The Cana wine miracle refers to the transformation of water into wine by Jesus during a wedding ceremony at Cana. Being the first miracle attributed to Jesus, the miracle has always been a fascinating story held in high esteem by the people of the Christian faith. The account of the miracle is summed up in John 2:1-11, in this account, Jesus performed the miracle, changing the molecular composition of water, and turning it into wine.
“So, He manifested His glory, and His disciples put their faith in Him.” Although Jesus did not intend to perform the miracle at the feast, the urgent need to make wine available was placed on him when his mother requested that he intervene on the spot. Jesus ordered to fill several containers with water and to bring a steward (or governor) to the feast. Governor ruler tasted and realized that it was wine.
The governor then called the bridegroom and congratulated him for keeping ‘the good wine’ back until this point in the feast. For a wine analyst, when this passage is studied, an afterthought becomes the main issue. Did Jesus turn the water into wine, a fermented alcoholic drink, or into grape juice, a non-alcoholic drink? The quantity of wine, and the exact location of the event.
While there is no full description of the type of wine in the book of John, the slaves, the governor and some people, unaware of what had happened, had commented that it was the best wine. Regarding the quantity of the wines, an interpretation of the event suggests that Jesus spotted six large stone water pitchers, each holding 20 to 30 gallons and ordered that they be filled with water to the brim by the slaves.
Since a normal bottle of wine is 750 ml, this would make a total of 600-900 bottles of wine. And about the exact location of Cana, where the miracle occurred has long been debated by biblical scholars. For hundreds of years, pilgrims have believed that the site of the miracle is Kafr Kanna, a city in northern Israel.
But now, archaeologists believe that Cana from biblical times could have been a dusty mound five miles to the north. The reference to Cana in Josephus, the New Testament, and in the rabbinical texts would indicate that the village was a Jewish village, near the Sea of Galilee and in the region of the lower Galilee. They believed that ‘Khirbet Qana’ is the precise location; it meets all these location criteria.
There were some groups of people at the time who believed that the whole story ‘turning water into wine’ was a hoax. They argued that an instrument was designed by the Hero of Alexandria in the 1st century. Using this instrument, magicians could alternate between pouring water or wine from the same vessel. They believed Jesus tricked the people in a similar way.
Regarding the type of wine at the Cana wedding, some followers believed in the two-wine theory and claimed that the wine was non-alcoholic and the others believed that it was a normal alcoholic drink.
The idea of the two wine theory is that there are two different kinds of wine narrated in the Bible, one for normal wine, which is what most of us understand by wine, and one for what is essentially grape juice, or unfermented “wine.”
In the 1920s, William Patton wrote a book called Bible Wines, which was largely based on those two different notions. It became extremely popular and widely adopted in the churches. Those who oppose drinking alcohol in any amount claim that Jesus did not turn water into wine. He could not promote the consumption of a substance tainted by sin. On the other hand, he believed that Jesus created alcoholic wine is certainly more consistent with the context and definition/usage of the word ”oinos”.
The primary reasons for interpreting the wine as grape juice and the argument that alcohol is inherently sinful, or that the creation of alcohol would have encouraged intoxication, are unbiblical and invalid. There is absolutely no scriptural reason to understand John 2 as anything other than Jesus performing an amazing miracle by turning water into real alcoholic wine.
Everything from the context of a wedding feast to the use of ‘‘oinos’’ in 1st century Greek literature in the New Testament and outside of the New Testament argues that the wine Jesus created was normal, ordinary wine, containing alcohol. There is just no credible historical, cultural, exegetical, contextual, or linguistic basis to believe that the wine was a grape juice.