The Sepphoris Expedition, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem/Photo by Gabi Laron

Four banqueters recline at a semicircular platform or stibadium, attended by three servants (one tending a water heater, far right), in this mosaic from the floor of a third-century C.E. Roman house in Sepphoris, Israel. Meals were an important social affair in the ancient world, and they are mentioned frequently in the New Testament. Jesus is described as dining with his followers on the night before his crucifixion; the letters of Paul also make frequent reference to dining. But as Dennis E. Smith writes in the accompanying article, meals in the New Testament were very different from what we usually imagine.