Biblical Archaeology Review 37:4, July/August 2011

Strata: The Bible in the News

30 A.D.—A Miraculous Vintage

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine is recorded in the second chapter of the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel tells us that the miracle occurred during a wedding celebration in the Galilean town of Cana where Jesus, his mother and his disciples were among the guests. Popular allusions to this event, however, typically jettison the Biblical details, focusing almost entirely on the “miraculous” nature of turning water into wine.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the fields of sport. Thus, while Harry Redknapp, manager of the Tottenham soccer team, “insisted it would be a ‘miracle’ if [his team] qualified for the Champions League,” according to London’s Daily Mail, Redknapp “could go a long way towards turning water into wine by winning at Blackpool.” In fact, it would seem that soccer fields are veritable breeding grounds for “miracles.” There is this, from Ireland’s The Sun: “The Sash were living off scraps, but Kildare sharpshooter Alan Smith was turning water into wine with what little ball fell his way.”

I readily admit that I especially like it when one Biblical (or religious) phrase is used in juxtaposition with another. So, as we continue our romp through the battlefields of European soccer, we find this commentary on coach Walter Smith in Britain’s The News of the World: “[Smith] turned water into wine when leading his players to the UEFA Cup Final of 2008 but there’s not a chance in hell of them repeating that achievement with a squad that could barely fill the subs’ bench in Lisbon.”

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