How Wine Was Removed From the Bible

At The Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples passed a common cup, drinking wine from it. Yes, real honest to goodness wine. This act set the stage for a ritual known as Communion that has been with the church for more than 2000 years.

I’m not much of church-goer myself. However, I’ve always been attracted to the ritual and ceremony of the catholic church. And as an avid wine drinker, I’ve always appreciated connection that wine had to the particular ritual of communion. It is the powerful image and meaning of the wine representing the blood of Christ that has kept wine a part of this ritual for so many years.

But powerful are other movements. So powerful as to remove wine from holy communion. It started in the late 19th century when the temperance movement grew out of evangelical revival movement and began to spread. The notion that alcohol was poisonous to both the body and society began to take hold, eventually leading toward prohibition in America.

At first, it was hard liquor that became forbidden by church leaders in America. Beer, cider and wine were not considered social ills, nor particularly harmful to the body. Add to this wine’s connection to communion and the fermented beverage of the vine was safe for church goers.

But the abstinence movement and prohibitionism gained steamed. Questions began to be raised. If alcohol was a poisonous and tempting beverage to be avoided, who could it be a part of the communion. To take care of this contradiction a nifty theory was offered and accepted far and wide.

A number of theologians and Christian scholars began to theorize that Greek and Hebrew words meaning wine had actually been mistranslated in the course of the bible being retranslated over the years and centuries. They argued the original meaning of these words was not wine, but rather "grape juice".

Thus, the justification for wine being removed from the Holy Communion was put forth and spread through out the protestant churches in America. It was an American Methodist dentist who created a way to mass produced grape juice that would eventually end up in the the cups in American Churches. His name was Thomas Bramwell Welch.

Today, many churches have moved back to wine for use in Communion as the prohibitionist debacle faded away.

Prohibitionism has not entirely left American life, nor finished with its effects on our culture. Perhaps this short little history might be illustrative of the kind of power a movement that is seemingly back by science and revisionist history can have, even on the most powerful of institutions.

Posted In: Culture and Wine


2 Responses

  1. Internet Surfer - January 26, 2007

    Jesus did not make intoxicating wine. He did turn the water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. The Greek word for wine is “oinos”. “Oinos is a generic word, and as such, includes an kinds of wine and an stages of the juice of the grape, and sometimes the clusters and even the vine, it is begging the whole question to assert that it was intoxicating.” Patton. If this wine that Jesus made was intoxicating, then He was guilty of putting the bottle to His neighbors lips. Jesus who was God in flesh or in a human body would never have put a stumbling block or dug a pit for others to fall into by giving them alcohol at a wedding. Jesus wrote the bible since he is God, and the bible says not to give strong drink to your neighbor or yourself, so therefore Jesus made fresh grape juice and not wine as we know it today.
    The Bible forbids us to give drink to others. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! ” Hab. 2:15.
    The Bible forbids drunkenness. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Eph. 5:18.
    Wine is a deceiver. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Pro. 20:1.
    Drunkenness brought sorrow to Noah and a curse upon the offspring of Ham, his son. This is the first recorded instance of the use of strong drink and it should give us a clear warning to leave it alone. (See Genesis 9:20-25).
    Drunkards shall not “inherit the kingdom of God.” I Cor. 6:10. Only by being “born again”, can a drunkard be cleansed of his sin and be made ready for heaven.
    Jesus did not institute the Lord’s Supper with intoxicating wine. The record of that event is recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22. Paul also refers to this event in I Cor. 10 and 11. None of the above writers even use the word wine in their account. Each one says “fruit of the vine” or “cup” when referring to that which represents the blood of Christ.
    Americans harmed directly or indirectly because of alcholosim or problem drinking.
    9,000,000 alcoholics or problem drinkers.
    200,000 new cases of alcoholism each year
    28,400 of the 50,000 killed in traffic accidents each year had alcohol in their blood at the time of the accident.
    500,000 disabling injuries are suffered in crashes involving problem drinkers.
    34,800 or more than half of the 60,000 non-highway accidental deaths are alcohol involved.
    11,000 death certificates annually list alcoholism or alcoholic psychoses as cause.
    2,000,000 (approximate) arrests each year for public drunkenness = 40% of all non-traffic arrests.
    $21,700,000,000 latest annual expenditure by Americans for alcoholic beverages according to the Distilled Spirits Institute.
    $15 BILLION annual economic drain because of alcoholism – in lost work time, health and welfare costs, property damages etc.
    15% (approximate) of the 400,000 patients in state mental hospitals are under treatment for the problem of alcoholism.
    OVER HALF the states report alcoholism the most frequent diagnosis for first admissions to state hospitals.
    1/3 of all suicides are alcohol-related.
    1/2 of all homicides are alcohol-related.
    STEADY INCREASE in the number of alcoholics admitted to state hospitals.
    10-12 YEAR DECREASE in life expectancy of every alcoholic.
    IMPOSSIBLE to estimate human suffering related to alcoholism, from broken homes, deserted families and problems of children of alcoholic parents.
    Liquor is a curse to the human race and the Bible teaches against it in both the Old Testament and New Testament.
    “Liquor has many defenders, but no defense.”

  2. Internet Surfer - January 26, 2007

    God’s Plan of Salvation to forgive you of your sins and reserve you a place in heaven with God and not away from God in a place called hell that is reserved for the devil and his angels.
    1. Realize that you are a sinner.
    “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23)
    2. Realize that a price must be paid for your sin.
    “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passes upon all men, for that all have sinned…” (Romans 5:12)
    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
    “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14-15)
    3. Realize that Jesus paid the price!
    “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
    4. Ask Christ to save you.
    “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
    (Romans 10:13)
    Are you willing to ask Jesus to be your Saviour? Then please ask Him to save your soul in a prayer like this:
    Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I deserve to go to hell. But you said you would save me if I would call upon you. Please take away all my sins, dear Lord, and take me to Heaven when I die. Thank you for saving me! Help me now to live for you. Amen.
    “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

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