Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

Jesus and the banquets: an investigation of the early Christian tradition concerning Jesus' presence at banquets with toll collectors and sinners

Marshall, Mary Jeanette (2002) Jesus and the banquets: an investigation of the early Christian tradition concerning Jesus' presence at banquets with toll collectors and sinners. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Download (24MB)


The topic is approached from the perspective of table fellowship, the primary focus being Jesus' commensality with toll collectors and sinners. The fundamental hypothesis is that Jesus typically arrived akletos at meals as an itinerant stranger, and that this explains the epithet glutton and drunkard.

Part One sets the parameters, and delineates the materials, methods, and approach adopted in the study. In Part Two, ancient traditions of hospitality and feasting are examined, providing the background material for exegesis of relevant NT texts in Part Three.

It is found that toll collectors represent hosts to Jesus, while sinners gain entry to meals as his umbrae. Both groups are eligible for the kingdom, as are paidia (young slaves/servants), who exemplify humility. Some possible reasons are advanced for Jesus' criticism of Pharisees, but it is emphasised that they are not implicated in his death. The importance of hospitality is indicated by the fact that reception of Jesus and/or his disciples necessarily entails an invitation to a shared meal. In contrast, merely giving alms to strangers/wayfarers who seek hospitality signifies rejection. Any such breach of hospitality mores will incur harsh punishment at the final judgment.

The supposition that Jesus was a guest at the Last Supper allows for an innovative interpretation of his words and actions, particularly since it is proposed that as well as the Twelve, akletoi were present, viz. women, slaves/servants, and possibly Gentiles. It is suggested that the depiction of Jesus in the Synoptics may have been influenced by a pre-existing literary archetype that facilitated the combination of some fictional characteristics with historical elements. The proposed reconstruction of the historical Jesus demonstrates the centrality of hospitality, commensality, and humility in his teaching and practice, a finding that is consistent with the ideals and table fellowship of early Christian communities. The apparent dichotomy between hospitality and hostility indicates a need to follow Jesus' injunction to love one's enemies, i.e. to practise philoxenia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Inquiry
Supervisor(s): Loader, William
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year