Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Why does the Bible book of 1 Corinthians discuss meat that had been sacrificed to idols?
▪ The apostle Paul wrote: “Everything that is sold in a meat market keep eating, making no inquiry on account of your conscience.” (1 Corinthians 10:25) Where did such meat come from?
Animal sacrifice was the principal ceremony in Greek and Roman temples, but not all the meat from the sacrificial animals was eaten during the ceremony. Excess meat from pagan temples found its way into public meat markets. The book Idol Meat in Corinth states: “Cult officials . . . are called in other contexts cooks and/or butchers. From their allotted portion for slaying the sacrificial animal, they sold meat in the market.”
Thus, not all the meat sold in the market was left over from religious ceremonies. Excavation in Pompeii’s meat market (Latin, macellum) revealed the presence of entire skeletons of sheep. This suggests, says scholar Henry J. Cadbury, that “the meat may have been sold on the hoof or slaughtered in the macellum as well as sold already butchered or sacrificed in a temple.”
Paul’s point was that, although Christians would not share in pagan worship, meat that had been sacrificed in a temple was not intrinsically contaminated.