• Breaking Bread: The Power of Hospitality in the Gospel of Mark

    Jonathan Rivett Robinson (see profile)
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Gospel of Mark, social vocation, hospitality, Jacques Derrida, new testament, christian theology
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    [Practicing Faith: Theology and Social Vocation in Conversation. Lisa Spriggens and Tim Meadowcroft (eds.). Pickwick Publications, 2022: chapter 7, pages 118-34] Hospitality is a significant theme within Christian Scripture. The ancient practices of welcoming the stranger, sharing fellowship over a meal, and of the obligations of a host, are a frequent explicit and implicit theme in the biblical narratives (e.g., Gen 24:28–32; Judg 19; Luke 19:1–10). God also takes on the role of guest and host in both literal narrative and in more figurative prophecy and parable (e.g., Gen 18–19; Isa 25:6–10; Matt 22:1–14). The Bible, then, is one resource with which we can focus the lens of hospitality. For a Christian social practitioner, the Christian Scriptures have a special authority. Moreover, the person of Jesus has a unique attraction and paradigmatic role. Thus a study of a gospel (which tells the story of Jesus’ earthly life), with a view to themes that relate to social practice, fulfils a double function of being a study of Holy Scripture and a study of the person that Christians are called, above all others, to imitate. This essay is an invitation, then, for Christian practitioners to reflect on ways the gospel story can inform and illuminate their work. And, if a reader does not share the Christian faith, it is an invitation to taste and see one possible new approach to the power dynamics of social practice. Thus, this essay is itself a form of hospitality. I invite you to try out this way of thinking. My reflections are not definitive but tentative. They are experimental rather than final. I hope that you, as my guest, feel free to take or leave what I put before you, but also that you will find something worth chewing on.
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    Last Updated:
    7 months ago


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