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Old 14th October 2009, 07:23 PM
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Joseph is still alive! (Gen 45.26)

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The Real meaning of the Wedding at Cana

we saw that the Wedding at Cana did not in any way support the doctrine of "drink moderately".

http://www.theologyonline.com/forums...ad.php?t=60688

The reason was simple. Feeding another 180 gallons of "wine" to a party of recreational drug users who are already in a state of being "well drunk" (=drunk), and who have actually consumed all the alcohol, is not any kind of example of the precept, "Drink moderately."

If the passage is to teach anything about drinking, then on the face of it, it seems to say, not 'drink moderately', but "Drink up!". - or in modern parlance, "Lets get wasted!", or "Party on, dude!"

Where are we to go from here?

Interpreted as a lesson on drinking alcohol, it simply proves too much.

But what if that actually ISN'T the intended lesson?

That is, regardless of Jesus' view on moderate drinking, or John the Evangelist's view, what is the real purpose of the story? For as a lesson on drinking, it remains an incompatible enigma, even from the side of the "moderate drinking" crew.

We have previously noted that John's Gospel has a hidden structure, built on groups of seven, and that it also appears to have "substitute" sections intended for public reading when Jewish or Roman spies are present at meetings:

http://adultera.awardspace.com/INT-E...rson2.html#s06
(scroll down for 2nd chart showing Wedding at Cana in schema)


Next, we noted elsewhere, that this section is actually modelled after an incident (or series of stories) in the books of Kings involving an O.T. Prophet Elijah/Elisha.

http://adultera.awardspace.com/COMM/TIA2.html#s15
(again scroll down for the Wedding at Cana analysis)

Next we would like to ask the following question:


If the story is more than a mere "blank filler" to distract enemies from the Cleansing of the Temple incident (the real 1st Sign in John), then what other purpose does this story serve?

It certainly casts Jesus in the role of Elijah through its usage of LXX language. What then does John want us to see in this story?

Since the story cannot be about "moderate drinking", what is it about?

It is not a "lesson". Jesus hardly says a word. There is no wry comment, no argument, no speech, nothing. No parable, no hidden teaching explained, no aside to the disciples.

No confrontation with authorities, secular or religious, no challenge to traditions or laws, no new interpretations of Torah.

Many of the usual Johannine features are either completely lacking or toned down drastically.

I am going to propose something new, to break through this mystery: This is an "acted out" parable, not a spoken one.

We already know Jesus takes the role of O.T. Prophet here, so what is he doing?

We already know that Jesus is performing one of the Seven Great Signs of John's Gospel, so what is the sign? What does it really portend?

I say this is very similar to the "sign" given at the Last Supper: Jesus began by inexplicably stripping down as a servant, and washing the disciples' feet.

But this incident wasn't about literal washing primarily; it was a "sign": Jesus said plainly "What I am doing you won't understand, but you will LATER!" This alone made it clear that it wasn't a simple act, although it had a simple and humble form. Its true significance dwarfed the simple act itself. It wasn't about washing feet, or being clean, or even serving one another, although it included all those elements. But to mistake the "footwashing" for any or all of those things would be disasterous.

It was about the very nature of God the Father, of God the Son and Messiah, and about His mission and the essence of His holiness and being.

We must seek the same KIND of message from the Wedding at Cana. Its not about weddings. Its not about wine, or how to serve it. Its not about pranks or secrets with the servants. Its not about ANY of these things, although these symbols 'encompass' the living, acted out parable.

After Jesus' actions, He simply leaves with His disciples. In other words, all the teaching, all the message, all the secrets are in the acting out of the parable.

This story has nothing to do with earthly wine or earthly weddings. I am normally a 'fundamentalist', that is I look for meaning in the literal and plain text without seeking 'mysteries' when they don't exist.

But even a fundamentalist must confess that here we have a genuine acted out prophetic or allegorical or symbolic statement, which can only be interpreted by going beyond the surface elements and seeking something deeper and more Spiritual than advice about how to serve wine.
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Old 14th October 2009, 07:25 PM
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Joseph is still alive! (Gen 45.26)

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OK so what is the parallel spiritual equivalent to the following:
Jesus allowing Mary to point out the problem to Him?
Jesus being at the feast?
The wine being great and plentiful?
The jars that were used?
What is gained by Jesus doing this miracle first or even at all?
All are good questions:
I'll take Jesus' mother for $500 Alex:


The comments Jesus makes to Mary?
The response of Mary after Jesus’ comments?
THe comments to Mary are meant to signal the sign: they are taken from the Book of Kings.

Mary correctly interprets the saying of Jesus as a signal that an "Elijah"-like miracle is about to take place. Nothing else explains her actions after Jesus' speech.

we find John doing this elsewhere, again and again. in the Wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-12), John uses the phrase "What is that to you and me, woman?" ( τι εμοι και σοι, γυναι ) (Jn 2:4) and refers to the waterpots as ( υδριαι / υδριας ), (Jn 2:6,7), the same word that is used in the Greek book of Kings, to point us to the Miracle/Sign of Elijah with the jars of oil. There the woman ( γυναι ) says to Elijah, "What to me and you?" ( τι εμοι και σοι ) (1 Kg 17:18 [= 3 Kg LXX] ) and he tells those in need to take empty pitchers ( υδρια ) and draw out the provisions. (The Johannine substitution of 'wine' for oil is an interesting problem, but not germaine here.)


The other questions require more Christian theological thought. But since the 1st Sign is a prominent place, it must be important.



The wine being great and plentiful?
This idea was popular during Jesus' day.
In fact, the bountiful harvest is a repeated theme, and grapes along with grape-juice (oinos), the "fruit of the vine" are almost always included in prophetic statements about the Coming Age.

Papias (Christian Bishop of Hierapolis, c. 100 A.D.), for instance, who lived at the close of the Apostolic Age, describes the current extravagant view of the millenium as a time when:
"vines will grow each with...ten thousand clusters on each vine, and ten thousand grapes in each cluster, and each grape, when crushed, will yield twenty-five jars of oinos (grape-juice/jelly)".
(Cited by Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5, 33, 3-4, trans. E.J. Goodspeed, The Apostolic Fathers (NY 1950), p. 263)

Such stories seem fantastic to us today, but they were in fact poetic or hyperbolic attempts at describing heaven or the New World to come, and naturally the only language tool available was exaggeration of sorts.

But the main point is that prophetic writers were seeking to underline or emphasize the idea of "plenty", of God's infinite wealth and His ovewhelming generosity.

It seems reasonable to identify a similar thread and purpose in the story of Cana here (the same idea is clearly present in the Feeding of the 5000).

The jars that were used?
The jars that were used are I think a significant key to the whole affair. They are described, including some background, but none of this has to do with the surface of the story (a wedding) as such.
"And there were set there six waterpots (udriai) of stone,
after the manner of the purifying of the Judaeans,
containing 150-180 gallons each." (John 2:6)
Besides indicating the "size" of the miracle (and possible excess of oinos), there are some remarkable points of interest:

We are told of a tradition "of the purifying of the Judaeans," an astounding (ironic?) phrase to say the least, in the context of the Gospel.

It is known from other gospels that the Wedding, and the Feast were favourite symbols among Jesus many parables (John gives only one or two parables himself).

In the parables, and in Christian tradition, the Wedding refers to the union of Christ and the Church, and the Feast is the open invitation to the public to join in and celebrate.

Either Jesus or John (or both) seem to intend us to identify this 1st Sign with an announcement, similar to the one in Luke (Luke 4:18) of a new Era, Advent, Dispensation, Age, in which the Kingdom of God invades the world of men.

It is certainly striking that John has chosen this acted out parable as his first "Sign". The Seven Signs (as opposed to other more ordinary miracles) were directed specifically to the Judaeans (Southern "Jews", who were supposed to be awaiting them).

Here unusually, Jesus gives no sermon or teaching, and vanishes the stage, leaving the attendies to contemplate what has just happened. The remarks of the feast-master are remarkable in their own right, but seem to be just a foil for the reader, who must now look beyond the surface to grasp what has really happened.

This is the Johannine Announcement that the Kingdom in the form of Jesus' incarnation has invaded the world; but it invades with a PURPOSE: to redeem the Jews.

Just as the water takes on the property of "wine" magically, the "wine" takes on the property of the dedicated waterpots, for the "purifying of the Judaeans"...

This "wine" coming supernaturally from Jesus, is for the "purifying of the Judaeans".

The best wine coming last (the feast-master's comment) is merely a retelling in John's unique style of the same teaching of Jesus given elsewhere (Mark 2:19-22).

There too, the image of the "Bridegroom" and His "children" is bound up with the discussion of "new oinos".

The message is subtle and deeply esoteric, theological, but it is nonetheless plain. The passage is a message to God-seekers and searching Jews, not about "moderate drinking", but about the Coming of the Messiah, to redeem the Jews.

"wine" (oinos) is not really wine, just as food is not really food:
"It is the SPIRIT that gives life!
the flesh profits for nothing!
THE WORDS that I speak to you,
THESE are Spirit, and are life!" (John 6:63)
John does not leave us in any danger of taking the wine too literally, or mistaking the sign for the thing signified.

It is the words of Jesus that are always the focus of every action.


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Old 14th October 2009, 07:29 PM
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Allen B Kraft puts the whole crux of the matter succinctly in the following statement:



"We cannot now go back to the first century, dip our cups and taste and know what it was.
...
There is only one way we can know for sure what was in those six waterpots of stone after Jesus performed the miracle.

We must know the One making the drink.

If you went to a friend's home who has no use for alcohol and he offered you a glass of "cider", it would not be necessary to taste it to know whether it was fermented or not; to know who is serving the "cider" is to know what he would serve.

So it is with Jesus and His first miracle/sign: If we really know Him we would know, without any doubt, what He provided.

Jesus indeed asks us to know Him: He said,
"Search the scriptures; ...
they are are they which testify of Me.".
He did not say to take this one story or this one book but rather the entire Bible for our answer as to who He is and what He did.

Jesus the Christ witnesses to us in five different roles: He shows what He really was, and why He came into the world. Five times He comes forward to give His testimony.

(1) As our Sin-bearer.
(2) as our High-Priest.
(3) as our King.
(4) as our Prince.
(5) as a Nazarite.


(1) As Christ our Sin-bearer.


All through the O.T. the requirement of the "sin-bearer" is described as "without fault or blemish". (Lev. 9:2 etc.)
Christ is described in the same terms (1st Pet. 1:18-19).
Could He who is "without fault" have made an ordinary alcoholic beverage and distributed it?
"Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour to drink [alcohol]!" (Habakkuk 2:15)
What does "woe" mean? Jesus tells us:
"Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed:
It would have been better if that one had never been born!" (Mark 14:21)
It can only mean the wrath of God is upon him, for breaking God's Law. But:
"He that commits sin is of the Devil (Diabolos);...
the Son of Man was revealed,
that He might destroy the works of the Devil." (1st John 3:8)
Had Jesus offered drunken guests an alcoholic beverage of the common type, He would have been disqualified as our Sin-Bearer.

But Jesus was the ENEMY of the Devil, not his partner.

If we accept Christ as Saviour, we accept that He was sinless, qualifying as Sin-bearer for us.


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Old 14th October 2009, 07:31 PM
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Lets keep going here;


Continuing Allen B Kraft's thesis, he says:

Quote:

(2) Christ as our High Priest


One of the duties of the High Priest was to enter the innermost Holy of Holies in the Temple, and present the sins of the people before the LORD, pleading their case before the Throne of God. He acted as attorney, asking for forgiveness.

One of the requirements of the High Priest was HOLINESS
, laid down as follows:
"And the LORD spoke to Moses saying,
"Do not drink 'wine' (Yayin) or 'beer' (shekar),
either you or any of your sons with you,
whenever you go into the Tabernacle (Holy Tent),
lest you die;
It shall be a Law FOREVER throughout all your generations."
(Lev. 10:8-9)
Of our High Priest Christ, it is written,
'Therefore in ALL things it suited Him to be like his bretheren,
that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest
in all the things pertaining to God,
to make reconcilliation for the sins of the people.' (Heb 2:17)
Had Jesus made an alcoholic beverage and joined in with his neighbours, he would not have been faithful in the things pertaining to God. It would have barred Him from the office of High Priest. He could not plead our case before the Throne of Mercy. Without a Holy High Priest, we would have no hope in eternity.

We as Christians are to witness to Jesus the Christ's holiness.
How can we dare to keep silent, if we know that Jesus was Holy?
"But whosoever shall deny Me before men,
him I shall also deny before My Father in Heaven." (Matt. 10:32-33)
Thus our Holy High Priest could not have made an alcoholic beverage and partaken in it as His first or indeed any other miracle. "
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Old 14th October 2009, 07:32 PM
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...
Kraft continues with two more witnesses:

Quote:
Witnesses #3 and #4 Christ as our King and Prince


We can take them together since one scripture can answer for both:

Isaiah, Jeremiah and others called Him King of Kings. Isaiah called Him the Prince of Peace; Luke called Him the Prince of Life.

The Bible makes plain that those in such offices could not have anything to do with alcohol: we read,
"It is not for kings to drink 'wine' (Yayin);
Nor for Princes to use 'beer' (Shekar),
lest they drink and forget the Law (Torah),
and pervert the justice of any of the oppressed." (Prov. 31:4-5)
Would Christ be desirable as our King and Prince, if He violated His own law? Could a drinking man be a righteous judge and the prince of peace and life?
These last two offices have given their testimony: Christ could not have made such an alcoholic beverage and remain true to the high calling of these offices."
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Old 14th October 2009, 07:32 PM
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...
Kraft takes us the final 10 yards with this:

Quote:
(5) Christ as a Nazarite


Several good translations are available for Sampson's own historical definition of Nazarite, speaking as a lifelong Nazarite dedicated from birth:
"I am a Nazarite: that is to say, one consecrated to God from his mother's womb." (Judges 16:17, Douay trans.)
If a child dedicated to be separated and holy to the LORD from birth was normally expected to be a lifelong Nazarite (see story in Judges 13 fwd.), how much more would both John the Baptist and Jesus have been expected to follow the Israelite tradition and Torah definition of "Holy"/"Dedicated"/"Consecrated".

Its true ordinary Israelites were not expected to be "holy" all the time. But even for them there were voluntary times when they could and should take vows of Holiness to God, and the requirements of holiness were predefined by the Nazarite Law given in Numbers ch. 6. Even Paul did so (in Acts 21:26).
'He shall separate himself from "wine" ('yayin') and "beer" ('shekar') nor shall he drink 'vinegar' (fermented) yayin, or 'vinegar' (fermented) shekar; nor any concoction (brandy) from grapes.' (Num. 6:2-3)
Was Christ, as a Nazarite (one dedicated to holiness to God from birth) keeping such a vow? At His crucifixion, when on the cross, we read:
"And they gave to Him to drink wine mixed with myrrh: but He did not take it." (Mark 15:23)
(Mark is the earliest account, copied by Matthew and Luke).

Normally, ordinary Israelites would take a vow of holiness (Nazarite vow) for one or two weeks only, then go back to their normal everyday life.

In Luke's account of the Last Supper, we read the strongest Nazarite Vow ever spoken in either the Old or New Testaments:
"I say to you, that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine,
until the Kingdom of God comes!" (Luke 22:18)
In spite of claims to the contrary, there is no place in the New Testament that unambiguously says Jesus ever actually drank any fermented beverage during His earthly ministry.

The "oinos" on a sponge offered at His crucifixion appears to have been a deliberate taunt to get Him to break his Nazarite vow, and finally humiliate him, by the Pharisees and others who understood the significance of the "oinos".

The 5th witness has testified: Christ, as a True Nazarite, could not have had anything to do with alcoholic beverages for Himself.



The supposed "wine mixed with myrrh" in Mark is also an unusual construction, ('εσμυρωισμενον οινον'), literally a 'wine' (oinos) or 'drink' made from Myrrh, not a 'wine' made from grape-juice. Many drinks made from other fruits besides grape were called 'oinos' ("wines") by convention.

The other Evangelists attempt to clarify this by calling the concoction by an entirely different word, "oxous" (οξους). This is often given as "vinegar" or "wine-vinegar" in the student Lexicons, but BAG gives better detail on the usage.

In fact, when talking about preparing goat entrails for food, the "unwashed entrails" are to be washed in "oxous" (οξους), and the context makes it plain that this is some kind of strong vinegar meant to wash out the goat-poop from the intestines, and kill germs. If it were an alcoholic beverage intended, the food would be tainted and not suitable for eating by the High Priest, who had to be under a Nazarite vow during Temple service.

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Old 14th October 2009, 07:36 PM
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One person responded by pointing out that Jesus apparently "touched dead bodies", and so would have violated His Nazarite vow.

Here is my response to that claim:

The main problem with your theory that Jesus would have been defiled by a dead body (supposing that he touched one) is that you have failed to understand a profound question first raised by the O.T. Prophets:

God's word distinguishes between objects (inanimate things) and people (living beings).

God's word further distinguishes between the intrinsic HOLINESS of God, which is eternal, immutable, indestructable, and permanent, with the holiness of all other things, which derive their holiness from God alone through pronouncement, contact, justification, declaration.

The Light that comes from God cannot be corrupted or overcome:
"And the Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness overcomes it not."
(John 1:5)
Lets watch these two differences in action:

The Question is raised, and Israelites are asked to think carefully, and contemplate deeply the following case:
"If a man carries holy food in his apron,
and (accidentally) touches "wine" (yayin), or stew,
or some other food, will it stay holy?"

And the priests answered, "No!".
And Haggai asked,
"If a man unclean by touching a corpse,
touches any of these, shall it become unclean?"

And the priests answered, "It is unclean!"

(Haggai 2:12-13)
Haggai wanted them to face up to the fact that any holiness the people of Israel had, including the priests, was not intrinsic or permanent, but came through their contact, connection to, and loyalty to the LORD God of Israel.
It was not their own holiness. They did not have the power of holiness within themselves.

But now consider the profound implications of this:

Jesus approaches the Lepers: Jesus is not defiled; instead the Lepers are cleansed.

Does this contradict the principles of holiness and the normal course of uncleanness in the world? Do doctors no longer have to wash their hands before an operation? No.

Instead something GREATER is revealed:

The holiness of Jesus is not 'derived', but intrinsic. It cannot be 'defiled' or corrupted, it cannot be destroyed or cancelled out, or removed. When the unclean woman touches Jesus' garment, it is not soiled or made 'unclean'.

Instead, the holiness of Jesus is so integral, so unstoppable, so powerful, so overwhelming, that everything it approaches is either destroyed, driven away, or cleansed.

Whatever Jesus chooses to interact with, is irreversably altered. Either (as with the demons of Legion), they find this holiness terrifying and intolerable, and run off a cliff, or as with the Lepers, the disease is overwhelmed and obliterated by the sheer power of Jesus' presence.

Jesus speaks, and the dead get up and walk around.

There is no question of Jesus being "defiled" in any way.

As if the uncleanness of man's sin could have any effect on God's eternal purity and majesty on His throne in the heavens.

God's light penetrates all, even utter darkness, and either cleanses or destroys all it reaches.

Who can withstand the LORD?
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Old 19th January 2010, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Nazaroo View Post
we find John doing this elsewhere, again and again. in the Wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-12), John uses the phrase "What is that to you and me, woman?" ( τι εμοι και σοι, γυναι ) (Jn 2:4) and refers to the waterpots as ( υδριαι / υδριας ), (Jn 2:6,7), the same word that is used in the Greek book of Kings, to point us to the Miracle/Sign of Elijah with the jars of oil. There the woman ( γυναι ) says to Elijah, "What to me and you?" ( τι εμοι και σοι ) (1 Kg 17:18 [= 3 Kg LXX] ) and he tells those in need to take empty pitchers ( υδρια ) and draw out the provisions. (The Johannine substitution of 'wine' for oil is an interesting problem, but not germaine here.)
You seem to have studied this in depth; but I will add the traditional interpretation of this episode. Jesus' addressing his mother as woman has been seen as the new Adam addressing the new Eve as Adam addressed the original Eve, woman.

The wine of the old covenant has ran out and Jesus takes the ceremonial water of the old covenant cleansing and changes it into the wine of the new covenant that will cleanse his people of their sins.

That's all I can do off the top of my head. Thank you for a very thoughtful analysis.

God's Grace be with you,
Byron
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Old 19th January 2010, 09:53 PM
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Water into Wine:Other Opinions

How did Jesus turn so much water into wine to pull off this "miracle"? In short, it's highly unlikely that he did.

Ever hear of the "placebo effect"?
Or "mass hypnosis" (aka: "group hyposis")?
Or perhaps a form of "mental telepathy"?
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Old 21st January 2010, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Heterodoxus View Post
How did Jesus turn so much water into wine to pull off this "miracle"? In short, it's highly unlikely that he did.

Ever hear of the "placebo effect"?
The problem with these 'alternative' hypotheses, is that they have been discredited by scientific investigation years ago.

For instance, the "placebo effect" is indeed a psychological effect which seems to stimulate the body's own immune defences and is similar to the power of suggestion, improving one's environment, or perception during the recovery of an illness (e.g., peace and quiet, nice colors in rooms etc.).

However, the placebo effect, like most such effects, only works on a small minority of people, and varies wildly in the degree and strength of response. Some people will only feel mildly better with a 'fake' drug therapy, and of course real cases of poisoning are not helped at all by the 'placebo effect'. If you take cyanide, you die, with or without a placebo antidote.

Although an interesting phenomenon, the 'placebo effect' has little use in medicine, and even less use in explaining a miracle like the Cana Wedding. Your other options are closer to the mark, but....

Or "mass hypnosis" (aka: "group hyposis")?



Again here, real professional hypnotists will always find that only about 5-10% of a sample crowd are actually significantly susceptable to hypnosis or 'suggestion'. Hypnotists work a crowd by carefully observing who is predisposed to hypnosis and selecting those people as volunteers. The rest of the crowd is not hypnotised or fooled.

There is no such thing in real life as 'mass hypnosis' or 'group hypnosis' in the sense that a hypnotist has ever successfully hypnotised an entire crowd, including those resistant or immune to hypnosis.



Or perhaps a form of "mental telepathy"?
Mental telepathy is not a reproducable or controllable, or even a scientifically demonstrable reality. Although there will always be coincidences or lucky examples that suggest 'telepathy' as a possible cause, there is no scientific evidence that such a thing exists in a significant or consistent way.

There has never been any known case where anyone who claimed telepathic powers was able to deceive and control an entire crowd, except in myths and urban legends.

Real cases of "mind control", such as the Jonestown Massacre appear to be in part coersion (i.e., using manipulation and threats such as guns), and in part the result of preying upon weak individuals predisposed to control and manipulation. In any case, they are never 100% successful, but many individuals will resist or object to such manipulation.

There is no known parallel, even in paranormal or parapsychological literature/investigations that corresponds to the Wedding at Cana.

One can fake the appearance of wine visually with dry food-colorings and/or sugars inside a pot and adding water.

One can convince a weak-minded person that sugar-water "tastes good".

One can hypnotise a small number of people in a crowd into believing they are drinking "wine".

But no one can fool everyone at a public gathering with complete success, because the range of individual profiles will be diverse, and there will always be skeptics and those immune or resistant to tricks and manipulation.

Such simplistic alternative explanations do nothing to account for the whole historical record in the Gospels, because there are too many different kinds of miracles involved:

How does one control "demon possessed" people with 100% success?

How does one heal people crippled for 38 years?

How does one open the eyes of a person born blind?

But most of all, how does a man "mass-hypnotise" crowds of people, when he has been crucified and buried? Hypnotists have to be alive and present, and able to speak, and give suggestion and direction.

Hypnosis doesn't work from the Cross or the Grave, even when the hypnotist is skilled and successful working crowds.

Hypnosis or 'mass-suggestion' simply cannot account for the diversity of type and circumstance of the miracles described by historians like Luke and John. The opportunity is not there, and the technique is being asked to bear too great a burden.

The credibility of such naive explanations stretches to the breaking point.

As an experiment, trying killing yourself, and then convincing a crowd you are still alive. I think you'll find the logistics too difficult to pull off.
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