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Answering The Atheist
December 5, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 49

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
What did the soldiers give Jesus to drink? Matthew 27:34 says vinegar and gall, Mark 15:23 says wine and myrrh, and John 19:29 says vinegar and hyssop. Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Was it vinegar or wine? Of the word translated "vinegar" in Matthew and John's account, Thayer's comments, "the mixture of sour wine or vinegar and water which the Roman soldiers were accustomed to drink." It appears the drink could equally be made from sour wine or vinegar. Which was used for this particular batch, we do not know, nor is it important. Either description is valid.

Was it gall, myrrh or hyssop? Of the word "gall", Thayer's says, "in the OT used of other bitter things, wormwood, possibly myrrh". Again, either description (gall or myrrh) seems to be adequate. But what of the hyssop? The hyssop was not mingled with the wine (as the gall or myrrh was), but the sponge which was filled with the wine was "...put on hyssop, and put to His mouth". Logically, they used the reed or stem of the hyssop to lift the sponge to His mouth.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible