Abstract

This essay traces one particular way that the passion tradition of mixed/sour wine offered to Jesus developed in extracanonical gospels, broader New Testament Apocrypha, Tatian’s Diatessaron, and other early Christian writings. Notably, the divergent details of these offerings in the passion narratives of the four canonical gospels were often simplified out of a growing awareness of an allusion to Ps 69:22 (68:22 LXX) with its reference to gall and sour wine. The early Christian tradition comes to be stabilized as a single offering of sour wine and gall, even though that pairing does not appear in the canonical gospels. Further evidence that early Christians used Ps 69 to simplify the various traditions is seen from the way they also drew upon the imprecations from the broader context of the psalm for polemical leverage against the Jews. This hermeneutical and apologetic trajectory developed despite the fact that (a) the gospels show varying degrees of awareness of the psalm in their respective passion accounts, and (b) the gospels do not indict anyone making the offer, except for Luke (implicitly), when the Roman soldiers do so mockingly.

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