Wine in the Christian/Jewish bible

Daniel Whitfield has compiled an interesting list of mentions of wine in the old and new testaments.  His aim was to determine whether calls for prohibition are based on cultural or scriptural grounds – the answer is clearly cultural because only 16% of references to wine are negative in the bible (c.f. 59% positive).

This is another example of religious people each picking and choosing which bits of their religion they wish to believe, which, if you think about it, undermines the central concept of religion.

I quote his conclusion here:

Alcohol and the Bible: Conclusion
What is the Biblical teaching on the use of alcohol? That was the question we sought to answer in this inquiry. Based on the 247 references to wine and strong drink in the Bible, based on the life of Jesus, and in light of the common arguments that arise in a discussion on this topic, we find a simple (and, perhaps to some, surprising) answer. The Bible has several warnings against drunkenness, but only one caution against the responsible use of alcohol in celebration and with meals. That caution is to be careful, when you are in fellowship with Christians with a weaker conscience, that you don’t cause a brother to stumble. A total prohibition against the use of alcohol is conspicuous largely by its absence, particularly to an individual from a conservative Christian sub-culture.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath day. Colossians 2:16

PS Probably unsurprisingly the story is much the same in the Qur’an, the other famous Middle Eastern religious text.  While a number of things are expressly forbidden in the Qur’an this is not the case with wine.  Like the Jewish/Christian texts it merely contains warnings against drinking in excess.


1 thought on “Wine in the Christian/Jewish bible

  1. But the bible is not the sum-total of rules to be followed by a Christian. For instance, there are Catholic canon laws. I have no idea whether there is or is not a canon law about drinking etc, but my understanding is that if there was one, then it would need to be adhered to by a ‘true’ Catholic, irrespective of what was written on the topic in the bible. Thus, a more useful exercise would have been to have scrutinised the canon laws for any proclamation (or not) about drinking wine. However, the end result might very well have been the same. At least what this author did would allow someone to defend against: “but the canon laws have been ‘watered down’ over the centuries. The “true” word of God on the matter is in the bible and in it He says…”

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