From: Bill Barton (
Date: Mon Jun 12 2000 - 20:38:35 EDT

Ward Powers wrote:

>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 grape juice.>

Concerning the semantic domain of oinos:

It's my understanding that the grapes are capable of fermenting slightly
while they are still on the vine. So any grape juice potentially contains
alcohol to some degree. Hence the only way to avoid consuming even the
slightest amount of alcohol from the grape is to avoid the grape
altogether. Presumably this is why it was required of the Nazarite that he
not eat anything produced by the grape vine, to avoid even the suggestion
of impropriety:

"he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar,
whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice
nor eat fresh or dried grapes. All the days of his separation he shall not
eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the
skin" (Num 6:2)

Jesus was criticized for not following the same ascetic practice as John
the Baptist in this regard. As a Nazarite John would presumably have
followed this proscription against eating grapes; while Jesus by contrast
came "eating and drinking." (Matt 11:18-19)

The city of Kafr Kana exists in Israel to the present day (about 5 miles
northeast of Jesus' home town of Nazareth). Identified with the NT Cana,
it was already a place of pilgrimage by the 3rd century and is still a
popular tourist stop, although there's not much to see.

Bill Barton

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