Brian Muraresku's The Immortality Key argues that the original Eucharistic meal contained psychoactive ingredients that facilitated certain kinds of experiences.

He cites in particular John 6:55

"So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your fathers, who ate the manna and died, the one who eats this bread will live forever.”"

According to Muraresku, the 'real presence' of Jesus in the Eucharist is actually psychoactive compounds in the wine and bread.

He compares this with Dionysian worship, which he argues involved not normal wine but wine combined with psychoactive additives. As the article Dionysus and Communion by a different author commenting on John 6 says, quoting Abraham Heschel

"The central rite of the Dionysiac orgies was that of theophagy, i.e., of eating the god. Worshippers, rapt in ecstatic trance, tore an animal—the incarnation of the god—and devoured its flesh. By killing the god, eating his flesh, and drinking his blood, they were filled with divine power and transplanted into the sphere of divinity. In order to make room for the entrance of the higher force, the person must forfeit the power over the self. He must abandon his mind in order to receive the spirit. Loss of consciousness, ecstasy, is a prerequisite for enthusiasm, or possession."

As the author then goes on to say,

"Is it any wonder that Jews found Yeshua’s words scandalous? Yeshua certainly sounded like a Dionysian preacher. They wanted nothing to do with this Greek mystery religion. Of course, Yeshua doesn’t avoid this theme. Much later, at the last supper with his disciples, he reiterates the idea. “. . . for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins,” perhaps with a bit more explanation."

Have any prominent theologians or scriptural academics argued we have good reasons (scriptural, archaeological, cultural) to believe that the original Eucharistic meal contained psychoactive properties beyond normal wine?

  • 1
    Sounds pretty silly, frankly. But you cited two "authors" yourself, so is the question meant rhetorically or what? Define what you mean by "prominent" theologians/academics, because you're certainly not looking for orthodox ones. Maybe you mean "best-selling" or something?
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 18:11
  • @workerjoe I don't think Muraresku is a prominent theologian or scriptural academic. The other one isn't arguing for the theory Muraresku is - just putting Jesus' comments in some cultural context. As for what is a prominent theologian or scriptural academic, I'll leave that up to the answerer, except to say more academically established than Muraresku. Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 18:13
  • 1
    Well, old chum, because Christianity is a real thing, a living breathing Church that has carried on for nearly 2000 years. We do not just pick up the Bible (where do you think it comes from?) and squeeze it into our own crackpot theory motivated by contemporary issues (your Muraresku is apparently some kind of pot legalization activist) and claim with a straight face that this is part of a genuine search for the truth.
    – workerjoe
    Commented Jun 6, 2022 at 19:00
  • 1
    @Jess I wasn't really considering it an objection to the Christian faith, but I guess it entails a radical rethinking if true and if John 6:55 is linked to the Last Supper. My guess is it's pretty implausible just in terms of putting the scripture in question into a larger context, but worth testing it. Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 23:41
  • 1
    @OneGodtheFather I gave this a +1 also, hoping that the answer can show how in the history of transubstantiation doctrine there was no influence from the aforementioned pagan Dionysiac eating of god but more on the basis of what Jesus said. On first impression it looks like Muraresku is possibly trying to anachronistically apply 1960's psychedelic interpretation into a historic doctrine, similar to how they try to correlate all religious ecstatic experience to psychedelic experience. Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


Brian Muraresku is a Biblical academic, in the sense that he is a religious influencer. You can find a sermon that he preached at Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ here.

A typical argument in favor of Muraresku's view can be found in this Rolling Stone magazine article:

Raised equally in horsemanship and war and just as skilled as their male counterparts, if not more so, the warrior women of Scythia gained a fearsome reputation. They also used cannabis and wine extensively in their daily rituals. For the Scythians, the use of cannabis and wine was essential to both religious ceremonies and diplomacy.

Herodotus describes a ritual where Scythians would construct a tent and burn hemp seeds over hot braziers inside, essentially creating a hotbox that “gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor-bath can exceed.” The Scythians didn’t just burn herbs, they also infused wine with them. Archaeologists have discovered cups that resemble the braziers in which the Scythians burn cannabis, which seems to indicate that cannabis could have been used in both.

Carl Ruck, a professor of classical studies at Boston University and Biblical mythicist academic, writes about κάνναβις:

Religious initiates of various stripes also drank psychoactive wine as part of their practice. Participants in the Eleusinian Mysteries (initiations held yearly for the cult of Demeter and Persephone in ancient Greece) and early Christians (including, allegedly, Jesus Christ) are two of the most noted groups of cannabis-wine enthusiasts...

Ruck argues in general (especially 17 minutes into the video) that cannabis was added into grape must by Bacchus followers during the fermentation process.

However, when it comes to historical evidence for wine having cannabis infusions for Bacchus worshipers - either during the fermentation process or after, there is little to back up his claim.

For one thing, there is no specific evidence that Bacchus worship ever involved co-fermenting wine with psychoactive additives or even post fermented addition of additives. For example, this article in Wikipedia appealing to sources in classical antiquity notes (emphasis added):

A sample of pure, undilute strong wine from the first pressing was offered to Liber/Bacchus, in gratitude for his assistance in its production. The remainder, known as temetum, was customarily reserved for Roman men and Roman gods, particularly Jupiter, king of the gods. It was, however, also an essential element of the secretive, nocturnal and exclusively female Bona Dea festival, during which it was freely consumed but could only be referred to euphemistically, as “milk” or “honey.”

Secondly, even if a case could be found of Bacchus worship involving psychoactive substances, any high intoxication level involved in the digestion of psychoactive substances for Christians would be in violation of what Paul writes about in Ephesians 5:18, "do not get drunk on wine."

Finally, if the disciples of Jesus were massively stoned all the time, it is highly unlikely that they would have been able to put together writings that have a coherent series of historical testimonies such as the Gospel accounts and the book of Acts.

For further information on how wine in Classical Greek & Roman times might have needed to be frequently watered down, apart from it being fermented with psychedelic substances, see this post.

  • The question is: Have any prominent theologians or Biblical academics argued that the original Eucharistic meals contained psychoactive properties beyond normal wine? Can you name prominent Christian theologians that argued this point? St. Paul may have said ”do not get drunk on wine”, but if wine does not contain alcohol, then it is not wine! I am having a hard time seeing a real answer here.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 14:45
  • Ken, I added an introduction to Ruck & Muraresku. Are they traditional Biblical academics? No. But they are being listened to by folks that appeal to them for an academic understanding of a possible non supernatural origin of Christianity. I suppose I could have split my answer into two parts. The first part presenting as persuasively as possible the view of Ruck & Muraresku and than with another question arguing against their reasonings. But I figure most people reading would not want to have to click back and forth to find a refutation of Ruck & Muraresku.
    – Jess
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 15:57
  • FYI, there is no psychoactive ingredient in hemp seeds.
    – User65535
    Commented Jun 11, 2022 at 7:14
  • User65535, most likely the phrase is used in the manner of a synecdoche. books.google.com/… And vermontlaw.edu/sites/default/files/Assets/community/students/…
    – Jess
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 4:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .