Of Widows and Meals: Communal Meals in Acts, Reta Finger
Though "community" has become a common byword in the contemporary Western church, the practice of communal sharing has effectively fallen by the wayside. Unfortunately, it is often the poor who are left wanting because we no longer come together. Reta Halteman Finger finds a solution to this modern problem by learning from the ancient Mediterranean Christian culture of community.
In the earliest Jerusalem church, in holding the responsibility for preparing and serving communal meals, women were given a place of honor. With the table fellowship and goods sharing of the early church, Luke says, "there were no needy persons among them" (Acts 4:34).
Finger thoroughly examines this agape-meal tradition, challenging traditional interpretations of the "community of goods" in the Jerusalem church and proving that the communal sharing lasted for hundreds of years longer than previously assumed. Of Widows and Meals begins a discussion of need in community that can revolutionize the contemporary church's interaction with the world at large.
Reviews from Amazon:
Robert Jewett — University of Heidelberg
"Of Widows and Meals is a first — the only comprehensive analysis and unbiased interpretation that I have seen of the references to koinonia in Acts 2 and 6. Reta Halteman Finger surveys everything written about this issue and shows that the Jerusalem church was sharing resources of its members to support daily communal meals, and that the widows played a decisive role in this ministry. A brilliant, provocative, and courageous study, with revolutionary implications for the contemporary church."
Rosemary Radford Ruether — Claremont Graduate University
"With impeccably detailed scholarship, Reta Finger examines the traditions in the book of Acts about shared property and daily meals in the early Jerusalem church. She shows that this tradition represented a real commitment to a new community in Christ that cut across class divisions and extended food and support to the poorest. For Finger, those traditions are not just a historical footnote on a curious and short-lived practice at the beginning of Christianity, but are an ongoing legacy that must be taken seriously as central to living out the Christian gospel today."
About the Author:
Reta Halteman Finger is assistant professor of New Testament at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania.