Did Jesus Drink Beer?
A while ago, I was asked by a group of friends during
a bull-session, "Did Jesus Christ drink beer?"
I think it is good to talk about Jesus for whatever reason. (Philippians 1: 18
seems to be a precedent.)
We have no direct evidence from the Bible. Thankfully,
a major scholar who is also my internet friend helped me find
the pertinent information.
A Christian, or other admirer of Jesus, who concludes that He DID NOT
drink beer honors His call to good living, and to avoid things that
can lead to misbehavior and/or health problems.
A Christian, or other admirer of Jesus, who concluded that He DID
drink beer honors His essential humanity, and the theological
truth that He was like us
in every way except for our sinfulness.
Here are the facts as best
I have been able to determine.
Wine was in widespread use, and used ceremonially, for example
during the passover feast. Nazarites (people who temporarily or
permanently had special abstinences including alcoholic beverages)
would not drink it, and John the Baptist did not, a fact for which
he was criticized.
However, Jesus did drink wine, and was criticized for this. The
impossibility of pleasing everyone is very true-to-life.
Fermented grain beverages were widely available in ancient Palestine.
My cyberfirend Michael M. Homan has done a scholarly study in which
he argues that the Hebrew word often translated "strong drink" was
fermented barley, which he think is reasonably considered beer.
(A purist might require that "beer" contain hops, and that other such
beverates be called ales.)
His work is very detailed and paints a vivid and extensive picture
of fermented grain beverages in the ancient Near East.
After reading this article, I decided that it was clear that
such beverages were popular in Jesus's community.
to read his article on the subject, and here
for his article on the actual meaning of casting bread on the waters.
Wine is fruit juice, which is tasty.
It is only thanks to pasteurization and refrigeration that we can
enjoy fruit juices unfermented.
Though I am not an expert, I would conclude that wine was drunk for
as much as (or more than) for its intoxicating properties.
However, we must think that beer was prepared for its alcohol content,
since no one will want to eat
soggy bread or barley mush simply because it tastes good.
Beer must have been less expensive than wine, since barley is much
more plentiful than grapes.
It seems to me that beer must have been
the party drink for people who wanted to get a buzz.
Actually, the ancient Near East's beer sounds horrible,
at least by today's standards.
Even Professor Homan's appreciation and scholarship
don't really make it sound like something I would want to drink myself.
It lacked hops, and could not be
enjoyed really cold the way we like it.
It seems reasonable to think that many people, even those who
wanted the intoxicating effect, did not actually like the warm,
In summary, fermented grain beverages that might
reasonably be called beer were available in Jesus's community.
However, I can find no reason to believe that everybody drank the stuff.
You can decide for yourself whether to believe that Jesus did, or did not, drink beer.
History of Beer
Jesus Turn Water Into Beer?
Ancient Egyptian Beer
Ancient Egyptian Beer
Wine and Beer in Ancient Times, book.
The land of Israel in ancient times played a
central role in the production, rituals, and customs of the age old
traditions of wine and beer, and the archeology of the Holy Land
and its neighbors has left us a richly illustrated
history of this subject.