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Booze In The Bible

Unshakable

I recently came upon a blog article in which the blogger tried to use the greek word oxos to prove that the greek word oinos was broad enough in meaning to include non-alcoholic beverages. The argument hinged on the idea that Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:26, and Mark 15:23 all refer to the same event, but Mark uses oinos while Matthew 27:34 and Luke 23:26 use oxos. The blogger states that this is “unshakable proof” that oinos is broad in meaning and includes non-alcoholic grape products. I made the mistake of not fully investigating these passages before commenting on his blog, so my comments there were wide of the mark.

It turns out that the situation in the gospels is not as the blogger described it. Matthew 27:34 and Luke 23:36 are describing two different events. Matthew 27:48 (not 34) is parallel to Luke 23:36.

Jesus was offered two different drinks. The first was just before the Crucifixion, and is recorded in Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23. The second was during the Crucifixion, and is recorded in Matthew 27:48 and Luke 23:36. The second drink offered is identified as oxos in both places it is recorded. The first drink offered is identified as oinos in Mark, but in Matthew, the first drink is identified differently in different manuscripts. In some manuscripts, it is identified as oxos, but in other manuscripts it is oinos. Whereas one person would say that proves oinos can be used to refer to a non-alcoholic beverage, another would say that Mark 15:23 helps determine which variant reading of Matthew 27:34 is correct. I take the latter position, as have translators of such Bible translations as the New American Standard and the English Standard Version.

Just before Jesus was nailed to the cross, He was offered oinos mixed with a sedative and He refused to drink. While He was on the cross, a soldier offered Him oxos and He drank. The blogger’s claims are not supported by the passages cited.

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