[B-Greek] trapeza

Randall Buth randallbuth at gmail.com
Sat Sep 29 16:56:36 EDT 2007

John egrapse
>The earliest Christian altars (TRAPEZA) were of wood, and identical in form
with the ordinary house
> tables. The tables represented in the Eucharistic frescoes of the
catacombs enable us to obtain an idea
> of their appearance. The most ancient, as well as the most remarkable, of
these frescoes, that of the
> Fractio Panis found in the Capella Greca, which dates from the first
decades of the second century,
> shows seven persons seated on a semi-circular divan before a table of the
same form. The verse from
> Acts 6 could mean that deacons served at altars to help assist the priests
during liturgy. Lexicons
> should give all meanings and cite sources and their dates to inform us of
both the synchronic and
> diachronic meanings and for the diachronic give dates.>

I would recommend staying away from TRAPEZA as 'altar'. In antiquity tables
were for commonly for food, like the couch with seven people around the
table that you mention, while altars were for burning offerings. A large
'wooden altar' would be a single-use disposable item, burning up on use.
Anyway, it would be difficult to think of a "Christian altar" in Acts, where
all the tens of thousands of believers [thus, the Greek] were still using a
real altar in Acts 21:18-27, even a couple of decades later from Acts 6. So
the lexica are OK as they stand.
A TRAPEZA is not a QYSIASTHRION, nor would lexicographers care to mix them.

In the other direction, tables were also made of stone. We have them in the
archaeological record in the Land. This was of special benefit to a family
because a stone utensil does not become unclean in Jewish halaxa.

Randall Buth

Randall Buth, PhD
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη
שלום לכם וברכות
ybitan at mscc.huji.ac.il
randallbuth at gmail.com

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