Postures, Roles, and Social Distinctions: A Classicist's Perspective on Early Christian Commensality

This paper offers an interdisciplinary (if not quite cross-cultural) perspective on bodily practices associated with dining in early Christian contexts, by drawing on and responding to recent work by the SBL Seminar on Meals in the Greco-Roman world. The paper reflects on the diverse ways that gendered social roles find (or do not find) expression in the postures, positions, and roles taken by women and men at communal meals, considering in particular the differences between representations that are clearly pagan and those that are clearly Christian. It concludes with thoughts on the question of whether, or to what extent, particular communities can be distinguished from others, or seek to distinguish themselves from others, through their dining practices