Did you see that recent study about the Last Supper? It found that over the past 1000 years, paintings depicting the Last Supper have shown bigger portions and bigger plates to hold them. The bread in modern paintings is 23% larger than the earliest renderings and the entrees grew by 70%. (The measurements were taken relative to the head size of the figures in 52 famous depictions.)

It doesn’t surprise me that portion sizes are growing. A couple of years ago, a colleague showed me a black and white photo of a crowd shot taken on State Street. Judging from the fashions and the cars, it might have been taken in the late 50s or early 60s. We were both shocked at how skinny everyone seemed to be; there were only a couple of people in the photograph who looked overweight.

Paintings or photos–the evidence is out there, folks. We are eating way too much (and I don’t use the term “we” lightly). Maybe with today’s emphasis on healthful eating, future depictions of food in that storied meal will shrink and future photo archivists will look at humans today as hefty aberrations.

But back to the Last Supper. What would Jesus eat? Well, the Last Supper was a Passover seder, so that’s a tip-off. As to the amount, who knows? The artistic representations are just that, and they’re all over the map. But–as others have pointed out– there’s one thing in the paintings that hasn’t changed: the guest list. That’s one dinner party even the Salahis couldn’t have crashed.

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  • d gregory

    "The last supper" is not really a good description – it's really "the Lord's evening meal". The term "last" designates it was never to happen again – but at Luke 22:19 Jesus said to "keep doing this in remembrance of me". Thus even it if was Jesus' last breaking of bread and drinking of wine with the usual "guest list", it was the first of annual remembrances of Jesus' covenant meal with his 11 faithful Apostles before his death. Those annual remembrances happen each year – this year Tuesday March 30th after sundown at Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses around the globe.