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man, you're good! this is great stuff. the verses you bring out, or that nott brought out, should be eye opening about "wine" being grape juice in some context, and "wine" should be considered fermented alcohol in some other contexts. depending on the context.

i'm looking forward to the rest of this.



oh, btw, that was very good exegesis. :)


William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

I have a couple of questions about your take on Nott's arguments. First, after quoting a number of passages that refer to 'good' wine and a number of passages that refer to 'bad' wine you commented:

"The above are samples merely of passages (which if necessary could be extended) in which wines are distinguished, according to their qualities: some are good and some bad; wine that is a blessing, and wine being a curse; wine, to be presented at sacrifice, and wine, that might not be drank in the house of the Lord."

It seems that the Bible does not distinguish them according to their 'qualities' but according to their use, or misuse. For example, when wine is used to 'gladden the heart' it is viewed as a blessing (good), when it is 'tarried over' it is bad. Could use then be the distinguishing issue in these passages?

Second, Nott concludes from Deut. 32:14 that the phrase "the blood of the grape" refers to grape juice, thus 'wine' in the Bible can be referring to grape juice. How does he substantiate this interpretation of "the blood of the grape"? Are there other OT passages that speak about grape juice using this phrase?

Thanks for the discussion.



That's a good point. I'm interested in seeing it explained how yayin can be both good and bad. It sure sounds like a difference in use, as opposed to a difference in quality, to me.

David R. Brumbelow

Maybe those who abstain from beverage alcohol are not so ignorant after all. Maybe they actually get their convictions from holy and sufficient Scripture.

Still enjoying your posts and comments on the subject. Especially your closing comments in the thread to your previous post.

I think I know where you're going, and I love it when a plan begins to come together :-).
David R. Brumbelow

Tim B


My study of both biblical and secular references to "wine" leads me to conclude that several of the words translated "wine" such as Tirosh, Yayin and Oninos are not technically descriptive of a particular beverage but of a general category of beverages derived from the grape. The closest comparison of word usage I can think of would be the way we use the word "punch." Depending on the party the punch may or may not contain alchol. In a given context the guests know whether it is or not. If one were to later write about the party and mention that there was "punch" to drink, it would be incorrect for the reader to assume without further evidence that the punch either did or did not contain alcohol.



Dear William,

Well, I had a comment all typed up to send, but through a bit of West Georgia stupidity, lost it all.  Anyway, I am glad you logged on.  And, know your questions are excellent.

The two broad categories Nott offered between wine that is 'good' and wine that is 'bad', stems I think, from the nature of the study he presented.  Good and bad pertain to properties latent within the grape and the development of the grape itself.  And that is the focus of the study--wine. 

On the other hand, you offer an interesting substitute, William:  Rather than employing the terms 'good wine',  'bad wine', substitute one's use of wine and one's misuse of wine

Or, not to place words into your mouth, one could say, I think, and remain consistent with your alternative; Biblically, a 'good use' of wine is to 'gladden the heart' and a 'bad use' of wine is to 'tarry long' with it.  I hope I have not failed your intent by teasing it out a bit.

For Nott, however, as well as the temperance theologians at large, such a scenario would not work for several reasons. First, the nature of the study Nott presents focuses on the language of Scripture itself--specifically, the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.

Granted he compares the Greek of the LXX and the Latin of the Vulgate, but ever is he concerned with the language of Moses and the Prophets.

Thus the sophisticated analysis of the Hebrew text itself bears out, through the diversity of its language, the focus on the properties of the grape, the ’must’ the vineyard, the vat, the extracted juice, etc etc.

Coincidently, William, this is significant for those moderationists who appear incorrigibly wed to the idea that abstentionists woefully lack any Scriptural embeddedness in their view.

To the contrary, Nott’s view is sustained by an appeal to the very Hebrew language itself, which delivers, at least from my perspective, not only a first shot, but a nuclear blast. The pop-view of wine on the internet today--especially among Baptist bloggers--is hopelessly addicted to a ’concordance-run’ of the text--and the one, single English word wine--after which is joyously pronounced all is well with our bottles of wine…in moderation, of course.

Post-Nott and other temperance theologians which I intend to present, my hope is, abstentionists will possess a few resources that bear huge potential in guarding their face as moderationists persistently poke them in the eye--Scripture alone, Scripture alone, Scripture alone. O.K. Nott says, let’s dance.

Perhaps more significantly, substituting use/misuse of wine for good/bad wine, not only moves the study away from the linguistic value the Hebrew text offers to a thoroughly Biblical understanding of wine and wine’s properties, it also shifts the focus from wine to human behavior. Use and misuse are latent properties of behavior, not grapes. Or, as before, a good use of wine is to ’gladden the heart’ and a bad use--in your terms, misuse--of wine is ‘tarry long’ with it.

The problem that arises, however, is that one needs not at all the Hebrew text to come to such a conclusion. Wine is used this way or that. Thus, it’s focus is the person who uses or misuses. From Nott’s standpoint, his Hebrew analysis would be moot in determining such a scenario. Why? The tacit assumption in such categories as use/misuse is the foregone conclusion that wine is neutral and it’s only how we use it that’s significant. But whether wine is neutral stands as the very question Nott examines. Indeed, he’d be tempted to charge the old error of begging the question.

For the record, I think also Nott may right here handle the moderation’s golden cliché--’it’s about drunkenness, stupid’ No, not according to Nott. Rather it’s primarily about what the Scripture says about wine and wine’s properties. And, I suppose, from what I gleaned from him, he may accommodate not so much to the use or misuse of wine. For, in the end, good wine ought always to be used with joy, with gladness, with thanksgiving as a gift from God, a blessing from Heaven being sustained by the sustenance it affords.

But the bad wine--the wine that is mocker, that bites and stings, that is dubbed the ’cup of condemnation’ the symbol of God’s wrath, wine that seduces those who ’even look upon it’ with its sparkle, its redness; the wine that staggers prophets, confuses priests, forbidden to Kings and the House of God, that wine…the bad wine is not to be used at all. In short, one may could say it’s not about the use or misuse of wine. Rather, it’s about the use or nonuse of wine, good or bad respectively.

Grace, William. I hope things are well for you and Glenna in Sikeston. With that, I am…




Thanks, Tim. I very much like the analogy of 'punch' Great comment.

All have a wonder-filled Lord's Day. With that, I am...


Byron Smith


Yayin is Strong's 3196, which says, "From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: - banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber]." I am still interested in an answer to the question William Marshall raised, in how such can be both bad and good in Nott's reasoning. Perhaps next installment?

And if you do not mind a link to an opposing view, which abstentionists would do well to read and interact with, please see this link (or see my blog for the link this results in):


I believe the moderationist view is more compelling.


In the interest of fairness, the entire exchange can be found here:



According to Nott's analysis, yayin is a comphrehensive term. It is used in more than one sense or 'kind' of wine, both intoxicating and non-intoxicating varieties. Context makes the difference.

As for William's question, I/m unsure what part you are speaking which I did not address.

Links are great. Honestly, though, as far as 'fairness' goes, I think it about time we acknowledge this as a geniune discussion over Scripture. And for that, abstentionists have been villified as 'moral legalists' 'tradition-driven' 'inventing sin' where no Scripture argument exists. If nothing else happens, I hope the fruit of discussion at SBC Tomorrow demonstrates that latent within the moral position of abstinence from alcoholic beverages for pleasurable purposes exists Biblical rootedness.

I think it's fine you believe 'moderation' to be more persuasive. From Nott's standpoint, Moderation has only to do with those elements that are good for us--in this case, being moderate in use of 'good wine'. However, moderation cannot be appealed to in using that which is bad for us--in this case, bad wine. Wine that is bad, is poison. And, no justification exists in Scripture or moral reason to be moderate in posioning ourselves.

Grace. With that, I am...




I want to clarify something. That "in the interest of fairness" wasn't directed to you, but to me. I linked directly to material that only supported my view. The second link I gave points to the entire exchange, between a moderationist and abstentionist on this issue. I should have just given the second link in the interest of fairness.


William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

Thanks for your thorough response, I appreciate you taking the time. I still have a struggle though: if Nott's argument is that there is a Hebrew word, or words, for 'bad wine' and a separate Hebrew word, or words, for 'good wine', then what are those Hebrew words? Likewise what do you do with the Hebrew word 'yayin' which is placed in the bad and good list. In other words, it is 'yayin' that gladdens the heart (Psalm 104:15) and 'yayin' that is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1)? It seems that Nott wants to see more in the individual Hebrew words than is actually there.

Also, if it can be demonstrated that there are Hebrew words that refer to 'bad wine' and Hebrew words that refer to 'good wine', then can it also be demonstrated that the 'bad wine' words refer to intoxicating wine while the 'good wine' words refer to non-intoxicating wine (grape juice)?

Again, thanks for your time. I hope you are enjoying that grand-baby (I am sure you are!!!)


peter lumpkins


Your response is perceptive and I am glad you're taking the time to study this out for yourself.

If I implied that Nott divided the 9 Hebrew words he mentioned--especially yayin--into categories that are absolute with no overlapping whatsoever, I beg to retract.  I did not mean to posit such for Nott surely does not.

Nott's thesis is that the diverse and rich language of the OT incontrovertibly reflect, in Hebrew culture, the same phenomenon that's found in other antiquated cultures--various kinds of wines, both toxic and nontoxic were available for consumption.

And similarly, the various Hebrew words translated as 'wine' in English Bibles are used in ways we moderns never employ the language.  Thus, yayin (wine in English Bibles) is found as wine (yayin) in the press (Neh. 13.15).  This necessarily is unfermented since wine in the press is freshly extracted grape juice; and wine (yayin) in the vineyard (Amos 5.11).    It was common practice of ancients to indulge in fresh wine right on site, similar to my practice growing up to take a salt shaker and head for the apple tree :^).

That yayin is employed in various ways to describe both toxic and nontoxic beverages is not a problem.  Indeed, it is the very solution Nott offers to the otherwise blatant contradiction in Scripture--on the one hand Scripture commending wine as a good thing from God that 'maketh glad a man's heart' and on the other hand condemning wine as a 'mocker' a 'poison' a product that should not even be 'looked upon' and certainly not 'sought after' or 'tarried over'.

As for one word pointing to two different things possessing varied properties, one could think of the term 'angel' or 'spirit', both of which could be taken as good or bad, depending on other factors.  More times than not, context of the word usage is a dead giveaway.

I encourage you to continue teasing this out William.  Nott is compelling, at least to me.  But, as you can see from the posts since Nott, he is not alone among his historic peers in embracing his position based primarily on the study of Scripture alone.

And yes.  We are very much enjoying our grandbaby.  Grace. With that, I am...


William Marshall

Bro. Pete,

In my first comment I suggested that the solution to the apparent contradicion in Scripture concerning wine was solved by how people use or misuse wine. Yet, you said that that solution went away from Nott's argument which was based on the Hebrew words. Thus, in my second comment I asked about the different Hebrew words and you said that interpreting them (particularly yayin) depends upon context and not just the words themselves. So how do you distinguish between references to toxic (alcoholic) and non-toxic (non-alcoholic) wine? You cannot just insert that all negative uses of wine refer to alcoholic wine while all positive uses refer to non-alcoholic without some defense.

Rather, like the words you cited ('angel' and 'spirit') the Bible treats the terms for wine neutrally, while treating the misuse of wine negatively (drunkeness) and the proper use of wine positively (with certain restrictions for Kings and priests), thus solving the apparent contradiction. This can be demonstrated by the above references to yayin (Psalm 104:15, a good use of wine, and Proverbs 20:1, a misuse of wine). I am still struggling to see the dichotomy between 'good' and 'bad' wine in the actual text.

Thanks again,



Not to speak for Peter but I fail to see your use/miuse analogy sufficent when it come to angel and spirits. Angels and spirits are either good or bad. One does not misuse a good angel/ spirit thus rendering it bad. The goodness or badness is a demonstration of the inner character (content) not the usage. To me it seems that the analogy breaks down too easily and the character analogy bears more weight.

Similarly you state elsewere that your understanding of the John 2 rendering for "well drunk" must be considered alcohol. Could it not be as stated the past tense of "drank a lot of" thus nullifing the need to assume it was "they were drunk", rather "they had consummed much"?

One point I find interesting is if they were well drunk, why would the quality have mattered to them? I did my share of free bar tending before my walk with Christ, much in political social circles. I never seen a drunk distinquish quality after they had consumed more than 3 drinks. Booze was booze, the cheep stuff was just as good as the expensive to a palate already innoculated.

Keith Schooley


The point you make is precisely the point that the master of the feast makes in John 2: the better wine should have been brought out first, since by the time people are tipsy, they don't care about the quality anymore.

Your argument that "when men have well drunk" in John 2:10 could mean "they had consummed much" does not accord with the Greek. The word is Strongs 3184. Look it up for yourself. It means to be intoxicated.


I think our brother William's point is that Nott's argument from Hebrew words doesn't really resolve anything if the words themselves don't clearly line up into "good wine" "bad wine" categories. As long as the English reader understands that the word translated "wine" can mean "fresh grape juice" (and most English readers either know that or can glean it from context), then we're still reduced to gleaning from context what type of "wine" is being described, and whether the difference lies in the "wine" itself or in the use to which it is put.

As a matter of fact, if the several Hebrew words for "wine" really don't resolve into "good wine" "bad wine" categories, that actually tallies against the thesis that the difference is in the wine itself; for if the difference in types of "wine" is so significant, and there are all these different words available for use, then why wouldn't some have been used clearly and exclusively for "good wine" and others for "bad wine"? And if some of the words are more specific and others are more general (which is plausible), then why would the Holy Spirit ever inspire the human authors to use the more general term sometimes in warning against "bad wine" and sometimes in praise of "good wine"? Why wouldn't a more specific term, available for use to specify a particular type, be used instead of (the presumably broad) "yayin" in such passages as Psalm 104:15 (good yayin) and Proverbs 20:1 and 23:29-32 (bad yayin)?

William Marshall


I see what you are saying about the 'angel' and 'spirit' analogy. All I was trying to say is that with both of those terms you have to look at the context in order to determine whether they are bad or good. It seems that the same thing can be said of the terms used for wine (you must look at the context to judge).

As for John 2, the term translated 'drunk freely' in the ESV could be translated simply 'drunk' as it is in other contexts. Thus, the term is normally associated with drunkeness (as it seems to be here).

On your other point, that is exactly the argument of the master. He is saying that normally at wedding feasts people serve the good wine first until people have drunk so much that they do not notice that you are now serving poor wine. The master marvels at the bridegroom because he is serving the good wine (that Jesus made) when most people would be serving the bad wine. Thus your observation fits with what the master is saying.


peter lumpkins


Thanks for the good discussion. I see what you are saying about the Hebrew words not solving the issue entirely. However, I don't think I've said that it did nor is it in the original post.

What has been said, is that there are various Hebrew words behind the English word invariably translated 'wine', which shows, at least to me, the issue stands more complex than what first appears.

Understand: this is only the 'first shot', so to speak, that Nott offers as he builds his case. It is not the whole case.

Did he misfire? I don't think so. How many English Bible readers actually read 'wine' as being freshly, pressed, in the vat, non-intoxicating juice as a possibility? Or, wine as actually more of a thick paste similar to today's jam? Few, I’d say.

Once again, William, pertaining to 'good/bad' categories, I am perfectly open to viewing better categories to explain the biblical usage of the family of words translated 'wine'. But making those categories into the way we use or misuse the element we call wine possesses two insurmountable difficulties from my perspective:

First, it's a subtle shift of subject. The issue is no longer what the Bible--indeed even IF the Bible--has anything to say about 'wine' per se and if so, what that is.

Rather, it speaks of our behavior concerning wine--whether it is moral or immoral--depending on our use or misuse respectively. I suppose that means moderately or immoderately.

No one on either side of the question believes drunkenness is sanctioned by Scripture. That's a given. So we need not discuss that here.

On the other hand, it seems to me moderation assumes that what one is supposed to be moderate about is perfectly alright in and of itself. That is, the substance possesses neutral properties about it--which brings up the second difficulty with use/misuse categories.

You write: "the Bible treats the terms for wine neutrally, while treating the misuse of wine negatively (drunkenness) and the proper use of wine positively."

The assumption seems to be in such a statement, William, is that there exists no wine products which possess properties which, biblically speaking, are products from which we should abstain. Or to put it another way, you accept only one type of wine--the good wine. How that squares with wine which is dubbed a ‘mocker’, ‘rage’, ‘snake’s bite’, ‘adder’s sting’, ‘wine of astonishment’, ‘cup of condemnation’, ‘cup of fury’, and other not so niceties symbolizing God’s wrath you will need to explain. Also, from my perspective, it will do no real good to plead misuse here for the simple fact that misuse cannot fit these descriptions, for each of them speaks of the product itself, not our use or misuse of them.

Simply, there is no moderation for consuming snake’s poison, a mocker or a cup of fury. These are types that Proverbs 23.30 says ‘look thou not upon it’. It seems to me, that carries with it the idea of turning away from consumption, not trimming down on consumption.

If Nott is correct here, then not only does the Bible condemn drunkenness, but it also condemns the product that makes for drunkenness.

Grace Guys. With that, I am…



William and Keith,

Let's move the conversation forward on the next post so we don't tease the thread to death. I intend to study both text in reference to the greek and not Strongs. As for making the master of the parties point, I think not, rather the master would not have known it good once drunk/intoxicated/buzzed, ah but fresh grape juice after many pails of day old stuff, now that would excite the palate. The difference is in the freshness.
Looking forward to furure discussions on Peter's next post.

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