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This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In the News: Gluttony and the Last Supper


The last supper that Jesus took with his disciples before his betrayal has long been a favorite subject of artists. Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the event is a classic, prints of which hang in homes and grace the pages of many Bibles. It is only one of thousands of paintings on the subject that have been completed in the past 1,000 or so years.

Recently researchers took 52 of those paintings, and did an interesting thing. They analyzed the size of the plates and food portrayed in the paintings, to see if it would cast any light on the change in eating habits over the past millenium.

The following quote explains the process:

The researchers analyzed 52 paintings depicting the Last Supper which were featured in the 2000 book “Last Supper” by Phaidon Press, and used computer-aided design technology to analyze the size of the main meals, or entrees, bread and the plates relative to the average size of the disciples’ heads.

The study found that, over the past 1,000 years, the size of the main meal has progressively grown 69 percent; plate size has increased 66 percent and bread size by about 23 percent.

The conclusion arrived at by the researchers:

This finding suggests that the phenomenon of serving bigger portions on bigger plates, which pushes people to overeat, has also occurred gradually over the same time period, said Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

“The last thousand years have witnessed dramatic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance and affordability of food,” Wansink, author of “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think,” said in a statement.

“We think that as art imitates life, these changes have been reflected in paintings of history’s most famous dinner.”

(Super-sizing the Last Supper, Miral Fahmy, Reuters)

It is interesting that such a wonderful blessing, plentiful food and drink, could lead to ill health. But, it is true. In America, we are so fortunate to have, as the article states, available, safe, abundant and affordable food. We also struggle with obesity.

The sin of gluttony is seldom mentioned except in passing as we teach on the sins of the flesh. And yet, it is obvious that our society has a real problem with the sin, and the problem exists in the church as well. The sin is likewise seldom mentioned in scripture. Moses’ law prescribed the stoning of a rebellious child, characterized by drunkenness and gluttony (Deut. 21:20-21). The wise man said that the glutton would come to poverty (Prov. 23:21). Amos condemned the uncaring ways of gluttonous Israel, as they ate and stretched on their couches while the poor suffered (Amos 6:4-7). He called the women of Israel “cows of Bashan” because of their insouciance (Amos 4:1). In the New Testament, Paul condemned the licentious enemies of the cross, in part, because their “god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19). While that phrase indicates far more than the mere appetite for food, such would certainly be included in Paul’s condemnation.

It is wonderful that we live in a time of bounty. However, let us always give thanks to God for our blessings; be ever ready to share our provisions with those less fortunate; and not allow our prosperity to be a cause of excess and a detriment to our health. We are living in gluttonous times — may be we careful to avoid that sin!