This evening, Thursday, July 26, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church will celebrate the recent release of “The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes” with its co-author, Fr. Douglas E. Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s.
The gala event will begin at 6 p.m. with a lecture/question-and-answer session led by Fr. Doug, followed by a reception in the parish hall that will feature delicious hors d’oeuvres made from recipes in the book. Fr. Doug will be on hand to sign your personal copies of the book, which can be purchased online at Amazon.com. There will be a limited supply available for sale at the event. The book is also now available at the Ruby Sisson library in Pagosa Springs.
“I am so excited that I can finally hold a copy of this book,” says Fr. Doug. “It took four and one-half years of extensive research, writing and editing to complete it, and another two years to find the right publisher,” he said. “This is definitely a niche book. Many book agents had no idea how to market it. I had almost given up when I was introduced to a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He met my co-author, Joel Pugh, and me for lunch one day and listened to us discuss the book. He was very interested in it and put us in touch with his editors at Rowman & Littlefield. I submitted a few chapters from the book and they soon asked for more. Months later, we received word that they would like to publish it. I cannot describe the euphoria we felt to find out that our work would finally be made available to the public.
“The only problem was that I had to get busy and put the final touches on the book. It was still in a pretty raw state, with a few of the chapters only in outline form. I went and spent a week in Tucson at a guest house of one of our parishioners where I did nothing but write. Finally, it was ready to send to the publisher in its entirety. But that was only the beginning,” he said. “Months of rewrites, constructing an index of terms, proofreading, and more proofreading were involved before the book finally went into publication.”
The book also entailed many hours in the kitchen, efforts that included experimenting with recipes, adapting ingredients and cooking methods to modern kitchens, while simultaneously trying to maintain the authentic flavors and textures of the food.
“I am often asked how I came to acquire all this information about the first-century practices,” says Fr. Doug. “I spent many, many hours of research time at the Bridwell Library at SMU, studying books and treatises written on the subject. I was interested in finding out about Jewish religious customs and festivals, as well as everyday practices and lifestyles of the people who lived during the time of Christ. My goal was to write a book that would be easily approachable by the average person interested in acquiring deeper insights into biblical teachings. I wasn’t looking to write another scholarly textbook. Rather, I wanted to make the book easy to read and allow people to explore for themselves what the people of the first-century cooked and tasted. It is my hope that many will find the food not only delicious, but that they will gain insights into the many food and feast references Jesus made in his teachings. By experiencing first-hand the foods and customs Jesus would have experienced, perhaps the Bible will take on a richer meaning for those who are seeking.”
The public is invited to attend tonight’s event and hear Fr. Doug discuss his own insights from what he learned by writing the book. There will be time for questions and answers prior to the reception.
St. Patrick’s is located at 225 S. Pagosa Blvd.