Meredith J C Warren is Senior Lecturer in Biblical and Religious Studies at the University of Sheffield, and the Director of the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. She is also editor-in-chief of the Journal for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. The author of My Flesh is Meat Indeed: Nonsacramental Reading of John 6 (2015), Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature (2019) and co-author of Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean (2022), Warren’s current research includes gender, the senses, anti-Judaism, and apocalyptic literature.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XXV, October 8 & 9, 2022
The Sweet Hereafter? Transformative Tasting in the Bible and Beyond
From the fruit in the Garden of Eden, prophetic ingestion of scrolls, the sweet taste of heavenly manna, and some other strange ingredients, eating and the sense of taste pervade biblical literature. What does it mean when biblical figures taste heavenly foods? How are they transformed? Multiple ancient Mediterranean texts, including Jewish and Christian scriptures, depict the after effects of consuming otherworldly food. Divine knowledge is revealed, new, shining bodies are bestowed, and access to heavenly (and infernal!) worlds is granted. But why does taste work this way? And why have we been so slow to recognize it? A new category of transformational eating, hierophagy, helps us see how ancient authors used the social and metaphorical qualities of taste to transmit a certain understanding of the relationships between God and mortals, heaven and earth.