From: Ward Powers (
Date: Tue Apr 21 1998 - 23:25:59 EDT

At 12:28 98/04/21 EDT, Christopher Hutson wrote in reply to my previous
post about the use of OINOS in both LXX and NT.


I can accept almost all that you wrote, in most of your post. In this
response I will focus on the points of difference between us.

First, I accept that Pharaoh's cupbearer need not literally have squeezed
grapes one-handed into Pharaoh's cup, to serve the cup to Pharaoh with
skin, pips, pulp and all. But I would take this to be representational
language indicating that the juice of the grape was in the cup. I do not
see that in consequence we must arrive at the conclusion that it had also
been fermented by the time it was handed to Pharaoh to drink. I would hold
that this is a conclusion which goes beyond the evidence of the passage.
But I am not denying that in the times recorded in Genesis, people could
also know how to produce alcoholic beverage from grapes and might sometimes
choose to do so. My view is simply that there is a piece of evidence here
against the assertion that people did not drink unfermented grapejuice as a
beverage of choice at times.

With regard to passages in Judges and the prophets: I am not denying the
use of metaphorical or figurative language. You have looked at some of the
passages I adduce for my case, on an individual basis. I am saying that
together they constitute a body of evidence for the willingness of Hebrew
authors to use both TIYROS and YAYIN in reference to grapejuice at what is
clearly a pre-fermented stage. Your discussion is directed to WHY they
might do this. Some of the points that you make I consider quite valid. But
my focus is upon the FACT that they do this at all. The juice itself, at
the time it is in the grape, and (particularly) at the point it is being
squeezed out of the grape, and flowing out of the grape, is both TIYROS and
YAYIN. Now, I accept that there may well be a looking-forward to the time
this has become an alcoholic beverage, and there may be an intention that
it shall become an alcoholic beverage. But nonetheless the fact remains (it
seems to me) that these words are being used of the liquid BEFORE it
becomes an alcoholic beverage.

In one paragraph you say,

>For example, if Micah's Latter Day counterpart had delivered an oracle
>to a group of Nephites in Vermont, "You will tap the trees, but you
>will not enjoy the syrup," this would not mean that the word "syrup"
>could mean "sap," even "maple sap." Syrup is a processed comodity, as
>is wine.

But you have not noted the point that in the equivalent parallel you are
setting up it is the Hebrew for "tap the trees", i.e., for "sap", not the
Hebrew for "syrup", to which I was drawing attention, which is TIYROS in
the Hebrew, and which - and this is the focus of the point I am making -
which is rendered by OINOS in the LXX.

>What if Micah should say, "You will thresh wheat but not taste the

Again, in the structure of the equivalent parallel you are setting up, it
is the word for "wheat" that is rendered OINOS in the LXX, NOT the word for

[I trust all listers will recognize that we are talking sentence structure
here, utilizing parallel structures, and will not bother pointing out to
Chris and me that OINOS does not mean "sap" or "syrup" or "wheat" or "bread".]

You then say,

>And so on, with all the poetic passages you cite from the prophets
>plus my own citation from Homer.

Here I dissent. I do not accept that you have made a case that all the
passages I have cited can simply be categorized as "poetic passages" and
then, because (as you have averred that words are used with different
meanings in poetic passages) discounted as not being valid examples of the
use of TIYROS and YAYIN with reference to unfermented grapejuice.

I note that you quote me, and comment as follows:

>>But, in my humble opinion, we are not justified in concluding that
>>use of TIYROS or YAYIN in the Hebrew, OINOS in the Greek, or "wine"
>in an
>>English version, refers always and only to an alcoholic beverage.
>I don't think anyone is arguing this for TIYROS. We agree that it
>means "new wine," "must," or "juice." I don't know what some
>Hebraists might say about YAYIN. The focus of this thread has been
>primarily on OINOS, which I would maintain always refers to an
>alcoholic beverage.

But Chris, this is the point: the occurrences of both TIYROS and YAYIN to
which I have drawn attention are translated by OINOS in the LXX! Once it is
acknowledged that TIYROS is sometimes used of non-alcoholic juice (and we
are agreed that this is so), and that YAYIN similarly can be (and you have
not pronounced on this firmly one way or the other), and when we then see
that these words are translated by OINOS in the LXX, then we have reached
the point of seeing (if I may put it in italics) THAT OINOS CAN AT TIMES BE

Also, Chris, in relation to your final statement quoted above, that OINOS
"always refers to an alcoholic beverage", I draw attention to the NT use
[see Mt 9:17//Mk 2:22//Lk 5:37-38] of OINOS in the saying of Jesus about
"new wine" [or "young wine"] and new or old wineskins. The point of the
saying, drawing upon current practice, is that what is put into the
wineskins is going to ferment in the skins: and "old wineskins", previously
already used, will not be able to withstand the build-up of gas and will
burst. Therefore "new wineskins" are used. In keeping with the description
of the skins as "new", and the contrast that is being drawn with those that
are "old", and the meaning that Jesus is setting forth by means of this
saying, the wine that is being put into the skins is called "new". This is
because this newness is the focus of what Jesus is saying; and it links
with the parallel saying about new material on an old garment. But: the
fact remains that the liquid which is being put into the skins and which
will ferment in the skins, is called OINOS when it is put in. If the liquid
which was put into the skins was already a fermented alcoholic beverage
before it was put into the skins, it could have been put into any kind of
skins at all. So here we have a use of OINOS with reference to the juice of
the grape with fermentation still to take place.

These are my reasons why I cannot agree with your belief that "OINOS ...
always refers to an alcoholic beverage".



Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International): 61-2-9799-7501
10 Grosvenor Crescent Phone (Australia): (02) 9799-7501
SUMMER HILL NSW 2130 email:

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