The Rejection of Pascal's Wager

The Final Drink

According to Mark and Matthew, Jesus was offered something to drink before he was crucified:

Mark 15:23
And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Matthew 27:34
they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.

The mixture given in Mark, wine with myrrh, could be meant as an attempt to alleviate the pain Jesus was about to endure. Wine and myrrh could have had a sedative effect and lessen his sense of pain. In Matthew however the mixture had changed to wine with gall. Gall has an extremely bitter taste, so in Matthew the intention seems to be the opposite that of Mark, that it was meant to add to the torture of Jesus.

Obviously, due to the contradiction in the mixture described by Matthew and Mark, both these accounts cannot be true at the same time. We have good reasons to reject both as historical, for there are Old Testament passages which both Mark and Matthew could easily have used as their source: [1]

Proverbs 31:6
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Psalms 69:21
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Both Luke and John have no reference to this offer of a drink to Jesus before his crucifixion. All four gospels are in agreement that the soldiers offered him wine vinegar to drink just before his death:

Mark 15:36 (Matthew 27:48; Luke 23:36)
And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink...

That this is written merely in fulfillment of Psalm 69:21 (see above) is made clearer in John.

John 19:28-29
After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth.

The additional detail by John, that the stick was a stalk of a hyssop plant, shows the Old testament origins of the passage. The use as a hyssop stalk as a means of conveying the sponge to Jesus’ mouth is an almost impossible task-for the plant produces only very slender and fragile stems. [2]

John is actually trying to fit in another Old Testament “prophecy”:

Psalm 51:7
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean...

John’s identification of Jesus with the Paschal lamb is also at play here. For hyssop is used for sprinkling the blood of the Paschal lamb on the Hebrew doorposts during the first Passover (Exodus 12:21-22). Remember that John's overall scheme in the passion week is to link the death of Jesus with the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb. We see this in the account of the last supper, where John, in contradiction to the synoptics, made the last supper a "normal meal" instead of the passover meal so that Jesus is crucified at the same time as the Paschal lamb was slaughtered.

Thus all the details about giving a drink to Jesus are filled with contradictions and errors. They are derived purely from Old Testament sources and are not eye-witness accounts.

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1.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p398
Guignebert, Jesus: p481-482
2.Craveri, The Life of Jesus: p4

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