Erich Lessing

A triclinium, or dining room, from Pompeii. These lavish banqueting rooms featured couches along three sides on which guests reclined while eating. Even in wealthy homes, however, such an arrangement would normally seat no more than 12 diners; larger feasts occurred in the dining rooms of pagan temples.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, instructed Christians to avoid eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Author Ben Witherington, in the accompanying article, shows that Paul’s concern was not the food itself but the social circumstances in which it was eaten.