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According to Luke 7:33, John the Baptist "came neither eating bread nor drinking wine" (KJV).

King James Version:

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.

Textus Receptus (Estienne, 1550):

ἐλήλυθεν γὰρ Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστὴς μήτε ἄρτον ἐσθίων μὴτὲ οἶνον πίνων καὶ λέγετε Δαιμόνιον ἔχει

Why didn't John the Baptist eat bread?

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This has some relations to my answer of another question (though not exactly the same). – ScottS May 8 '14 at 1:53

1 Answer 1

The short answer is, because he ate "locusts and wild honey" (Mt 3:4; Mk 1:6).

The slightly longer explanation is that John the Baptist lived a simple life (Lk 7:25) in the wilderness, where he was called from (Lk 3:2) and in which he ministered (Mt 3:1; Mk 1:4; Lk 7:24). Thus he lived off the land by eating these insects for protein, fat, and nutrients (as they were kosher for Jewish diets) and the wild honey for carbohydrates.

Bread and wine are processed foods found in civilization, and John was not like Christ—attending feasts and eating with people in the cities (hence the contrast of Lk 7:33-34, compare v.36; see more explanation in this answer).

So his diet did not include bread for practical purposes in respect to his living outside civilization. No way to make it, few opportunities to buy it (if he even had money to purchase it with), and no convenient to store it, so he trusted God to provide the food from the wild.

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Is there any correlation to leaven (with bread) or fermentation (with wine) and their corresponding association with ritual impurity? – Joseph May 8 '14 at 16:44
@Joseph: I doubt such is intended here for three reasons based on the Luke 7 passage: (1) v.33-34 would be saying John the Baptist kept himself ritually pure, and Christ did not?!?! (2) "Bread" is generic enough to be a leavened or unleavened reference (but both are "processed" forms of food), (3) as my other answer I link to notes, the whole reference itself to the "eating and drinking" contrast (in context) is primarily about the participation habits of John and Christ with society (rather than specific diet); how each functioned differently in their social interaction in their ministries. – ScottS May 8 '14 at 16:54
Okay. Do you see any evidence that John the Baptist a Nazirite, in which case the ritual purification (from leavened bread or fermented wine) was necessary? – Joseph May 8 '14 at 17:15
@Joseph: Little evidence. Some make the assertion based off the parallel ideas of Luke 1:15 with Num 6:3, but that is the only parallel explicitly noted of John (and in Luke 1:15, it is not a vow by either John or his parents, but a statement about John's future character of being Spirit filled). Additionally, bread was not a forbidden thing to the Nazirite, so even if he was (which I doubt), that would not inform at all with this answer. – ScottS May 8 '14 at 17:30

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