My previous essay in Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters on the Antioch Incident, on which this essay builds, discussed why the nature of the food or its service were not likely objectionable according to prevailing local Jewish dietary norms. Their Jewish subgroup banquets ate normal Jewish food but did not mix with participants who were not Jews according to prevailing norms. This countercultural practice was likely intended to signify that the non-Jews joining these Jews in their subgroup assemblies were equal members of the righteous ones already and that they must remain non-Jews to demonstrate their subgroup’s “chronometrical” conviction that the awaited end-of-the-ages experience of shalom had begun among themselves. Several questions naturally follow: for example, how was equality specifically performed at these banquets so that the ones who objected could observe it? How was Paul’s confrontation of Peter observed by the non-Jews left behind, for whom it was performed, and at the same time by “the rest of the Jews” who had withdrawn with Peter? In search of the most probable answers, this essay explores Greco-Roman banquet behavioral norms, including the narrative genre devoted to presenting the discussions at symposiums, especially within the philosophical tradition. A common and central topic in banquet practices and in the literary traditions discussing them involved the arrangement of the diners’ places for reclining (or sitting) at the triclinium or adjacent triclinia in order to reflect their relative social ranking properly. This essay will argue that the way they assigned their placement to demonstrate indiscriminate equality among the righteous ones subverted those norms in an easily observable way, from which Peter withdrew to temporarily avoid resistance rather than to retract their Jewish subgroup’s new norms.

You do not currently have access to this content.