Monday, June 8, 2009

Christians and Alcohol

A few days ago a friend of mine attended a regular small group bible study.  During the discussion a woman made the claim that all or at least most of the references in the New Testament to wine use a Greek word reserved specifically for non-alcoholic wine or basically grape juice. First… that just isn’t true. There is no Koine Greek word that means non-alcoholic wine, at least not that used in the New Testament text. It simply isn’t present. More importantly, word meaning in translation is completely dependant on the context of the word. So if the the story makes the idea of non-alcoholic wine absurd then that would be more telling of the word’s meaning than any dictionary definition. Languages are fluid and alive and cannot be used without an understanding of context..For further discussion, consider the story of the water turned into wine. When Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom,

and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.

The passage only makes sense with alcoholic wine. The headwaiter is clearly claiming that normally poorer wine is served to save money once revelers have consumed enough wine to not notice the difference. This is the most obvious text to use against tee totalers because it isn’t a simple reference to the presence of alcohol. It is a description of the son of God producing and distributing alcohol which in Pastoral Urbania would get him arrested for lacking a license.

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Rusty said...

It's my understanding that alcohol was rampant in those days for a very pragmatic reason: good water filtration didn't exist! So wine was a very handy thing to have because the bad stuff you don't want in your wine (or water) dies in the alcohol...

It continually amazes me how folks manipulate and pull Bible verses out of context for their own arguments (which are usually aimed at tearing down someone else's behavior).

I have to say I'd certainly take a glass if the Man was offering some of his own vintage! Can you imagine what that particular wine must have tasted like?!?!?

Deanna said...

I addressed this very issue in my blog yesterday:

Jay said...

Does this go along with the belief that some Christians (and I mean 'few') that dinosaurs were planted by Darwinian hoaxters? And elderly woman I used to know at church when I was younger believed that.

Pastoral Urbanite said...

My initial thought was no, but they really are related on a basic premise. Most Christians are more interested in making the Bible say what they think it should say, than simply letting it speak for itself.