Good news in the Bible for British drinkers

I found the following interesting Bible verse:

No longer do they drink wine with a song;
the beer is bitter to its drinkers.

(Isaiah 24:9, TNIV = NIV, American and British editions)

Good news for British drinkers: when songs are sung, there is no longer wine on offer but beer, and better still none of that continental lager but best bitter!

Of course it isn’t actually supposed to mean this in the context, which is a very negative one. But I wonder if the translators realised that at least here in Britain “bitter” is a positive attribute when applied to beer. So this is an illustration of just how careful Bible translators have to be.

0 thoughts on “Good news in the Bible for British drinkers

  1. A while back, Budweiser used to run advertisements about “bitter beer face” (the effect those “other” beers have on drinkers). A little ironic, since Budweiser is a notoriously bad beer (the common expression for this type of beverage is “piss water”). This was, of course, after the NIV was translated.

    In American English I don’t think bitter has very much descriptive content, I think it mostly just means bad. For instance, people who enjoy coffee or dark chocolate will rarely call them bitter, despite the fact that, in terms of the desciptive content of the word, that would be a very accurate description.

  2. Interesting, Kenny. Here in England, coffee and chocolate can also be referred to as bitter, and this is not a necessarily negative term although many people prefer a sweeter or milkier product. As for Budweiser, I wonder if they are deliberately mocking the British preference for bitter (beer). But I’m glad it’s not just we Brits who prefer almost anything to Budweiser.

  3. It was actually Keystone Light, not Budweiser, which may actually be a step down from Budweiser (I’ve never tried it to find out). I have a hard time believing they had hop bitterness in mind b/c that would mean they’d have some sense of what hop bitterness was, which they obviously don’t since they so strenuously avoid it. And I’m fairly certain they didn’t have British beer in mind b/c the “bitter beer” was always a light lager that came from cans. I think the primary claim of the ads was that their version of piss water was slightly better than other versions of piss water, but that wouldn’t have made quite as successful of a slogan.

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