Re: OINWi OLIGWi CRW in 1Tim. 5:23

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 16 1998 - 11:41:55 EDT

At 9:54 AM -0500 4/16/98, David L. Moore wrote:
> Many thanks to Edward for his informative and interesting piece on the
>meaning of OINOS in a biblical context.
> I have another question which concerns the use of this word in
>1Tim. 5:23.
> What I am wondering is whether CRAOMAI with the dative may mean here that
>Timothy should "add a little wine..." to his drinking water. The thought
>of *replacing* the drinking of water with wine does not seem feasable - and
>this especially in light of Edward's comments on the normal alcohol content
>of OINOU. As I understand, it was common practice in NT times to dilute
>wine before it was drunk. Since hUDOPOTEI does not mean "drink *only*
>water" as it is often translated, but simply "drink water," could OINWi
>OLIGWi CRW, in contrast to the former, be advice to add a little wine to
>the water - supposedly for the antibiotic effect of its alcohol content.

No, I don't think it means either to REPLACE the water with wine or to ADD
a little wine to the water he drinks, but rather, to supplement his water
drinking with drinking wine in moderation.

The fundamental sense of CRAOMAI with instrumental dative is exactly
equivalent, I believe, to Latin UTOR with instrumental ablative and to
French JE ME SERS DE with any noun that can serve as object of DE: "I avail
myself of ...," "I take advantage of ...," "I make use of ..." To
underscore the force of the fact that these imperatives are present
(progressive), I'd translate the verse idiomatically: "Don't continue
drinking water only, but start making use of wine in moderation for the
sake of your digestion and your frequent spells of illness." Although
"only" is not formally expressed in the Greek text, the fact is that
hUDROPOTEIN is pretty much the same sort of aberration in ancient
Mediterranean society, and has much the same connotations as "teetotaller"
in our own society, as one may see from consulting LSJ, so that the real
force of MHKETI hUDROPOTEI is "Don't continue to be a teetotaller ..." I'd
say also that (a) I don't think this implies any pejorative valuation of
either teetotalling or of wine-drinking on the author's part, but simply
expresses a judgment that there are medicinal benefits to moderate drinking
of wine, and (b) I think the phrasing here is odd if one imagines it to
mean "dilute the water with an infusion of wine." The normal procedure is
in fact just the opposite, the dilution of the thick, syrupy wine from the
amphora with sufficient water to make the mixture (and there's the modern
Greek word, KRASI from the ancient KRASIS) match one's preference for
flavor and alcoholic strength.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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