Marriage at Cana
In Christianity, the transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the biblical account, Jesus and his mother are invited to a marriage, and when the wine runs out, Jesus performs a miracle by turning water into wine.
John 2:1-11 states that while Jesus was attending a marriage in Cana with his disciples the party ran out of wine. Jesus' mother (unnamed in John's Gospel) told Jesus, "They have no wine," and Jesus replied, "O Woman, what has this to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother then said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:3-5). Jesus ordered the servants to fill containers with water and to draw out some and take it to the chief steward waiter. After tasting it, without knowing where it came from, the steward remarked to the bridegroom that he had departed from the custom of serving the best wine first by serving it last (John 2:6-10). John adds that: "Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee and it revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him (John 2:11)".
Although none of the synoptic gospels records the event, mainstream Christian tradition and John 2:11 holds that this is the first public miracle of Jesus. However it is considered to have symbolic importance as the first of the Seven signs in the Gospel of John by which Jesus' divine status is attested, and around which the gospel is structured.
It is still a matter of discussion among theologians whether the story talks of an actual material transformation of water into wine, or is a spiritual allegory. Interpreted allegorically, the good news and hope implied by the story is in the words of the Governor of the Feast when he tasted the good wine, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now" (John 2:10, NRSV). This could be interpreted by saying simply that it is always darkest before the dawn, but good things are on the way. The more usual interpretation, however, is that this is a reference to the appearance of Jesus, whom the author of the Fourth Gospel regards as being himself the good wine.
The story has had considerable importance in the development of Christian pastoral theology. Fulton J. Sheen thought that it is very likely that it was one of Mary's relatives who was being married. The gospel account of Jesus being invited to a marriage, attending, and using his divine power to save the celebrations from disaster are taken as evidence of his approval for marriage and earthly celebrations, in contrast to the more austere views of Paul the Apostle as found, for example, in 1 Corinthians 7. It has also been used as an argument against Christian teetotalism.
The miracle could also be seen as the antitype of Moses' first public miracle of changing water (the Nile river) into blood. This would establish a symbolic link between Moses as the first savior of the Jews through their escape from Egypt and Jesus as the spiritual savior of all people.
The miraculous claims of water into wine are arguably discredited by the known existence, at the time and in the same area, of multiple types of trick amphora, drinking horns, and other drink dispensers that would have been used for just that purpose. These were explicitly detailed in the writings of Hero of Alexandria (c. 10-70 AD).
Early Latter Day Saint (Mormon) views
Early Latter Day Saint Apostle Orson Hyde taught that the marriage at Cana was Jesus' own marriage, that Jesus was a polygamist and that Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary of Bethany were his wives. This teaching has never been accepted as part of official Mormon doctrine by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is not held to be true by Mormons today. Anti-Mormon critic Floyd McElveen argues against this hypothesis based on John 2:8-10, which states that the ruler at the feast (unaware of the miracle) congratulated "the bridegroom" for the wine, not Jesus, and on John 2:2, which states: "both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage", because one does not "get an invitation to one's own wedding".
Geography and archaeology
The exact location of Cana has been subject to debate among scholars. Modern scholars maintain that since the Gospel of John was addressed to Jewish Christians of the time, it isn’t likely that the evangelist would mention a place that did not exist. Villages in Galilee which are candidates for historical Cana are: Kafr Kanna, Kenet-l-Jalil (also called Khirbet Kana) and Ain Qana and Qana in southern Lebanon.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914, a tradition dating back to the 8th century identifies Cana with the modern Arab town of Kafr Kanna, about 7 km northeast of Nazareth, Israel. Other suggested alternatives include the ruined village of Kenet-el-Jalil (also known as Khirbet Kana), about 9 km further north, and Ain Qana, which is closer to Nazareth and considered to be a better candidate on etymological grounds. Some Christians, especially Lebanese Christians, believe the southern Lebanese village of Qana to have been the actual location of this event.
Many ancient and modern archaeologists have sought to recover the jars used at Cana, but no specific archeological data have confirmed their discovery.
In the journal Biblical Archaeological Review, Michael Homan argues that many biblical scholars have misinterpreted early texts, translating to 'wine' when the more sensible translation is 'beer'. If the celebration at Cana had served beer rather than wine, it is far less likely that archaeological evidence of the vessels will ever be discovered. As Homan discusses, beer was usually consumed quite soon after its making, leaving less evidence in the vessel containing it. Further, the tools used in its creation are often the same as those used in bread-making, obscuring their likely alternative use in beer brewing.
Depictions of Marriage at Cana are numerous in art history.
The calling of Apostle John at the Marriage at Cana. Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen
Jacopo Tintoretto - Marriage at Cana, 1561
Giorgio Vasari - Marriage at Cana
- Chronology of Jesus
- Life of Jesus in the New Testament
- Ministry of Jesus
- Miracles of Jesus
- Parables of Jesus
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Marriage at Cana
Return of Jesus to Galilee
Jesus and Nicodemus