Monday, September 19, 2016

The Great Biblical Bake Off: 5 Bible stories that give GBBO a run for its money

Have you heard the news about The Great British Bake Off

Of course you have. 

The announcement of its move from the BBC to Channel 4 – sans Mel and Sue, with judges Paul and Mary as yet unconfirmed – has been talked, or shouted, about rather a lot (and that's actually OK).

Despair. Anger. Deep mourning as we watched 'Batter Week' last night, knowing it would all end so soon.

The Twitter storm seemed to reach a prophetic level of anguish. 

You might say the communal frustration reached biblical proportions. 

In fact, you could even say we actually find Bake Off in the pages of the Bible.

Yes, that's right. No, alas Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry didn't lend their critiques to the Last Supper (although Judas did get sent home?), but baking can be found throughout Scripture. 

Here are five examples:

"So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes." (Genesis 18:6)

Some scholars translate the last line of Hebrew here as something like "on your marks, get set... BAKE!"

How's this for a technical challenge? We don't even know what Sarah was doing before Abraham rushed in with his baking demands. 

If you read between the lines you can hear a vexed Sarah: "Bread cakes? What? Why isn't it more specific? Do they need to be identical?" Its the kind of stress we've come to expect from GBBO.

Actually it's in this story that we discover that Sarah will bear a child. How's that for putting a bun in the oven?

"They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves." (Exodus 12.39)

It's bread week, but you're also on the run from an Egyptian army. We've all been there. 

Unleavened bread doesn't rise, so obviously in Bake Off terms, things aren't looking good. 

You can feel Paul Hollywood's unrelenting judgement already. 

But who knows, maybe they added Fennel or something to flavour it up.

"The Lord said to me, 'Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.'" (Hosea 3.1)

‭‭In this beautiful passage, we discover that part of the Israelites' rejection of God is their love of 'sacred raisin cakes.' In other words, I can only assume, fruit scones. 

To be fair, who doesn't love a fruit scone? 

If you generally favour the plain variety over the fruit option, consider yourself righteous. 

Or perhaps I've interpreted this wrong. 

Abigail quickly rustles up 100 raisin cakes in 1 Samuel 25:18, and if you'd like to cook them yourself then what a day this is turning out to be.

The feeding of the 5,000

Was this Jesus' signature bake? It certainly won wide acclaim, and rightly so. He did it again at the feeding of the 4,000 (Matthew 15:29). 

Five loaves and two fish, multiplied to feed 5,000, with leftovers to spare. 

We don't know about the rise or puff of this bread, but we should assume the highest quality, and an even bake, obviously.

Resurrection breakfast

In John 21 Jesus has risen from the dead and greets his disciples on the beach with a bonfire, "they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread." 

Again, we don't know any more about the bread, but other events in the story have obviously eclipsed baking at this point. Still, it's a reminder that Jesus delighted in good food (and wine, but you don't bake that) and so should we, in good measure.

Silliness aside, the Bible and Bake Off remind us that making and sharing food together is a rich, beautiful part of human existence. Jesus promised that the end of time would be marked not by floating on the clouds with harps, but with a hearty, glorious feast. 

How's that for a showstopper?

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