Water is best… for breakfast

Now appeared in advance publication on the JTS website (prior to its appearance in print in the October (sic) issue) is my ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ: ancient breakfasts and the development of eucharistic foods.

Abstract:
Although there is evidence for eucharistic celebration in the context of an evening cena in the earliest period, this celebration comes to be transferred to the morning, particularly to Sunday morning. This might bring about significant change in the celebration, part of which might lie in the foods employed, and their quantities. On the basis of an examination of the evidence for daytime eating in Graeco-Roman antiquity, the suggestion is made that eucharistic foods employed in many circles subsequently seen as deviant were standard breakfast foods, and that abstinence from wine reflects this context. Thus the use of water in the eucharist, rather than denoting an ascetic bent in some early Christian circles, simply reflects the transfer of the eucharistic meal from the evening to the morning.

On the very day this was published the clergy of the Church of England had a letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York stating, among other things, that “The elements are to be bread and wine and no other substance.” I might wonder whether there is a connection… but doubt it. However, just to play safe, I have now removed the cheese and olives from the tabernacle.

Those unable to access the JTS site are invited to ask an offprint in the usual way.

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