aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

What serves the Grail?

By contrast, thy own people were given angels' food, and thou didst send them from heaven, without labour of their own, bread ready to eat, rich in delight of every kind and suited to every taste. The sustenance thou didst supply showed thy sweetness towards thy children, and the bread, serving the desire of each man who ate it was changed into what he wished.
-- Wisdom of Solomon 16:20-21

Our Wednesday Bible study group is nearing the end of the Wisdom of Solomon, and with it, the end of our tour of the Apocrypha. Yesterday, we read another passage on the foolishness of idolatry referencing the Exodus. The Egyptians' worship of creature-gods is turned on its head in the plagues, but the Israelites are fed with manna.

The above passage caught my interest. This idea that manna tasted like whatever each person desired is an obvious embroidery on the miraculous food; the Israelites themselves found it monotonous after a while. I pointed out that the medieval Christians were heavily soaked in Biblical imagery, including that of the Apocrypha. This particular image, whether consciously appropriated from Wisdom or not, shows up in the Matter of Britain.

When Galahad arrives at court and sits in the Siege Perilous at the Round Table, the Grail appears at the feast and everyone finds the food he most prefers in front of him. This idea is especially developed in Charles Williams's Arthurian poems. He points out that at the core of the tales is a growing awareness of the Eucharist; this is far more fundamental to the presentation of the Holy Grail than cauldrons of plenty and such from Celtic folklore.

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