December 21, 2010
Some 2,000 years ago, … death itself was, if not always heroic, at least a communal event, very much influenced by environment and ancestry. The earliest Christians who began as Jews, for instance, tended to bury their dead swiftly, as had their forefathers. But they also adopted a fair number of practices of the ancient Romans, who honored their dead by gathering at a cemetery. There family mourners ate and drank, always making sure to leave a dining place for the recently departed.
“Early Christians took over those same mourning practices,” Witczak says. “But instead of eating and drinking at a regular meal, they would celebrate the Eucharist with bread and wine. Also, instead of the immediate family constituting the mourners, it would be the deceased’s ‘family’ of fellow Christians.
So if you just had a camcorder, say, and no audio, the videos of how a Roman family and an early Christian family honored the dead would look identical, aside from the fact the Romans were having a fuller meal. But what the two groups were feeling inside was probably a little bit different.”
Read the full article in Obit Magazine