Monday, October 10, 2011

Ancient Wine and the Bible - the book

“Addresses the subject with keen logic, a grasp of history, and thorough exegesis of biblical literature.”
-Foreword by Dr. Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

* Numerous quotes from ancient and modern authorities
* Examines ancient wine recipes, practices, and preservation.
* Study of controversial Bible passages.
* Chapter of quotes, stories, illustrations.

Need the answer to the tough questions about drinking, alcohol, and the Bible? Find those answers here.

What people are saying about Ancient Wine and the Bible:

“Hip Christianity may make the appeal for the use of alcohol as a witnessing tool, but David Brumbelow’s exhaustive research presents a powerful case for abstinence. I commend him for taking an unpopular stand against a popular practice.”
-Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Destroys “myth that the ancients had no way of preserving grape juice…I happily, enthusiastically, earnestly, wholeheartedly recommend Ancient Wine and the Bible to every pastor, teacher, evangelist, deacon and humble Christian in America. It will be a good investment paying rich dividends in the days ahead.”
-Dr. R. L. Sumner, Editor, The Biblical Evangelist.

“David R. Brumbelow's passionate plea for abstinence from alcoholic drink needs to be heard attentively in our day.”
- Dr. Daniel R. Sanchez, Professor of Missions, SWBTS

“David Brumbelow has done the Church of Jesus Christ a great service by penning Ancient Wine and the Bible…This book couldn’t have come at a more opportune time…I urge all who take up this book to read it prayerfully and with a desire to understand what the Bible teaches on this serious matter.”
-Pastor Gary Small, Liberty Fundamental Baptist Church, Lynden, Washington 98264.

“A masterful job explaining the times and customs of Bible days and the scriptural use of the word ‘wine.’”
-Pastor Jeff Schreve, First Baptist Church, Texarkana, TX.

“Left no stone unturned…Comprehensive and thoroughly researched, Ancient Wine and the Bible deserves to be read, considered and heeded.”
-Mrs. John (Alice) Hatch, pastor’s wife and mother of three girls.

"With the clarity, logic, and thoroughness, an outstanding attorney uses to prepare a brief in a major lawsuit, David Brumbelow approaches the question of drinking alcoholic beverages from a Biblical point of view. This work is outstanding. I recommend it strongly. The upcoming generations need to know the havoc brought on our society and upon individuals by the use of alcohol. If we use it ourselves, we recommend its use to others. A Christian should not exercise his freedom to put himself and others at such a risk.” 
-Judge H. Paul Pressler, Justice for the 14th Court of Appeals, Houston, TX.

“I know of no definitive work offered today that does what Brumbelow does in his book. It is scholarly, sound and makes for an irrefutable argument in favor of abstaining from alcoholic beverages. I believe every pastor ought to have a copy.”
-Mark Creech, president, American Council on Alcohol Problems (ACAP).


Author David R. Brumbelow is a pastor and graduate of ETBU and SWBTS. He has previously authored a book about his dad, The Wit and Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow.

How to Order
Ancient Wine and the Bible: The Case for Abstinence

Order from your local bookstore
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Or order a signed copy of Ancient Wine and the Bible directly from:
David R. Brumbelow, P.O. Box 300, Lake Jackson, Texas 77566 USA. $21 postpaid.

Ancient Wine and the Bible is 304 pages, contains over 400 reference notes (endnotes), and is published by Free Church Press.

Makes a great gift for your pastor, youth minister, student, Sunday School teacher, professor, anyone interested in this subject.
Makes a great gift to a Church or School Library.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 10, AD 2011.

Other Articles:
Dr. R. L. Sumner on "Ancient Wine and the Bible"
Biblical Principles Condemn Alcohol
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
2006 SBC Resolution on Alcohol Use in America
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?

Common Wine in the Bible
Ancient Wine Production and the Bible
SCRIPTURE INDEX for Ancient Wine and the Bible 

Other articles in lower right hand margin under Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels).


  1. Congratulations, David. I am very excited to see the release of this book. May the Lord be pleased to use it to help stem the tide of the proliferation of false teaching on wine and the Bible and curb the increase of social drinking in the Church!


  2. Thanks, Gary. And thanks for your encouragement along the way.
    David R. Brumbelow

    1. David. Can you refute the book God Gave Wine? Please do so and post the web address.

    2. John Wolf,
      While not directly, the book, "Ancient Wine and the Bible" certainly provides an answer to the view presented in the book you mention.
      There are also several articles at this site that speak to some of the issues it raises. Look for them under "alcohol" and other labels.
      David R. Brumbelow

  3. How wonderful! Congratulations, David. I look forward to reading this very needed book.

  4. Hariette,
    Thanks, good to hear from you. I agree this is a much needed book. I pray it will make a difference.
    David R. Brumbelow

  5. This is an interesting quote on concerning your book.
    "Acknowledging that the Scriptures do not retain an expressed mandate against drinking alcoholic beverages as "thou shalt not steal,"he, nevertheless, demonstrates that the overwhelming witness of the Bible is like a mighty breaking wave on the north shore of Oahu, demanding abstinence based on case histories of the devastation of "strong drink" added to the "wisdom" literature of the Bible in its repeated call for abstinence. "

    Your book then is self refuting. If the scripture gives no mandate, as the quote states, how then can there be a 'crashing wave' of a demand for abstinence, if you have already admitted that the scripture does not express a 'thou shalt not' command concerning the consumption of alcohol.

    Seems really odd to me.

  6. I am so thrilled that it is finally out. I'll get my copy on October 23rd. It will be quoted often. All of this effort will make differences that you may never know of. Betty Harman

  7. Preacher Bill,
    There is no "Thou shalt not drink alcohol" mandate in Scripture. No word for alcohol existed in ancient times.

    The Bible, however, speaks both directly and indirectly against the use of drugs for recreational purposes. The book goes into great detail about these matters.
    David R. Brumbelow

  8. Betty,
    Great to hear from you. Look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks.

    Betty is an author of several books and has been a great encouragement.
    David R. Brumbelow

  9. David, in a few months from now, after your book has been out, would you consider having a public debate with a well know Christian pastor on this very topic?

  10. I’m not sure I’d consider a public debate. While I’ve been in many informal debates on this issue on the internet and elsewhere, I’ve never been involved in a public debate. I consider my major statement on the issue to be the book, Ancient Wine and the Bible.

    The one who wins a public debate is not necessarily the one who is right. Someone can win on quick witty comments, being more photogenic, articulate, etc., rather than on the facts.

    In a public debate, I’d probably think of the perfect comeback - the next day!

    Besides, after everyone reads my book, there will no longer be any need to debate the subject :-).

    Of course, I now have no control over those who want to critically review my book. I just hope people will read it for themselves, rather than solely relying on what critics say. And I have prayed much that it will make a difference.
    David R. Brumbelow

  11. David,

    I ordered your book yesterday and i look forward to reading it....

  12. Anon,
    Thanks. Let me know what you think of it.
    David R. Brumbelow

  13. There are many verses that show that the wine of the Bible could cause drunkenness if abused. And yet, we do not have laws saying that one wine is unclean and the other clean. Leviticus 11 has 47 verses that deals with the details of what is edible food for the Israelites. Certain insects and animals were considered clean and others unclean. You will find nothing in the Law concerning two types of wine. If this was a big deal to discern the two types where is it in the Bible? It isn’t there. It does not forbid the drinking of wine if properly used, only abuse/drunkenness is condemn along with gluttony, stealing and lying.
    Drunkenness is a sin and it has many problems connected with it. Gluttony/ obesity is a problem in the USA and very few blogs or pastors mention it. Why is that? Is it because there are many Christians and pastors that are obese? It is the root cause of much of our problems with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

  14. David, i read your book. If i understand you correctly, when you read that someone was drunk in the Bible then it was the forbidden fermented "wine" and the other times that it is mentioned--it must be unfermented wine?

  15. There are obviously 2 kinds of wine in Scripture, non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Jesus Himself called both "wine" (Oinos)in Matthew 9:17. Many other verses prove this point. "Ancient Wine and the Bible" goes into great detail on this issue and shows multiple verses that call unfermented wine by the name "wine."

    The book also shows numerous ancient quotes referring to unfermented wine as "wine."
    David R. Brumbelow

  16. David, you mentioned Matthew 9:17 which says, "Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved." How does this show two wines? The new wine must be put into a new wineskin because fermentation would burst an old wineskin. A fresh made wineskin can be stretched allowing expansion due to the gases being produced by fermentation.

  17. Matthew 9:17 shows two kinds of wine because in this same verse:

    Jesus calls the wine that has not fermented "wine" (Greek - oinos).
    Jesus then calls the wine that is fermented "wine" (oinos).
    So Jesus Himself affirms the two wine theory!

    This verse and it's parallel passages are dealt with much more extensively in "Ancient Wine and the Bible."
    David R. Brumbelow

  18. David,

    Are the two anons above the same person: one comment @ October 20, 2011 5:23 PM and the second anon comment @ October 21, 2011 1:44 PM? Surely he (she) did not mean to imply he (she) read your book in less than 24 hours.

    BTW, you've got some pretty-powerful arguments in there that will take more than surface reading to unravel. Far too often critics of the 'two wine theory' simply do not take the time to understand the linguistic arguments behind it before attempting to refute it. As I showed in my much briefer version of the argument, those who argued for a 'two-wine theory' in the 19th century were not back-woods bimbos who wanted to impose their legalistic norms on others. Instead, they were world renown scholars of the day, teaching in the top institutions of the day. Hence, it's going to take much more to overthrow their work than a few, surface slush questions.

    Grace, brother.

    With that, I am...

  19. Peter,
    You ask a good question and make some excellent points. I wonder if anyone objecting so far has really read my book? From their comments it does not seem so. Also, hard to judge among one anonymous comment after another.

    You make a very good point in your book, “Alcohol Today,” explaining the great scholarship of so many taking the abstinent position. They have done the hard work and research. They deal with the tough issues.

    For those who don’t have “Alcohol Today,” my advice is to order it today. And, by the way, my book recommends it.
    David R. Brumbelow

  20. To the last anonymous commenter above, one other thought.

    Fermenting wine would burst new wineskins as well as old (Matthew 9:17). That is not the reason to put new wine (oinos) into new wineskins.

    The reason is found in “Ancient Wine and the Bible.”
    David R. Brumbelow

  21. David you said, "Fermenting wine would burst new wineskins as well as old (Matthew 9:17). That is not the reason to put new wine (oinos) into new wineskins."

    Jesus doesn't say that it will burst new wineskins. You put the fermenting wine in new wineskins because they are fresh and can be stretched. You said, on page 27, "Fermentation would burst a new or old wineskin. Rather new wine or must would not be placed in old wineskin to keep it from contamination and ferment."
    Yet, Carson, Blomberg and other commentaries say exactly that the new wine during fermentation would cause expansion and only new wineskins would stretch enough.

  22. I do not drink and wish everyone did not, but I can't make a case for never drinking. Even Jesus turned water to wine. It was different perhaps, but it did have alcohol in it.

  23. Mikeh,
    That is why you need to read "Ancient Wine and the Bible." It will give you scholarly, biblical perspectives of which you are not aware. By the way, about 11 pages are spent on Jesus turning water to wine.
    David R. Brumbelow

  24. Last Anon.,
    Glad you actually have and are reading the book. Page 27 is a brief summary. The issue is dealt with a little more extensively later in the book.

    Frankly, many very good scholars are sorely lacking on knowledge when it comes to ancient preservation of food and wine. When was the last time you heard of a seminary class or doctoral seminar on killing, dressing out, processing, and preserving sheep, goats, and cattle? Or a class on ancient brine and lactic fermentation? Most scholars today just rely on what other commentaries have said, rather than studying the primary sources. In contrast, I have given numerous quotes from ancient sources where they explained their practices.

    Already a professor has contacted me and said he is considering changing his view - a view that previously held it was impossible for ancients to prevent the fermentation process.
    David R. Brumbelow

  25. It is absolutely amazing that anyone would actually want to claim, apparently with a straight face, that the wine in the Bible was "grape juice." As if grape juice could have existed before refrigeration. This is an example of Baptists letting their traditions blind them to all Biblical, historical, and scientific evidence to the contrary. Amazing!

    Robert Sumner is an IFB, so it is to be expected that he would endorse this, but Paige Patterson? Incredible!

    "O judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason!"

  26. Nicholas,
    You seem to be very angry and on a roll today. You have anonymously run down one article after another on Gulf Coast Pastor. I disagree with 5-point Calvinism, but I will even say you are giving the Calvinists a bad name! This will be the last of your critical comments I publish; at least until you are willing to put your name where your criticism is.

    I will, however, answer this criticism.

    You say, “It is absolutely amazing that anyone would actually want to claim, apparently with a straight face, that the wine in the Bible was "grape juice." As if grape juice could have existed before refrigeration. This is an example of Baptists letting their traditions blind them to all Biblical, historical, and scientific evidence to the contrary. Amazing!” -Nicholas

    Nicholas, you should be glad you did not put your full, real name on that comment because it is 100% incorrect. It is biblically, historically, and scientifically incorrect.

    The second chapter of “Ancient Wine and the Bible” goes into great detail to show how wrong your accusation is. It includes much documentation. Or, you can read a much shorter version of it in the Gulf Coast Pastor article: “Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times.” Projecting your ignorance onto the ancient world is not proper biblical exegesis (interpretation).

    You run down Paige Patterson in this comment and in another anonymous comment I did not publish.

    Dr. Paige Patterson has an earned doctorate from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as pastor, evangelist, and president of three accredited Baptist schools. He now serves as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX. He was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was a leader in the SBC Conservative Resurgence. His is a first rate preacher and Bible Scholar. I believe I will take these endorsements over your anonymous complaints.
    David R. Brumbelow

  27. Mr. Brumbelow, I apologize for all of my comments and for my insults against you, your book, Dr. Paige Patterson, Robert Sumner, non-Calvinistic Baptists, and Dispensationalists. You were correct, they were comments posted in anger and I shouldn't have posted them. Please delete them.

    Again, my apologies. I would have sent this message as an email but couldn't figure out how to. -Nicholas

  28. Nicholas,
    Thank you very much for your apology. May I say that now I think you are giving Calvinists a good name.

    If it is alright with you, and since your full name is not given, I will leave the comments already published. It might be a good lesson to us all. And I freely admit there is sometimes fault on both sides.
    David R. Brumbelow

  29. I am a total abstainer and am looking forward to getting the book. As I read the comments I had a few thoughts even if you put the Bible aside:
    1. If you have ever worked in law enforcement (I have) you already know that the vast majority of crimes (murders, beatings, assaults, rapes) all have alcohol connected to them.
    2. If you have ever nearly been killed in a car accident by someone who has been drinking (I have, twice now) you will stop defending drinking.
    3. If you have ever been raised in an alcoholic home (I was) and watched alcohol finally kill your alcoholic father with cirrhosis you would feel differently.
    Lincoln said it best: "Alcohol has many defenders, but no defense."
    No one will ever convince me the Bible and Christ promote the drinking of alcohol in any form. I can't convince my son that gambling is wrong either for two reasons: He likes it and wants to do it. It is the same with the imbibers. No amount of Scripture or pure data will convince them because they like the buzz and warm feeling as well as the social interaction with everyone else who is drinking. Peer pressure dominates them as well. It's a shame that grown adults still want to be seen as cool among their peers. The modern church is filled with 16 year olds in 50 year old bodies. Thank you David for your book, and I haven't even seen it yet! The negative reviews on the position are a compliment. You can tell a lot about a man by listening to his enemies and detractors.

  30. Thank you, Kerry, for your encouraging comments. We need more like you speaking out on this issue.

    When you've had a chance to read "Ancient Wine and the Bible," let me know what you think of it.
    David R. Brumbelow

  31. David,

    I haven't ordered your book yet. I cannot find a book that addresses head on, pro or con, with the theory that wine was mixed with water for taste and for safety? We use much harsher purifying agents today such as cholorine, more toxic than even wine is to the body. Support for the blended wine and water might include the feast in heaven in which we drink wine "aged over the lees" (Is. 25:6), which seems to indicate a fine wine--no one cares whether grape juice was aged over the lees. Second is the fact that the wine pots were already partially filled with water, awaiting wine at the wedding ("as was their manner of purification..." purification of the pots or of the water? Note that they didn't dump the water out as though it were washwater, but filled the pots completely with water). For a third support, 2 Maccabees closing allusion to the fact that no one should drink water alone, nor wine alone, but should mix the two (2 Macc. 15:39). It seems to be a cultural insight to the fact that wine was thought to have a purifying effect on water. This might have been Paul's instruction to Timothy to "drink a little wine." Would this be "straight" wine or mingled with water?

    Anyway, does your book deal with this theory directly? Whether you are pro or con on this theory, I would be interested in reading a thorough treatment of this view together with a statement of the author's certainty in his conclusions. I'll try to remember your website's location to check back, but please e-mail me at if you have a full treatment of this theory. If you deal with it at length, then I'm a buyer! Thanks, Tim

  32. Tim,
    “Ancient Wine and the Bible” deals pretty extensively with the idea of why wine was mixed with water. Also the issue of purifying water with wine. I dare say you will be surprised at some of the evidence and explanations. And the book extensively quotes from biblical and ancient non-biblical sources.

    The book deals in detail with Isaiah 25:6, 1 Timothy 5:23, and John 2, Jesus turning water to wine. It gives numerous quotes on these verses and does the same with other controversial passages.

    Just last week the following comment was made by WMartin about "Ancient Wine and the Bible:"
    “Why Not Sooner. This book contains long overdue material. For years I have needed further clarification on the subject of wine and strong drink in the Bible. The author did an absolutely fantastic job illuminating his subject by bringing ancient historical information into view, information unknown and not easily accessed by the average person. The information strengthens what conservative Christians have always known, but have been unable to defend, because of the somewhat ambiguous translations of Scripture on the subject. This book could be easily read and understood by laymen, but it should be placed in the hands of scholars, students and pastors every where.”

    “Ancient Wine and the Bible” will be well worth your time and money.
    David R. Brumbelow

  33. David,

    I am looking at purchasing some books pro & con on the "wine question". I'd like to ask a couple of questions about your book. First, you list these qualities in your blog:

    * Numerous quotes from ancient and modern authorities
    * Examines ancient wine recipes, practices, and preservation.
    * Study of controversial Bible passages.
    * Chapter of quotes, stories, illustrations.

    Would it be correct to infer that your book spends a quarter of the time in each of these areas, or are you just pointing out some highlights? I am looking for material that mainly deals with the scriptures (not so much the ancient quotes or recipes, etc.). Do you mainly look at the controversial passages, and, if so, how many of these? Finally, are you familiar with Bible Wines and the Laws of Fermentation? If so, regarding the authorities and practices, do you cover new material or does it go over a lot of the same ground as Patton?

    Thanks so much. I look forward to hearing from you.

    In Christ Alone,
    R.L. Vaughn

  34. R. L. Vaughn,

    Thanks for your questions and comments. First, let me list the chapters of “Ancient Wine and the Bible:”

    1. Controversy over Wine in the Bible and in Ancient Times.
    2. Ancient Methods of Preserving Non-Alcoholic Wine (p. 41-70).
    3. Evidence of Non-Alcoholic Wine in Ancient Times. Modern Day Acknowledgements of Ancient Non-Alcoholic Wine.
    4. Biblical Words for Wine.
    5. Evidence of Non-Alcoholic Wine in the Bible. Evidence of Non-Alcoholic Wine in the English Language.
    6. The Bible Speaks Directly Against Alcohol.
    7. Biblical Teaching Condemns Alcohol.
    8. Controversial Biblical Passages Dealing With Wine (p. 139-182).
    9. General Questions about the Bible, Wine, and Alcohol Use Today.
    10. Antidotes and Illustrations about Alcohol, Drugs, Sin, Salvation.
    Appendix I - Books on the Bible and Wine Taking an Abstinent Position.
    Appendix II - Other Books Referenced on the Bible and Wine.
    Appendix III - A Pledge Against Alcohol.
    Appendix IV - Sweeter Than Wine (Making Peace With God).
    Appendix V - Unfermented Wine (Grape Juice) Similar to Bible Times - Recipes and Sources.
    Author Notes (Endnotes).

    I reference William Patton’s book and recommend it. My book, however, would be more extensive and deals with a number of issues his does not. As a matter of fact, I have recently been told by two men who have an extensive knowledge of this subject, that they found material in my book they had never seen before.

    By the way, in my research, I have also read most every pro-drinking Christian book as well.

    Chapters 5-8 especially deal with Scripture; though in a sense the entire book does so.

    Controversial passages dealt with fairly extensively include: Deuteronomy 14:26; Judges 9:13; Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 23; Isaiah 25:6; Matthew 9:17; 11:18-19; Luke 5:39; John 2; Acts 2:13; 1 Corinthians 11; 1 Timothy 3; 5:23; Titus 1:7; Colossians 2 & 1 Timothy 4; 1 Peter 5:8. But these do not include nearly all the verses considered in the book.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to question further.

    If you purchase "Ancient Wine and the Bible," I do not think you will be disappointed.
    David R. Brumbelow

  35. David, thanks so much for your explanations concerning your book. I will look forward to getting it. I should have asked this in the previous post. From your research, are there any books that you might recommend as being clear and concise at detailing the pro-alcohol side of the debate (and any others you might recommend on the pro-abstinence side)?

    Thanks again.

  36. R. L. Vaughn,
    In addition to “Ancient Wine and the Bible,” on the pro-abstinent side I would recommend “Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence” by Peter Lumpkins. It’s a very good book that approaches the issue from a different angle.

    In my book, Appendix I gives a fairly long list of books on the pro-abstinent side; some with a brief note further recommending them. Take note of the notes and purchase those especially recommended, if not all of the ones in that Appendix. Some of these books are outstanding and deserve to be much more well-known and read. Books by Teachout, Reynolds, Ewing, Field, Samson, Hearn… This is a big issue today and folks need to be willing to spend a little money to purchase some good books on the subject; and even some good money to promote and distribute these good books.

    By the way, I see many pro-drinkers run down the pro-abstinent books when it is obvious they have never read them. Sometimes they quote them from another pro-drinking book. Everyone out there - at least read the pro-abstinent books before you condemn them. You may even learn a thing or two. You may learn some of the pro-drinking books are promoting obviously, demonstrably, erroneous information (like them saying it was impossible to preserve unfermented wine).

    I don’t recommend any of the Christian pro-alcohol books, but Gentry’s book seems to be the most used by Christian social drinkers. I have it, have read it, along with several others from that view.
    David R. Brumbelow

  37. Thanks again. I have Peter's book, and I've had Patton's Bible Wines for years. Regarding the others you mention, I hope you'll endure a few more questions.

    I've seen Reynold's book adverstised, but didn't know if he was trustworthy. His involvement in the translation of a single-issue Bible makes me wonder. Does Teachout have a book in addition to his thesis? Also I Googled the other names and wonder if you would confirm whether these are the correct books:

    Alcohol the destroyer, Charles Aubrey Hearn
    The Bible and Its Wines, Charles Wesley Ewing
    Oinos: A Discussion of the Bible Wine Question, Leon C. Field
    The Divine Law as to Wines, G. W. Samson

    Finally, have you ever heard of "Shaken, Not Stirred: Do Christianity and Drinking Mix?" by Dan Fisher? I ran across it while Googling for the others.

    Your help and opinions are appreciated.

  38. R. L. Vaughn,
    I believe Stephen Reynolds’ book is very helpful. Of course you’re going to disagree at points with most any book; except mine J. But he gives good, scholarly information. I also advise - Don’t write of a good scholarly pro-abstinence book based on what the pro-drinking side says about it. Read it for yourself and make your own decision. Often they make some very unfair and inaccurate criticisms.

    For example, some have condemned Patton’s book by saying wine could not be kept from fermenting in ancient times. That criticism is absolutely untrue. Patton was right, his critics are wrong.

    If I remember it right, Reynolds wanted to produce a Bible that in each instance clarified whether the wine referred to was alcoholic or non-alcoholic. My view is that a Bible translation should do what they basically already do, just translate the biblical words for wine as “wine.” After all, that is the generic way the words were used in Bible and ancient times. Then let the reader decide (and interpret) based on the context. But they should be aware that the biblical words for wine were used for both kinds of wine (and this is demonstrated in my book).

    Yes, these are the ones I was referring to:
    The Bible and Its Wines, Charles Wesley Ewing
    Oinos: A Discussion of the Bible Wine Question, Leon C. Field
    The Divine Law as to Wines, G. W. Samson

    Hearn has several books. The one I’m familiar with is “Alcohol and Christian Influence,” though judging from that book, I’d recommend any by him. His book, primarily looks at the problems of alcohol and influence, and does not get into the different uses of the word wine in Scripture (like the ones above).

    I’d recommend both Robert Teachout’s dissertation and his book. My book, Appendix I, tells how to order them.

    I don’t have “Shaken, Not Stirred” by Dan Fisher, but I just ordered it. From the information at amazon, apparently he takes the right position. But I don’t know how well he makes his case. Check back in a week or two. I’m on my way to having the best alcohol library (pro and con), in the great state of Texas.

    And Happy New Year to all. Hope you all have a safe, drug-free celebration.
    David R. Brumbelow

  39. My above comment shoud be, "except mine :-)."
    David R. Brumbelow

  40. Thanks again for more information. I want to note that I didn't discount Reynolds's book because of anything negative said about him by anyone on any side of the wine debate. It was Reynolds's translation called The Holy Bible: A Purified Translation (New Testament) that made me think he might not be "trustworthy". (By this I don't mean his scholarship, but just that is so committed to one issue that he might turn a blind eye to scholarship.) Here is what he did with John 2:3-10 (briefly): And, when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”...When the master of the feast tasted the water that had become grape juice, although he did not know where it came from...he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good beverage, and when the guests have become drunk, then that which is inferior, but you have kept the good grape juice until now.” Whether one agrees or disagrees, this is interpretation, not translation. Even though I don't recommend this translation, it probably would be good to add to your library. I was sent one for free several years ago, right after it came out. I don't think the Old Testament has ever been done. If you haven't seen this, you might also be interested in Does Scripture Permit Us to Drink Alcoholic Beverages?, a discussion between Kenneth Gentry and Stephen Reynolds.

    Thanks for mentioning the other book by Hearn. I missed it by Google search (I guess I quit after I found the first one). You probably have already noticed, but several of the old books are available at Google books. (Nice to access them for free!)

    I'll give you a break for now and check back in a week or two as you suggest. Thanks.

  41. R. L. Vaughn,
    You said about Reynolds’ translation, “Whether one agrees or disagrees, this is interpretation, not translation.” I agree. Whether you believe Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine or into non-alcoholic wine, either is an interpretation. My book goes into some detail about this.

    Yes, several good books on this subject are at Google books for free. Still, I like the idea of owning a book, holding it in my hands, turning the pages, and marking the salient points. Yet I could never have accomplished all the research in my book without the internet.

    I’m sure you know this, but some may not - a number of the old classic books on this subject have been reprinted and are available for purchase at and I’d rather have a reprint, I don’t feel as guilty marking them up.

    No problem with you checking back any time.
    David R. Brumbelow

  42. I understand exactly what you mean about the books. I'm "old school" and would rather have a book as well. I will hardly read anything that's very long online. But the online books are a boon for research (using the find feature for books without indices!, e.g.), and then there are those that are not readily available anywhere else. I've seen some of the old reprints and have bought a few, though they are of varying qualities. Recently bought one by Kessinger Publications that was a reprint of English Baptist Benjamin Keach's The Breach Repaired in God's Worship (1691) about hymn singing in church. In general I try to stay away from the OCR (optical character recognition) reprints because a lot of them don't not correct the mistakes made by the character recognition software. It's probably a matter of figuring out which "companies" are just scanning something in to sell and which ones are doing quality work.

    I've got your book on order now. Hope to have it by the end of the week.

  43. R. L. Vaughn,
    I agree.

    Most reprints are fine. I'd rather have them than the original, so I don't have to worry so much about handling them with kid gloves.

    But, like you, I've been burned a time or two. I got one reprint that everytime I got to a crucial quote it would just turn to gibberish. It left it impossible to accurately quote the author.

    You asked me about Shaken Not Stirred. I received it last Friday. "Shaken Not Stirred: Do Christianity and Drinking Mix?" by Dan Fisher is an above average book on this subject. I'm happy to recommend it.

    Glad you ordered "Ancient Wine and the Bible."
    David R. Brumbelow

  44. Brother Brumbelow, I am enjoying your book on wine and the Bible. I hope it gets a wide reading. Perhaps you will enjoy my blog posting called, "A Satirical Defense Of Alcoholic Beverages." It can be read at

  45. Bruce Oyen,
    Glad you're enjoying the book. Good, thought provoking article at your site.
    David R. Brumbelow

  46. It's truly amazing how even educated people can defend such a flimsy notion as the Bible "demanding" abstinence from alcohol. To your assertion that there was no word for alcohol, there was no word for ethyl alcohol per se in Bible times, but there were words for strong drink, such as 'shekar,' which is used in the law of Moses:

    "Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice." (Deut 14:26)

    I've seen plenty of attempts, ranging from pathetic to nonsensical, to explain this away. But the fact still remains that the Old Covenant plainly allowed alcoholic drink to some extent. Add to that the fact that the New Testament not only fails to ever condemn moderate usage of strong drink, but implicitly allows it,

    "Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money...." (1 Tim 3:8)

    One would hardly expect the requirements to be phrased as deacons not indulging in "much wine" if it really meant "no wine whatsoever." Truly, the polemics for the imaginary commandments against alcohol are a classical example of decontextualized proof-texting and eisegesis.

  47. Mr. Brumbelow,

    What is your response to Dt. 14:26 in the above post? It seems to me that if God told Israel to use their tithe to buy "strong drink," it's impossible to say that the drinking of alcohol is expressly forbidden in the Bible. Please help me on this.

  48. Anonymous,
    You ask a good question. Many today present this otherwise obscure verse as the premier passage on drinking and taking drugs. There is, however, a simple answer.

    "Ancient Wine and the Bible" has a rather extensive section on this very verse.

    Also, if you will check in the lower right margin of Gulf Coast Pastor, you will find a brief article about Deuteronomy 14:26 there.
    David R. Brumbelow

  49. There are actually numerous entries in the OT where God told the Israelites to use wine for the feast (drink offerings) and tithes and this wine was yayin, which means effervesce. The two-wine theory seeks to confuse the defintion of the word itself, which implies fermentation, with it not being fermented, but amazingly when drunkeness is involved now it is. Meanings of words do not change in the Bible. Yayin is effervesce, fermented, by definition. Books of this type are typically based on the writings of others, notably Temperance writers who wrote about abstinence. The same bad information is used. It is suggested that wine was cut down 20-1 with water, but what is left out is the Cyclops that fell down drunk in this reference in Homer's Odyssey. Even the much copied Temperance writer William Patton said in his book on the last few pages, "wine is not sinful per se."
    Arguments are made to excuse Peter telling Timothy to drink a little wine for stomach's sake, but this is not abstinence and if wine is sinful, then both Peter and Timothy sinned. We do not know the stomach ailment, but we do know that Peter commanded Timothy who was abstaining (drinking only water) to drink a little as frequently as desired. Sin was never tolerated for any reason, not even medicinal purposes, thus it was not sinful to drink.
    Proverbs is used against wine, but let's be clear, Proverbs is not command or Law and was never used as such. Jesus and the Apostles never teach abstinence and Paul preaches against those who taught abstinence (the Encratities). To get to the truth you have to actually look up the words of the ancient writers within the context.
    Grape juice will ferment unless pasteurized, which wasn't done until the late 1800s by Welchs. I assume that the writer of this book actually tried the few methods of keeping grape juice from fermenting. Is that true?

    1. Anonymous,
      Yayin was used in the Bible of both fermented and unfermented wine. For example, Isaiah 16:10 refers to just pressed grapes as yayin (wine). Just pressed grapes produce unfermented wine, or grape juice.

      Contrary to your statement, words do change meaning in the Bible. Virtually every word in the dictionary (English, Greek, or Hebrew) has more than one meaning. For example, the Bible uses the same word “God/god” to refer to the one true God, and to false gods. “Faith” is used differently. “Spirit” is used differently. By the way, we use English words that can refer to either an alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverage: drink, cider, etc.

      You might be surprised to know that in the same verse (Matthew 9:17), Jesus referred to both fermented and unfermented wine, and called them both “wine” (oinos).

      You might also be surprised to know that ancients commonly used a method that fermented or effervesced grape juice, yet it was a nonalcoholic fermentation. This ancient method is even growing in popularity today and is explained in the book.

      Paul, not Peter, told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach’s sake (1 Timothy 5:23).
      1. It is unclear whether the wine was fermented or unfermented. Frankly, unfermented wine has more health benefits and fewer bad side effects. However, most abstainers recognize the Bible may permit alcohol strictly as a medicine. Powerful pain pills may legitimately be used today strictly for medicinal purposes, but to use them for fun and recreation is wrong.
      2. Timothy is told to only drink a little wine (probably unfermented), and only for medicinal purposes.

      Anonymous, you are 100% wrong in saying the fermentation process could not be prevented until pasteurization. The book, “Ancient Wine and the Bible,” goes into great detail to explain this, yea to even prove it. And yes, I have tried these methods myself. They work. These methods can be, and are, used today. Again, the book presents proof of such.

      And no, “Ancient Wine and the Bible” does not just quote other temperance books. You would do well to study it.
      David R. Brumbelow

  50. Isaiah 16:10"No treader will tread out wine in the presses." because vs9."For battle cries have fallen Over your summer fruits and your harvest." No plants, no treading, no wine is produced. Everyone know wine comes from the pressing of grapes. This is trying to read too much into one statement of what is the end product.
    Yayin, by definition, effervesce, bubble up. You can say it can mean two things but that is its exact definition. The word meanings don't change, just the application of that meaning. The word God is the same as god, but is used differently. When we say wine, though, we mean feremented grape juice. Cider, was cyder in the 1800s and meant fermented apple juce, which we call hard cider today. The konie Greek language is static and doesn't change.
    It is impossible to prove that two wine types are being referred to in Matt.9:17 as just one wine type is given, neo oinos. If it is shown to be fermented in one instance, then why not fermented in the other instance as well? Or maybe the opposite, if unfermented in one instance, then why not unfermented in the other? If the new wine is just grape juice, then how could it possibly cause a old bottle to break, which would imply fermentation, which is why it was put into a newer stronger bottles that can withstand the pressure.
    There is no such thing as non-alcoholic fermentation as fermentation is the process of turning the sugars into alcohol. If you have any proof, then they are suspect and havne't been fact checked.
    You are correct Paul, I misspoke...but the point is still the same. So Paul was telling Timothy to drink grape juice which was what Timothy was abstaining from because of why exactly? Was grape juice bad also? Was there an anti-grape juice moevement going on at the time, because it was bad?
    The Bible may permit alcohol strictly as a medicine? So the Bible admits sin or sinful drinking for medicinal purposes? This is inconsistent with the Bible. IT is either a sin to drink or it isn't. There are no exceptions given for any sin, unless it isn't.

    Timothy was told to drink a little wine. How little? It is undefined. Also told to drink "for frequent infirmities". How frequent? Also not defined. If Timothy drank a little wine four or five times a day, then that could add up to be a lot. Again there is no definable limitation put on Timothy except that Timothy apply limitations himself. It comes down to how can you tell people to abstain from something that Paul clearly tells another to drink who was abstaining?

    Really, you have tried the method by Pliny given to keep wine from fermenting? It worked? I didn't have such luck. I crushed grapes, finely strained them, put them into a fridge at 40 and within two day it was fermenting which was over three months ago and it still continues to ferment, although slowly. I will look at your book, but there is a reason that pasteurization allowed grape juice to be put on the shelf in the late 1800s, where as it wasn't possible before. There is no historical references to keeping grape juice before this, even by the Temperance writers, who talked of those such methods. They didn't even use them.

    If I can find your study I will critique it, but it won't be pretty sight.

    Dwight Haas

    1. Dwight Haas,
      Isaiah 16:10 uses the Hebrew word “yayin” (wine) to refer to just pressed grapes. Whether you like it or not, that is an example of yayin being used to refer to unfermented wine or grape juice. You are demanding your definition of yayin, or only one definition of yayin, be used. I disagree.

      Again, Jesus referred to both kinds of wine in Matthew 9:17. It is not impossible to prove. He called unfermented wine by the name “wine.” Jesus called fermented wine by the name “wine.” By the way, fermenting wine would burst old or new bottles or wineskins. The book explains this.

      You are mistaken about there being no such thing as a nonalcoholic fermentation. I am now doing this now at home. It is an ancient process used during Bible times and up until the discovery of pasteurization. Ancients preserved nonalcoholic wine this way. Get “Ancient Wine and the Bible” and it will tell you all about it. This is not opinion or speculation - it is fact. Historical, scientific fact. This process is being used by many today. Perhaps you should investigate this further before being so dogmatic.

      Ancient people had other methods of preserving or producing nonalcoholic wine at any time of the year. But I would recommend you read the book first, to acquaint yourself with these methods. Both ancient and modern evidence and documentation are given for these methods. Just because you don’t know these methods, doesn’t mean they did not know. They used them on a regular basis.

      An argument could be made that the wine Paul is recommending to Timothy could have been nonalcoholic or alcoholic. Why would some have abstained from nonalcoholic wine? Well, the Nazarites did; some may have done so just so there was no question of what they drank.

      I explained this above, but yes, drinking a mind-altering drug for recreational purposes can be sin, while using it strictly for medicinal purposes may not. Just as a prescription pain pill may be necessary for medical purposes, but biblical principles would condemn using it for recreational purposes. I reject your pronouncement that using a drug for medicine is sinful.
      David R. Brumbelow

  51. Isiah is yayin as the product it never says "just pressed" grapes unless you have an edition that I do not know about. It talks of treading out wine, which is how wine is made. They often talk of collecting wine and oil in the field, but how do you get oil in the field. It is accomdative language to express the end result.
    Matt. 19:7 doesn't even hint at two types of wines, only one "oinos". You are adding attributes the Bible doens't add.

    So you can ferment grape juice and not get alcohol, which defies what fermetation is. You might be able to keep it from fermenting, but this is not what you are saying. Just how are you fermenting without turning it into wine, which is what fermentation is?
    I am quite familiar with these "so called methods" and many of them do not work and are exceptions to wine making. Pliny in natural history gives hundreds of varieites of wines and only one method of "semper mustum".
    Again why tell someone to drink grape juice if it wasn't sinful and that is what Timothy was abstaining from. I mean Timothy would get the letter and wonder, "Does he wan't me to drink grape juice or wine? I can't tell, because I am abstaining from wine or maybe I am abstaining from grape juice."
    Read the whole chapter on the Nazarite vow, The one under the vow abstained from all grape products and in Numbers 6, after the vow was fulfilled the one "may drink wine (yayin)."
    The problem is that the Bible doesn't call wine or the drinking of wine sinful. This is the missing magic verse.And if so, then even being used medicinally is sinful. The sin cannot be erased by justifying it. Paul never says, "Wine is sinful, except when used medicinally." Wine is never listed in the drug compartment, but a beverage.

    1. Dwight Haas,
      I suppose you are the same one as is coming here anonymously.

      You are just wrong.
      You are strikingly ignorant of the methods ancients used to preserve and / or produce nonalcoholic wine.
      If you would bother to read “Ancient Wine and the Bible,” you would know.

      I continue to believe drugs are permissible strictly for medicinal purposes, but not for pleasure or recreation.
      Have a good day.
      David R. Brumbelow

  52. Dwight/anon,
    We’ve marched around this mountain long enough. We are not going to agree.
    There is plenty of free information at this site.
    One day you should read “Ancient Wine and the Bible.”
    Therein is information of which you are unaware.
    Contrary to popular opinion, being author of a book does not usually make one rich; it usually does the opposite.
    Perhaps you should write your own book, but not at this site.
    David R. Brumbelow


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