts that the Agape and Eucharist both reflect a meal meant to commemorate the Last Supper, but at different stages of development. However, if the Agape found its meaning and origin in the Last Supper, authors of these early writings would have expressed that in the texts. If the Agape found its meaning in the Last Supper, that would be a point of authority to add to this meal. While Tertullian defends the meal in Apology he could h ave asserted that, as a memorial for the Last
! 65 Supper, they must celebrate the feast to remember Christ. However, Tertullian takes a different approach, arguing rather that no harm oc curs through their get together so where is the fault? Adding the Last S upper component would serve to give the Agape more credibility and validate it, not hinder it. Given that Clement also rejects the overly important status of the Agape, if Clement found the Agape to be more connected to Christ, as if based off the Last S upper, he would not find fault in the Agape as not important enough to be named after love. The Agape simply shows no reference to the meaning of the Last Supper. However, it does show the call for Christ followers to celebrate together. While the Agape' s communal emphasis somewhat relates to the communal aspect of the Last Supper it still lacks any common approach with the Eucharist. One portrays a celebratory feast amongst Christians and the other reflects the need to eat and drink bread and wine to re member Christ. The Agape proves its own meal with its own character completely different from the sacral Eucharist that exists later, with a possible existence at the same time. The purpose, the description, and the celebrants all appear different from wha t occurs in a Eucharist celebration. No sacral undertones appear, a concept central to the Eucharist. It does not support a sacred token meal item. It focuses much more on the nature of community than on the food.
! 66 Conclusion This thesis serves to instruct people thinking about early Christianity to slow down and take a closer look. The Eucharist was not the only means of celebrating a Christian meal. Many other meals existed with the purpose of gathering Christians together to cel ebrate. While the Eucharist eventually proved itself as the celebration most favored by early Church leadership, this does not mean that it was the only one. This thesis evaluated the prominence of the Agape in the early Christian world and, further, its c ommon practice. Having a clearer unders tanding of what the Agape looked like allows us to better understand early Christianity and the early Church. We saw that the Agape's relationship to the Last Supper proves much more complex than originally anticipa ted. The Agape does not flow from the Last Supper explicitly. Rather, it follows the general idea that Christians needed to gather together as Jesus and his followers gathered together. This included meals like the Last Supper, but also other meals and foo d events celebrated throughout the time of Christ and his disciples after him. This emphasis on the communal aspect of meals kept the focus of the Agape away from the sacramental nature found in the Eucharist showing the existence of a communal meal witho ut sacral undertones In addition to the disconnect found between the Last Supper and the Agape we also found a division in early Christianity in general. A fter Jesus' death, apostles traveled, bishops arose, and Christian writers developed. However, in spite of this developing leadership, no canon existed to circulate amongst a group of dispersed Christ followers still learning how and what to celebrate. Rules and order did not flow out of Jesus' death in the early Jesus movement. In fact, followers of Christ did not know how to react or
! 67 celebrate. Given this ambiguity and confusion, the creation of associations makes complete sense. Associations acted as a common aspect of the Greco Roman World that these Christians remained a part of after Jesus' deat h. The new Christian movement did not mean that Christians automatically dropped their other identities and relations to pursue this ambiguous movement. It makes sense that many Christ ians turned to what they knew and a ssociations developed out of this. As already stated earlier, associations, in this instance, were groups where people of common professions of faith came together. Feasts played a large part of these associations. The problem that developed was Christians wanting to remember Christ, but not knowing how. Combining the Greco Roman associations with the need for communal fellowship in meals gives them the Agape. The practice of the Agape in a variety of different communities proves that the Agape did have a place in the scheme of early Christian meals. A feast celebrated amongst Christians, meant to celebrate and praise God, but without sacral undertones related to the Last Supper or the Pauline interpretation of the Last Supper. Paul very much focused on separating Christians from the world around them, specifically the Greco Roman influence. It makes sense that his interpretation of how to celebrate the Last Supper focused more on the Eucharist like celebration and not on a feast like those celebrated in associations found in the Greco Roman world. Paul played a large role in the development of Christianity, according to the church leadership that canonized much of Paul's works into the Christian Scriptures. By the time Council of Nic a ea came around, his method for celebration proved most favored by the Council and it became the norm. The official structure that early Christians previously lacked eventually became a larger functioning group and made assertions about what was right
! 68 and wrong for Christians and Christian practice. However, Paul's instructions could not reach all the new Christ followers. This combination of new beliefs and old practices proves precisely where the role of associations and the Agape comes in. The Agape represents this bridge between Jesus' death and a set church structure. The rejection of banquets appears in the structure of the Eucharist through the Council of Nicaea. It further appears in the rejection of the Agape as a means of practice. While the A gape proved unimportant at the Council of Nicaea, and no evidence remained after about 250 300 CE for its existence, this does not mean the meal completely disappeared. Just as we cannot know what the early E ucharist Ignatius spoke of looked like because w e have no evidence, we also cannot know what the Agape looked like after 300 CE. While not explicitly mentioned, communities still may have turned to this sort of practice. The Council of Nicaea occurred in 325 CE, but the Synod of Laodicea, occurring in 3 63 CE, explicitly states a rejection of l o v e f e a s t s 103 Its Canon 28 states, It is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord's Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of G o d 104 This sort of rejection aft er the Council of Nicaea shows that the Agape must still have been of some concern to church leadership. This indicates that practicing the Agape did not just stop in 325 CE. The underlying point discovered through this exploration is the disjointedness o f the early Christian world. Many times people simply assume that a Christian practice or community got from the initial stage to final stage without any interruptions. In fact, this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 103 Accessed online at
! 69 proves false. The transition from the early Jesus Movement to a more stru ctured Christianity included confusion and relied heavily upon old practices to answer new questions. I find this transition to be much more vague than I originally anticipated. It rather reflects a time of change and of different communities celebrating i n various ways. The Agape arises out of this change and division. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
! 70 Appendix Glossary Agape: Agape is the Greek word for "Love Feast." It describes a banquet style feast celebrated amongst Christians specifically in the first couple of centuries CE I argue this was a common practice in Christian associations. I also argue it lacks any connection to the specific Last Supper, but rather builds on the duty of Christians to celebrate together and praise God. There is an emphasis on community and modesty. Texts that mention the Agape by name are as follows: The Epistle of Jude Ignatius' Letter to the Smyrnaeans The Epistula Apostolorum Tertullian's Apology The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas Clement's Paedagogus or The Instructor Origen's Contra Celsus The Sibylline Oracles and The Apocalypse of Paul Eucharist (according to the Didache ): The Eucharist of the Didache appears in Didache 9. In contrast to the Last Supper and later Eucharist, the Didache Eucharist first calls for wine and then bread, similar to the Passover meal of Rabbinic Judaism. Following drinking and eating those items, the participants must praise God through prayers of thanksgiving. The author(s) of the Didache is unknown. Some of the scholars explored in this thesis conflate this meal with the Agape. Eucharist (modern day): The Eucharist is a sacrament celebrated in Christian churches tod ay. In this sacrament, participants either believe the bread and wine to be symbolic of Chris t's body and blood or actually to be Christ's body and blood. The Christian Church as a whole asserts that the origin of the Eucharist is the Last Supper. Last Supper: The Last Supper is the name given to Jesus' final meal with his disciples before his d eath. However, the actual terminology does not appear in the Gospel narratives of the meal. It follows Christ and his apostles celebrating the Passover meal. Christ passes around bread and wine calling them his body and blood. The accounts of the Last Supp er appear in each of the canonical Gospel narratives. Lord's Supper (according to Apostolic Tradition ): The Lord's Supper that Hippolytus discusses appears in his text, Apostolic Tradition. Hippolytus' text describes mostly the liturgical structure and leadership roles in the Lord's Supper. He stresses the importance of deacons, presbyters, and bishops in this meal. Some of the scholars explored in this thesis conflate this meal with the Agap e. Lord's Supper (according to Paul): The Lord's Supper is the terminology Paul uses to describe the meal Christ followers should celebrate to remember the Last Supper. Paul's description of the Lord's Supper appears in 1 Corinthians 11.17 34, quoting C hrist's instructions from the Last Supper. In this section, Paul gives instructions on how to celebrate the Lord's Supper, who should celebrate the Lord's Supper, and the theological implications of Christ's death.
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