Today (August 29) commemorates the beheading of Saint John the Baptist. But today I’d like to take a look at why this great martyr and forerunner of Christ could not drink a brewski. When I was studying the Synoptic Gospels, I became particularly interested in the “aramaisms” (Aramaic phrases transliterated in Greek) found in the Gospels.
I came across this interesting Aramaic word in Luke:
“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink [σικερα]; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:15)
In Aramaic sikera or שכרא means “beer” and it derives from the Akkadian shikaru meaning fermented barley water, i.e. beer. I have done a lot of homebrewing and so I know what happens when water with mashed barley malt ferments. You get beer!
Could John the Baptist Drink a Pabst Blue Ribbon?
Pabst Blue Ribbon is hardly beer. Nevertheless, it was forbidden to John the Baptist. This means that Saint John the Baptist never enjoyed a glass of wine or even a beer. A small price to pay for being the greatest man “born of women” (Luke 7:28).
So if you start up a micro-brewery, don’t name it after this holy prophet – he had little experience in the craft or pleasure of beer.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.