Not a book for cuddling into a comfy chair with tea and cookies, Contagious Holiness is a scholarly treatise which explores deeply into its subject. And if you think this subject is settled and unchanging, think again. Higher criticism– which isn’t so high after all– has taken aim at Jesus and His eating habits. Blomburg sets out, most successfully, to show that Jesus quite deliberately ate with sinners–like you and me, and even better and worse folk–lovingly inundating them with His contagious holiness.
Number 19 in IVP’s New Studies in Biblical Theology series, Contagious Holiness first looks at meals in the Old Testament, then during the intertestamental period, and how these meals impacted the New Testament era. The meat of this book is next considered, a deep discussion of the why’s and wherefore’s of Jesus’ eating with sinners, and what His pervasive purity accomplishes. The conclusion discusses how the church, in a world where eating is degenerating into lonely fast food pig outs, can apply all these lessons to reach people for Christ. All of the footnotes appear conveniently within the text. An exhaustive bibliography and a couple of relevant indices helpfully close this volume.
Distinguished professor of New Testament and prolific author, Craig Blomburg capably keeps strictly to his subject and, while sometimes sending the lay reader to a dictionary, manages to keep his audience very interested. – Donna Eggett, Christian Book Previews.com
One of humanity's most basic and common practices--eating meals--was transformed by Jesus into an occasion of divine encounter. In sharing food and drink with his companions, he invited them to share in the grace of God. He revealed his redemptive mission while eating with sinners, repentant and unrepentant alike.
Jesus' "table fellowship" with sinners in the Gospels has been widely agreed to be historically reliable. However, this consensus has recently been challenged, for example, by the claim that the meals in which Jesus participated took the form of Greco-Roman symposia--or that the "sinners" involved were the most flagrantly wicked within Israel's society, not merely the ritually impure or those who did not satisfy strict Pharisaic standards of holiness.
In this excellent and thorough study, Craig L. Blomberg engages with the debate and opens up the significance of the topic. He surveys meals in the Old Testament and the intertestamental period, examines all the Gospel texts relevant to Jesus' eating with sinners, and concludes with contemporary applications.