EXPLORING THE WORD
Did Jesus turn water into alcoholic wine?
By Izaak Noel
It's a common teaching that when Jesus turned water into wine in John 2:1-12, the resulting beverage couldn't have been truly alcoholic wine, because Jesus would never have placed such a temptation to people. The GotQuestions article analyzes the concept of all alcohol as sin and investigates the Greek language used. But the culture in the region also endorses the idea that the wine was, indeed, alcoholic — at least to some degree.
I have no wine recipe, nor can I find evidence that we knew for sure the alcohol content of the wine in Jesus day...other than to know that many could still get drunk.
There is a bit written about a "difference" for those that believe Jesus fulfilled the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6 His entire life.
(Indirect reference is that only John the Baptist fulfilled the Nazirite vow his entire life...as inferred from Matthew 11:18-19, when Jesus is called a drunkard: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon!' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.")
Some infer that Jesus fulfilled the Nazirite vow His entire life by being from Nazareth...Jesus the Nazarene.
There is a "double-play" on the city Nazareth. Although a Nazirite vow invoked piety, Nazareth (the town at Jesus' time) was a Roman cross-roads...and held all of the current piety as a modern-day Truck Stop.
Some say that the "wine" of Jesus time ONLY had a miniscule amount of alcohol, so as to ensure Jesus still fulfilled the vow of not having "strong drink."
However, the "Nazarite Vow" of Numbers 6 included ALL elements of the vine, whether fresh or not...in order to fulfill the Nazirite abstained from ALL grapes, fresh or wine...and hence Jesus could not have "drank" any of the grape drink at the wedding...and by inference, could/should not have made any grape drink at the wedding, in order to fulfill the Nazirite vow.
Deuteronomy 14:26 does not forbid, and even states that it is permissible to have "strong drink" before the Lord: "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."
There indeed is a process of "boiling" wine so as to remove the "must/molds"...and this wine is called "meshuval" wine. It is not specified how much alcohol could/should remain, nor is there any known archeologic record that spells this out.
Now, when I visited Turkey (land of the 7 churches in Revelation, and most of the travels of Paul's missionary journeys)...I did purchase some local "grape juice" that did not claim to be wine (serap). I can tell you that it still had a small amount of alcohol...not that it declared, but that which I felt.
Hence any claims to the amount of alcohol contained in wine from biblical days is not known, and only inferred.
Image Credit: Zagat Buzz; "Decanter"; Creative Commons
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