Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food and the Bible

There's a new book out and here's a synopsis:

The study of food in the Hebrew Bible and Syro-Palestinian archaeology has tended to focus on kosher dietary laws, the sacrificial system, and feasting only in elite contexts. More everyday ritual and practice the preparation of food in the home - has been overlooked. Food in Ancient Judah explores both the archaeological remains and ancient Near Eastern sources to see what they reveal about the domestic gastronomical daily life of ancient Judahites within the narratives of the Hebrew Bible...Food in Ancient Judah reflects both the shift towards the study of everyday life in biblical studies and archaeology and the huge expansion of interest in food history and will be of interest to scholars in all these fields

From a review:

Since Shafer-Elliott wants to differentiate between domestic cooking in small villages and larger cities, it is necessary to differentiate between these residential areas.  There is little consistency among archaeologists about classification.  She suggests four types of domestic settlements: royal settlements (capitals), fortified settlements (cities or towns), unfortified settlements (villa ges and hamlets), and farmsteads...

...Shafer-Elliott surveys two urban fortified settlements (Tel Lachish and Tel Halif) and two rural farmsteads (Khirbet er-Ras and Pisgat Ze’ev A).  While farmstead dwellings were larger than the fortified settlement dwellings, there were larger and medium - sized cooking pots found in cities but smaller cooking pots found
in rural areas.  Since larger pots are necessary for cooking meat, Shafer - Elliott argues that people in the cities may have eaten more meat on a regular basis than people in rural areas...Shafer-Elliott has separate sections on baking and cooking but has not clearly shown how these are separate categories. She does mention the difference between roasting and boiling meat elsewhere,  A section on different methods of using heat for preparing food would have been helpful.  This chapter could have been improved by having more visual images and/or pictures of cooking implements and activities...

...Schafer-Elliott provides a helpful model of careful attention to the archaeology of homes and how the spaces are used in those homes. Since women had a prominent role in domestic situations, this also highlights their everyday lives.  Since everyone ate on a regular basis, how and in what ways food was prepared is of great significance for both men and women...

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