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This question have a bunch of subquestions. Not sure whether I should split that.

People in Canae are drinking "Oinos" (which could mean wine/beer/grape juice). The party goers seem to prepare enough drink. Yet, the guests drink enough to deplete all "Oinos".

Jesus then went on manufacturing even half a ton Oinos.

The party leader told patron, that people usually serve the good Oinos first. Once people are "Methuo" (i.e. drunk), they give the bad Oinos. Yet the patron gave the good Oinos last.

The word Methuo means drunk. However, it's miraculously translated as "have drunk freely" or have "drunk satisfiedly" in various bible translation for reasons beyond me. Some bible translations correctly translate that as were drunk.

My question:

  1. Did Jesus produce non alcoholic or alcoholic beverage?
  2. Do parties at that time serve alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage?
  3. Was there anyone getting drunk at the party?
  4. If some people are already drunk, why Jesus produces more wine?
  5. If no body at a party was drunk, how was that accomplished? Did Jesus create another miracle making everyone sobber?
  6. Why many bible translations translate methuo as "have drunk freely" instead of "was drunk"?

Basically it's one simple question. Did Jesus help drunk people get even more drunk? If the answer is yes, then we got issue of whether getting drunk is sin or not. If the answer is no, then we got a lot to explain there.

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  • Hmm...if "some bible translations correctly translate that as were drunk", why is it "miraculous" that others translate it differently? (Read: sarcasm rarely helps people answer your question.) Commented May 26, 2014 at 2:51
  • the short answer is that the (immediate context of ) scripture doesn't tell us specifically - any answer would be either speculation or based on an tradition external to scripture. Since it's possible to speculate from a variety of theological positions, perhaps you could clarify which perspective(s) you are interested in? Commented May 26, 2014 at 2:52
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    so what if He did (help get drunk people in Cana to be even more drunk)? big deal. Commented May 26, 2014 at 5:06
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    I don't have time on writing this as a full answer, but a note on translating οινος as "grape juice". There wasn't a "grape juice" industry in the ancient world. There weren't any methods to prevent juice from grapes from fermenting. (Grape juice was originally advertised as "unfermented wine", in the 19th century.) All οινος was wine (or beer). So keep that in mind when we read the party guests were already drinking οινος, and then complained about the host serving lower quality οινος as the party carried on, and then commended Jesus for providing the best οινος of all so late into the party. Commented May 26, 2014 at 5:23
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    I've voted to close this as primarily opinion based. While an interesting question, I don't see how this could ever be definitively answered. Everyone will have their theories, but there's no way to prove any of them.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 1:13

2 Answers 2

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The story of turning real water into real wine (most scholars would argue that the wine was real) presumes the moderation of the wedding guests.

There is no more reason to think that the guests were drunk then there is reason to think that Jesus fed 5000 gluttons a huge amount of fish and bread. On one hand the story clearly suggests that the guests at a respectable Jewish wedding were a little 'tipsy' (the Greek word can be a little tipsy, as it just means affected by the alcohol). If they were drunk they would not be able to judge the quality of wine being served afterwards, which was comparatively good. This is why wine tasters spit out the wine.

To balance the moderate influence of the wine at the wedding we should take note that the alcohol content of wine at the time of Christ is not like today. Wine today is much stronger then it used to be. Also wine was commonly mixed with water. This was even the practice of the paschal supper back then, mixing the red wine with warm water that is.

Possibly this fact of mixing wine with water will make it clearer that moderation is assumed in the story which makes most questions about it less relevant.

Ample evidence is available to demonstrate that wine, though always fermented, was usually mixed with water in the classical and Hellenistic world. The wine was stored in large jugs called amphorae, from which the wine was poured through a strainer into a large mixing bowl call a krater. In the krater the wine was mixed with water. Then the drinking bowls or cups were filled. The amount of wine per volume varied. The mixture that represented the greatest amount of water to wine was 20 to 1, apparently because the wine was so strong (Homer, Odyssey 10. 208f). Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, p2147)

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    A side question: I understand that one big reason why alcohol was consumed more in ancient times is that water was often hard to purify. So why then would they mix water into it?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 4:51
  • "we should take note that the alcohol content of wine at the time of Christ is not like today. Wine today is much stronger then it used to be." that's what they're telling us about weed and why parents that smoked weed in the 70s should not let their kids smoke weed in the 21st century. Commented May 26, 2014 at 5:04
  • @curiousdannii - I don't know. Maybe in some regions they preserved the quantity of pure water they did have better by mixing it? Or maybe that is not really true in various other instances. I.e. they had plenty of water available.
    – Mike
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 5:16
  • @robertbristow-johnson - by referring to the low alcohol content of wine at the time of Christ I am not implying that drinking a little wine at higher levels is wrong in any way, it just helps to explain the vast quantity that was miraculously made.
    – Mike
    Commented May 26, 2014 at 5:18
  • The word methuo means drunk or alcoholy intoxicated. That's a good reason to believe that the people there were drunk just like the people at any party at that time.
    – user4234
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 1:44
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From a Catholic perspective, the Wedding at Cana is indicative of many things with the two main points being listed below; neither of which are related to drunkeness of the wedding guests so the short answer to the question would be: No, Jesus did not help people get more drunk (or drunk at all).

  1. The Wedding at Cana was about Mary's role as intercessor--or in the words of John Paul II: In the episode of the wedding at Cana, St John presents Mary's first intervention in the public life of Jesus and highlights her co-operation in her Son's mission.
  2. The Wedding of Cana was about the significance of the Sacrament of Marriage since this is where Christ's ministry began.
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  • I have no idea how in the earth the significance of marriage sacrament explain the drunkenness off the guess. The quantity of wine drunk might affect alcohol intoxication. Whether marriage is sacred or not or whether the wine is drunk at the occasion do not seem to be relevant at all.
    – user4234
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 1:41

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