Karris – Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel

Karris – Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel

By Donald McKenzie

November 22, 2019

I mentioned in my October reading round up that I would be focusing more on individual books and particularly books on food and theology. Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel, by Robert J. Karris is next up on the list.

Cover Photo of the Karris book.
The books cover photo

Robert J. Karris is a professor emeritus in the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University. Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel is an expansion of a chapter that appeared in an earlier work of his, Luke: Artist and Theologian. I haven’t read that book, so I’m coming at this one with no knowledge of Karris’s past efforts.

Eating Along with Karris

Karris starts off, in the introduction, with a statement about who he is writing this for. This book isn’t intended for academics, but more for those who want to continue their education. The book is designed to be usable in small group setting. It features a set of questions at the end of each chapter.

The first chapter of the book deals with what Karris refers to as the realia of food and drink in the time of Jesus and Luke. I really liked this chapter, It gives good insight into the diet of the times. It gives a good description of the food, and helps the reader to see how much different it is than our contemporary food. Also, he gives a good introduction to how meals were served, and the role of the symposium as a particular and important type of meal.

The second chapter looks at the theme of eating in the Gospel of Luke. One really good thing about this chapter is the way in which Karris breaks down the number of food related passages in Luke’s gospel. The list is comprehensive and while I think that he stretches the food analogy at points, the list is a handy guide to food in Luke. Also, the various stretches should keep the reader on their toes. One, they force the reader to question the author’s conclusions. Two, they allow the reader to rethink their own readings of the text.

Luke 7:34

The third chapter draws it’s title from Luke 7:34:

34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a [a]drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and [b]sinners!’ New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

This statement is the key to the book. For the next several chapters Karris will focus in on how Jesus lives into this insult. To do this Karris looks at Jesus in various settings. These settings are reflected in the chapter titles:

Jesus, as Guest, Host, and Teacher at Meals

Jesus Petition for Food and Food Imagery in Luke’s Parables

Trawling for the Theme of Food in the Gospels of John, Mark, and Matthew

Food and Women

Eating is a Serious and Dangerous, but Also a Joyous Business

The one chapter where Karris doesn’t put as much emphasis on this idea of Jesus preferring the company of the tax collectors and sinners, is the one on food in the other three gospels. However, as I read through the texts he lists, while not as prominent as in Mark, Jesus displays plenty of behaviour that would give him such a reputation(as Matthew also notes).

Summing Up

On the whole I find this a useful little work. Karris has done a good job of providing a handy reference to food in Luke. Karris writes with a lively style and a good sense of humour. This is a good book for those looking to understand the Gospel of Luke a little better. While writing for people looking for a little continued education, Karris has also provided a good book for preachers. I ‘m sure I’ll be coming back to it as I read and preach the Gospel of Luke

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