Biblical Archaeology Review 34:4, July/August 2008

Strata: The Bible in the News

Biblical Bubbly

By Leonard J. Greenspoon

In all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), Jesus declares (in the traditional language of the King James Version): “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Such sentiments may (or may not) be on the mind of today’s “extreme spenders,” the super-rich who are doing all they can to put into action these (seemingly) wise words of a New York City event planner quoted in The New York Times: “When times get tough, the smart spend money.” And how!

In addition to yachts, penthouses and luxury cars, “they want,” in the words of a Manhattan bar owner (also from The New York Times), “their Jeroboam, or Methuselah, or Nebuchadnezzar.” Does this portend a substantial increase in sales for leather-bound custom editions of the Bible? Alas, that is hardly the case: In this instance Jeroboam, Methuselah and Nebuchadnezzar, along with Rehoboam and Melchizedek, among others, are the names of super-sized bottles of champagne (the Jeroboam equals a “mere” four standard bottles of the liquid, whereas the Melchizedek weighs in at 30 liters, equivalent to 40 bottles of bubbly). These designations appear to go back at least 200 years. This may be a lot to drink in, or it may drive you to drink! But before you do so, consider the cost!

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