I have decided to continue in this set of blogs by simply stating many
of the conclusions: settled, tentative, probable that Crossan has
reached. Therefore, I will not be explaining the method in much detail
about how he reached these positions. To do that, I would be almost
re-stating the book. My rationale being that those of you who are
really interested in this subject and in the background and foundations
for his positions will secure the book by purchase or through the
Quickly, his tools are once again: cross-cultural anthropology;
Greco-Roman and especially Jewish history of the time; literary or
textual analysis of both canonical and non-canonical writings dealing
Open Commensality is a major feature of the teachings, life, and "way"
of Jesus. It is an expression of the radical egalitarianism, another
major element of what Jesus was about. For Jesus, his followers, and
persons from all occupations, and classes to sit down at a common meal
appears to be a "picture" of what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God.
This meal was a violation of both the division between the upper and
lower classes structure and also the Jewish purity laws. The "open
table" was open to all beings because they were all the "children of
God". At this table there are no "name cards" placing some people here,
and some, there---classes, sexes, ranks, occupations were mixed
Commensality is from the Latin word, mensa (table). "It means the
rules of tabling and eating as miniature models for the rules of
association and socialization." Jesus was accused of being a glutton,
drunkard, and "a friend of tax collectors and sinners" because his use
of the open or common table as a way of teaching or showing how things
should be right now in his present time.
Radical egalitarianism ---"... an absolute equality of people that
denies the validity of any discrimination between them and negates the
necessity of any hierarchy among them." It satisfies the peasants'
"... eternal thirst for reciprocity, equality and justice."
I remember, one time, talking to Mr. Tays in his office. Somehow he
mentioned the hierarchy within the school district. I told him, much to
his chagrin, that I saw everyone who worked in the schools on a level
horizontal line: cooks, administrators, teachers, custodians,
secretaries, et al. I did, and I do.
"The open commensality and radical egalitarianism of Jesus' Kingdom of
God are more terrifying than anything we have ever imagined, and even
if we can never accept it. we should not explain it away as something
Or paraphrasing Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM---we should call the dark, dark;
and the light, light. Even if the light is blinding.
bob, robert, dad