From: B. Ward Powers (
Date: Mon Jun 12 2000 - 08:36:27 EDT

<x-flowed>B-greekers all:

At 01:22 PM 000610 -0400, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>At 3:30 PM +0200 6/10/00, Kevin Smith wrote:
>>Is OINOS is used as a generic term for "alcohol" in the NT? Did they
>>drink other kinds of alcohol; if so, what words were used for them?
>>Kevin Smith
>There was a considerable string on this question in April of 1988 (April
>14-22), and unfortunately that falls within one of a couple sizable
>lacunae in our on-line archives. I can probably supply the thread as a
>long text-file to you, Kevin. One of the intriguing elements in that
>thread was Ward Powers' endeavor to demonstrate that OINOS was used of
>unfermented grape juice, a proposition of which some may have been persuaded.
>Carl W. Conrad

I would like to clarify that I do not hold that OINOS means only
unfermented grape juice, but rather that in the LXX and NT (and
corresponding Hebrew in the OT) OINOS is a generic term used of the juice
of the grape from the time when it is still in the grape on the vine,
through its extraction in a winepress (note, not a grapejuice-press), to it
as a beverage as non-alcoholic grapejuice and to alcoholic wine.

If this is valid (I believe it is supported by the evidence) then it
follows that when we find an occurrence of OINOS we need to bear in mind
this potential range of meaning, and be guided by context as to the meaning
in the passage in question.

My conclusion is that the occurrences of this word can fall into four
categories: When it clearly refers of non-alcoholic grapejuice; when it
clearly refers to alcoholic wine (though not to the fortified wines of
today, which were a development of more recent centuries); when it refers
jointly to both these categories together; and, when the usage is ambiguous
or uncertain, and the interpretation of such a passage will largely depend
upon the position one holds about questions of the use of alcoholic
beverages, derived from sources and information outside the particular
passage under consideration.

The previous discussion focussed upon the wine at the wedding in Cana (John
2), a passage which (in my judgement) falls into the fourth category above.
My conclusion as to its reference in this passage (influenced by
considerations which lie outside the actual passage) was that the OINOS at
the Cana wedding was unfermented grapejuice. I should mention that there
are many on the list who do not share my conclusion on this.



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

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