From: B. Ward Powers (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 12:48:15 EDT

<x-flowed>At 03:02 PM 000612 -0400, (Dimitri Grekoff) wrote:

Let us reason here; fermentation was a way to preserve the
>juice of ripened grapes. Grapes only ripen once a year and grape juice
>wasn't frozen, canned, bottled, preserve with chemicals or in any other
>way I know of other than with alcohol produced by fermentation in the
>first century.

In my research into this issue some years ago, I was informed that:
Grapejuice was a common drink of the time: when available, it was drunk
fresh, and it was also evaporated of water into "must", a thick paste of
the consistency of toothpaste, which was kept in wineskins and
reconstituted as required with the addition of water (much like cordials
today). This did not ferment during the time it was being thus kept, and
when reconstituted was in fact more resistant to fermentation than if it
had not undergone this process. If produced with cold water (especially
from a spring or well or deep pool) it made a very refreshing drink. Now,
undoubtedly alcoholic wine was produced from grapes. But one did not always
and exclusively want to drink wine when one was thirsty and desired a cool
drink, and this reconstituted grapejuice was one option available in the
Middle East in biblical times.

I am also informed that there are still places in the Middle East where
this practice of making "must" and reconstituting it into grapejuice has
continued into modern times.

I have no personal knowledge here: I am relying upon information I have
been given.

>Part of the miracle at Cana would be lost in understanding the water to be
>turned into just juice.

I do not see this to be the case at all. I consider it a considerable miracle.

>First, we have the statement "the steward called the bridegroom and said
>to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine
>after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now."

There is frequently a tacit assumption when some commentators approach John
2 that "good wine" must be "alcoholic wine" because "unfermented
grapejuice" could not possibly be accorded that description. This is, I
submit, as biased and subjective an assumption as is my own biased
subjective view that good, cold, grapejuice is a "gooder" drink than any
kind of alcoholic wine. Now, I freely admit that my subjective bias as a
teetotaller is showing.

> "Drunk" is the verb MEQUW and it means intoxicated.

We have now moved the discussion to the exact area of meaning of another
Greek word. I certainly acknowledge that MEQUW can mean to be or become
intoxicated. But my understanding is that it can also mean to have drunk
well of any liquid, quite without reference to the consequences if any, and
without necessarily implying that what you are drinking has to be alcoholic
and intoxicating. I am open to such further light upon this word as people
may care to shine.

> That Jesus could turn water into grape juice is a miracle; that he could
> turn water into wine, a lengthy process, outstanding! I have to wonder if
> an anti-alcohol bias is at the base of some of those claiming OINOS can
> mean unfermented grape juice.

Possibly. But when I did my research into this issue (some years ago now) I
was genuinely aiming to understand the facts rather than impose my views
upon them. And the conclusion to which my research led me was that the area
of OINOS included unfermented grapejuice as well as alcoholic wine.



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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