Bringing Back to Life: Laments and the Origin of the So-Called Words of Institution

Angela Standhartinger


Recent research into the origins of early Christian meals focuses on the social form of the Graeco-Roman banquets and symposium. What remains to be seen, however, is how the so-called “words of institution” transmitted by Paul to the community at Corinth functioned at some of those meals. In this paper I show that the tradition cited in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25 describes most likely a funerary banquet. Here food might be shared between the living and the dead while laments and dirges not only present the context of that meal—a passion story—but also enable an imagined reunion with the deceased so as to raise her or his voice and speak in her or his name. The paper shows how the performance of (funerary) meals might have functioned to those who believed in resurrection.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Angela Standhartinger

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