John David Penniman, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Cyprian’s Epistle 63 represents the earliest extant account of the proper meaning and administration of the eucharistic cup. Against a group of Christians who were taking only water, Cyprian argues that wine is necessary for the ritual to be effective. While there has been much discussion surrounding the biblical references marshaled by Cyprian to prove his point, this article explores the extent to which those references are inflected through lexical and conceptual categories relating to the medical usage of wine. Wine figured prominently in literature on illness, health, and healing that proliferated during the Roman Empire. This article locates Cyprian within that broader dynamic, and argues that his emphasis on the health-giving effects of the eucharistic cup in Ep. 63 reflects similar descriptions of the medicinal power of wine found in manuals of Roman medicine and other folklore traditions.
Penniman, John David. “‘The Health-Giving Cup’: Cyprian’s Ep. 63 and the Medicinal Power of Eucharistic Wine.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 23, no. 2 (2015) : 189-211.