PedanticDan  Dansplaining The Bible

September 21, 2007

Behold a Gluttonous Man, and a Winebibber

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — Tags: , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 11:41 am

Prohibitionists have an interesting way of dealing with these two passages:

  1. Matthew 11:18-19:
  2. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
    19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

  3. Luke 7:33-35
  4. 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
    34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
    35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.

When looking at these passages, Prohibitionists generally address this claim: We know that Jesus drank wine because the Pharisees called Him a winebibber. They argue correctly that the accusation does not prove that He drank wine. In fact, the point Jesus was making was that the Pharisees were falsely accusing Him of being a winebibber.

The problem is that no one has made the claim that the accusation of the Pharisees proved that Jesus drank wine. That is a straw man argument, invented because it is easy to refute and provide an appearance of victory over the real argument.

What is the real argument?

The Real Argument

In the event described in the two passages above, Jesus is criticizing the Pharisees because of their sinful attitude towards two people who brought them spiritual truth, which they rejected. The point Jesus made was that the Pharisees accused John of evil because John did NOT drink wine, while at the same time accusing Jesus of evil because Jesus DID drink wine.

Jesus stated as fact that John The Baptist did not drink wine. Jesus also stated as fact that The Son of Man did drink wine. Jesus himself says that He did, in fact, drink wine. Jesus criticized the Pharisees for using the fact that He drank wine as an opportunity to make the false accusation that He was a drunkard (the meaning of “winebibber”).

The proof that Jesus drank wine is that He said Himself that He drank wine.

August 14, 2007

Twenty To One Revisited

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — Tags: , , , , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 1:17 pm

Let’s revisit the claim that wine was diluted to a water-to-wine ratio of Twenty To One.

This ratio comes up in support of the claim that the only use for wine in biblical times was for purifying water. Citing this ratio as support shows not only the absurdity of the claim, but also reveals the low standards for research among prohibitionists.

First, the twenty to one ratio is absurd on it’s face. Wine diluted to that degree would serve no purpose. It would not have any effect on microbes in the water, and would even be insufficient to improve the taste or the appearance of contaminated water. Add to the this the prohibitionist claim that wine in biblical times had significantly less alcohol than modern wine, and the twenty to one ratio becomes impossible to believe.

Second, the claim of twenty to one reveals sloppy research at best. Some don’t even research the claimed ratio to learn its source. Of those who do, some stop at “we know from Homer” and are not the least bit suspicious about Homer’s credentials as a writer of mythology. Of those who look deeper and see that the ratio comes from The Odyssey, few are at all concerned about that book’s status as mythical fiction. If we count those who sought out a copy of The Odyssey to read first-hand the context in which the ratio was found (magic wine used to defeat the Cyclops), there would be virtually no one. How can a man with a Ph.D. not know what The Odyssey is, and not be immediately suspicious of it being cited for historical support?

So, when we see a prohibitionist claim that wine in biblical times was diluted twenty parts water to one part wine, we know two things about that prohibitionist: that he knows nothing about water purification, and he knows even less about history and literature. When I hear about how thorough their research was, I can’t help but laugh.

As soon as they say “twenty to one” their research has lost all credibility.

August 9, 2007

Bacchus and Anti-Bacchus

Filed under: Booze In The Bible,Reference — Tags: , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 1:00 pm

Below are links to a two-part article written by John MacLean in 1841. Dr. MacLean was Professor of Ancient Languages at the College of New Jersey at the time.

In this two-part article, John MacLean examines the claims made in two articles:

Bacchus, by Ralph Barnes Grindrod

Anti-Bacchus, by Rev B. Parsons

In John MacLean’s introduction he says:

The comparative merit of the two Essays we shall not undertake to discuss, as our purpose is merely to examine some of the positions assumed, and to show that they are utterly untenable, being contrary to the word of God and the testimony of antiquity. So far as the object of these Essays is to promote temperance, we cordially approve it and we only regret that in the prosecution of an object so important, and so benevolent, the authors have not confined themselves to arguments which will stand the most rigid scrutiny. 

These two articles form the foundation of modern prohibitionist arguments, and John MacLean refutes them soundly.

The Princeton Review
Volume 13, Issue 2
April 1841
pp. 267-306
Bacchus and Anti-Bacchus, Part 1
The Princeton Review
Volume 13, Issue 4
October 1841
pp. 471-523
Bacchus and Anti-Bacchus, concluded

The distribution of these documents was made possible by: Princeton Theological Seminary.

Articles in The Princeton Review were published without identifying their authors. However, in 1868 an index was published which made it possible to identify the Authors, such as John MacLean.

July 25, 2007

Levitical Priests

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — PedanticDan @ 9:25 am

There seems to be some remaining confusion about what exactly the Levitical priests were forbidden to do, thanks to some prohibitionists’ poor handling of Leviticus 10:8-9. The passage is referenced in an attempt to show that God forbade all alcohol consumption by the priests.

Let’s look at the passage:

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations

It’s quite obvious from this passage that the priests were in fact not forbidden all alcohol consumption. They were only prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages while serving in “the tabernacle of the congregation” (the tent of meeting), which was an enclosed area inside the tabernacle. This is significant. The prohibition did not apply even in the rest of the tabernacle.

It is unmistakable that the prohibition only applied in a specific place and time. There was never a general prohibition for priests.

March 17, 2007

Ignore Me No Longer!

Filed under: Ignore Me — PedanticDan @ 6:30 pm

I’m renaming my blog from Ignore Me to Pedantic Dan.

February 9, 2007

Eggs Per Hen-Day

Filed under: Ignore Me — PedanticDan @ 3:23 pm

There’s an old brain teaser that is posed as a word problem, something like this:

If a hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half, how many days will it take three hens to lay three eggs?


If a hen and a half lays an egg in a half in a day and a half, how many hens will it take to lay six eggs in six days?

These are essentially the same problem and there is no significant difference to “three” or “six”. I’ve seen several internet sites that go through the math to calculate the rate of egg laying to come up with the answer, but that is not necessary.

With a little knowledge of Algebra, we realize that this is a rate problem: how many eggs are produced per hen-day? Mathematically, we would write that this way:



Rate * Hens * Days

and then solving for “Rate” we get this:





We then see immediately that we don’t even need to know Rate.

If we multiply Eggs and Hens by the same factor N:



N * Eggs

(N * Hens)(Days)

that factor, being in both the numerator and denominator, will cancel and Days must remain unchanged.

In the same way if we multiply Eggs and Days by the same factor N:



N * Eggs

(Hens)(N * Days)

again that factor, being in both the numerator and denominator, will cancel and Hens must remain unchanged.

So, we can change “one and a half” to X and three (or six) to Y:

If X hens lay X eggs in X days, how many days will it take for Y hens to lay Y eggs?


If X hens lay X eggs in X days, how many hens will it take to lay Y eggs in Y days?

For all values of X and Y, the answer will always be X.

January 23, 2007

Degrees of Separation

Filed under: Ignore Me — PedanticDan @ 7:03 pm

When I was in high school, I met my best friend’s father (not at all unusual, I hear). My best friend’s father was, and is, a cinematographer and worked on such films as Second Hand Lions, Space Cowboys, and Unforgiven. In fact, he was nominated for the 1992 Academy Award for Best Cinematography for Unforgiven. His name is Jack Green.

Jack Green has been the Director of Photography for many films, and he worked many times with world famous actor and director Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood has acted in and directed many successful films, including Mystic River starring Kevin Bacon.

That’s three degrees of Kevin Bacon.

December 29, 2006

Not Given To Wine

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — Tags: , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 10:51 am

1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 both include “not given to wine” (KJV) in the qualifications for a bishop. Some prohibitionists interpret these verses to say that church leaders must abstain from alcoholic beverages. Some even say that the Greek word translated as “given to wine”, πάροινος, comes from πάρα οινος, meaning “next to wine”, and therefore prohibits a church leader from even being near wine. The problem with this is that looking at etymology alone can lead to inaccurate conclusions about a word’s meaning.

Take the word pedophile, for example. If we examine the derivation of that word, we would conclude that the word refers to someone who likes children, which obviously does not capture the true meaning of the word. We must also look at the usage of pedophile to understand it’s meaning. The same is true for πάροινος.

Fortunately, Greek scholars have already done that work for us, and we can look at various published works on the meaning of Greek words instead of trying to figure it out ourselves. For example, according to Warren C. Trenchard’s Complete Vocabulary Guide To The Greek New Testament, p. 192, πάροινος is an adjective which means drunken, addicted to wine, or when used substantively (as if it were a noun), as it is in Timothy and Titus, a drunkard.

The prohibitionist interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7 falls apart when we look at what πάροινος actually means. As it it used in the New Testament, πάροινος means a drunkard.

November 24, 2006

The Feast of Unleavened Wine

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — Tags: , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 2:07 pm

One argument that is supposed to prove that the wine used by Jesus to institute the Lord’s Supper was just grape juice, is that leavening was forbidden to be used in the Passover, also called The Feast of Unleavened Bread. I read one claim that Jews were forbidden to partake of anything that contained any leaven ever.

A little bit of research shows that no leaven was allowed in the bread. That’s why it is called The Feast of Unleavened Bread. There was never a prohibition against wine (fermented grape juice), in fact it was and remains the norm for Passover celebrations. In fact, the term Jesus used, fruit of the vine, was used throughout the Mediterranean region to refer to fermented grape juice (aka wine) used for ceremonial purposes.

Passover is not The Feast of No Leavening — it is The Feast of Unleavened Bread.

September 12, 2006

Don’t Look!

Filed under: Booze In The Bible — Tags: , , , , , — PedanticDan @ 3:15 pm

Proverbs 23:31-33 says [NASB®]:

Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;
At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things, And your mind will utter perverse things.

This passage is interpreted differently by different kinds of prohibitionists. The “all fermented beverages were always forbidden” prohibitionists interpret 23:31 to prohibit looking at all fermented beverages, while the “wine was always diluted in biblical times” prohibitionists interpret it to only prohibit looking at undiluted fermented beverages. I disagree with both.

I don’t think that Proverbs is in the category of “Law”, but is advice for wise living written in the form of poetry. I would agree that it would be foolish to not follow the advice in Proverbs, and that it is just as valid today as it was when it was written. But it is still poetry, and that can present some challenges.

The passage (in the context of verses 29 through 35 ) is talking about the foolishness of alcohol abuse. “Redness of eyes”, “tarry long”, “they beat me, but I did not feel it”, etc. All refer to a level of drinking that goes way beyond any definition of moderate. The message is a warning against drunkenness and alcoholism.

The Hebrew lexicon available at (see the full entry from Gesenius’s Lexicon) describes the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “look”, and it seems to mean more than simply seeing a thing. It carries the idea of looking at something with great pleasure and longing. And in my opinion, the rest of the verse is not describing actual characteristics of wine, but the perceived attributes of wine as viewed by someone who is intoxicated (e.g., wine does not sparkle or go down smoothly unless you’ve had a few). Therefore, I believe that Proverbs 23:31 is saying, “do not long for, desire, or seek intoxication.” That verse is preceded and followed by examples of what intoxication leads to: woe, sorrow, strife, etc.

The passage warns against drunkenness and does not forbid all consumption of alcoholic beverages.

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