Food-Symbolism in Biblical and Extra-Biblical Perspective


The aim of this interdisciplinary unit is to foster readings of meal and food in East Mediterranean antiquity. Profane and sacral aspects or domestic and official spheres are involved in this topic, whose boundaries are sometimes fluid: e.g. Lord’s supper can be understood horizontally as a more or less profane meal ritual that defines the community in term of ecclesia (body/soma of Christ). The community substitutes the absent resurrected soma of Christ (M. Klinghardt). Otherwise, and according to the traditional dogmatic reading, Lord’s supper is interpreted vertically as a ritual meal: bread and wine symbolize the community with participation/koinonia in Christ. 

In material terms the history of Lord’s supper is long and rich in variety according to temporal and regional characteristics (e.g. Roman and Greek bankett traditions). In the Hebrew Bible and in Jewish texts food symbolism is encountered in very different contexts: e.g. pessach meal or also dietary restrictions do not primarily lead to theological conclusions. They have first off a strong impact on personal and collective identity with specific tendencies of participation or distinction in ancient and medieval Jewish or Christian communities. 

This workshop aims to work out the topic of food and meal in these different perspectives including intersectional, spatial, anthropological and other social-historical or medical approaches. Bodily and intellectual or spiritual nurture and nourishment are equally concerned.


Material Food Studies, Dietary Restrictions, Ritual Meals, Metaphorical Meaning of Food in Antiquity, Domestic Religion


Christina Risch University of Koblenz-Landau
Michaela Bauks University of Koblenz-Landau
Lennart Lehmhaus Freie Universität Berlin

Member Area

Warsaw 2019 Call for Papers

We welcome paper proposals dealing with food and meals in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Early Judaism, in an interdisciplinary perspective. The range of topics to be dealt with in papers proposed to this unit include: (1) meal and donation; (2) meal and community/participation; (3) material aspects of food or common forms of assemblies (banquet etc.); (4) dietary restrictions in religious context; (5) literary contexts for food topics in antiquity.

The Annual Conference 2021
takes place 2-5 August
in Wuppertal. Read more.