Wine Drinking in the Days of the New Testament

The following quote is borrowed from the lesson outline of Bob Buchanan on Timothy and Titus. He quotes from an article entitled “Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times” written by Robert H. Stein. Here is a part: “What is important for us to note is that before wine was drunk it was mixed with water  x x x x x  The ratio of water to wine varied. Homer (Odyssey IX, 208f.) mentions a ratio of 20 to 1, twenty parts water to one part wine. Pliny (Natural History XIV, vi, 54) mentions a ratio of eight parts water to one part wine … Sometimes the ratio goes down to 1 to 1 (and even lower), but it should be noted that such a mixture is referred to as ‘strong wine.’ Drinking wine unmixed, on the other hand, was looked upon as a ‘Scythian’ or barbarian custom. x x x x x  To consume the amount of alcohol that is in  two martinis (modern strong drink—BB) by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine, one would have to drink over twenty-two glasses. x x x x x   First, it is important to try to understand the biblical text in the context in which it was written. Before we ask, ‘What did it mean to them originally?’ Second, there is a striking difference between the drinking of alcoholic beverages today and the drinking of wine in New Testament times. If the drinking of unmixed wine or even wine mixed in a ratio of one to one with water was frowned upon in ancient times, certainly the drinking of distilled spirits in which the alcoholic content is frequently three to ten times greater would be frowned upon a great deal more.”

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