Rick Shrader‘s Review:
I was interested in this book because of the title. It is part of the “New Studies in Biblical Theology” series edited by D.A. Carson. Blomberg critically reviews the meals that Jesus ate “with publicans and sinners” and other meals. He explores the proposition made by many as to whether Jesus was a “party animal.” His conclusion is no, not in the sense that many comtemporaries mean it. Many have proposed that Jesus incorporated the Greco-Roman “Symposium” into His meal fellowships, which consisted in a large main meal that later became drinking parties. Blomberg sees no evidence that the Gospel writers are referring to such meals or that Jesus ever participated in meals to such an extent. He writes, “Jesus thus defies the conventions of his world by his intimate association with a group of people deemed traitorous and corrupt in his society. Still, he does not condone their sinful lifestyles but calls them to repentance, transformation and discipleship. (p. 102)” This type of conclusion is repeated numerous times. But Blomberg also believes that Jesus’ holiness is “contagious” and that He did not fear contamination because holiness is more contagious than impurity. In this way Blomberg is advocating using fellowship, and especially meals, to reach out to sinners. He even commends the old church potlucks as a way to do this.
I part with Blomberg as to what extent a believer should participate with the habits of sinners. He believes occasional social drinking is acceptable, I see that as a betrayal of his proposition that “holiness is contagious” (not compromise). If we have no fear of being contaminated by the sinner, then why should we fear the divine power of a holy life to influence sinners?