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

From: Christopher Hutson (
Date: Thu Apr 16 1998 - 15:19:54 EDT

>At 9:54 AM -0500 4/16/98, David L. Moore wrote:

>> 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.

I agree completely with Carl Conrad's statement that

>hUDROPOTEIN is pretty much the same sort of aberration in ancient
>Mediterranean society, and has much the same connotations as
>in our own society, as one may see from consulting LSJ, so that the
>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
>either teetotalling or of wine-drinking on the author's part, but
>expresses a judgment that there are medicinal benefits to moderate
>of wine,

but to move the question from grammar and lexicography to social
history, here are some further considerations on the meaning of this
intriguing verse.

(1) Most everyone (including Carl) recognizes the reference here to
medicinal uses of wine in antiquity, which is an important piece of
the social context of this exhortation. What most don't recognize is
that the emphasis on drinking in moderation is especially appropriate
for the larger context of this letter in that it is ostensibly
addressed to a *youthful* protˇgˇ. So we should consider not only the
positive medicinal effects of wine, but also the potentially harmful
effects of too much wine in a youthful body. According to the
prevailing medical theory of the day, which emphasized the proper
balance of humors in the body, wine was useful for heating up a cold
body. It was thought that old men had an excess of phlegm (FLEGMA),
which made them naturally "cold," so that they could drink more wine
with benefit. But youths were thought to have an excess of bile
(XOLH), which made them naturally "hot," so that too much wine was
liable to add fire to fire, hence the emphasis on moderation (OINWi
OLIGWi) especially for a youthful drinker.

(2) Timothy is characterized in this letter not as a youthful
Everybeliever, but specifically as a youthful teacher in training.
For him, then, it is important to drink in moderation for the
additional reason that he is setting an example for those whom he is
to teach (cf. 4:12). Epictetus, Disc. 3.20-23, similarly exhorts a
young philosopher who aspires to be a teacher of philosophy. He urges
the beginner not to "spray them with spittle" by teaching difficult
concepts that he has not yet mastered; rather, he is to set an example
of the philosophical lifestyle by demonstrating what it means to
conduct oneself with decorum (cf. 1 Tim 3:15), including eating and
drinking in moderation .

And now I suppose I should introduce myself to the list. I have been
lurking for a few weeks and enjoying the conversation, but this is the
first time I have weighed in.

I am Assistant Professor of NT at Hood Theological Seminary. I
studied Classics at the University of Cincinnati before pursuing
seminary and doctoral studes at Yale. My dissertation, which I have
not yet submitted to a publisher, was a social-historical study of
youth in Greco-Roman antiquity aimed at illuminating the social
context of the Pastoral Epistles. The title is _My True Child: The
Rhetoric of Youth in the Pastoral Epistles_, and it includes a
discussion of 1 Tim 5:23 within Chapter Five.

While I expect to learn a lot from this list, I hope also to
contribute a little from time to time.

Regards to all,


Christopher R. Hutson
          Hood Theological Seminary
          Salisbury, NC 28144

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