Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Theological Seminary


Religion, MA

First Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Second Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Third Advisor

J. Bjornar Storfjell



The attitude of Scripture to the use of alcohol is a subject of continuing dispute. This thesis analyzes the 141 occurrences of the Hebrew word yayin (wine), to determine the attitude of OT writers to the use of alcohol.


The study reviews literature dealing with the evidence for wine production and storage in Palestine and the ANE, and traces the development of the wine industry in Anatolia, Babylonia, Egypt, and the Levant. Against the background of this review the study considers OT usage of yayin, the main Hebrew word for wine, under the seven categories of daily life, festivity, worship and ritual, prophetic utterance, special people, metaphor, and counsel and declaration. The categories are analyzed separately and together to determine a tone of approval, disapproval, or indifference in Scripture to the drinking of alcohol. Five OT narratives are sued to illustrate the conclusions of the study.


The study finds that present knowledge of wine production and storage processes in Palestine equally support the manufacture and preservation of fermented and unfermented grape juice. The biblical testimony favors widespread use of intoxicants in ancient Israel; it also supplies evidence that many Israelites abstained in accordance with explicit spiritual injunction rather than out of peculiar or arbitrary inclination. While Deut. 14:26 in particular provides explicit allowance for Israel's use of intoxicants, the study concludes that, overall, the ancient Hebrew moralists condemn both drunkenness and the idea of alcohol drinking.

Subject Area

Wine--Biblical teaching.

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