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AGAPE, the early Christian love-feast (Gr. ayarn, "Love"). The word seems to be used in this sense in Jude 12, but cf. 2 Pet. ii. 13, where the reading is 671-arms ("deceits") for iryaracs. The history of the agape coincides, until the end of the 2nd cen tury, with that of the eucharist (q.v.), and Tertullian's detailed account (Apology, c. 39) of the agape is not, perhaps, exclusive of an accompanying eucharist: "It is the banquet (triclinium) alone of the Christians that is criticized. Our supper ( coena) shows its character by its name. It is called by a word which in Greek signifies love (i.e., agape). Whatever it costs, it is anyhow a clear gain that it is incurred on the score of piety, seeing that we succour the poorest by such entertainments (refrigerio). We do not lie down at table until prayer has been offered to God, as it were a first taste. We eat only to appease our hunger, we drink only so much as it is good f or temperate persons to do. If we satisfy our appetites, we do so without forgetting that throughout the night we must say our prayers to God . . . After washing our hands and lighting the lamps, each is invited to sing a hymn before all to God, either taken from holy writ or of his own composition. So we prove him, and see how well he has drunk. Prayer ends, as it began, the banquet." This evidence is good for Africa. But in Egypt about the same time (180-21o), Clement of Alexandria (Paedagogus, I) con demns the "little suppers which were called, not without pre sumption, agape." This word, he complains, should be used only for the eucharist, not for mere junketings, into which the love feasts of the church had degenerated. Tertullian too in his tract on fasting (ch. xvii.) mentions grave scandals in connection with the agape.

Ch. xiii. of the tract About Virginity (printed among the spuri ous works of Athanasius) describes a ritual meal which like that in Cor. xi. is agape and eucharist in one, and it is held in a private house, not in church, and the celebrants are holy women.

The historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl., v. 22) records the survival (which he characterizes as singular), around Alexandria and in the Thebaid, of love-feasts combined with the eucharist. So Basil of Cappadocia (Ep. 93), c. 35o, states that in Egypt the laity, as a rule, celebrated the communion in their own houses, and par took of the sacrament by themselves whenever they chose. In the old Egyptian church order, known as the Canons of Hippolytus, there are numerous directions for the service of the agape, held on Sundays, saints' days or at commemorations of the dead. Chrysostom describes (homilY 54, tom. v., p. 365) how after the eucharistic synaxis the faithful remained in church, while the rich brought out meats and drink from their houses, and invited the poor, and furnished "common tables, common banquets, common symposia in the church itself." The Council of Gangra (A.D. 343?) anathematized the over-ascetic people who despised "the agapes based on faith." But the holding of agapes in church was forbidden by the councils of Laodicea (363) and Carthage (under Aurelius, 388-423), and later by the council in Trullo (692). In the age of Augustine the agape was frequent.

In the east Syrian, Armenian and Georgian churches, respec tively Nestorian, Monophysite and Greek Orthodox in their tenets, the agape was from the first a survival, under Christian and.Jew ish forms, of the old sacrificial systems of a pre-Christian age. Sheep, rams, bullocks and fowls are given sacrificial salt to lick, and then sacrificed by the priest and deacon, who has the levitical portions of the victim as his perquisite. In Armenia the Greek word agape has been used ever since the 4th century to indicate these sacrificial meals, which either began or ended with a eu charistic celebration. The earlier usage of the Armenians is ex pressed in two rules recorded against them by a renegade Armenian prelate named Isaac, who in the 8th century went over to the Byzantine church (Combefisius, Historia Monothelitarum, col. 317). Older mss. of the Greek Euchologion contain numerous prayers to be offered over animals sacrificed; and in the form of agape such sacrifices were common in Italy and Gaul on the natatis dies of a saint, and Paulinus of Nola, in his Latin poems, describes them (c. 400) in detail. Gregory the Great sent to Mellitus, bishop of I.ondon. a written rite of sacrificing bulls for use in the English Church of the early 7th century. In Augustine's work against Faustus the Manichean (xx. 4), the latter taxes the Catholics with having turned the sacrifices of the heathen into agapes, their idols into martyrs, whom they worship with similar rites. The early Christian agape admitted of adaptation to the older funeral and sacrificial feasts, and was so adapted. The association in the synoptics of the earliest eucharist with the paschal sacrifice provided a model, and long after the eucharist was separated from the agape on other days of the year, we still find celebrated on the evening of Maundy Thursday the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, immediately followed by an eucharist. The council of Carthage enacted that the eucharist should be received fasting, except on the anniversary of the Lord's supper. It is clear that at an earlier date the agape preceded the eucharist.

Pagan Analogues.

In ancient states common meals called sussitia (avaairta) were instituted, particularly in the Doric States; e.g., Lacedaemon and Crete. Plato advocated them, and perhaps the later Jews imitated the Spartan community. Trade and other guilds in antiquity held subscription suppers or gpavoc, similar to those of the early Corinthian Church, usually to sup port the needs of the poorer members. These hetairiai or clubs were forbidden (except in cities formally allied to Rome) by Trajan and other emperors, as being likely to be centres of dis affection; and on this ground Pliny forbade the agape of the Bithynian churches, Christianity not being a lawful religion li censed for such gatherings. The custom which most resembles the eucharist and agape was that known as charistia described by Valerius Maximus ii. 1. 8: a solemn feast for members of one clan, at which those who had quarrelled were at the sacrament of the table (apud sacra mensae) reconciled. Ovid alludes to it (Fasti, 617).


Canons of Hippolytus," in Duchesne's Origines Bibliography.-"The Canons of Hippolytus," in Duchesne's Origines du culte chretien (1898) ; A. Allen, Christian Institutions (1898) ; P. Batiffol, Etudes d'histoire (1902 and 1905) ; F. X. Funk, "L'Agape," in the Revue de l'histoire ecclesiastique (Louvain, Jan. 19o3) ; Ad. Har nack, "Brod und Wasser" (Texte und Untersuch., Vii. 2, Leipzig, 1891) ; J. F. Keating, The Agape and the Eucharist (19oi) ; F. X. Kraus, arts. "Agapen" and "Mahle" in the Realencyklop. d. christl. Altertiimer; P. Ladeuze, "L'Eucharistie et les repas communs" in the Revue de l'orient chretien, No. 3, 19o2; Sir W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Ronzan Empire (1894) ; A. Spitta, Zur Geschichte und Litteratur (Gottingen, 1893) ; E. von der Goltz, Das Gebet in der iiltesten Chris tenheit (Leipzig, igoi) ; F. E. Warren, The Liturgy and Ritual of the Anten!cene Church (1897) ; T. Zahn, art. "Agapen" in Hauck's Real encyklop.; F. C. Conybeare, Rituale Armenorum (19o5: it contains the oldest Latin and Greek forms), The Key of Truth (1898), and art. on "The Survival of Animal Sacrifices" in the American Journal of Theology (Jan. 19o3) ; F. X. Funk, Didascalia et Constitutiones Apostolorum (Paderborn, 1906) ; V. Ermoni, L'Agape (19o4) ; G. Horner, The Statutes of the Apostles, translated from Ethiopic and Arabic mss. 0904) ; J. Th. Fr. Drescher, Diss. de vet. Christianorunt Agapis (1824) ; L. A. Muratori, Anecdota Graeca, "De agapis sublatis" (1709) ; I. A. Fabricius, Bibliogr. Ant., p. 587; Muenter, Primord. Eccl. Afr. p. III ; Walafrid Strabo, De Rebus Eccles, capita 18, 1,9; Gregory of Tours, De miraculis S. Juliani xxxi.; Paulinus of Nola, Carmen xii. in S. Felicem.

eucharist, church, greek, common and sacrificial