Author: Ben Witherington III
Publisher: Baylor Press ISBN: 9781602580152
I am fascinated by the sacraments of the Christian church and the Lord’s Supper/Communion/Eucharist is one that brings much discussion across the various streams and traditions of the Christian faith. I’m always on the lookout for good sources of information on sacramental theology, so I was pretty delighted to get my hands on this work by Ben Witherington III for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is Dr. Witherington’s academic reputation.
I have several books devoted to the subject of the Lord’s Supper; I have even more books with information inclusive of this specific sacrament, and I have a number of loose articles and commentary about the subject saved in various places in my home office. The point to these claims is that I have been collecting information for quite some time. Here is what I have found; Making a Meal of it by Ben Witherington III is one of the best researched and written pieces on this subject that I have found and read to date. There are several points that I wish to highlight in justifying my opinion.
First, for an academic work, the book is not bogged down with academic language. It is easy to read and it is a relatively short read, coming in at one hundred sixty pages. It is also linear in that it follows a timeline of sorts beginning with the perceived history of this sacrament and ending with contemporary interpretation/opinion.
Secondly, while I think no published work is completely unbiased, this one seemed predominantly “fact-based” and relatively easy to fact check. I have read and own several books from the pen of Dr. Witherington and am a regular subscriber to his blog. I think he can be opinionated at times, and being familiar with his writing style, I can report this book is not overly biased or opinionated.
Finally, the book is engaging… it is more conversational, “discussion-like” and less textbook than I would have expected. It can easily be read in an afternoon or two, but in no way is the material “light” of depth or content… facts, figures, and historical content are all present, but in a very readable, attention holding format.
In conclusion, I am still researching and learning about the depth and breadth of all the key sacraments of the church. I do not presume this book to be the definitive voice in my quest for information and understanding, but I will lend my voice to say it is one of the very best that I have found to this date.
Making a Meal of It is one of three books by Ben Witherington III in a series on the primary sacraments of the church. Other titles include Troubled Waters: Rethinking the Theology of Baptism and The Living Word of God: Rethinking the Theology of the Bible. Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.