Biblical Archaeology Review 41:2, March/April 2015

Strata: The Bible in the News: Water into Wine

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

BAR’s 40th anniversary certainly warrants a celebration. What better way to revel than with a column about an ancient celebration that was saved by Jesus. New Testament students have always understood it as a one-time miraculous event: Jesus was at a wedding in Cana when the supply of wine ran out. Jesus saved the day by turning about 150 gallons of water into wine (as narrated in John 2).

That was then. Now, as newspapers worldwide trumpet, this is something just about anyone can do: “A start-up company based in California has developed a machine which can turn ordinary water into wine, without any intervention from Jesus, who, till date, was the only one believed to have performed that miracle. [This device is] ambitiously named Miracle Machine” (India’s Sunday Guardian).

This led me to contemplate the relationship between water (in the form of ice cubes) and wine. The positive view is expressed succinctly by wine experts John and Erica Platter (South Africa’s Sunday Times): “No good wine will be ‘damaged’ by dilution. [Some] may be improved … In a reverse Wedding at Cana maneuver, they now even add water to their wine, and ice cubes are de rigeur when the mercury bubbles.” We don’t know what the temperature was in the Galilee when Jesus and his friends (and his mother) attended the wedding; we do know that diluting wine with water occurred at the tables of some well-bred Greeks and Romans.

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