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Source: (consider it) Thread: The old is better
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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Taking the metaphors of new cloth / old coats, new wine / old skins, as they are usually read; what do you make of the stinger at the end of the parable along the lines of 'no-one having tasted new wine prefers it to the old - the old is better'? It sounds like an encouragement to pack the more enthusiastic, innovative or charismatic members of our denominations off into their own ad-hoc arrangements, and then to congratulate ourselves on being refined connoisseurs of the fine old vintage we have preserved for ourselves. Hmmm.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Sipech
Shipmate
# 16870

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I assume you are only referring the version in Luke. That's the only one with the ending you refer to. In full:
quote:
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”
Neither the version in Mark or Matthew have the part in italics.

I might for clarification as to what you mean by "as they are usually read" as all interpretations I've read on this refer not to different christian traditions, but it is a parable about the Jewish law and its fulfilment. i.e. it is usually read in conjunction with Matthew 5:17-20.

I am vary wary about back-projecting modern expressions of faith onto scripture. For example, I was rather appalled by one preacher I heard interpret the parable of the wicked tenants in terms of the Reformation, which I think was an unjust interpretation, fuelled more by prejudice than exegesis.

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I try to be self-deprecating; I'm just not very good at it.
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Posts: 3791 | From: On the corporate ladder | Registered: Jan 2012  |  IP: Logged
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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In terms of the 'usual interpretations' - well, I just meant the literal stuff about fizzy new wine bursting the old skins, and an un-shrunk (new) cloth patch pulling away from old, previously-shrunk coat. Further, to me he seems to be talking to the Pharisees, which suggests (to me) he's saying that his (new) emphasis on the heart being made new is not going to fit inside the (old) adherence to external religious observance.

And - thanks for linking to that passage in Matthew - it came to mind for me too, in light of Jesus coming to fulfil the law, not to overthrow it. This is of course relevant to what he is trying to say to the Pharisees - perhaps not 'your Law is junk' but 'your old way of doing it is not God's way, and you need to be made anew' - and of course this fits all kinds of stories from the gospels.

So why then the bit at the end - why the reminder that vintage plonk is always better than last week's yeasty fizz - given the interpretation we seem to be giving to the earlier part of the passage?

I don't have an angle on this - I really don't know what to make of it.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Gamaliel
Shipmate
# 812

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Nor do I - but I agree with Sipech that we have to be careful not to apply this to contemporary debates about worship styles and so on.

Back in the day, when I was into the 'restorationist' new church thing there were always quoting the first bit - about new wine needing new wine skins (ie. everyone should leave the older denominations and join the house-church / restoration movement) - but no-one ever mentioned the second part about the old wine being best ...

At a guess, I'd suggest that it may be the conflation of two separate sayings that Christ made in sermons or else he was saying that there was nothing wrong with the actual 'essence' of the Law - but the pernickety and nit-picking way in which the Pharisees applied and interpreted it rather ruined things somewhat ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
So why then the bit at the end - why the reminder that vintage plonk is always better than last week's yeasty fizz - given the interpretation we seem to be giving to the earlier part of the passage?

I don't have an angle on this - I really don't know what to make of it.

I can tell you from experience that mending old garments with new cloth usually turns out badly. Old cloth works much better for repairing old garments.

On the other hand, old wine is better, unless it's Beaujolais Nouveau.

Moo

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Posts: 20365 | From: Alleghany Mountains of Virginia | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

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One question that comes to mind is whether old wine was better in the NT period. We experience new wine (with some exceptions) as harsh, which mellows and becomes more palatable as it ages in the bottle. Would the same have happened in NT times, or would wine in skins or amphora simply turned to vinegar and be undrinkable?

There certainly are indications that new wine was preferred. New wine frequently appears in blessings (see, for example Jacob's blessing of Esau, or the blessings of the promised land described in Deuteronomy). Conversely, the judgement proclaimed by the prophets on the unfaithful nation often contain phrases like "your new wine will dry up".

If so, the text would actually be ironic. A bit like saying they don't have a sense of taste, preferring the vinegar of old wine to the refreshing new wine being offered.

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Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Adam.

Like as the
# 4991

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Antiquity was greatly valued in the Ancient World. Diodorus Siculus tells us of the debate over whose civilization was the oldest: “Concerning the antiquity of race, not only do the Greeks lay claim (to be the oldest), but many of the barbarians as well.”

Josephus makes this claim for the Jews in his letter refuting Apion: : “I assume that by my writing concerning Antiquity, Epaphroditus, most dear of men, the age of us Jews has been made clear to any lighting upon it.”

The apparent novelty of Christianity was a charge against it in its early missionary period. Justin Martyr witnesses to this problem in his Apology: “some may say illogically for the purpose of turning way from those things taught by us, that they came to pass one hundred and fifty years ago in the time of Quirinius.”

Having Jesus praise the old is part of a strategy in Luke-Acts to defend against this charge of novelty. One could also point to Luke's rewriting of Mark's "What is this? A new teaching with authority?” (Mark 1:27) to “What is this word?” (Luke 4:36), or the genealogy that goes as far back as humanity.

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Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Preaching blog

Posts: 8164 | From: Notre Dame, IN | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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Oh sure the ancients aged wine. Falernian, the favorite vintage of Augustus Caesar, was billed as being aged 30 years. Some wines were aged in open containers, i.e. vats, to encourage evaporation. The idea was to get the wine down to a thick syrupy concentrate -- you always drank it mixed with water.

A new fermenting wine would indeed burst an old stiff wineskin. But I would bet that this old (valuable) wine was decanted into newer wineskins every decade or so, so that it wouldn't by any chance be lost in the failure of the old container. That stuff was worth crazy money.

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leo
Shipmate
# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by mark_in_manchester:
he seems to be talking to the Pharisees, which suggests (to me) he's saying that his (new) emphasis on the heart being made new is not going to fit inside the (old) adherence to external religious observance.

Which is exactly what the pharisees taught as well.

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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We need not take Jesus to be praising the attitude of those who want to stick to the old ways/wine. He is making an observation--and kai ("and") can sometimes be translated "but" if in the judgement of the translator Jesus was intending a contrast.

In this case, you have several cases where the user has to make a choice--old or new. Choosing both doesn't work, the old and new don't get along together. He then goes on to point out (sadly? in frustration?) that most people, faced with this fact, are going to stick with the old.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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quote:
We need not take Jesus to be praising the attitude of those who want to stick to the old ways/wine.
It's (I'm) odd, you're right and I've done that before. I think I tend to leap to the assumption that someone in authority (like, err, Jesus!) is going to be speaking in a kind of hectoring tone where 'no-one...wants the new...the old is better' automatically contains the implication 'and you'd think so too, if you'd only been paying attention'.

This says a lot more about how I've failed to mature into a proper relationship with authority, than it does about the passage - so thanks!

--------------------
"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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heheheheheh. And what does it say about me that I automatically assume a tone of frustration on Jesus' part? [Snigger]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Chamois
Shipmate
# 16204

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Orginally posted by Alan Cresswell:

quote:
There certainly are indications that new wine was preferred. New wine frequently appears in blessings (see, for example Jacob's blessing of Esau, or the blessings of the promised land described in Deuteronomy). Conversely, the judgement proclaimed by the prophets on the unfaithful nation often contain phrases like "your new wine will dry up".

I think these blessings and curses are related to the continuing fertility of the land, not to the quality of the wine. The OT economy depended on successful crops of grain, olives (for oil) and grapes (for wine) EVERY year. If one of these key crops failed the nation was in trouble.
Posts: 978 | From: Hill of roses | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged


 
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