Wine in the first century

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by Phillip, Feb 15, 2012.

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  1. Phillip

    Phillip
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    Somebody mentioned a thread on wine. It got me thinking about a preacher I recently heard stating that there was no alcohol in the wine Jesus made during His first recorded miracle.

    However, I do have a problem with the statements made about serving the "good wine first" and the "bad wine last". It is obvious that this was a wedding party and there was alcohol in the wine and from my interpretation, "Good wine" was served after the guest was drunk enough not to pay much attention to the taste.

    This preacher said that since it was obvious that Jesus made new wine it did not have time to become tainted by the worldly sin of alcohol, so therefore it was grape juice. This seems to be a bit contridictory to the "Good wine" statements of the guest.

    Based on my past experiences before I became a Christian I had quite a background in being able to drink just about anybody under the table. I would have known, and so would any other drunk, that grape juice, no matter how tasty did not contain alcohol. So, based on this, I think that the pastor is using an excuse.

    We do know that wine is consumed in other countries and is not mixed with water, but is used moderately while eating and usually the natives do not get drunk. This is moderation and the evil I see pointed out in the Bible is not to lose control or moderation which would allow someone to drink a glass of wine before bed to sleep better and also reduce heart attacks (check AMA bulletins and tests). Where the problem lies is an alcoholic would not be able to stop at one or two drinks.

    There is another issue we have today, which is essentially covered with "plucking your eye out if it causes your brother to sin" , well, my take would be that if a non-Christian sees me sitting in the front yard chugging a beer he/she might get the impression that I am a hypocrite and it would hurt my witness. So, my point being here is that it depends on the environment you live in and time period.

    Is there any proof that wine during Biblical times was also two parts water and one part wine? (Sounds pretty nasty and there is not enough alcohol to kill most types of germs and parasites.) In fact, the wine can only contain 16 - 17% (can't remember my biology so well), but it will kill the yeast; so in those days, without a distillation method they were limited to those levels of ethyl alcohol (unlike fortified wine--wine with added alcohol) would have to be at least in the 15% level to kill some parasites and then it will still have problems killing many germs which require around 70% alcohol (usually sold in isopropyl).

    Adding 2 parts water would knock the wine down to the level of beer which, as we all know, you can still get drunk on if you consume enough, but it certainly doesn't taste very good, so who is a history expert of the first century and what do the preacher's and theologions here have to say about the Biblical wine Jesus made at the wedding feast? I am having problem believing it was pure grape juice with zero percent alcohol or the guests would have been complaining very quickly.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Amy.G

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    Yes.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Don

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    Phillip - I'm assuming you're talking about the same pastor that you've told us about before. If so, then put his comment in context: Most of the rest of his statements pretty much lack in actual intelligence and/or research and historical fact; why should this one be different?

    Second, if you get the opportunity, ask him about the wine that Nehemiah took to the king. If he says that didn't contain alcohol, either, then ask him about the wine that Noah drank in Genesis 9; then ask him about the wine Lot drank in Genesis 19.

    If he's like some of the others that I've had dealings with, who are really adamant about the "new wine" thing, those questions should confuse him for a while.
     
  4. annsni

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    If one could get drunk on it, it contained alcohol. If one could drink enough that it would affect their taste buds so that they wouldn't realize if it was good wine or not, it contained alcohol. I'd expect that one in the first century would know good wine or not and that wine that Jesus made was especially good - good enough to make someone comment on it that usually the good wine was brought out first and then when everyone's tastebuds were dulled, they would bring out the lesser quality. But Jesus made the good stuff!
     
  5. Phillip

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    Good answers. I didn't want to mention the pastor again. I've raked him over the coals quite a bit online. I have heard professors teach the two parts water to one part wine was a standard in the area during the time. (He did not bring that one up; so is there truth to this one.) Personally, I never did like the taste of wine with water in it, why would the people of the first century?

    I would assume it was better not to even try to treat the water during that period of time, especially with such a low level of alcohol; wouldn't do much.

    After seeing the Palestinian towns on the East Bank just a year or so after the Yom Kippur war, I would not want to drink water from any source near the city; however, we must remember that the Roman's had much higher capabilities in these areas and water was moved from Northern Israel (as in today's Israeli Territory) to Jerusalem and this water may have been treated or it may have been used entirely for agriculture. Water in the upper side of the Lake of Gallilee is quite fresh to start with and I do not know the local history enough to know when the overland rock water transportation systems were built. As far as I know it could have been in the 1500's, but I was under the impression it was installed by the Romans as part of their extending of their infrastructure. What is amazing is the fact they could build these without engineers, GPS and other measuring devices of today and run water hundreds of miles by gravity and simple altitutude/slope of the trench itself.

    Seeing the actual ruins is quite an eye-opener to those who have not seen some of the ancient ruins.
     
  6. glfredrick

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    I've heard the same "new wine" argument. It simply does not make.

    Grape juice, left without any refrigeration, will almost instantly begin the fermentation process. The mention of Jesus about old wine skins and new wine skins was instantly recognized in His day for what it was -- new wine fermented quickly -- so quickly that placing in in already stiffened skins would cause them to burst.

    No, while the wine may have lacked some level of sophistication that we have today (and I even doubt that) it was indeed wine with the capability of producing drunkenness hence the admonitions about HOW MUCH one drinks (not that one drinks). I can find no statement in the Scriptures that alludes to actual absence of drinking save for those who took the Nazerene vow (which is not what Christ did -- He was FROM Nazereth -- we are never told He took the vow).

    Water would have been the poison of that day as it is today in many 3rd world nations. Thinking along that line, then imagine the utter amazement of the people when Jesus turned WATER into wine. We see the miracle as water into wine. They saw the miracle as poison into good stuff (not to mention into wine). We might imagine drinking the water. They, likely not so much, though it was used for drinking somewhat.
     
  7. mont974x4

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    Thanks for some great answers folks. :thumbsup:
     
  8. Tom Butler

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    Paul, in I Tim 3 said deacons should "not be give to much wine."

    It is some wine, not much wine, but but definitely not no wine.

    By the way, I am a deacon, but I'm a teetotaler. Am I wrong? Does Paul mean deacons SHOULD drink wine, just not much?
     
  9. webdog

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    I think it is permissible, but not commanded nor necessary. Also, define "much". :)
     
  10. Luke2427

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    Right.

    And if I may add, though I'll probably be marked as a reprobate for this, I do not think that occasionally getting "drunk" is condemned in Scripture either.

    Of course this depends upon how one defines "drunk". I don't think it is good to get out of your mind with it- but to drink to the point in a controlled and responsible atmosphere where one is very relaxed and "loose" is not condemned in Scripture (not to the point where he is a real danger to himself or others.)

    In fact there are Scriptures that seem to encourage an occasional intoxicated rejoicing in the goodness of God.

    Take Deuteronomy 14:26 for example- "You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household."

    Let me quickly add that being a "drunkard" is explicitly condemned in Scripture.

    But being a drunkard no more means getting relatively intoxicated a few times a years than being a glutton means eating to the full at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day every year.
     
    #10 Luke2427, Feb 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2012
  11. HankD

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    Perhaps Paul had the Lord's Table in mind for those who wanted to abstain from wine completely and said "oino pollo" as new wine was only available right after the harvest. Otherwise they would have to abstain from the Table during the off months.

    HankD
     
  12. Jerome

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    From Josephus' first century Antiquities of the Jews account of Pharoah's butler and Joseph:

     
    #12 Jerome, Feb 15, 2012
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  13. Luke2427

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    I don't suppose I see your point here, Jerome.

    What is it?

    Is it that there WAS grape juice in Bible days? That doesn't seem to be much of a point since I don't think there is a person on earth of sound mind in the history of the world who would deny that.

    Is it your point that they DRANK grape juice in Bible days? Again, I don't think these is a person in the history of the world who would dispite that.

    Since I know you are too intelligent to make such a meaningless point, I just don't know what your point is.

    Could you expound on it so we all can know what you are trying to say?
     
  14. Jerome

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    Grape Juice?

    Oh, is that what Jospehus meant? New wine?
     
  15. HankD

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    I think (but I don't know for sure) that Jerome is calling attention to the fact that the freshly squeezed juice given to the king was called "wine".

    "Wine" in the Bible could mean either fresh grape juice or fermented grape juice "good wine" is probably aged and mellowed fermented grape juice.

    I have read somewhere that in Israel of Jesus day, fresh grape juice was reduced by boiling it into a kind of paste (similar to a very thick jam) for children and then eaten or mixed with clean water to make reconstituted "new wine" for its sweetness minus the alcohol.

    HankD
     
  16. JonC

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    If I recall correctly, Greeks sometimes cut the wine. I remember reading 1st century Romans did, but not the Hebrews.
     
  17. InTheLight

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    If one is KJVO or KJV-preferred, Paul literally told Timothy to quit drinking water altogether and drink wine.

    23Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
    :laugh:
     
  18. Luke2427

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    I am still confused, Jerome.

    I don't know of a single Christian in the world who believes that the term "new wine" CANNOT refer to freshly squeezed grape juice.

    So I still don't see the point of the post. Do you know of any Christians in history who have ever purported that every single time when the Bible speaks of "new wine" that it CANNOT ever speak of freshly squeezed grape juice?

    Maybe it is your contention that it must ALWAYS refer to freshly squeezed grape juice?
     
  19. Salty

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  20. Tom Butler

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    Your post triggered a memory. I have a friend who was the king of malaprops. The stuff he said kept his friends in stitches.

    For instance, he had us rolling on the floor with this one: "I don't drink, except i do occasionally take a little wine for municipal purposes."

    If you don't know what a malaprop is, you can look it up.

    Now back to the discussion.
     
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