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"a common harmless meal"

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Hi Bob, Thanks to Ed Tyler for posting the link to Pliny letter. I particularly like this translation (hence the subject line). Here ca. 112 in Bithynia we
    Message 1 of 1 , May 27, 2009
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      Hi Bob,

      Thanks to Ed Tyler for posting the link to Pliny letter. I
      particularly like this translation (hence the subject line). Here
      ca. 112 in Bithynia we get an outsiders summation of what these folks
      are up to and the social nature of the assemblies. Starting with the
      latter, "all ages and ranks and both sexes" make up these
      assemblies. Notably Pliny tells that he tortured 2 women, slave
      leaders of the rituals. The meal and ritual gatherings may be
      "harmless" in terms of the social gathering (Pliny does note these
      aren't crime organizations: no fraud, theft, adultery, lying,
      refusal to fulfill social obligations), but nonetheless this
      "superstition" is worthy of torture, if necessary, and of getting
      info directly from Trajan (it is an expanding network of
      "superstition"). This is the practical egalitarianism of the
      assemblies... **female** **slaves** as leaders! What an amazing
      little sliver of early 2nd century evidence! Reading such as this
      helps me understand what the Mary of Rome that Paul talks about is
      working so hard doing. It also helps us understand hat Paul wrote in
      Philemon. Paul wrote, (v.15-16) "Perhaps this is the reason he was
      separated from you for a while, so that you might have him back
      forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a beloved
      brother-- especially to me but how much more to you, both in the
      flesh and in the Lord." These assemblies are practicing a different
      social order at least within the assemblies, themselves.

      I would note that this description goes along with what we find in
      the Didache. After laying out "the Two Ways" and the extended
      ethical admonitions, in chapter 7 we find words about the oath that
      goes with the baptismal initiation rite ("baptize in the name of the
      Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Did. 7:1). In
      chapter 8 is the Lord's Prayer and the instruction to pray it thrice
      daily. Chapters 9 and 10 give us an early standard of the liturgical
      blessings said over "the common harmless meal." And finally, after
      chapters 11, 12 and 13 deal with such as how to deal with the
      apostles and prophets who come back to active assemblies (in other
      words places that remain a part of the network), we get words in
      chapter 14 about assembling on the Lord's day that include these
      words: (14.2-3) "But let not any one who has a quarrel with his
      companion join with you, ***until they are reconciled***, that your
      sacrifice may not be polluted, ***for it is that which is spoken of
      by the Lord***, for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is
      wonderful among the Gentiles." Those there, pushed reconciliation.
      How utterly "superstitious" that Jesus, not Caesar was "the great
      one" who could dare authorize this. The table of reconciliation was
      "a common harmless meal." In the Roman Empire, in 112 in Bithynia,
      going there could get you hauled up before Caesar's man and being a
      leader could get you tortured.

      Bob, FYI, it is this text that is one of the texts that stands behind
      why I think Luke is written ca. 120. That's a whole 'nother
      discussion. Here, I simply want to highlight how such a text as this
      fits into my understanding on the messaging and praxis of the
      followers of "the Way of Life."

      Gordon Raynal
      Inman, SC
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