New Testament Studies


A Symposiastic Background to James?*

Peter-Ben Smita1

a1 VU University Amsterdam, Faculteit der Godgeleerdheid, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 Hv Amsterdam, The Netherlands. email:


The Epistle of James is not commonly seen in relation to early Christian common meals. At the same time, the work is preoccupied with the common life of an early Christian community, which in turn was, generally speaking, closely related to the way in which it celebrated its meals. In other words, ethics, ecclesiology, and etiquette were closely related. Based on this consideration, this essay attempts to relate aspects of the epistle to symposiastic conventions as they were known in the first-century Mediterranean world.

(Online publication December 02 2011)


  • James;
  • Eucharist;
  • symposium;
  • ethics;
  • ecclesiology;
  • ritual


* The author is grateful to the Rev. Sarah Fossati Carver, Midland, MI, for proofreading this essay, as well as to the anonymous reviewer of NTS for many insightful comments.