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Booze In The Bible Ignore Me

Pulleys

When I was in college, many years ago, I studied physics. Somewhere along the way we learned about pulleys.

The purpose of a pulley is to change the direction of a force. Ideally it will do so with very little friction, but the purpose is still nothing more than changing the direction of a force. When you combine multiple pulleys in the right configuration, you effectively trade force for distance in the equation for Work: W = FD (Work equals the Force applied multiplied by the Distance over which the force is applied). The basic principle is that the necessary force goes down as the distance traveled goes up. A collection of pulleys increases the distance (you have to pull more rope) which reduces the required force by the same factor (i.e., four times more rope means 1/4 as much force).

In one pulley-related assignment, there was a problem where one pulley was replaced by a simple iron bar which was assumed to be frictionless. Instead of going around a pulley, the rope went around this frictionless iron bar. Since a pulley changes the direction of a force, and the bar changed the direction of the force, I treated the iron bar as if it where a pulley. The professor marked my answer wrong. When I discussed it with him, he said that since the bar was not a pulley, it did not add to the mechanical advantage of the system. He rejected my reasoning that since the bar changed the direction of the force just like a pulley, and since the bar increased the distance traveled by the rope just like a pulley, then the bar served exactly the same function as a pulley.

Although I got nowhere with that professor, I have since found that my analysis was in fact correct. You can replace a pulley with a metal bar, a metal ring, or even a loop of rope (you can actually make a “block and tackle” arrangement with nothing but rope). As long as the direction of the force is changed with relatively little friction added to the system, the physical principle is the same.

A doctorate does not prove that someone knows what he’s talking about.

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Booze In The Bible

Wine On The Hoof

In a blog article mentioned previously, the blogger attempted to use the phrase “wine in the press” (citing Isaiah 16:10 as an example) to prove that yayin sometimes refers to fresh grape juice. Others have made the same argument for tirosh, which is also sometimes used in an “in the press” context. One author included occurrences of the phrase “wine on the vine” (not in the Bible) to prove that even grapes were included in the meaning of the word wine.

But, consider the English phrase “steak on the hoof” commonly used to refer to cattle. This phrase demonstrates a trope, in which words are used in non-literal ways. In this case, the thing being discussed is replaced by a phrase built on a noun that identifies the ultimate purpose of the thing. Steak is not broad enough in meaning to include live cattle. Instead, the addition of “on the hoof” shows that we are using the word steak in a non-literal way that identifies the ultimate purpose of the cattle under discussion. Steak does not mean cattle – “steak on the hoof” means cattle.

“Wine on the vine” is an exact linguistic parallel to “steak on the hoof.” “Wine in the press” is similar enough for it to be reasonable to interpret it the same way. Wine does not mean must – “wine in the press” means must.

Biblical occurrances of “wine in the press” do not prove that wine is broad enough in meaning to include grape juice any more than “steak on the hoof” proves that steak is broad enough in meaning to include a calf.

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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.