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Raised on Christian Milk: Food and the Formation of the Soul in Early Christianity

John David Penniman


What if the idea that “you are what you eat” weren’t a simple metaphor? What if it revealed a deeper medical, moral, and religious history about the relationship between food and the soul? In the early Roman Empire, food (and especially breast milk) was invested with the power to transfer characteristics, improve intellect, and establish bonds of kinship. Ancient Jews and Christians participated in this discourse surrounding the symbolic power of food and feeding. This book explores the legacy and complex history of food, feeding, and the formation of ancient religious cultures. Highlighting t ... More

Keywords: Early Christianity, Food, Milk, Formation, Education, Breastfeeding, Nourishment, Motherhood, Infancy, Roman Empire

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780300222760
Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018 DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300222760.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

John David Penniman, author
Bucknell University