how strong was wine in NT times?

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Nchristian, May 3, 2005.

  1. Nchristian

    Nchristian
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    I would like to hear opinions on how strong was wine in the times of Jesus ministry on earth? Regular wine today is 10-12%, but I heard that in bible times people mixed wine with water. I heard a sermon where the preacher said that it was probably only 2% alcohol content. When answering my question please give some references to the source of the information.
     
  2. Kathryn

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    I believe they mixed wine with water.

    Proverbs 9:5-6
    "Come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed. "Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding."
     
  3. StefanM

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    I know this isn't directly indicative of Palestinian culture, but it was under the Roman empire, so here's my best shot.

    http://itsa.ucsf.edu/~snlrc/encyclopaedia_romana/wine/wine.html

    "Distillation was unknown in the ancient world (and would not be discovered until the early middle ages); wine, therefore, was the strongest drink of the Romans. Falernian was full-bodied (firmissima), with an alcohol content as much as fifteen or sixteen percent (at which point the yeast is killed by the alcohol it produces). A white wine, it was aged for ten to twenty years, until it became the color of amber. The fabled vintage of 121 BC was a Falernian, the same year that Opimius was consul and had rebuilt the Temple of Concord. This is the wine that Petronius, in the Satyricon, has Trimalchio serve at his dinner banquet, and it is this wine that Pliny says still survived, although so concentrated as to be barely drinkable, to his own time 200 years later. He also speaks of Opimian Falernian being offered to Caligula that was 160 years old." (paragraph 10)

    [. . . ]

    "Wine almost always was mixed with water for drinking; undiluted wine (merum) was considered the habit of provincials and barbarians. The Romans usually mixed one part wine to two parts water (sometimes hot or even salted with sea water). The Greeks tended to dilute their wine with three or four parts water, which they always mixed by adding the wine. The intention of the symposium was to enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of the wine, to be intoxicated just enough to have the mind released from inhibition and conversation stimulated. At its Roman counterpart, the convivium, there was a tendency to get drunk more blatantly." (paragraph 15)

    I'd say most likely the wine was mixed with water. The alcohol content would depend on the proportion of wine to water as well as the strength of the wine. Therefore, it is quite possible that some mixed wine drinks were only 2% alcohol, but that does not rule out stronger mixtures.

    I hope this helps.
     
  4. DHK

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    I. Jesus Observing the Passover.
    1. He reproves their contentious spirit of who should be greatest.
    2. "He that is greatest among you, let him also be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve (Lk.22:26).

    A. He washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:2-20). Details:
    1. a benediction.
    2. cup of wine.
    3. the hands of the company washed, the master of the feast passing the basin while reciting a prayer.
    4. bitter herbs dipped in sauce and eaten.
    5. the lamb brought in with other portions of the meal.
    6. a benediction and second eating of bitter herbs.
    7. a second cup of wine with questions and answers as to the origin of the feast.
    8. singing of the first part of the Hallel (Psa. 113, 114).

    9. the master of the feast washes his hands and makes a sop by wrapping a bit of lamb with unleavened bread in bitter herbs and dipping it in the sauce, for each one present in turn.
    10. each eats as much as he likes, finishing with a piece of lamb.
    11. a third cup of wine after washing hands.
    12. singing of the second part of the Hallel (Psa.115-118).
    13. a fourth cup of wine.
    14. Jesus substituted in the place of the washing of hands, the symbolic act of the foot- washing, in order to teach a special lesson.

    If the wine had any semblance of wine today, the younger ones participating would be quite drunk by the time they finished participating in the passover. Personally I don't believe it was alcoholic at, nor could be. Wine is leavened grape juice. The bread was unleavened. The juice had to be unleavened as well. Leaven is a symbol of sin and corruption. This would go againnst the symbolism involved both in the Passover and in the blood and body of Jesus Christ.
    DHK
     
  5. StefanM

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    I agree, if it were 10% alcohol, they would be at least quite tipsy.

    However, I find your assertion that the wine's fermentation somehow betrays the symbolism of the event. All I've ever seen is a focus on the leavening of the bread.

    Where do you find this? Do you have any Jewish literature references or biblical references arguing for such a symbolism within the wine or precluding the use of fermenation, which undoubtedly DID exist back then?
     
  6. StefanM

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    Also, even though leaven was primarily symbolic of sin and corruption, it was not always.

    Consider:

    Mat 13:33 (ESV) He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."
     
  7. gb93433

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    The people did drink wine mixed with water. But it was sold as pure. However later it was sometimes sold mixed with water to make more money and cheat people.
     
  8. Gold Dragon

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    This statement is not true.

    The seder meal which is supposed to be free of leaven has fermented wine involved in many parts of the meal.

     
  9. David Michael Harris

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    In the OT it made Noah sin and in the NT we are warned against its effects. Too much makes you loose in everything.

    Jesus drank it but only in formal atmospheres, He was accused of being a drunkard.

    Good Q.

    He gave it up and said He would only drink it when re-united with the disciples.

    David
     
  10. David Michael Harris

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    The Bible talks about strong drink with people with woes too...so dont write it off.

    It has it's place.

    God alone is Judge. Not you or I.

    David
     
  11. gb93433

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    Wine was about 12 percent.
     
  12. LarryN

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    Note what the verse Kathryn quotes doesn't say: that the mixture mentioned was with water. In other references in God's Word, wine is clearly said to be mixed with other substances, such as spices. Kathryn's analysis merely presumes that this is with water in this instance.

    In the single instance (or so I've seen in various commentaries) in which wine is clearly mixed with water, it is in a negative context:

    Isaiah 1:21-31
    21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: 23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. 24 Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies: 25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely F9 purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. 28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed. 29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen. 30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. 31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker F11 of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

    Question: Can it be otherwise proven, from Scripture, that wine was routinely mixed with water in the Biblical era?
     
  13. David Michael Harris

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    Give us the details then.

    I would like to know about the Scripture that says, ' do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.

    It seems to play with the word spirit, a well known drink of alcohol.

    David
     
  14. Kathryn

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    The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia (vol. 12, p. 533) states that wine at least in the rabbinic period, was diluted with water.

    Professor Robert Stein, in his "Wine-drinking in New Testament Times" (Christianity Today, 20 June 1975: 9-11), tells us liquid wine was stored in large jugs called amphorae. The pure, unmixed wine would be drawn out of these jugs and poured into large bowls called kraters, where it was mixed with water. From these kraters, it would then be poured into kylix, or cups. Wine would never be served directly from the amphora without first being mixed. And according to other historical data on this period, the mixture could be as high as a 20:1 ratio or lower than 1:1. As a beverage, wine was always thought of as a mixed drink in Greek culture. The ratio of water might have varied but only barbarians drank it unmixed. Stein cites patristic writings that show the early church served mixed wine.


    http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg1937.htm
     
  15. Phillip

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    Obviously, this wine had enough acohol to get quite drunk:

     
  16. StefanM

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    Oh you can get drunk on far less than 12% alcohol. I knew plenty of people in high school who regularly got drunk on 3-4% alcoholic drinks. You just have to drink more of it, which some people will gladly do.
     
  17. Rocko9

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    Wine could also be referred to as simply grape juice it was thrown away after a certain period fo time so that it no ferment.
     
  18. Bro. James Reed

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    Well, I just had what was left of a very cheap bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill "juice".

    It was good.

    (hicc-up)

    :D

    Not sure how much alcohol was in it, but I had it with supper and I didn't leave the house, or go swimming for at least an hour. [​IMG]

    It's amazing that you can buy this stuff for less than a 2-liter of Coke.
     
  19. gb93433

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    In those days they did not have refigeration so grape juice would begin to rot right away.
     
  20. ASLANSPAL

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    The best wine ever made was at the Wedding of
    Cana.

    Imagine a group of wine tasters in the Napa valley
    that come across vintage "CANA AD 33"

    Grand Prize blue ribbon! wins hands down.


    [​IMG]
    :warning the great surgeon general in the sky
    wants you to drink responsibly.
     

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