Author Topic: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt  (Read 762 times)

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Offline CoptoGeek

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Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« on: July 16, 2013, 04:32:08 PM »
This should give some modern Coptic teetotalers a fit  :D

Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
Jennifer Cromwell, British Museum
July 10, 2013 • 5:34 pm

excerpt:

The monastery owned vineyards throughout Egypt, as far north as the Fayum, almost 400 km away along the Nile. Somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 litres of wine entered the monastery each year. A proportion of this wine was used to pay labour wages for camel herders, craftsmen, and goods suppliers and was sent out to other communities. But the monks also consumed a fair share themselves. Wine was the main drink in this period of Egyptian history and the monks were no exception; remains of glass goblets (currently being studied by my colleague Jane Faiers) attest to its consumption on site. In addition to standard wine, which didn’t have the same alcoholic content as that which we consume today, we find “new” wine, “old” wine (probably not “vintage” — there was no Château-Lafite Rothschild being supped over dinner), and “unmixed” (pure) wine. After consuming the wine, many amphorae, easily identifiable by their thick pitch internal coating, were broken and used to write other texts, often themselves mentioning wine.

http://blog.britishmuseum.org/2013/07/10/wine-and-monks-in-christian-egypt/
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 04:32:38 PM by CoptoGeek »
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 05:40:00 PM »
Given what I've read of the Coptic teetotalers, I have a feeling they'll claim this is unfermented grape juice.
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2013, 05:58:04 PM »
i know Muslim Turks and they just drink just like anybody else. Why would Copts be teetotalers? I only met 2 Copts in real life though, and don't know well enough as to be privy to their drinking habits.

Offline ReturnOrthodoxy

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2013, 06:03:56 PM »
I used to be a Teetotaler, and then I started thinking lol. It gets worse, I am actually going to tell you some of the reasoning of these guys, and you may actually laugh at how ill-informed and how dishonest many of the Teetotalerian though is:

1) If you try to bring up the fact that Christ made wine at the wedding of Cana, the answer you will get is, "But the Bible never mentioned that Christ drank it!" The natural response (although not so natural for these mohammedian Christians) is: "Yes! He made it, and did not drink it. It sounds just like Jesus to facilitate sin! Marriage is also sinful because although Jesus blessed the wedding of Cana, it never says he was married in it!"

2) "The monks in the desert don't drink wine!" The natural response is: "Read the Paradise, and compare with any other monastic practice in any other part of the world."

3)"It is easily abused." The answer is simple. Dont overuse it.

Noone who has ever attempted to restrict the use of wine has ever been able to offer good enough reason to do so. The fathers often spoke about it, and even encouraged its proper consumption. The only answer is that the Coptic church remains in the dark shadows of an Islamic Egypt. In which we try as best we can to make a form of Chrislam. Obviously the effect is a gnostic form of Christianity.

Interestingly enough, Coptic monasteries used to oblige pilgrims to have a drink of wine upon entering the monasteries to ensure that the pilgrims were neither gnostics nor Muslims.

Ray
Pre-Passion: Let's eat, Jesus!
Post-Passion: Let's eat Jesus!

Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2013, 06:18:57 PM »
Canons of the Holy Apostles

CANON 51
If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone at all on the sacerdotal list, abstains from marriage, or meat, or wine, not as a matter of mortification, but out of an abhorrence thereof, forgetting that all things are exceedingly good, and that God made man male and female, and blasphemously misrepresenting God’s work of creation, either let him mend his ways or let him be deposed from office and expelled from the Church. Let a layman be treated similarly.

CANON 53
If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, on the days of feasts will not partake of meat and wine, because he loathes these things, and not on account of asceticism, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has his own conscience seared and has become a cause of scandal to many.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2013, 06:27:51 PM »
Why would Copts be teetotalers? I only met 2 Copts in real life though, and don't know well enough as to be privy to their drinking habits.

I'll let the Copts answer this one, but I will say that this phenomenon is not just Coptic.  

There is a significant movement of this sort in the various Churches (Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant) in India.  In this case, it is almost certainly a result of the severe and really shameful abuse of alcohol (and all the attendant problems) among our people, along with a strange admixture of Victorian values (thanks, Britain!).  In fact, it seems the Churches are competing to see who can be the most anti-alcohol: if I'm remembering correctly, the Catholics in India recently declared alcohol consumption (not drunkenness, but consumption) a mortal sin, included this teaching in catechetical and penitential literature, preaching, etc., and petitioned Rome to back them up.  Rome, needless to say, is hesitant to declare all alcohol consumption mortally sinful just because Indians have no self-control, so they aren't getting involved in what is essentially a local pastoral issue.  As teetotalist (?) as the Orthodox can be, they haven't gone that far, though they're not far behind.  

It's really sad.  Rather than teach people moderation, ascesis, and complete abstinence for alcoholics and those at a higher risk for alcoholism, they want to declare that the substance itself is liquid evil and to be avoided.  There's all this stuff in the Bible, for example, about how wine is good, but that's of course ignored or explained away with nonsensical arguments such as those above.  I've even known one or two clerics who do questionable things liturgically due to such beliefs.  
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2013, 06:30:15 PM »
Canons of the Holy Apostles


What are canons?  :P

Seriously, I think the teetotalers would argue that what they're promoting is an extreme mortification for a noble purpose: to prevent a lot of the social evils in which alcohol abuse plays a role.  But I agree with you and with these canons...they go too far when they imply or outright teach that these things are evil in and of themselves. 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 06:31:43 PM »
i know Muslim Turks and they just drink just like anybody else. Why would Copts be teetotalers? I only met 2 Copts in real life though, and don't know well enough as to be privy to their drinking habits.
They rarely drink, in general.  A couple of sips, let alone glasses, at a wedding celebration, for instance, is usually seen as something out of the ordinary.
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Offline dzheremi

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2013, 06:54:34 PM »
Maybe the Copts I know are outside the norm, but I remember when people found out that I come from the so-called 'wine country' of northern California, our priest asked me if I drank. When I said I do not, he seemed surprised. "But it is good for your heart to have a little bit now and then!" Also, some people from church are always offering me a bit of brandy or scotch after dinner, depending on what they have to offer. I politely decline every time. Just like when I refuse meat (since I'm a vegetarian; this is another concept I am confused that they don't quite seem to understand...don't you people fast from meat for over half the year?), they usually make some joke about how I would make a good monastic. I should show them this article. :)

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2013, 09:01:47 PM »
I have never heard of such a thing.  What do they do at Eucharist?  Please tell me it isn't grape juice.  :o
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2013, 09:34:28 PM »
No, wine is used for the Liturgy.  The most you could go in the "juice" direction is the allowance for the juice of raisins, which was/is fairly common and goes back a long time. 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

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Offline Sinful Hypocrite

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2013, 01:56:59 AM »
Wine and beer were also necessary in the days before refrigeration, it was used as a way of keeping the drinking liquids sanitary when there was no refrigeration. can you imagine trying to keep grape juice drinkable for even a day in Jerusalem or any of the Bible areas, they were all desert and hot places mostly.Grapes and fruit would rot in a couple days.

Also in ships in the middle ages they drank grog which is watered down beer or rum, fresh water was taken on board in casks but quickly developed algae and became slimy. So the use of alcohol kept it from becoming undrinkable, since they had no access to fresh water.

 This would be helpful to anyone that had to travel any distance for fresh water. Or if you have a vineyard, grape juice will ferment on its own without refrigeration.
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Offline CoptoGeek

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Re: Wine and Monks in Christian Egypt
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2013, 07:41:48 AM »
i know Muslim Turks and they just drink just like anybody else. Why would Copts be teetotalers? I only met 2 Copts in real life though, and don't know well enough as to be privy to their drinking habits.
They rarely drink, in general.  A couple of sips, let alone glasses, at a wedding celebration, for instance, is usually seen as something out of the ordinary.

I'd say its a generational thing. The older generation grew up with a very resurgent Islam and very active Evangelical missionaries who were quite vocal in critizing Copts who drank. That demon Arak!  :laugh:  For my generation, those in their 30-40s, its very different & having beer & wine at gatherings is very common.

In the West, the priests are very strict with the youth & college age on this because they fear losing them to the surrounding culture. This also goes for dating, dancing, etc. But as dzheremi said, its not so with other adults.
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