This is a good question. The answer includes all the above, but can especially be seen in a complex manner via what can be called, “vinifera theology.”
The first explicit prophecy of the coming of the Messiah in Genesis 49:10-12 describes a vine (Israel). The Messiah becomes one with the vine (Israel):
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from
between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the
obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether his donkey to a
vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in
wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk. (Genesis 49:10-11)
The Talmud in Kesubos 111b interprets this verse in the sense of a Messianic smile of goodness & grace:
Showing your teeth to your neighbor [in a broad smile] is better than
giving him a drink of milk, for it says, "white toothed [l'ven
shinayim] from milk." Don't read l'ven shinayim, "white toothed", but
libbun shinayim, "showing the teeth" [i.e. smiling] is better than
The roots of “vinifera theology” also go back to the Exodus.
You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and
planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled
the land.The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars
with its branches. Its branches reached as far as the Sea, its shoots
as far as the River. - Psalm 80:9-16
The Psalmist was making more than just a general analogy. Recent archeological research has revealed that the ancient Hebrews (i.e. the Apirou people) were in charge of grape cultivation in ancient Egypt. So when the Psalmist writes about Israel being like a vine taken out of Egypt, it’s based upon an historical analogy. An article in the Jewish Times states:
Scholars claim the Apirou people were the “Hebrews” and that these
people were the specialized wine makers of ancient Egypt. Mural
paintings around the tomb of Amenhotep II, who lived in the 14th
century BCE, portray these “Hebrews” pressing grapes by foot, and a
scene entitled “Wine from the vineyard of the Roads of Horus”
illustrates men decanting wine at an intersection located relatively
close to Southern Israel.
Picture the scene on the way to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsamene. The disciples would have passed through vineyards, with grazing sheep, surrounding the city down through the Kidron Valley.
The vineyards were illuminated by the full moon of Passover. So, it would have been a twilight kind of scene. Columella & Pliny speak of preferred trellis systems, in the first century, as being either head pruned (which was more difficult to manage) or involving the use of poles up to seven feet high with a single cross bar. So, it’s likely the disciples were passing trellis systems with cross bars! See a picture of a California vineyard below:
Of course, the vines would have been pruned back for the spring growth that was soon to come. But a deeper theological point can be brought out and it runs like this.
It is likely that the author of the 4th Gospel was highlighting the sayings of Jesus that parallel Dionysus oriented themes. Jesus is the true vine, unlike Dionysus who is a counterfeit or a shadow hinted at in pagan dreams as C.S. Lewis argued.
The wedding of Cana, the vine & the branches, etc. are all indications of contextual theology that went into this work.
The traditional place of the 4th Gospel's composition was in Ephesus. It is interesting that the following occurred when Anthony entered the city of Ephesus:
...women arrayed like Bacchanals, and men and boys like Satyrs and
Pans led the way before him and the city was full of ivy...harps and
pipes and flutes, the people hailing him as Dionysus, giver of Joy and
Beneficent. (Plutarch Lives, Antony 24.3)
This is not to say that the 4th Gospel is fictional. Charles Hill believes he’s found another fragment of Papias in one of Origen’s Homilies on Luke. The fragment suggests Papias believed John was the author. The fragment also suggests that John believed in various gospels truthful accuracy of historical events and put his stamp of approval on what went into the final canonical selection process for the gospels.
There is a report noted down in writing that John collected the
written gospels in his own lifetime in the reign of Nero, and approved
of and recognized those of which the deceit of the devil had not taken
possession; but refused and rejected those of which he perceived were
not truthful. (Charles E. Hill, “What Papias Said About John (and
Luke): A “New” Papian Fragment,” Journal of Theological Studies NS 49
(1998), p. 585)
Grapes and wine are highly important symbols in Jewish tradition and date back to the 1st century. A magnificent golden vine that hung over the inner portal of the Second Temple was described by Josephus and the Mishnah.
The Hasmoneans and Bar Kochba followers struck a cluster of grapes on their victory coins as a symbol of the fertility of the country. This same emblem appears slightly later as a decoration in mosaic floors of synagogues.
Josephus in describing Herod's Temple in Jesus' day writes:
Under the crown–work was spread out a golden vine, with its branches
hanging down form a great height, the largeness and the workmanship of
which were an astonishing sight to the spectators. (Antiquities of the
Josephus also writes:
The gate opening into the building was, as I said, completely
overlaid with gold, as was the whole wall around it. It had, moreover, above it those golden vines, from which depended grape-clusters the
golden vine and the veil. as tall as a man and it had golden doors
fifty-five cubits high and sixteen broad...
Before these hung a veil of equal length, of Babylonian tapestry, with embroidery of blue and fine
linen, of scarlet also and purple, wrought with marvellous skill. Nor
was this mixture of materials without its mystic meaning: it typified
the universe. For the scarlet seemed emblematical of fire, the fine
linen of the earth, the blue of the air, and the purple of the sea;
the comparison in two cases being suggested by their colour, and in
that of the fine linen and purple by their origin, as the one is
produced by the earth and the other by the sea. On this tapestry was
portrayed a panorama of the heavens, the signs of the Zodiac excepted. (Josephus, The Jewish War)
On their way to various events the disciples would have likely paused at the entrance to the temple that at Passover is kept open all night for the many thousands of pilgrims to pray. The massive size of the golden grapes with the vine over the temple door and the cosmic symbolism of the tapestry would have prompted some interesting dialog.
It is significant that the etymology of Chardonnay has a Hebrew background - e.g. sha’har Adonai which means “gate of God." That Chardonnay has a golden hue when ripe and that, according to the Mishna, the temple gate in Jerusalem had golden grapes above its door (Mishna, Middot, 3, 8) suggests that the grapes hanging above the temple door were designed to look very realistic - i.e. either reflective of Chardonnay itself or another grape that has a golden hue when ripe.
The temple paralleled Dionysus themes so much that Plutarch used those to make an argument that the Jews worshiped Dionysus. For example, Plutarch makes an appeal to such things as vines and ivy used in the Feast of Tabernacles, etc. (Plutarch Table-Talk 4. 6).
In Isaiah, Israel is referred to as the vine that produced wild grapes - because of their rebellion and sinfulness. Jesus, as recored in John 15 states:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch
in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every
branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…
The primary focus is on abiding. We must have a willingness to abide. Someone once said, "a god is that to which one’s heart clings in every time of trouble” Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom….” To abide in the Messiah, the true vine, is to be in the Kingdom.
For an interesting exploration of the symbolism of the temple door, see this site.