Monday, July 02, 2018

On the so-called “two-wine” theory

“IF some future Disraeli should undertake to write an account of the literary curiosities which have appeared during the present century, he will find abundance of material for a leading article in what has been written and published in support of the generic or two-wine theory. The literature thus produced is curious—indeed, unique—on account of the gigantic assumptions and blunderings, misunderstandings and misinterpretings, sanctimonious misjudgings, and acrimonious accusings of opponents contained in it, as well as for the amount of time wasted, and the sums of money spent in propagating a delusion. It is certain to be known through coming generations as the leading craze of the nineteenth century.

“When, and by whom, the theory originated, is a matter of some doubt; but its birthplace was in the United States, and the time, about fifty years ago. Attractive as a novelty, and offering, as was supposed, a powerful support to the cause of teetotalism, it called out the interest and vigorous advocacy of many, both learned and unlearned. And, as is usual in such cases, there was a jumping at conclusions, before the matter had been carefully examined on all sides. Ancient literature was ransacked, and everything possible was gathered up that had any apparent bearing on the subject. By zeal outrunning discretion, passages were torn from their connections and pressed into the service, whether they had any legitimate bearing upon it or not—thus setting at defiance, as the result has shown, every principle of literary truth and honesty.”

From the “Preface” of The Two-Wine Theory Discussed by Two Hundred and Eighty-six Clergymen, on the Basis of “Communion Wine”, by Edward Hurtt Jewett (Fifth Edition, New York, NY: E. Steiger & Co., 1890, p. v)

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