[B-Greek] trapeza

John Lupia jlupia2 at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 30 20:50:14 EDT 2007

--- Randall Buth <randallbuth at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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. 

Altars were used for burnt offerings by ancient Near
and Middle Easterners from pre-biblical times into the
Jewish tradition of the first century. Christians did
not follow the Jewish tradition of burnt offerings on
altars. Do you know of any evidence to show early
Christians using an altar for burnt 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. 

The text you cite relates to dietary regulations
admonishing the converts to abstain from eating
sacrificed animals, etc. Can you provide evidence to
show the early church used altars of burnt sacrifices?

> the lexica are OK as they stand.
> A TRAPEZA is not a QYSIASTHRION, nor would
> lexicographers care to mix them.

I agree that an altar (TRAPEZA) is not always the same
thing as an altar (QYSIASTHRION). For the former see 1
Cor 10:21 trapeza kyriou; for the latter see Heb
13:10, where the author draws a parallel to the LXX
use of the word for Noah's altar. So, a QYSIASTHRION
can be a burnt offering altar, as it clearly is in
ancient and pre-biblical times and a non-burnt
offering altar as in the first century church. The
Eastern Fathers sometimes use the word QYSIASTHRION
for a church altar, but preferred TRAPEZA. See Lampe. 

> 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.




John N. Lupia III
New Jersey, USA; Beirut, Lebanon 
God Bless Everyone

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