Sunday, August 30, 2015

Why were early French Christians promised a sea of wine?

Christian priests had a tough job finding converts in the Roman empire during those first centuries after Christ died. Followers were not just persecuted, but killed. Would you go to church knowing that you might be punished or slayed for doing so?

So how to entice people to join the Christian flock and then keep the surviving faithful on board?  

Around 200 AD, Saint Irenaeus, bishop of what is now Lyon, France, developed a great marketing package. He offered incredible rewards in the afterlife—perfect just in case the convert was killed for his beliefs.

Early Christian marketing genius St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (now known as Lyons, France).
Irenaeus's afterlife reward package included the usual: lots of grain, delicacies galore, no work and "highly fertile" women. (No mention of the rewards for women.) 

For wine lovers, the best part of Saint Irenaeus's afterlife package included huge quantities of wine. (Vineyards were already well developed in France by this time.)

Here's his vino pitch: "vines shall grow, each having ten thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and in each true twig ten thousand shoots, and in each one of the shoots ten thousand clusters, and on every one of the cluster ten thousand grapes, and every grape when pressed will give five and twenty metretes of wine." 

I'm not sure how much 25 meters of wine is, but it sounds like a sea of Bordeaux red.
In the end, I couldn't find any records showing how well Irenaeus's marketing plan worked. 

Sunrise in Oregon vineyard.

The final question is: Would 75 feet of wine in your afterlife be enough to entice you to become a Christian?


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