by Patrick Henry Reardon
The Greek word anthrakia (cf. the English derivative “anthracite”), meaning a charcoal fire, is found only twice in the New Testament, both times in the Gospel according to St. John. The first instance is in 18:18 and designates the courtyard fire where the officers and servants of the high priest stood warming themselves through the chilly night of Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin. Simon Peter likewise came to that place and stood near a cousin of Malchus. It was there by the charcoal fire that Simon thrice denied even knowing our Lord, going so far as to confirm the denials . . .
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