In my previous post I talked about an interesting verse that I discovered in the book of Isaiah. After discussing it with some friends I have come decided there are two (maybe more?) views that can be assumed from these views. Here are the two views and the conclusions that can be derived from both.
1) Literal View:
This view assumes that Zion literally dilutes their wine. God finds this practice (as well as the others listed in these verses) as bad and is therefore pointing out their bad practices. If they are literally diluting their wine this would agree with Stein’s research concerning the tradition of diluting wine.
Problem: If Zion is diluting their wine, they probably think it is a good practice – it might be harder to convince someone is doing something wrong by merely pointing out what they are doing.
Solution: This one sentence is in a list of bad items – an obvious conclusion is that God sees this as a bad practice and they would probably get that point.
2) Symbolic View:
They are not actually diluting their wine on the whole but there are some who dilute wine for some contemptible reason. God is then free to use this as a symbolic example of how corrupt Zion has become. The majority already believe that diluted wine is wrong and it would be shocking for them to hear God tell them that their wine has become diluted.
Problem: Stein’s research suggests that diluting wine was a traditional practice for Jews.
Solution: Stein’s research does not conclude whether or not this practice was seen as “good” or “bad.” Perhaps the recipes and data he collected were from those corrupt individuals. At this point it would be up to Stein (or some other researcher) to prove that the tradition of diluting wine was seen as a good practice.
If someone accepts Stein’s research as a good practice, they almost have to accept the literal views which means God sees the practice as contemptible. If someone accepts Stein’s research as a bad practice, they cannot use it in as a argument for the Abstinence position.
This question really started to make me think about looking at traditions for context. I believe we should and that it is important, but we know that traditions come from fallen men – we have to be extremely careful to take a man-made tradition and use it to form our theology. When I read Stein’s argument I did not think diluting wine was a “bad” practice. After reading this passage I see that it is very important to test the traditions we discover – just because they sometimes help to give us context does not mean that they were correct or what God desired.
Comments? Possible other views?